It’s a new dawn

Yes, from tomorrow we will extend the success of our finger crossed campaign to the forgotten.

All current safety campaigns (whose success we are already comparable to after only two days), provide valuable support to road users. These campaigns stop road users being killed by explaining to them that respecting 1500kg vehicles is the way forward. These campaigns are incredibly helpful in telling road users to make themselves visible. Respect and hi viz are like a brick wall in front of useless womblecunts.

Unfortunately these campaigns are limited in their scope. Ask them to protect pedestrians on pavements and they will look at each other and shrug their shoulders. They have no answer to protecting pedestrians who walk about in their segregated, designated area.

THEY HAVE NOTHING!!

Well that’s where our campaign comes in. Fingers crossed works just as well for pedestrians as it does for all other road users. You want to be as safe as the other campaigns promise?

CROSS YOUR FINGERS!!!!!

fingers-template-yellow

You’re welcome.

Keep following us for updates. Next will be left hooks, one of the most common causes of driver-cyclist RTC. Respect has failed because you didn’t even know that driver was approaching you. Hi viz has failed because they must have seen you to pass you in the first place and yet they still turn left in front of you and destroy your life.

Have we abandoned you? Not on your nelly. Fingers crossed is right here, we’ve got your back. Cross your fingers and we will provide you with the same protection you get from respecting other road users in huge great, massive, metal boxes.

Fingers Crossed!

You can hardly access the internet nowadays without coming across a new road safety campaign. This is good to see as there’s a lot of people killed an injured on our roads. Safety campaigns will make things better.

Safety campaigns are funny old things. You’d *expect* them to focus on those doing the most harm. After all, it’s a complete and utter waste of time targeting pedestrians and cyclists and other victims of road violence, these people can’t stop other people driving into them can they?

What I’d *expect* to see is posters telling drivers “STOP KILLING PEOPLE YOU STUPID BASTARDS!!!” And I don’t really mind if it upsets the drivers who drive carefully because it’s saving lives, see.

You’d *think*, wouldn’t you? But no. Bizarrely, quite a lot of road safety campaigns tell the people getting killed and injured that they really need to look out for themselves. Quite how the campaign groups achieve this without it sounding like a veiled threat is actually rather impressive but they certainly do a good job.

now you see me

Dress like a railway worker, or you’ll get hit by a car because drivers can’t be expected to see perfectly visible people.

There’s also a running theme to encourage people to share the road and respect each other because it’s a two way street. Cyclists are, after all, always killing drivers. Or something.

respect

It’s not uncommon for these campaigns to be supported by car manufacturers for some reason that’s not entirely clear other than an obvious acceptance that the users of their products are hopeless fuckwits.

LIFEPAINT

Things must be better with all this safety being pushed out to unprotected humans moving about on 30lb, self-propelled vehicles, mustn’t it? Is it, chuff. Because no matter how much you tell cyclists to make themselves be seen and make sure people can see them or to wear a plastic hat, there’s still an issue that is being left out there. It’s these huge metal boxes that keep hitting people and killing them. Huge metal boxes being operated by other humans.

Now if you think these humans go about their business in a dangerous manner *until* they see a poster telling them to behave, you’re a jolly naive individual. If you think people are going to start looking and caring about people not in a car simply because they see a TV advert warning them of the hazards of not doing so, you’re a bit daft.

“Oh, bugger me, I’ve been driving like a complete tool for the last ten years and that poster showing a car giving some room to a cyclist has made me change my ways”

If you think you can educate bad drivers, you’re in a little cloud because these campaigns have been run for years and years and they make

absolutely

fuck

all

difference.

But I’m not going to let that stop me. You see, I’m going to start my own safety campaign. This will have the same effect as all the other safety campaigns so that’s good. My campaign, like many others, doesn’t bother telling the people doing the harm to sort themselves out, it’s entirely focused on the people suffering. Hopefully I’ll get sponsorship from Ford or someone. Volvo seem quite keen on blaming the people their customers kill, I’ll try a pitch there. But for now, onto the campaign.

 

Behold! The ‘Fingers Crossed’ campaign.

fingers-template

Looking to get home tonight? Fingers crossed you will.

Hoping you’ll see your family again? Fingers crossed you will.

Like having the usual number of arms and legs and heads? Fingers crossed they’ll still be there this time tomorrow.

It also comes in hi viz.

fingers-template-yellow

This campaign will be hugely successful for a great many reasons.

For a start it will achieve 100% of absolutely fuck all just like all the other campaigns.
It costs nothing, and more importantly, it costs nothing to drivers.
It’s quite simple in that it places all the onus on the victims of road violence, I mean, no-one driving badly is going to be crossing their fingers are they? That would be unsafe.
Once someone has driven over someone else they can quickly point out that the victim didn’t have their fingers crossed so they were asking for it.
It gives hope where there is none.

I’ve run out of benefits now but that’s not going to stop me either. I’m currently designing shirts to push the message out there.

