Taking Stupidity to Extremes

Preparing to take Clacket Lane Service Station on the M25

War on the Motorist!

According to Wikipedia, War is a phenomenon of organized violent conflict,[1][2] typified by extreme aggression, societal disruption and adaptation, and high mortality.[1] There is some debate about other characteristics, but in general there is agreement that war involves at least two organized groups, is a premeditated activity at least on the part of one side, and at least one of the groups uses violence against the other.[3] The objective of warfare differs in accord with a group’s role in a conflict: The goals of offensive warfare are typically the submission, assimilation or destruction of another group, while the goals of defensive warfare are simply the repulsion of the offensive force and, often, survival itself. Relative to each other, combatants in warfare are called enemies. The terms military, militant, and militarism each refer to fundamental aspects of war, i.e. the organized group, the combative individual, and the supportive ethos (respectively).

As you have just read, it doesn’t really fit into this ‘War on the Motorist’ does it? Above all else, it’s an insult to our armed forces currently fighting overseas (who, you may be surprised to read, are not trying to fight the Taliban with use of average speed cameras and increased parking charges). It polarizes views by implying that all those that don’t have a car or can’t afford a car or don’t want to have a lifestyle dominated by the car are ‘enemies’ and leaves no room for maneuver. It achieves needless anger and resentment which, if allowed to proceed unchecked without the correct facts being made available can spill over into something far more intimidating on our roads. More like a War really.

The Lo Fidelity Bicycle Club always likes a challenge – in this case, how to match the rising tide of Coalition hyperbole. We’ve already had a go at likening British cycle infrastructure to Shanty Towns of the Third World but as a kindly Lo Fidelity reader pointed out, that polarizes First World into ‘Good’ and Third World into ‘Bad’. Where we have a car culture that alienates communities, the Third World doesn’t see people suffering with depression or collapse of community. Fair points well made (and the Third World is seeing the uses of Royal Mail bicycles even if the Executive Board can’t) so let’s crank up the hyperbole dial to maximum to try and take this to its logical conclusion by describing the plight of cyclists and pedestrians in the style of Philip Hammond & Eric Pickles….

Genocide on the Cyclist & Pedestrian!!

According to Wikipedia, Genocide is the deliberate and systematic destruction, in whole or in part, of an ethnic, racial, religious, or national group.[1] While a precise definition varies among genocide scholars, a legal definition is found in the 1948 United Nations Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide (CPPCG). Article 2 of this convention defines genocide as “any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such: killing members of the group; causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group; deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life, calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part.

I know it’s not like it in reality as that would be an incredible insult to the unimaginable suffering of Genocides past. I bet that as you were reading it, it seemed more pertinent to cyclists and pedestrians than the claimed ‘War on the Motorist’ though didn’t it? All I’m saying is that whilst Phillip Hammond and his ilk insist on playing the victim mentality card with overblown rhetoric, we might as well go mad and have fun with language to trump the stupidity of what is being stated by those in power. Churchill used far more literary devices than the current administration to far greater effect. And he abolished Road Tax which misguidedly gets caught up in the current ‘War on the Motorist’.

Suggestions are always welcome from Lo Fidelity Readers to suggest overblown phrases of their own to show the lot of Cyclists and Pedestrians (I’m certainly sure Freewheeler could think of a few).

 To keep in the spirit of things, I’m now going to get on my Dutch Bike of liberation to pedal along the Road of Destruction and Despair to the Supermarket of Global Domination to buy a Yoghurt of Internal Hope.

We at the Lo Fidelity Bicycle Club sincerely hope that now Philip Hammond MP has ended this War on the Motorist, he gets the Nobel Peace Prize he so richly deserves.

