Peugeot: Just Add Colloquialisms

And here is the Advertising Standards Authority’s response to the complaint I raised….

Mr J Davis
X XXXXXXX
Worthing
West Sussex

Dear Mr Davis

YOUR COMPLAINT ABOUT PEUGEOT MOTOR COMPANY

Thank you for contacting the ASA with your complaint regarding a TV ad for Peugeot Motor Company. I am sorry to hear this has caused you concern. I understand you were concerned that the ad’s reference to “Road Tax” was misleading and should have been referred to “Vehicle Excise Duty”. The ASA can intervene if an ad that has been broadcast appears to be likely to be in breach of the UK Code of Broadcast Advertsing by, among other things, being likely to cause serious or widespread offense, risking causing significant harm or being materially misleading. In this case we do not consider there has been such a breach and will not be taking any action.

While it is true that the correct term is “Vehicle Excise Duty”, colloquialisms such as “Road Tax” are often used by advertisers to articulate a message in a way that will be understood by the widest audience. We do not consider that the use in the ad would have misled viewers or promoted a view that only motorists pay for road building and maintenance, and will therefore not investigate the matter further.

I realise that this may disappoint you, but thank you nonetheless for taking the time to contact us with your concerns. The ASA website, www.asa.org.uk, contains more information about the work we do, including the results of investigations into complaints.

Yours sincerely

Xxxxxxxx

Complaints Executive

 In fairness, it was jolly nice of them to write. I completely disagree. I know I’m not alone either.

This from Carlton Reid’s IPayRoadTax website.

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The War on the Motorist

Consider the plight of the poor beleaguered motorist.

For years they have had to put up with ever bigger roads; dual carriageways, road widening, ring roads, inner relief roads, orbital roads & bypasses. Some motorists have interests such as gardening or archaeology yet found themselves having to drive ever increasing distances to see nice pretty landscapes and places of interest because lots of other people also liked driving and needed to be accommodated on ever bigger roads destroying more and more pretty landscapes and places of interest. How dreadful.

Some motorists occasionally enjoyed nice walks or cycle rides for short journeys to the post office or school but the bigger roads sliced through the bridleway and footpath network so they didn’t link communities anymore. So more people had to drive on the bigger roads and get in each others way. Apparently, people who might have considered a walk or a cycle ride also started driving as they considered the new bigger roads to be more hostile, adding to all that congestion. Well, really!

Many had to drive all the way out to the outskirts of towns to get their shopping (as walking around lots of shops is tiresome when you can’t park outside each and every one of them), ripping up more of that lovely countryside and archaeology beneath. No wonder Time Team only ever had three days!

All have had to endure the fact that motoring in real terms is as inexpensive as its ever been. Apparently, only they pay for the roads and should have exclusive rights to them. Many have had entire seconds added to their journey times due to the intrepid few that venture out on bicycles or on foot, the fools! How dare these peasants get in the way when motorists have spent thousands of pounds on their mode of transport?

They have had to endure speed cameras with their bright yellow paint and repeated warning signs. They have had money ruthlessly taken from them when all they did was break the law. How petty is that?! Why aren’t they catching the real criminals?

We needn’t worry though. Philip Hammond, the new Transport Secretary has recently ended this onslaught on the motorist. Thank God! He’s axed the funding to the speed cameras meaning that local authorities fall like a house of cards in the rush to switch them off despite objections from those little people that don’t know what they’re talking about like local residents, road safety groups and police chiefs. Anyone would have thought that right wing motoring groups lobbied hard and portrayed motorists as the poor victims in all this. Surely not! After all, they only kill and seriously injure a few thousand every year!

It now transpires that some motorists in Oxfordshire are speeding again now the cameras have been switched off. Gee!! What are the odds??!! It’s probably all these ‘expert’ motorists driving at speeds that they consider appropriate as opposed those nasty speed limits imposed to reduce the chance of death and serious injury. It’ll be alright though because those that walked or cycled in these spots will be put off due to the increased danger so there will be even less distraction.

If the ‘War on the Motorist’ has ended, then this must surely mean that they can now stop killing innocent civilians?Hurrah! The war is over! If a War had actually been declared on the motorist than I can only describe the state declared on pedestrians and cyclists as ‘genocide’ or ‘a holocaust’ as they impede the march of progress and are cleared off the streets. Well, if we’re going to wildly exaggerate, we might as well try and take it to a logical conclusion. Wars are things that happen in far away lands. Yet motoring has the higher death and casualty rate. Shouldn’t it be the ‘War from the Motorist’?

Last Tango in Parris

Journalist Carlton Reid has brought this to everyone’s attention on his brilliant website.

The title of this post refers to Matthew Parris, an ex-MP and columnist. In 2007 he wrote a column in the Times ranting against cyclists.