“Fingers crossed you don’t drive into me”

“Please don’t kill me, my fingers are crossed”

And this will no doubt have as much impact on road safety as everything else because targeting the vulnerable is a sure fire way of stopping the strong and powerful from continuing to cause harm.

Stay tuned for updates particularly where we link up with our sister safety campaigns, “Pray to Jesus” and  “If I don’t tell my wife I’m shitting myself, maybe I’ll see her tonight”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Stockholm Syndrome

There’s a strange situation that takes place amongst cyclists sometimes. Or maybe it’s not that strange, but it’s certainly wrong. As wrong as fish. Maybe even wronger.

Allow me to outline a scenario that illustrates this situation.

A hostage is cycling along the road. He’s not doing anything wrong or confrontational, he’s just riding about the place. I dunno, he’s on his way to work. But he’s riding along. A hostage.

As he approaches a narrow section of the road, a hostage taker approaches in a car behind him. The hostage taker doesn’t  just nail it past him with inches to spare. The hostage taker waits behind.

After the road narrows, it goes round a sharp corner and then after a few hundred metres, the road widens and heads off in a straight line. The hostage, conscious that he is holding the hostage taker up, gives it a bit extra. He’s not a slow hostage by any means. This particular one is quite fast, 22-25mph on the flat. In a 30 mph section. So he’s not holding the hostage taker up by too much, but he does feel guilty about it. So he goes fast. Faster than he normally does, he goes fast until the hostage taker has room to overtake. Safely.

Overwhelmed with gratitude, the hostage waves his thanks to the hostage taker. “Thanks for not killing me”, he waves. “What a great person you are”.

“Thanks, again.”

What the actual hell?

I should explain Stockholm syndrome at this stage. If you don’t already know, this is the positive emotional attachment that the victims in a relationship make with their captors. Originally coined after a lengthy hostage situation in a Stockholm bank vault, the expression is often used to describe the bond that builds between an abused party in a relationship and the abuser.

Well hang on Jon, just a minute. Drivers aren’t kidnappers. This particular one is old Mrs Whattle, she’s never hurt anyone in her life. She cares about people and she’s on her way the village hall to run a coffee morning for cancer victims. You’re just one of those cyclists who go on and on about drivers all being bad and all cyclists being good.

Well hang on Jon, I’m a cyclist and I don’t wave thanks to drivers who wait behind and then feel a surge of well being towards drivers when they pass safely and considerately as they are bound by law and common decency to do so….

I could be wrong. I often am. But I don’t think I am in this case. I don’t give a shit about the drivers perspective to be honest. Lets talk about the cyclists perspective though.

The vast, overwhelming majority of road transport infrastructure in this country is designed to work for drivers. Cyclists are allowed on some of it, and there is a tiny, insignificant proportion that is actually dedicated to cyclists, but on the main, drivers get full priority. Even in that there London where crazy people are building actual, dedicated, well thought out cycling infrastructure that isn’t knee deep in mud, there’s something like 15 miles of proper stuff. For 1000’s of miles of roads, 15 miles of it, has some sensible cycle infrastructure, in the best supported city in the UK.

W O W

And you would not fucking believe how much anguish those 15 miles of cycle lane have caused to the good citizens of our capital. Even celebrities have got involved. Not shit celebrities neither, real ones like Janet Street Porter, Sir Alan Sugar and Tom Conte. Those people are absolutely LIVID about this insane level of investment and disruption that is clearly designed to fold to the agenda of the all-powerful cycling lobby.

You see, even celebrities, the most perfect members of our society, have Stockholm Syndrome. They have been utterly convinced by the dogma that is doled out by the car trade, the road trade and the politicians making money out of them. They have fallen for the cause that the real kidnappers have held a ransom over us for years.

There is no all-powerful cycling lobby. This is the most hilarious thing anyone can ever say in the entire world. I’m hugely reluctant to accept that Janet Street-Porter has been hired by Mercedes to diss the all-powerful cycling lobby but I’m happy to accept she’s been fooled into swallowing the line (hook and sinker) that her captors have been feeding her. All our captors.

Tell you what, it’s time to stop this shit. We’re not sorry for the inconvenience.

fred

(Photo courtesy of alamy stock photo)

We don’t see your view, we don’t get your cause. Share the road? Yeah alright, equal space, equal rights, equal infrastructure, equal spending.

See our view.

 

 

 

 

How to destroy a brand

Do you remember when flickr was good? I do. It was actually the best photo sharing website available for quite a while.

Nice gui, good navigation, sensible policies, easy to embed photos from flickr into websites, forums and threads. Really quite nice.

Then, about three years back it all went tits up. They changed the sharing options so for a while it was impossible to place code on a forum that shared photos. They fixed that but then they changed the gui which was and still is absolutely terrible, so hard to flick (eh?) through all your contacts photos. They changed things so if you found a photo in someone’s photostream you couldn’t easily look sideways at associated photos. The apps were complete and utter bobbins.

And now this. I get this email from flickr.