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Riding a First World Bike through the Third World [of Cycling]

As you are probably aware, I recently decided to put my money where my mouth is and purchased a Dutch bike (Batavus Old Dutch) for my daily commute between Worthing & Brighton. Here are some initial thoughts from my notepad into riding a utility bike for utility purposes;

  • One of the first things a Briton will notice about a Dutch bike is the weight. Some Americans like to wax lyrical about old Cadillac’s and T-Birds – this is the bicycle equivalent. However, you will be comparing it to every other bike you’ve owned when you were a ‘serious’ commuter and that’s when you realise that you will never be followed by a team car or presented with a bunch of flowers and kissed by a beautiful woman on a podium because you made it to your office in a ‘Personal Best’ time. The rules change utterly as soon as you pedal away on a Dutch bike or roadster.
  • The riding position is far more upright with nice wide handlebars. I found myself discovering new and interesting leg muscles I never knew existed.
  • If you are making the switch from a road bike to a Dutch bike or roadster, a major problem will be training oneself to slow down. These bikes are built for utility with gentle speeds. I found for the first few outings I was still getting quite sweaty before I realised that I was subconsciously matching my previous pace which is lunacy. Cycling in heavy traffic makes me pedal faster for some reason, as though I’m being goaded back into the rat race. To escape the hoi polloi, I’ve started using more sections of the National Cycle Route 2 between Brighton & Worthing (most notably, the Shoreham to Worthing stretch). Free from traffic, one can relax, slow down and enjoy the view. For the commute home in the dark, the integral front light is never going to compete with Shoreham Lighthouse but I’ve found that it creates strangely romantic ‘mood lighting’ when cycling along the traffic free route with no street lights. Just the lights of Worthing Pier in the distance and the crashing of waves below an inky sky.  
  • You will become familiar with an occasional quiet jangling sound when you’re cycling a Dutch Bike. That’s because the vast majority have an integral lock which means you put your keys in to release the lock and take them out when you reach your end destination. This will be quite hard for many Britons to grapple with –in our Culture of Fear, we like keys trussed up in the inside pockets of a courier bag or another secure place. Bear with it though as this is one of the first steps to relaxing and enjoying your cycling. I had to smile when I got to my front door and had that frantic 20 seconds of checking my pockets to locate my keys before I realised that I had to lock the bike to release the keys to unlock the door to unlock the bike to get it through the house. Less haste, more speed.
  • The other area that would put British cyclists’ teeth on edge is if you elect to ditch carrying luggage on yourself and purchase some panniers instead. You will need to purchase Dutch panniers if you, like me, end up with a bike with a heavy-duty rack – these can carry a massive load (in my case, up to 16 stone, or a smaller sized British motorist that campaigns against speed cameras if you like). This is because they won’t take standard pannier clasps. However, Dutch panniers are robust and generally cheaper but they remain fitted to the bike at all times…..see, the Culture of Fear has kicked in again, hasn’t it? The idea is that you can go shopping with your bag for life and then just slip it in the panniers and pedal away. The bike really is your beast of burden.
  • I’ve been using my Dutch bike for far more chores around town. Because it has an integral lock, mudguards, integral lights (often powered by hub dynamo) and a big shiny bell, all you need to do is hop on and go about your day.
  • The other factor that allows you to go about your day is that you must ONLY wear normal clothes. You wouldn’t wear lycra to drive a car (unless you’re driving to the gym or you are a superhero from the dreams of Philip Hammond MP). You become a person on a bike as opposed to a cyclist.
  • Not only have I put the lycra away for a leisure cycling day, I’ve also decided to ditch the helmet. This combined with being on a large, upright graceful bicycle in normal clothing with wide load panniers has resulted in being given a surprising amount of  space and courtesy by passing motorists. A complete overhaul of British Cycle Infrastructure to bring it in line with the Netherlands, Denmark and parts of the USA wouldn’t go amiss however, just so everyone gets a decent choice in how they travel as opposed to just the few.
  • Oh, and lots of elderly people will walk up and talk to you about your bike which is pleasing but Worthing has a lot of elderly people.

A more technical review will follow if or when the smile wears off. To summarise however, it is the sheer joy of discovering a different type of cycling that harks back to a more civilised age that I have to doff my hat to (in lieu of a helmet). This is not to discredit other types of bicycle or cyclist – each style has its merits from fixed wheel to racing to touring to mountain bike and it’s just part of one big family. However I firmly believe that utility bikes in their various forms have the greatest potential to make our family very big indeed.

I leave you with yet another video of the Rush Hour in the Netherlands. This one is simply entitled ‘Bicycle rush hour in the dark, ‘s-Hertogenbosch’ by ‘Markenlei’. His other stuff on YouTube is well worth a look if you are British and can stand looking at happiness for a few minutes. Enjoy.

Update

So, you want cycle infrastructure based on the Dutch model and Philip Hammond thrown on the fire behind me.....

