Get a grip on cycling fatalities

Even the bloody Observer is treating thus non-story as though it was national news. Grrr…

Sirs,

According to the Department of Transport, over 540,000 cycling journeys are undertaken in London every day. That’s nearly 200 million a year. A dozen or so fatalities is a tiny proportion of these and indistinguishable from background noise, statistically.

Every death is unfortunate, of course, but when cycling is as close to 100% safe as it is, I have to question the mayor’s spending a billion pounds trying to improve this number. He’s doing it by taking vehicle lanes away and allocating them to cyclists, thus dramatically increasing the overcrowded on roads which are already close to capacity. This is going to heighten the risks for all road users, including pedestrians, who die at a rate some 600% that of cyclists – where’s the hand-wringing for them?.

We are going to have to recognise that beyond a certain point, we cannot reduce the number of fatalities given the fundamental nature of cycling and cyclists behaviour.

That billion pounds could certainly be put to far better use in London to provide social housing, for example, and I resent it being wasted on an unsolvable problem just because the victims are white, middle class and affluent.

And bless my soul, they printed it – without the contentious last two paragraphs, of course…

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Cycle deaths – misplaced priorities

Whine at the Independent, since the Standard is ignoring me!

According to official TFL numbers, in London in 2012 there were 69 pedestrian fatalities, 27 motorbike fatalities, 19 car fatalities and just 12 Pushbike fatalities.

Yet the mayor sees fit to allocate £980,000,000 to try and reduce the already tiny fourth-ranking number, not the others. He is doing this because the newspapers love a good blood-spattered story, not because it is a solvable problem.

He is doing this by removing vehicle lanes and reducing the road space available thus actually increasing risks for all road users and pedestrians on adjoining pavements.

His entire misguided cycle safety policy is not only a waste of a billion pounds of public money, it will make the situation worse.

THAT is what the papers should be reporting, not dwelling on a handful of inevitable accidents just because they happen to be white, middle-class pushbike users.

A dozen deaths a year is not, statistically, above background noise. They are certainly not national news.

Bad science from The Independent on climate change

I hate it when newspapers use bad science to support scare stories on climate change.

Apparently a huge iceberg has broken away from an Antarctic glacier. “If it melts it could raise sea levels” is the rather breathless caption under your picture of it.

It is already floating. If it melts it will make absolutely no difference to sea levels whatsoever.

It’s rubbish reporting like that which gives the serious topic of climate change a bad name.

Stop wallowing in cyclist deaths

I’m getting sick and tired of the Evening Standard wallowing in every cyclist who dies on London’s roads. Where are the multiple-column write-ups about us pedestrians who get killed – at an annual rate of some 580% that of cyclists?

Is it because cyclists tend to be white, middle-class, affluent, aspiration and politically active whereas pedestrians tend to be none of them?

There are only a dozen or so cycling fatalities a year in our capital. That hardly justifies the huge fuss and even larger public expense thrown at them.

The tens of millions spent making the A11 “cyclist-friendly” is wasted money because they will still not look where they’re going, will still run red lights and will still ride on the pavements.

Just write the fatalities off as Darwinism in action and spend a few quid on squeegee mops.

Follow-up the day after:

I’m having an interesting discussion with my friend the letters editor of the Evening Standard. He suggested that readers might consider the tone of my rant yesterday rather brutal, and wouldn’t I think it better to emphasise that there are unreported pedestrian deaths rather than complain about over-reporting of cyclist incidents?

I replied: “Not really, no. There is a time and place for brutal – breaking through their over-developed sense of entitlement, for example. I don’t know how much walking you do around London, but I average 35 miles a week, according to my iPad, and the arrogance and dismissivness displayed by cyclists has to be seen to be believed.”

“They simply cannot seem to grasp that the Highway Code applies to them too, and that pavements are not for bikes. They treat traffic lights like Christmas decorations, River and canal paths as race tracks and pedestrians as mobile roundabouts to be shaved as closely as possible.”

“A little bit of brutal would do these people good.”

I suspect he won’t be running my letter this time!

The Guardian is now part of the Russell Brand PR machine

Whine at the Guardian after they gave him a column and a page to himself

Sirs,

Why are you taking Russell Brand seriously?

You have given him a front-page column and a whole inside page to waffle in. Why? My head’s going to explode if I read any more.

“I remember the election” he say proudly, as though three and a half years is some sort of record for his chemically-damaged brain. He waffles on about Top Shop’s dividend policy saying that he’s not going to vote for that, oblivious to the fact that nobody but Philip Green does. But worst of all, he still thinks that his non-voting policy is showing “the man” that he rejects them when in fact he’s giving them permission to do whatever they like. Why anybody takes this mental midget seriously is quite beyond my understanding.

He wants a revolution. That’s it. That’s all he’s decided. Just that. He has no idea what he’s going to replace “the system” with, mostly because he has no idea what “the system” is, he just knows he doesn’t like it. He has the political integrity of a moody ten year-old, and just as much credibility.

By giving him so much space, The Guardian is just feeding his desire for self-promotion and adding to his delusions of adequacy.

Please don’t do it again.

London’s proposed Garden Bridge: Stunningly beautiful

Letter to the Evening Standard supporting their campaign to get the Garden Bridge built

Sirs,

Occasionally in life you come across something that is just “right”. Whether it is in nature, art, architecture, music or some other sphere. It pulls you up and makes you stare because it triggers something in your soul that says it really belongs; it just “fits”. It adds so much that people will travel a long way to see it and be part of it.

The Garden Bridge proposal is just such a rarity. It combines beauty and function, nature and engineering, and has a scale and vision that is breathtaking.

London MUST have this bridge! It will be so much poorer without it.

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