This is a message from the Flickr Abuse & Advocacy team to
let you know that we've changed the safety level of your
photostream to "moderate". Having a "moderate" warning on
your account means we've determined there are items in your
photostream in the wrong categories.

*** If you'd like to resolve this, we ask that you please
read the following email and follow the instructions
completely before writing back for a re-review of your
account. ***

When people browse or search on Flickr, they can filter what
they want to see based on a safety level that they are
comfortable with - either Safe Search is on, set to
moderate, or off. As you upload stuff to Flickr, you need to
make sure that you're applying appropriate filters ("safe",
"moderate", or "restricted"). If you don't apply filters
correctly, there's a very good chance another member will
let us know - in fact that's why we've taken action today.

NEXT STEPS:

You will need to moderate your content before asking for a
re-review.

1) Check out the Content Filters FAQs: 
- http://flickr.com/help/filters/

A good rule of thumb is, bare breasts and bottoms are
"moderate." Full frontal nudity is "restricted."

(Please note: Content that you're sharing privately needs to
be moderated as well.)

Eh? My photostream consists almost entirely of pictures of me on top of big hills or bad drawings. What the hell could have offended anyone?

 

Top of Newlands Hause

Ah, well while that’s not very pleasant I don’t think it actually violates flickr’s rules. SO what could it be? My drawings? Again, they’re not great but maybe one of them has offended someone….

Aaah…

Naked-ness. Bottoms. I’ve upset someone incredibly prudish, clearly. And obviously because they’re such insanely good drawings they’re so lifelike that someone is right now, vomiting because you can see someone’s bottom. You know, those things every single one of us has got. NO BOTTOMS.

Right, well I’m sorry about that flickr (not really), but FUCK YOU.

I could tolerate the appalling interface, the useless app, the webpage that’s always slightly bigger than my computer screen, but this, no, fuck…you.

Goodbye. I will maintain my flickr account, but I shall use it to display random acts of disobedience because stupid rules are stupid.

 

 

Try again

 

Did you ever think, that you’ve taken the wrong career path?

I don’t mean wishing you’d become a porn star or a millionaire novelist. I mean something normal. An actual normal job which earns no more or less than your current occupation, just different.

I’ve had thoughts about changing career in the past, just like most people do. Not doing my hobby for a job thoughts, I’ve done all that and realised much as it’d be great and everything, it wouldn’t be great. Doing something you do for fun, I think, could make you hate it. No, that’s not true. I got into IT because I liked messing with computers, and now I’m paid a lot of money to tell other people what to do with IT. I don’t hate it. It’s a little soulless at times but meh. Pays for bike bits and booze.

Anyway, my head has been turned. You see, I work in the water industry.

Water production is incredibly important. Honestly, if it fucks up, you’re about 12 hours from mayhem and death. It’s not very exciting though. Here’s how you make drinking water.

Collect some water, clean it up a bit, disinfect it a bit, give it to people to drink. Yawn. The scale is quite interesting and the delivery logistics are certainly challenging but that’s about it. I bet you didn’t know that we create a head, or service reservoir to maintain supply rather than producing on demand. Huge, great ,massive, swimming pool sized cisterns.  Obvious really, actually you probably did know that. See? Yawn.

water-treatment-plant-41-638

Shit.

Now shit is interesting. We all do it, but once you flush that chain you forget about it. But that’s where it gets really interesting. The things with humans is, we shit a lot, and someone has to take it all, get that nasties out, get the goods out, maybe make a bit of money out of it, return some of it to nature. Now *that’s* interesting.

Let me take you through the modern day sewage treatment process.

Once the raw sewage arrives at the treatment works, all the big bits need taking out. Toothbrushes, nappies that have made it this far, dead dogs. So it passes through a big grate and all the big bits fall into a skip. Those skips. N I C E. Interesting point. Apparently tomato seeds pass through the human body undigested, so lots of them fall into the skips that are full of nutritious material. Beautiful tomatoes at a sewage works.

Onwards for the sewage though. First off, we need to let it settle. Pump it into primary treatment. Big vat of water. Oily, frothy bits come to the top, hard, heavy bits fall to the bottom. All the bits that float to the top get pushed into a holding tank, sometimes this stuff is used to make…errrmm, brace yourselves…soap. Not really in the UK though.

Anyway, so now we have a load of fairly nasty water filled with properly dangerous microbes, and a load of sludge. This shit (I’m here all week), suddenly got interesting.

The microbe water goes off to be de-dangered using an aerobic biological process. Here a live culture of good bacteria (for want of a better phrase), process the water and remove most of the deadly bacteria by feeding on it. The culture must be kept alive and healthy, warm and fed with oxygen. Heat helps, I wonder where we can find some of that? Read on to find out. The clean water is dumped back into a local water source. Really, it’s good now. In storm conditions, large holding tanks capture the excess of wastewater but sadly, sometimes there’s too much and it, ahem, is just released. Sorry about that.

