making everyone happy

making everyone happy

My friend was knocked off her bike Yesterday and ended up in A&E.  It was a classic car/bike accident where a car turning right down a side street cuts through static traffic but doesn’t anticipate the cyclists still riding up the inside. Car/bicycle meet at 90 degrees.

Or was it the cyclist not anticipating a car turning right down a side street cutting through static traffic.  It’s rarely clear cut.  I’d put the onus on the cyclist to anticipate – they’re the most at risk – and they can’t rely on anyone else to look out for them.

The London Mayor is going to drop £770 million on cycling over the next 5 years to make cycling a “safe and obvious choice for Londoners or all ages and backgrounds”. That’s £17 per Londoner (whether they want £17 to get them cycling or not!)

http://www.standard.co.uk/news/london/sadiq-khan-announces-770-cash-injection-for-london-cycling-infrastructure-a3412221.html

This will buy new segregated cycle superhighways, extensions to existing cycle superhighways and mini-Holland schemes in the suburbs.

Car drivers and the Daily Mail are no doubt in outrage – why are cyclists so indulged? But put this in context: its only 5.5% of total TFL budget.  Cars, Trains, Buses, Underground are still hoovering up the lions share.

What’s the solution? Segregation is great (of bikes and vehicles) until the segregation ends, then chaos breaks out. Cyclists become complacent, forget that the risk factor has just turned up.  Cars have forgotten that they’re sharing the road with cyclists and have a duty of care (NB. a cyclist is a real live person (just on a bike)).

The solution: cyclists need to be controlled and drivers need to be educated – the best way is to get drivers on a bike.  Which will only happen if they are incentivised to do so. How? Penalise them?  That won’t help. Make it safe? We’ve tried that.  Make it easy?  Easier said than done.

What about paying them?

Smartphone technology could make a carbon offset scheme work.  What about £10 of your road tax for every 100 city miles cycled? (Paid for by: VAT on bike sales, decreased NHS costs from a fitter, healthier population and reduction in pollution/respiratory related illnesses).

Surely it’s worth a try.

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keep cycling, nothing to see here

The sun is shining. The rain clouds have moved on. For now. That’s the decision made: blue sky through the sky light / cycle to work. Non-negotiable. My head agrees. My body is protesting. Still protesting from being hauled to Brighton on Friday evening. Three days of lazy recovery isn’t enough anymore.  After performing some half-hearted and medically unproven stretches I creak out the door, blinking into the still bright morning sunlight. Often it’s started raining in the time from 1st sight of blue sky to eventual departure.

It’s my 1st time cycling past Westminster since the EU Referendum result. The Media gantries in Abingdon Street Gardens are empty, with the BBCs standing grandest – I assume it’s the BBC’s as it’s the one where Laura Kuenssberg and Co. have been camped out since Thursday. The smallest one, a cheap ‘purchased at Homebase’ gazebo, squeezed in at the back, is labelled ‘BBC Radio Scotland’, like an afterthought. I’m disappointed, I had expected crowds, protest marches, maybe even riots, at least some milling around. Instead, all quiet, for now, perhaps politicians and protesters don’t get out of bed this early. Even when the future of our nation is at stake.

The road outside the Houses of Parliament is pockmarked with potholes and canyons in the tarmac, circumnavigating Parliament Square requires concentration. The makeshift memorial to Jo Cox has been hidden away, shunted to the back of Parliament Square Gardens, between Ghandi and some other bloke in a gown, I can’t tell who it is as I’m busy concentrating on following the new designed for cyclists cycle path, whilst not being mown down by a juggernaut in the process. The newly constructed cycle paths are meant to make cycling safer and easier, a grand plan that sounded better in Boris’s Mayoral sound bites than it works in real life. Wait a minute…

election fever

London has seemingly been in the grip of ‘election fever’ for the entirety of 2016. That’s not ‘fever’ in the context of a good thing I.e. sales fever, football fever, festival fever. No. More like a long running, irritating cold that won’t go away kind of fever. The kind of fever that various products and remedies promise to solve but invariably don’t. Sound familiar. For lozenge swap in opportunistic politicians.

First the election of the London Mayor. Now the UK’s EU in/out Referendum.  It was impossible to cycle through London and not be bombarded by Sadiq Kahn’s beaming face or Goldsmith’s reluctant ‘I really don’t want to be here face’ on buses or billboards. Then we voted our 3rd London Mayor even if I guess most Londoner’s have no clear idea what the purpose of London Mayor is.

You can forgive Sadiq Khan for his new job’s ambiguity as he began his term resplendent in a huge grin, giddy with joy at his clear win, like a lottery winner. Unlike his predecessors, Ken and Boris, who whilst contrasting in policy (I think) were united in a love of the limelight and their perma-smug demeanour that revealed how thoroughly convinced they were in themselves that they deserved the role because of who they were. They were already self-promoted political celebrities.

Khan Seemed to come from nowhere. Maybe he was just a politician rather than a celebrity who dipped into politics when their media commitments allowed.  I hope Sadiq’s priorities are more focused on delivering the housing and schools that London needs.  Not naming modes of transport after himself.  I like the story his dad was a bus driver; my dad was a postman.

How many days has he been Mayor now? Other than a public spat with Donald Trump nothing cataclysmic has happened.  Whereas tomorrow. If the UK has voted to leave the EU, things will happen. The financial markets will go into meltdown; billions will be wiped off pensions (not the gold plated final salary pensions of the little middle Englanders that will have voted Leave) but the companies who have to fund those pensions will find it harder to meet their liabilities. Going cycling on the continent will be harder too. Waking up to Brexit will be a bitter pill to follow and the fever will deteriorate into something far worse and potentially terminal.