Firstly, yet again a very big thank you for all the messages, debate and this wonderful blog post from Mark at IBikeLondon.

This is where we’re at so far as you deserve to be kept up to date;

Website & Forum: Under construction and the domain will be www.cycling-embassy.org.uk . This is obviously taking time (although to be fair, it was only set up on the weekend) as it is being hosted and created for free, but the best things come to those who wait. There are things that need to be sorted out such as editing capability and admin rights etc so it’s best to get it sorted out from the beginning. Anthony Cartmell, the creator is a cyclist through and through and his websites are as reliable and stable as the Batavus he rides. To assist, I may be learning Drupal as well as conversational Danish & Dutch.

So far I believe the website should comprise the following:

Mission Statement with key strategies/actions

A Forum

Document Library of Design Standards by Country

Map where people may report bad infrastructure (if we can find a server big enough) and also good infrastructure. There should be a facility that allows one to write why it works or doesn’t work.

Cycling Newsfeed

Suggestions always welcome

What you can do to help:

Whilst this is taking place, I’m collating design standards from the UK and other countries to put into a document library. If you can think of any links, data and info that you feel should be included, please let me know. This includes any urban planning and masterplanning documents or guidance that architects, engineers and designers out there might think are pertinent. Also, thanks to Freewheeler on Crap Cycling and Walking in Waltham Forest for this link to a very interesting document indeed.

What I especially want from you however is the following. Imagine you are sat on Santa’s lap – it could be Chris Hoy or Victoria Pendleton dressed in a Santa outfit. I don’t mind, whatever works for you – and you are asked what your wish would be for this new cycling campaign to achieve, what would it be? Basically, I’m developing a wish list and I need wishes. Wish away.

Onwards and upwards. In the meantime, enjoy your cycling and look out for the following:

Expert motorists who only need to clear the frost and ice from their side of the windscreen and nowhere else on their car (presumably so noone can see them operate a mobile phone).

Expert motorists who can drive well and truly under the influence of Christmas Cheer. Especially now the funding has been cut for awareness adverts.

Manhole covers. As my back wheel informed me twice this morning, they are very slippy.

The Sound of Silence

If a tree falls in the middle of the forest, and no-one is around to hear it, it would still make more noise than the British cycle campaigning establishment

 

Being an only child, I was fairly used to quiet and solitude; the purr of a chain combined with birdsong whilst cycling along local bridleways or the wind through the trees where I used to occasionally sit and read anything by Enid Blyton or Roald Dahl. Now I’m older I seem to get increasingly nervy around silence; not hearing my son breathe or stir via the intercom at night for example and not hearing a peep from the Cycle Campaigning establishment since the furore regarding Cycling England a month or two ago also puts my teeth on edge.

About a month ago, it was declared that Cycling England would cease to be as of March 2011. Cycling blogs were alight with hot debate over why such a small concern should be abolished when it also became apparent that there would be no real provision for cycling within the Department for Transport. We learned that cycling was literally going to have to sing for its supper with funding thrown out to the provinces and the ‘Sustainable Transport Fund’. If you needed to feel even more nervous, it would appear that the parameters for what constitutes ‘Sustainable Transport haven’t been set by the Department for Transport and Philip ‘no clever funny middle name as he’s just a tosser’ Hammond MP. This means that the Council can make the same ridiculous interpretation as Central Government  – that adding lanes to a motorway can constitute ‘Sustainable Transport’ as it ‘improves traffic flow’ which reduces emissions (conveniently sidestepping the fact that it creates more traffic but that can be dealt with at a later date or preferably by a later generation). This is a bit like BP arguing that they have done the Gulf of Mexico a favour by releasing catastrophic amounts of oil into the eco-system; it ensures that only the fittest creatures survive thereby creating a stronger, more efficient Gulf of Mexico for future generations.

What I’ve found a little disturbing is the way that the wrath and fury seems to have subsided save a few handsome journalists and blog writers. I like to think that the major players are just recovering from the shock and are now in a room somewhere, with secret plans  being drawn up to produce an all new campaigning, lobbying, gnashing of teeth version of Cycling England built on sturdier foundations. Then again, I also have a direct debit for the National Lottery.