‘A festive custom we could do worse than foster would be stringing piano wire across country lanes to decapitate cyclists. It’s not just the Lycra, though Heaven knows this atrocity alone should be a capital offence; nor the helmets, though these ludicrous items of headgear are designed to protect the only part of a cyclist that is not usefully employed; nor the self-righteousness, though a small band of sports cyclists on winter’s morning emits more of that than a cathedral at evensong; nor even the brutish disregard for all other road users, though the lynching of a cyclist by a mob of mothers with pushchairs would be a joy to witness.’

That’s just the opening paragraph! He then carries on in a way that makes Jeremy Clarkson’s words read like a bedtime story involving kittens. To be fair, Mr Parris was probably unaware of the fact that hilarious country dwellers were stringing wire between trees and fence posts on bridleways to garrotte cyclists and horse riders (it certainly wasn’t to catch 5ft tall foxes). Thankfully these were, and are rare events but you have to ask what passes through the minds of these spineless, spiteful people to summon up such hatred through these words and deeds.

The article received over 200 complaints to the PCC and an apology followed.

Let’s fast forward to last week’s Spectator. Mr Parris discusses the Monsal Trail in the Peak District National Park. Four disused railway tunnels are being opened up to create a path with easier gradients for cyclists, horse riders and walkers allowing decent connections to other routes. Part of the funding is coming from Cycling England.

(Further reading about the trail can be found at this wonderful blog post from the Worthing Wanderer)

However, Mr Parris continues,

‘……. couldn’t cyclists themselves be more involved in the funding of Cycling England — some £160 million per annum? Cyclists have a strong sense of community and are good at organising (as I know to my cost, having once upset them). I would hazard a guess that as an overall group they do not represent a particularly disadvantaged section of society. They pay no road tax. Cyclists do already support a range of cycling organisations, local and national, out of their own pockets: why not this one, if they want it to continue?….’

Regular readers of this blog (and Carlton Reid’s website) will of course have spotted his cardinal error; Road Tax hasn’t existed for over 70 years and even then it was heavily subsidised. Cyclists have always contributed to road building through Central and Local Taxation, often contributing to the creation of conditions hostile to cyclists. As seasoned cycle campaigners know, cycling budgets at National and Council level are woeful. West Sussex County Council have just confirmed that there is no money in the pot this year for cycling due to all the recent pothole repairs and of course cuts, cuts, cuts, except where motoring is concerned. (Actually I’m glad they haven’t any money because there’ll be no more of this, this or this)

Mr Parris continues,

…at an ancient and historic copper mine I visited in neighbouring Cheshire two years ago, a group of volunteer enthusiasts have been clearing away rubble for many years, all unpaid and all in their spare time. Most cyclists are by definition fit, strong and healthy. Campaigning by cycling groups will have been part of the genesis of this Monsal Trail project. Why not involve campaigners in the work itself? Shifting rubble is not highly skilled; it would be fun to be involved. Walking and horse-riding groups, to all of whose members these tunnels are planned to open, could join in’

and then he enthuses,

‘… how to collect the money? Here, government can help co-ordinate: if cyclists were to consolidate their organisations into a sort of AA of cycling, a range of benefits — like using this trail, or public cycle-racks, or railway provision for cycles, or discounts in cycle shops, could be made dependent on showing the badge.’

The CTC has been around since 1878. They successfully campaigned for cyclists’ right to be on the road, and to use bridleways (years before the Mountain Bike). They offer free third party insurance to members, free legal assistance and discounts in cycle shops.  Above all, they have volunteers working across the country; People that fight in their spare time to open up trails, to get our voice heard in Highways Departments that couldn’t care less and to secure funding through whatever means.

All this for something so beautifully simple, previous generations did it without even thinking.

Volunteers have always been the backbone of cycling, from those that build and maintain Mountain Bike trails, to the Sustrans Rangers acting as custodians of the National Cycle Network, to the volunteer marshals at road and mountain bike events across the land, to all the campaign groups, to the devilishly handsome cycling blog writers to the venerable CTC.

In conclusion, Matthew Parris is nothing more than a misguided fool who needs to do more research. Maybe he should do a bit of volunteer work in the CTC offices. He might learn something.

Happy Thoughts

Last week I gave my humble opinion on a 19 page report issued by the Drivers Alliance which was focused solely on the removal Speed Cameras but offering nothing proactive in their place in terms of road safety. From the responses I received, I can deduce the following:

  • There is a well honed response unit of people that simply attack anything a person with an opposing view says. All very nice and I’d want the same if I was running a lobby group, particularly one like the DA. However, they may wish to reflect on why they’ve probably had so much experience.
  • When they make a statement, it is factual, based on proper research and statistics. It’s written by God and proofed by Jesus. However, when someone offers an opposing response, it is ‘a rant’ or the writer is ‘resorting to personal insults’ or ‘arrogant’ or they are ‘deluded’. I’m just glad these people aren’t Ambassadors to the UN.
  • Despite being repeatedly informed, some still think I am allied to the Ramblers. I like a good walk (particularly where a decent pub is involved) but I have no allegiance to the activities’ official organisation. I don’t actually represent any group. I didn’t think I had to.
  • That they simply couldn’t comprehend that I’m also a motorist because it is easier to compartmentalise someone. In fact, most adult cyclists are motorists too.