The sludge? Aah, here’s where things get awesome. You see, there’s an old Northern expression. ‘Where there’s muck, there’s brass’, and sludge is very much, muck. Sludge is, one the whole, quite wet. And it’s not a huge amount of good to any one in that state. In the UK we used to spread it around the place to leave it to dry out. Slow though. The best thing to do with sludge is harvest its methane. Sludge gives off methane quite a lot. Especially when it’s nice and warm and wet.

So we’ve got some wet sludge. Pump it into a big tank, add plenty of heat. The bacteria in the sludge gets very excited and starts making methane as it’s post-excitement exhaust gas. It’s not very pure though so we push the gas through some scrubbing systems to make it nice and clean. Now we have pure methane. What are we going to do with that?

bg-cs-LayeDavyhulme

Put it in some big holding containers, that’s what. Inside the balls are big bags that fill up with methane.

What are we going to do with the methane? Chuck it into one of these of course.

GE-Jenbacher-Type-6-cogen-unit

Combined Heat and Power (CHP) units turn biogas into electricity This is quite a big one. Believe me, once they’re up and running it’s quite impressive. These things generate megawatts of electricity which can be used to run onsite equipment (you probably didn’t know that the water/wastewater industry is one of the largest users of electricity in any country), or pumped back into the grid.

CHP’s generate a lot of heat so that can be pumped back into the start of cycle to get the sludge excited. It’s almost poetry isn’t it? We still haven’t finished with the sludge though. Once all it’s excitement is over it is dried out and turned into fertiliser.

Now you tell me all that isn’t more interesting than computers. I bet you didn’t realise your poo did all that after you’d flushed the chain, did you? And if you had a choice to work with computers or poo, I know which option you’d take.

Training, qualifications and Accountability

If you spend any amount of time on social media or online news sites looking at subjects that are even vaguely related to cycling (or often, not even tenuously linked to it) , you’ll very quickly come to the conclusion that cyclists are the devil’s spawn, who eat babies and kick kittens. Not because they are. Cyclists are just normal people who instead of getting in a car or using public transport, or god-forbid their heathen souls, walk to go somewhere, have decided to travel on a bike. They don’t change personality because they’ve left their car keys hanging up and lift their leg over a bike, but various commentators would have you believe this. During this anti-cyclist tirade it is not uncommon to raise the three mainstays of the cycling opposition party portfolio, tax, insurance and law breaking. I’m going to ignore the first two for the purposes of this discussion. I’m also going to largely ignore the general lawlessness, or not, of cyclists. (Personally I see way more drivers breaking the law than cyclists but everyone has their own experiences).

The issues of law breakers is an interesting one at a principle level because cyclists in the UK (and this may be the case globally) may lift their leg over a bike without any formal training whatsoever, and head off along a public carriageway causing mayhem, death, crushed dreams and heart attacks as they meander aimlessly without rigid guidance provided to them by the authorities. Valiant drivers will apparently crash their cars into flocks of old ladies just to avoid these callous menaces (because presumably the brake pedals don’t work) and all because there is no mandatory cycle training and test that allows someone to pilot what is clearly the most dangerous machine known to man, a 30lb bicycle.

Why are cyclists allowed to terrorise the law abiding drivers of Britain in this way? Drivers have to be trained extensively and must pass an incredibly difficult test before they are allowed to drive a car. This is what makes them paragons of virtue. Their detailed training and examination (the COP would have you believe), ensures that even if they wanted to, drivers are not able to make a single solitary mistake. This is what marks drivers out from cyclists who are unregulated, ungoverned and even worse, not accountable. Any driver who has been trained and tested, will commit hari-kari if they go even 1mph above the posted speed limit. (After pulling over safely and not parking on the pavement)

Why is this even allowed? Physics. That’s why.Well not just physics, I may mention externals later. but lets talk about physics.

BMX Bike Clipart

Here’s…errm, Jon. He’s on a bike. He’s not been bike trained or tested (I have but bear with me), he is liable to kill someone at any moment because without it being drummed into him through a rigid, formalised and commercially viable training program, he has absolutely no idea about what he’s doing. Honestly, it’s like giving him a machine gun or a chainsaw

The thing is, despite Jon being completely out of control, he only weighs 13 stone (sorry, 182lb) plus his bike which makes him 200lb. A 200lb bullet just ready to kill. Jon can make his bike go quite fast because he cycles a lot but on average, he moves at around 14mph. A 14mph bullet. If Jon careers into someone at 14mph on his reckless spree of abandonment (every morning jon kisses his wife goodbye, she never knows if the next time she’ll see him he’ll be in a coffin), Jon will stop moving, pronto. Really, physics aside, the person most likely to be hurt if Jon cannons into them, is Jon. That’s because Jon and his bike are slow and light, traffic-wise. Jon has what we call ‘low momentum’. If Jon were to aim his machine of death at a house, Jon would probably die and the house wouldn’t even notice it. Don’t forget, all these scenario’s only unfold because Jon is an unpredictable ninja of doom without training and testing.