Shortly after Hammond’s statements, including the hilarious assertion that electric cars would be the way forward, well and truly putting the ‘car’ in carbon, the CTC and Cycle Nation held a conference in Edinburgh hosted by SPOKES (the Lothian Cycle Campaign). Lots of people spoke and gave presentations including the very nice Philip Darnton, Chairman of Cycling England. Notes of all the topics covered can be downloaded from the excellent Spokes website – at least, nearly all. Roger Geffen gave a chinwag on ‘The Segregation Debate – Reflections from Copenhagen’

The only notes of this segment were kindly compiled by a Spokes representative and reads as follows

Roger Geffen (CTC Right-to-Ride). Why is he sceptical of segregation, if it works in practice in parts of Europe like Denmark and Netherlands? CTC doesn’t reject it outright but supports the Government’s ‘hierarchy of solutions’: Traffic reduction and speed reduction; re-allocation of road space, junction re-design and other infrastructure; and segregation last – though it’s appropriate in some circs, eg inter-urban dual carriageway.

Problems of segregation in town – junctions more dangerous, need 270′ vision instead of 90′;cyclist/pedestrian conflict.

Success stories: Copenhagen, New York, Bogota. (Lo Fidelity Note: And Amsterdam, and Groningen and…)

Main issue is two legal framework differences – 1 driver liability, and 2 drivers give way to peds/cyclists when turning, even if have green light. Different legal framework leads to different driver behaviour. Needs lot of political will to change this in UK – possible strategy for future. Boris suggests allow cyclists to turn L at red light but this leads to cycle/ped conflict.

According to one source, it ended up as a slightly heated debate. The Lo Fidelity Bicycle Club would have pointed out that the Governments ‘hierarchy of solutions’ are intrinsically car-centric and methods of traffic reduction and speed reduction, re-allocation of road space, junction re-design and other infrastructure always translates as ‘pinch points’, converted pavements, lethal on-road cycle lanes that terminate at parking bays and so on. Lest to say, none of CTC’s contribution has made their weekly emailed newsletters.

This post isn’t about the segregation/vehicular debate however (although like the Netherlands, the Lo Fidelity Bicycle Club believes that engineers should start properly designing out the private car from urban areas before looking at segregation instead of the UK method of tinkering around the edges so as not to annoy the ‘poor beleaguered motorist’). This post is about how we take cycle campaigning to a more coherent, robust level that can shout loud. And it will need to.

Let me say at this point that I love the CTC; I worked for them so know very well their passion for cycling. I love their proud heritage. Their legal assistance (free to members) has helped me successfully on the two times I was knocked off my bike by careless motoring. They have campaigned for the rights of cyclists through the years, be it on the road or off the road by allowing cyclists on to the bridleways. However, one niggling question always sits at the back of my mind; is the CTC, being a membership organisation representing predominantly touring cycling, the correct mechanism to represent and deliver the interests of all cyclists in the twenty first century?

If it is then at the moment it faces an open goal as no other cycling organisation would have the campaigning/lobbying nous to step into the breech come March. To do this though it would have to start listening to ideas that their membership may find unpalatable, and digest the fact that generations of potential cyclists are continuing to be lost to the pull of the motor car and the society that successive Governments are continuing to build around it.

This is conjecture pure and simple, but The Lo Fidelity Bicycle Club would like to see the development of a privately funded (or part public/part private) lobbying group in the same dynamic as the Cycling Embassy of Denmark. It would be like the TfL’s Centre of Cycling Excellence, but this time with the Excellence. It could get companies with green credentials to put their money where their mouth is and lobby the Government directly about the merits of cycling and what Road Safety actually means. Partnerships should be struck with organisations in Britain, mainland Europe and Worldwide such as CTC, Fietsberaad, the Danish Cycling Embassy and New York City Transportation Planners for best practice (as I believe the argument goes way beyond just vehicular/segregated). Architects and engineers with an interest in transportation and urban design could be brought on board. The possibilities are endless if you look beyond the horizon of British cycle campaigning. Philip Darnton could Chair something that didn’t have foundations built on the shifting sands of a Quango.

By lobbying the Government, we need to question the Department for Transport why cycling is peripheral on their agenda, we have to lobby the Department for Health to keep reminding them that we have a solution to obesity, we need to let David Cameron know that he can save a couple of million pounds in happiness surveys by just getting everyone cycling.

Above all, we’ve got to do something. The sound of silence is starting to get deafening.