In the end I just stopped receiving comments, which I’m loathe to do (freedom of speech and all that), but found liberating in this instance as they were getting increasingly puerile and personal. The best way to stop a fire is by cutting off the oxygen supply. These people claim to have the upper hand morally yet they still come back for more (I was still receiving little packages of spitefulness last night). My lesson learned is that when dealing with these people it doesn’t matter what you say or how you say it, they will just move the goalposts and parameters, introduce new sets of ‘statistics‘ (which funnily enough didn’t show up in the initial report) or just start pointing the finger at other people. Or you of course.

So be warned. Someone somewhere will write a blog post about speed cameras simply giving an individual perspective and then watch as the response unit steams into action like a Panzer pincer movement. Best of luck to them.

 I also note on the Drivers Alliance website a spiteful little poll asking whether cyclists should pay ‘Road Tax’ and display a tax disc. I say that maybe they should but only when motorists do considering ‘Road Tax’ doesn’t exist and the bicycle is a zero emissions vehicle.

 So in conclusion, speeding is bad. Don’t do it.

Road Tax

Yesterday I found myself in a place I don’t often frequent – the DVLA local office in Brighton. Our beloved little car is no longer fit for purpose so we traded it in for a 5 door ‘family saloon’. This is partly for Wife who through a combination of bad luck and woefully bad surgery has a bad back but also because we seem to have accumulated a lot of stuff since The Boy arrived on the scene. The Space Shuttle taking supplies to the International Space Station is nothing compared to my household embarking on an overnight stay. It does make you wonder how we coped before but years ago families lived much closer together. Sometimes too close in the case of the village where I grew up.

Anyway, the point of today’s sermon is that I was buying a new 12 month tax disc. I put it in my bag and later on I cycled 12 miles home. However, there are a lot of motorists out there that believe that I should be displaying a tax disc on my bicycle too and that cyclists should ‘pay for the roads’. These people are what I like to diplomatically call ‘Morons’. The reasons are as follows:

Motorists Don’t Pay for the Roads

“There has been no direct relationship between vehicle tax and road expenditure since 1937.”
Policy and External Communications Directorate, DVLA

‘Road Tax’ doesn’t exist. In fact, it hasn’t existed since 1937 when the ‘Road Fund Licence’ was abolished. Even when the ‘Road Fund’ existed, motorists only ever paid a fraction of road expenditure. It was Winston Churchill that instigated its abolition stating
“It will be only a step from this for [motorists] to claim in a few years the moral ownership of the roads their contributions have created.”

The round disc I was carrying home to put in my windscreen is actually called Vehicle Excise Duty (or VED). It is a tax on the car, not its use. Road maintenance comes from central taxation. Even my month old son is indirectly paying for the roads from the VAT on the packs of Pampers we’re steaming through at a rate of knots.

VED Is Emissions Linked

Even if cyclists had to display a ‘road tax’ disc, a bicycle is a zero emissions vehicle and therefore would pay nothing. Beaurocracy would have been created at further expense for no return.

Cyclists Have More Right to Be On the Road

Cyclists, pedestrians & horse riders all have the RIGHT to use the Queens Highway. Motorists have to be licensed which is a privilege that can be removed by law. If you choose to operate a piece of heavy machinery that can move at lethal speeds which can kill if used incorrectly, it’s only right that you should have the correct licence, that the vehicle has an annual test and that the correct insurance covers its use.

By the way Cyclists can get Third Party insurance automatically by joining CTC – the National Cyclists Organisation (www.ctc.org.uk) or London Cycle Campaign (www.lcc.org.uk)
It may interest you to know that CTC years ago helped campaign for the creation of motorways (which cyclists obviously can’t use) reasoning that all cars would use them freeing up the minor roads for cycling and other lawful pursuits. Yes, that was probably a little naive with hindsight.

So there you go. I’ve bought a disc because I’ve bought a piece of machinery that pollutes. Nothing more, nothing less. If you want further information on the ‘Road Tax’ myth, journalist Carlton Reid has set up a brilliant website (<a href="www.ipayroadtax.com“>www.ipayroadtax.com) with further fascinating articles on the idiocy that cyclists face every day from people that think they own the roads when in reality have less right to be there.

Now that I own a 5 door family saloon, I shall not start watching Top Gear or reading the Daily Mail although I might end up towing a caravan. These are heady times we live in.