Carpooling Clipart

OK? Right, here’s errrm, Dave. Dave has been through a tight series of controls called ‘the driving test’. To pass this test, Dave was first trained by a bored and cynical relative highly trained driving instructor to an extremely proficient level before having to navigate what is probably one of the most difficult examinations normal people have to undertake, ‘the driving test’. This training apparently takes, on average, about 40 hours. That’s like a week of being in work. The test can be longer than half an hour. After this, Dave is deemed fit to drive anything with 3 or 4 wheels that weighs less than 3.5 tons. If Dave were as old as Jon he’d be able to drive something up to 7.5 tons. So in Dave’s capable hands, we have 7900lbs of Dave and incredibly well managed metal. Dave is allowed to go up to 70mph (but no further) but spends most of his time sitting in a great big queue of traffic. I mean his average speed is 30mph. Hang on, the RAC says here that the average speed on 30mph free flowing roads is 30mph. Given that there are many times people must drop below the speed limit, this must mean lots of people exceed the speed limit? But they’ve been trained… No, must be a mistake. Anyway, 30mph average in a 7900lb vehicle. That’s what we call in traffic terms, ‘high momentum’. If Dave drives into a house, the house will most certainly notice it. But Dave will never drive into a house because he’s been trained and tested. Dave never needs to take his test again because of the incredibly high standard of training he received when he was 17. Male humans at age 17 are very mature people. Not mature enough to drink in public or own a credit card but taking 3.5 tons of metal through a shopping centre? No problem.

yellow semi trailer truck clipart

This is fun, what’s next. Aah, Jane. Jane has taken and passed her HGV license. Heavy Goods Vehicles (HGV’s), are quite big. And heavy, if it’s not clear. I’m surprised Jane even bothered to be honest. The insanely laborious and difficult hoops that Jane must jump through before she’s permitted to get behind the wheel of something weighing up to 44 tons!!!! Lets assume Jane only wants to drive lorries up to 30 tons though. To reach this, the pinnacle of driving expertise, Jane must not only pass her normal driving test but then must pass 4! Count them, FOUR more tests before she is allowed out delivering goods. It’s like the Krypton factor! All lorry drivers must have an above average IQ or something. At least. She must also receive 35 hours of training every five years as well as getting fitness to drive certificates every five years (once she’s over 45). Well, I don’t think anyone could be that well trained, do you? That’s almost as much training as I have to do every year so I can put letters after my name. Phew!

Anyway, 30 tons is 66,000 lbs (we’ll ignore Jane’s weight because I’m a gentleman and to be quite frank, it makes chuff all difference). Jane is allowed to deliver heavy goods at the same speed cars go so that’s a 30mph average. This is known in traffic terms as ‘like a bus momentum’. If in the impossible event that Jane drives her lorry into a house or a bridge I expect the house or lorry would cease to exist in it’s current form. But as I say, that never happens due to the galactic levels of training involved.

 

Physics time

 Jon’s momentum = 200 x 14 = 2800 lbs m/h
Dave’s momentum = 7900 x 30 = 23700 lbs m/h
Jane’s momentum = 66000 x 30 = 1980000 lbs m/h

Those are significantly different figures aren’t they? Momentum can be translated into risk quite easily. The bigger the momentum number, the more risk the vehicle represents. Since unfettered cyclists can in no way provide a baseline, we’ll have to use the car and lorry figures to help us understand where cycling needs to rest on the training graph.

risk

Oh. Well as far as I can gather while I look at the maths (and bear with me, I’m no lorry driver), this means that for cyclists to be trained to an equivalent level as other road users, we’d have to mash them in the head with a large brick, put a blindfold on them and then push them through a red light. Physics explains everything doesn’t it?

This is why cyclists don’t need training, a test or a certificate to let them ride on the road. They are the harmless sloths of our road system.  Yes they can be annoying when they do break the rules and yes, very, very occasionally they get involved in something unfortunate and hurt or kill someone else. These are terrible incidents but don’t for one minute claim that training will change this. If you’re already in fear of your life, and trust me, a great many cyclists are, then explaining to you carefully that cars can squish you flat and not even slow down, is not going to encourage you to share space with them. In fact, it’s more likely to encourage you to break the rules, get on the pavement and annoy people.

We simply do not give enough education and training *of the right type* to the Dave’s and even Jane’s of this world because as we can see, they keep killing people. If you want to talk about training, talk about regular re-testing of car drivers, talk about removing the license to operate from those people who display an inability to manage their high momentum vehicles and talk about sorting out the particularly unpleasant aspects of our traffic system before you even consider discussing something you find annoying.

Risks

Yes, yes, I know that risk is a lot more complex than just momentum. Lorries have bigger brakes and wheels and things, bikes are harder to see and hear.

THE LEIGH GUIDED BUZWAY (oh, and cyclepath)

Update:

It’s now finished. How do I know it’s finished? Well all the barriers have gone and there’s a car parked on it.