Make Hammond History

Big Business People Doing Important Big Businessy Things. They need Big Business Infrastructure. Like that Big Business Flipchart. For Big Business People

Transport Secretary, Philip Hammond MP announced big plans for transport infrastructure spending.

Along with the eight schemes announced by the Chancellor last week, work will therefore begin on a total of 24 schemes as a result of the Department for Transport’s spending review settlement.

The schemes given the green light today, subject to statutory processes, will deliver major upgrades to relieve congestion at the following locations either through widening or managed motorways schemes:

– M60 Junctions 8 – 12
– M1 Junctions 32 – 35a
– M60 Junctions 12 – 15
– M1 Junctions 39 – 42
– M62 Junctions 18 – 20
– M25 Junctions 5 – 6/7
– M25 Junctions 23 – 27
– M6 Junctions 5 – 8
– A556 Knutsford – Bowdon

The following key local infrastructure projects were also confirmed, subject to a best and final offer from local authorities:

– A new single carriageway bypass which will ease congestion in Sefton and improve access to the region’s motorway network;

– An integrated package of sustainable transport improvements in Ipswich including improved bus facilities and walking and cycling routes;

– Improvements to M5 J29, east of Exeter, providing access to new housing and employment areas;

– A bypass to the north of Lancaster, connecting the port of Heysham to the M6;

– Improvements on the A57 east of M1 J31, near Todwick;

– A new road in Taunton to provide additional cross-town capacity and access to areas of brownfield land; and

– A new bus station and associated transport improvements in Mansfield.

In addition, the Transport Secretary announced a pot of over £600m of funding for further local authority projects. Local authorities will be invited to bid for this funding over the next few months. Councils will be challenged to consider the cost, scope and possibility of local funding when bidding.

The Government believes this competitive process will ensure that the greatest possible number of schemes, with the best value for money, will be able to proceed, facilitating economic growth and providing jobs across the country.

Philip Hammond said:
“Whilst we have had to make some tough choices, I am pleased that spending on transport was treated as a priority for the Government in the Spending Review.

“This Government sees transport as a key driver of growth nationally and in the regions. So I am delighted to be able to give the green light to 24 new transport projects and a fund worth over £600m for many more schemes to bid for.

“Taken together, this investment will not only bring benefits in terms of reduced congestion, shorter journey times and more efficient public transport, but also provide a vital economic boost. For every pound we spend on Highways Agency schemes, on average we will get back £6 of benefits and in many cases there are even higher returns for local authority schemes.

“Transport is vital to securing the UK’s long term prosperity. That is why these schemes are so important and why I will continue to argue for investment which delivers long term benefits for both the travelling public and the economy as a whole.”

The Government also announced that the Highways Agency will continue work on developing a further 14 schemes in preparation for them to start in future spending review periods, as funding becomes available, and will review the design of a further four with the aim of finding a best value solution.’

I like the way in the detailed motorway plans, the hard Shoulder being used to increase traffic flow becomes a DYNAMIC Hard Shoulder! At least until someone breaks down. One shudders to think what cycling improvements have been planned for Ipswich.

History has shown us beyond doubt that building more roads and increasing capacity of existing roads just creates more traffic with the resultant knock on effects to surrounding areas. This has been common knowledge since the A40 Westway via the M3 Twyford Down to the A34 Newbury Bypass. However, Mr Hammond is oblivious to all this, just as the public enquiries were for many road schemes and ‘improvements’ through the years.

Bikehub reported on Sustrans response

‘… Sustrans has reacted strongly to Hammond’s announcement.

Jason Torrance, Sustrans’ Policy Manager, said:

“Sustrans is dismayed that the Government is missing a golden opportunity to put right a broken transport system, despite its green promises.

“The Secretary of State for Transport proudly boasts that his lengthy list of road transport schemes bring benefits of £6 for every £1 spent. But sustainable transport schemes that encourage active travel offer much better value, at £8 for every £1 spent. And they directly address the congestion issues that today’s announcement claims to solve.

“And there are other benefits.  Given that 1 in 20 UK people are now being treated for type 2 diabetes and 1 in 10 for obesity – both illnesses that are exacerbated by physical inactivity – improving the health of the nation, and tackling the costs attached to that, has to be seen as critical.  With this in mind not prioritising walking and cycling should be unthinkable.”’