2016-05-01 07.36.20

Brilliant! That’s how you know a cycle lane is open, some twat parks their car on it.

Apart from that it’s exactly as shit as anticipated. Bumpy as hell, covered in loose gravel, loss of priority at every junction. It’s awful. Oh, it’s quite popular, even in the rain today it had plenty of walkers, runners and cyclists on it. Is it a success based on that? Not really. This should be about encouraging people to stop driving into work, to take an alternative. And this mess won’t do that.

 

Original

Years in the planning, more years in the building but now it’s here! The Leigh guided buzway that goes from Leigh, to Manchester!!!!    !!!!!!!!!! !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

This is a big deal in Leigh, I’ll explain why shortly. I’ll also explain some other things that some of you are already trying to tell me about.

(If you don’t want to read the preamble, scroll down to where I laugh a lot in capitals)

Guided busways are, not very common. There could be a number of reasons for this but my favourite is, they’re a load of shit. It’s poor use of the space, they’re often not really guided as they invariably cross roads or use the road for a bit, or a lot. The Leigh to Manchester one uses the road a lot. The planners will tell you this is pure genius and this is exactly why the Leigh Buzway is brilliant. It can use the road, *and* the buzway. It’s also the very same reason, why it’s a load of shit.

OK? It’s like an episode of soap.

Where’s Leigh?

Well, it’s up North. North West. Near Wigan. No? Warrington? /Sigh. Have you heard of Manchester? And Liverpool? Yes, where the Beatles come from. That’s it. Well Leigh is in between those two, but nearer to Manchester. Yes, where the Smiths are from.

leigh

What’s special about Leigh? Nothing really, it’s a bit of a dump. Oh, I live there if that counts. Actually I live in one of the posh bits, if there is one. Lake just bottom left of the word ‘Leigh’, near there. Not that you care. Andy Burnham is our MP. I think that’s it.

Oh, there is something special about Leigh. It’s one of the largest towns in the UK without a train station. Now that is important. You see, Leigh, doesn’t really have anything for people to do. It’s got small businesses and stuff, sure. It’s got a run down town centre and loads of pounds shops but real, big employment? Nah. So where do people in Leigh work then? Well the small number that do have jobs tend to work in Wigan, Warrington, Bolton or Manchester. I work in Warrington, not that you care. Quite a nice ride there though.

Anyway, eventually arriving at my point, if you want to live in Leigh and work in Manchester, our nearest city, then you can drive there….ummm that’s about it. Oh you could get the bus, or drive up to Daisy Hill or Atherton and get the train from there (get there early though or you’ll have to wait until after rush hour to be able to fit on). Or you could cycle. Nah I’m only kidding, people from Leigh don’t ride bikes. Everyone drives there.

There’s not many roads from Leigh to Manchester. Two, by my count. The East Lancs, or the M602. What do you reckon these roads are like in the morning and evening?

That’s right, they are completely and utterly chocked full to the gills. Have been for years, lots of years. I worked in Manchester in the 1990’s and they were solid then. (This is an important point, you’ll see).

So the planners decided to build a buzway. Is that annoying you yet? Try living in Leigh. That’s how they say it. Buz. I’ll stop doing it now. So they decided to build a guided busway. Along the old railway line route. Not another railway. A guided busway. Not a tram system (of which Manchester has an large, excellent and efficient example), a guided busway. Why? I don’t know. I’m told it’s lack of capacity once it hits Manchester which is odd because they built the tram system out to Oldham and Altrincham quite happily. The cynic in me would suggest there’s some political dealings going on there but anyway, we have finally reached what this blog is about. The busway, has a cycle path built alongside it. An actual, segregated cyclepath. Like they have in that there London.

Now during the building of the busway, lots of people complained. They said the building work was making their drive into work really long.

AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAAA!!!!!!

IT TAKES 2 HOURS TO DRIVE TEN MILES BECAUSE OF ALL THE CHUFFING TRAFFIC YOU NUMBSKULLS!!!!! IT HAS DONE FOR TWENTY FREAKING YEARS!!!!

But blame the busway. It was fine before, that’s why it’s being built, because the roads are so empty. Not you, driving. Nope. Or those cyclists. Bastards. Look at them, riding past on that…path. There is actually a cycle path all the way from Liverpool to Manchester you know. You can get from Liverpool, lets say Anfield, all the way to lets say Salford, on a segregated, dedicated, cyclepath. Is that the longest in Britain? Maybe, someone tell me. It’s a load of shit by the way . you’ll be sat at some junctions until midnight waiting for the traffic to die down. It crosses 6 motorway slip roads. SIX! Do you think any of these crossings, have facilities for cyclists to cross safely? (Say no). Do you think these sliproads are impossible to cross at any time of the day without dying? (Say yes). Yeah, it’s brilliant.

Want to see it? You’re in luck, the Busway opened yesterday. And you are about to be taken on an adventure. The Leigh Guided busway adventure.

I decided to examine things on the way home so I rode up the East Lancs to where the busway joins the East Lancs and runs in a bus lane and then rode down the cyclepath along the busway back towards Leigh. Or did I? Of course I didn’t.

Lets begin.

Here’s the start of the busway, just to the left. You can see the standard invitation to cyclists ‘GET OFF YOUR BIKE NOW’. We’re so good at cycle infrastructure in this country, it makes my heart swell with pride.

startbus

Ignoring this I continue. Ooh, a lovely station.

ellenbrook

Barely able to hold my excitement, I can’t wait to get onto the cyclepath. 70 million this has all cost so the cyclepath will be absolute pristine. Won’t it? I’m being sarcastic by the way, it’ll be a load of shit because this is Britain.

Here’s what the surface is like. Grid for scale. It can’t be finished though, it’s an inch deep in gravel. Very hard work. We’ll return to that point shortly.

grid

I continue. Here’s a crossing. I have to press the green man to cross.

crossing

It’s becoming clear that the busway, is not really open at all. Lots of railings around, the cycleway cannot be even close to finished yet and their piles of dirt and stones everywh…OOH OOH OOOH, A BUS IS COMING!!!! HELLO MR BUS DRIVER, HAPPY TO DO YOUR BUS DRIVING JOB!! HELLLO!!!!!

Oh, he didn’t wave. Ho hum. On I ride through the stream of gravel. It’s wet and very, very draggy. It can’t be finished….aaah.

end

End of the road for me. Or rather, the start of the road. I try and follow the busway the rest of the way to Leigh but while I do keep crossing it, the cyclepath is closed at each crossing. They’ve got a lot to do and I’m not sure if this loose gravel is the completed cyclepath or still waiting for tarmac. This but suggests they’re tarmacing it all. Dunno.

tar

So if you’re local, or you’re not local and were planning to travel for hours to get to see the new cycleway, don’t bother. They’ll not announce when the cycleway is finished in the same way they haven’t said it’s closed because cyclists don’t matter. I’ll keep an eye on it and if you keep hitting refresh on this page for the next six months I’ll update it to reveal the cyclepath in all it’s glory.

Of course, if you’re still waiting for me to do the same thing when I looked at the Wigan Orrell cycle corridor from two years ago, I haven’t forgotten, they just haven’t finished it yet. Or perhaps they think they have, dunno.

 

 

 

Welcoming our autonomous masters

So these self driving cars. Just for the record, I’m for them. Not because I believe they will operate with an unblemished record. People are going to get hurt, people will die. Which is awful. Of course, what’s even more awful is accepting the current state of affairs where I can absolutely guarantee, people will get hurt and people will die, lots of them. I can even tell you how many. On average, tomorrow in the UK, 61 people will have their lives irrevocably changed for the worst (not including all their family and friends who will be severely impacted by this), and 5 people will die, family members, friends etc. That’s sounds properly awful. And that’s why I’m for self-driving cars, while they won’t be perfect, they will be better that human drivers, much, much better. And for every mistake they make, the people who program them will learn, and re-program and for each death and injury, these cars will get better and better until the amount of people getting hurt and dying on our roads will reduce to be barely statistical registrable.

But that’s not what I’m writing about here. Because I know humans. The worst thing about autonomous cars is not that they will reduce deaths and injuries to (hopefully) negligible amounts. What autonomous cars will do, as with many technologies, is bring out the worst in humans.

What I’m writing about here, is how humans will abuse this technology. I might run a book on which ones get convictions first.

People are a bit shit. Oh I’m know we’ve done lots of great things. Really, there’s some amazing people out there, but most of us are shit. So I know autonomous cars will get abused, terribly. Let me count the ways.

Drive me home
No doubt the initial rules will be that a human must be sat behind the wheel, even if they’re not driving. Can you see people driving down the pub and then letting the car drive them back while they’re pissed? Of course you can. What copper will pull over a self-driving car? Once that precedent is set, why bother with any pretence? Just go on a pub crawl. Drugs? Fill your boots. No copper will pull over a self-driving car.

Drive my kids home
Once you’ve worked out the car will bring you home when you can’t remember your own name, you can let the car do the jobs you really don’t want to have to do, like looking after your kids. I’ve no idea if there will be any technical controls to ensure a trained adult is sat in the car but it’s unlikely to be anything more intelligent than a weight measurement device in the drivers seat. Pop a bag of spuds in there and set the course. Jeremy Kyle while you’re doing the tough stuff.

Pick my stuff up
Just send the car to the supermarket. Some of them already do a pick up service in the car park. It seems pointless you having to waste your valuable time by actually driving a car there if it can do it itself. Set the program, wait for the crisps and cake to arrive. You’re brilliant! The big supermarkets will love this shit. They’ll b e pushing massively to remove their expensive retail premises and replace them with efficient and cheap retail self-drive outlets. It’ll be like a production line.

Park up, chicken.
It’s so busy in town. And parking is so hard to find and so expensive. Simply let the car drop you off then send it out of town. Maybe let it do the shopping while you’re busy working.