The Lo Fidelity Bicycle Club does not regard this as reacting strongly. In fact it’s barely reacting. Personally, I’ve written stronger letters to the Worthing Herald. The CTC website is showing no reaction at all. Anyway, that’s another debate.

The DfT has also just launched its THINK! ‘Be bright, be seen’ campaign.

Not content with building more dangerous roads, they seem to have entered the spirit of Halloween with a bit too much vigour on a site that is bound to scare children (and more importantly their parents) making cycling look like a dangerous activity and putting them off.

Here is an example ‘gory story’;

‘The girl who didn’t dress bright in the dark

She always liked to look her best

So didn’t wear a nice bright vest

Or any clothing that was bright

When she was out at nearly night


But traffic couldn’t see her see

And now she isn’t so trendy

A car drove right into her guts

And covered her with bruisy cuts’

I’ve checked and I still can’t find anything informing parents that when they drive, they are in control of a heavy vehicle that can maim and kill if not driven correctly, and that they have a duty of care to the children of others, not just their own.

The Lo Fidelity Bicycle Club would like to start a campaign of its own;

Make Hammond History Reshuffle the Kerfuffle!

Obviously The Lo Fidelity Bicycle Club wishes Mr Hammond no harm (although we would like to drive really close to him at speed if he ever gets on a bicycle). We feel that there must be wholesale reform of a Department for Transport that’s not entering the spirit of the twenty first century with their belief that ‘sustainable’ means ‘bigger roads’ or ‘electric cars charged by fossil fuels’.

We suggest getting brown wristbands made up to represent the utter dung cyclists have had to put up with and will have to endure now that many speed cameras have been switched off and Cycling England disbanded with no viable alternative and cycle infrastructure thrown to the provinces that couldn’t design a cycle facility if their lives depended on it.

A bit like this, but brown. And 'Hammond' instead of 'Poverty'.

Who would have thought that something as simple as cycling could be made to look so dangerous, complicated and strangely irrelevant in the wake of ‘progress’? Oh well, if ‘Make Hammond History’ doesn’t work there’s always ‘Make Baker Better’. The Lo Fidelity Bicycle Club is open to ideas.

Stay on Target

 

The Department for Transport (Lo Fidelity Bicycle Club Impression)

 

EDITED – THANKS MR BLOGS 🙂

In previous posts I put across an argument that the demise of Cycling England could be a good thing.  It could mean the reintegration of cycling within the Department for Transport, making it publically accountable and receiving a deserving share of the transport budget. Like the Highways Agency, cycling could be an ‘Executive Agency’. Cycling is after all part of the sustainable transport (and public health and wellbeing and climate change and energy conservation etc) solution.

As you have probably learned today, not only is Cycling England to be abolished from March 2011 but the future for cycling now looks far bleaker than anyone could have imagined. Now there will simply be a Local Sustainable Travel Fund with the mechanism for delivery still to be determined.

What’s worse is that, although Bikeability (Cycling Proficiency), is set to be protected under the Department for Transport, there is nothing to say it won’t be affected by the funding cuts to be announced on October 20th.

With cycling project funding cast out across the provinces, walking and cycling campaign groups will be left fighting for scraps while the DfT marches on, indifferent to the plight of those that prefer simpler, greener, more fun and effective forms of transport, or simply cannot afford a car. This is the Conservative tactic of ‘Divide and Conquer’ at its worst. There is some light at the end of the tunnel however; according to a press release brought to my attention by a Lo Fidelity Reader, ‘DfT is also considering establishing an expert panel on wider sustainable travel which would promote cycling as part of the wider green agenda’. I’d imagine some eco-car manufacturers may also be in the panel too.

As jolly nice and good looking cyclists and pedestrians, we must not be distracted by localism. We must remain fixed now on Phillip Hammond, Norman Baker and the Department for Transport; if a major transport scheme is planned, cycling has to be integrated from the beginning as opposed to fighting to get a crap cycle path running next to it or exposed Sheffield Stands.

 

'The Empire doesn't see small bicycles or pedestrians as a threat or it would have a tighter defence'

 

Above all Cycle Training in whatever form has to be retained or we lose yet another generation to the relentless pull of the sedentary lifestyle, leading to more dangerous roads.

Philip Hammond, Secretary of State for Transport, seems to think Sustainable Transport doesn’t incorporate the most sustainable forms of transport of all. Apparently we should all be using electric cars now. This is a man that clearly needs to be reshuffled at the first God given opportunity and the woefully car-centric Department for Transport needs to be reformed as it appears to be languishing decades behind in sustainability.

Whilst we work out what to do next, I’m off to dig out my Chas n Dave ‘Snooker Loopy’ EP, my florescent socks and look for a Sinclair C5 on ebay. I feel we are going back to the Conservative times of old.

Did Philip Hammond MP Watch Too Much Thunderbirds As A Child?

 

What Philip Hammond MP would look like if he were a puppet and.......wait a minute..

Philip Hammond MP, Secretary of State for ‘Transport’, gave a speech this morning to the Conservative Party Conference in Birmingham. In it he outlines very big plans. Very big plans indeed.

I used to love Thunderbirds when I was a child and I’m now positive Philip Hammond did too as it‘s the only way to explain his childish policies. Its futuristic World was one of bombastic visionary schemes – huge supersonic aircraft carrying thousands of passengers, Mega Atomic Power Stations, Pink Rolls Royce’s zooming along empty wide fast motorways. In Hammonds World we see Mega Super Fast High Speed Rail Links, Ultra Low Carbon cars zooming along efficient road infrastructure, all powered by Atomic Power Stations.

Dr Mayer Hillman in his brilliantly pragmatic book How We Can Save the Planet outlines how a popular misconception to global warming is that we can somehow develop our way out of the problem. That technology will save the day like some sort of International Rescue. Mr Hammond’s speech this morning contained the following,

 “…….. let’s not forget that over 80% of all journeys are undertaken by car and Britain’s roads represent our greatest investment in transport infrastructure. Clearly, while motoring was synonymous with carbon production, it couldn’t be a major part of Britain’s future transport plans.

But the idea that the only solution is to force people out of their cars is pessimistic, outdated, Labour dogma. This Government is supporting the ultra-low emissions technologies that will see the carbon output of cars plummet over the next two decades.

Drawing fuel, not from petrol pumps, but from an electricity grid which Chris Huhne is determined to make one of the greenest in Europe. The Coalition has signaled its commitment to de-carbonising motoring by confirming, ahead of the spending review, grants for R&D and generous consumer incentives for every ultra-low emission car sold.

Putting our trust in technology, and our country at the forefront of the green-motoring revolution. The first new-generation electric cars will appear on Britain’s roads early next year and the first volume British-built electric vehicles will roll off the production line in 2013.

So motoring can again become part of our future transport planning, as the greening of the car saves it from extinction and that means we can end Labour’s indiscriminate war on the motorist as we focus on the real enemies – carbon and congestion.”

These words are as astounding as they are absurd (and I’m sure many blogs today will be picking them apart) but the worst aspect of his speech is in what he didn’t say – You may be wondering where walking and cycling feature in all this. They are after all the most cost effective, clean, easily available forms of transport we have. The fact he made no reference to these transport modes at all in his speech (supposedly extolling the virtues of sustainable transport) is as telling as it should be alarming.

In an earlier blog post I discussed how the set up of Cycling England was flawed and its passing could be regarded as a good thing. However I wrote that in the hope that cycling would be brought back in-house within the DfT and receiving a more deserving share of the transport spend. Even if cycling does move back, the future looks very bleak indeed in the wake of such an obviously car-sick Government Department. The fact that walking and cycling improves the nation’s health, produces no carbon or noise pollution, allows people to engage with their surroundings and neighbourhoods and is the most effective way to get through towns and cities seems to be lost on dear Hammond. Also the fact that infrastructure is cheaper with a better rate of return. And that walking and cycling is more fun and the increased fitness makes you better in bed (that last bit is my opinion but I’m sure you’d all agree).

When Thunderbirds was created, it was a brave new World; the Apollo missions were under way, new materials were being discovered, soon one could fly from London to New York in three and a half hours – and look elegant puffing on a cigarette whilst you flew beyond the clouds. In Thunderbirds World you didn’t need to walk or cycle anywhere as technology could take you to wherever you wanted to go. That World has long gone in a plume of supercharged 4-star exhaust fumes but clearly left a mark on our dear Hammond who clearly loves all the science involved.

Which is why the Coalition cut funding for scientific development and research. Oh well, I’m sure the motoring lobby can step in to help. FAB!