I’ve got a very important meeting
Forget all the normal things people will do when in their self-driving cars like having phone calls and going to sleep. People will get their computers and phones out and work while the car is moving their highly important body around the place. After all, sales people are incredibly important and must utilise every single second of their lives, I dunno, by buying self-tying trainers on amazon or something.

MMMMMMMmmmmm…..
Sex. It’ll happen, I absolutely guarantee it. Your car will be driving you home, you’ll be pissed, the person sat next to you will be looking very nice indeed and you will want to have sex with them. Why wait? Get jiggy on the way home. No copper will pull up a self-driving car. The car can deal with the easy bit, time to get on with the hard stuff.

TV
I mean, really, If you think anyone sat in a self driving car isn’t going to watch series 19 of Game of Thrones, you’re not very aware.They do this when the car *isn’t* self driving so it’s a sure fire, bob notch boogie.

Sorting the Noms
Again, people eat and drink all the time when driving, and people die from this. At least once a computer that is a fraction of the size of the human brain is in control, less people will die. I mean, when humans are eating and driving, they can’t be expected to do both of them well, can they?

Take the blame
This for me is the number one. Whether the human is in control, or not, shagging, eating, sleeping or watching Jeremy Kyle. If anything at all goes wrong, they will 100%, certainly, positively and indubitably, blame the car for whatever went wrong. And the courts will believe them and people will die and the people who did it will walk free. The future is here, people. Enjoy.

 

 

No thanks, Brad.

They say you should never meet your heroes, now it turns out you should never listen to them either.

I spent a good couple of years following Brad’s progress leading up to the 2012 Tour de France and I spent a very excited couple of weeks watching him ride about France until he finally bagged the big one. I was a big fan. I even drew him! Three times!

But then Brad turned out to be a gigantic cocknugget. What a pity.

That seems a bit harsh doesn’t it? He’s a national treasure! Hmmm, maybe not. Rides a bike well, but then when he opens his mouth a load of nonsense comes out. So what has he done this time then?

Brad tells cyclists to follow the rules or face the consequences

Hang on Jon, all he’s done is ask cyclists to follow the rules, you can’t argue about that can you, or are you one of those righteous cyclists who believes the laws don’t apply to you?

Nope, I’d not argue against following the rules (despite there being plenty of evidence to suggest law breaking cyclists spend less time getting crushed by lorries). And in fact, I think in all the commentary I’ve seen over this article, not one cyclist has said “Fuck you Brad, I’m no stooge to the man and I’ll break the rules if I want, you square”. The problem is errrm, pretty much everything else he said.

The two things that really bother me about Brad’s outburst are thus:

Firstly, it’s this ridiculous notion that cyclists must earn their right to the roads by behaving. By all riding safely and within the rules, drivers will respect us and thus stop driving over us. Have you ever heard so much shit in all your life? Not one other road user is maligned in this way. No other group of road users are told to behave because they need to earn respect. Terrible car drivers aren’t told by Lewis Hamilton to pack it because it makes the good drivers look bad. Errant lorry drivers don’t get told by errrm, I dunno, Eddie Stobart if they don’t stop misbehaving then their rights will be removed.

Here’s a little excerpt.

“but you always get cyclists who give a bad name to the rest; people who jump the kerbs, jump red lights and ride around with iPods so you can’t hear the rest of the traffic. You would not do that in a car so why would you on a bike?”

So jumping kerbs, jumping red lights and listening to music are things you wouldn’t do in a car? You don’t get out much do you Brad? Drivers do these things, CONSTANTLY. And of course, when drivers do these things that are virtually always, mere annoyances when cyclists do them, they become dangerous. Even lethal. people die because drivers do these things. But we need to earn respect, apparently.

Anyway, that’s not my major issue. The real dollop of manure (other than the British cycling membership statement) that fell from Brad lips was this.

“people are starting to use cycling as a means of transport more but we won’t see the full cycling legacy of the Olympics for 10 years”

Did you bang your head when that van driver (remember, they make the rest of the van drivers look bad) knocked you off? Transport. Olympics. Transport. Olympics. Transport. Olympics

What. The. Fuck. Has. Transport. Got. To. Do. With. The. Olympics???????

Here’s a clue Brad. CHUFF ALL

The olympics no more provides a legacy to cycling as a mode of transport as formula one does to driving down the shops. This is complete and utter nonsense. In the unlikely event that someone watching an olympic cycling event suddenly decides to ride a bike to work the next day because, well I don’t know. I have absolutely no idea how someone would make a link between a race on TV and riding down the A34. Anyway, if someone watched the olympics and then rode to work the next day as a direct result of doing so, what kind of cyclist do you think they’d be?

That’s right, they’d look like this:

wiggie

Is that what we want? Do we actually need more Brad wannabies with their heads down, chasing Strava segments, doping up on cough medicine and hidden electric motors, racing you from every set of lights and shaving their legs? Is that what bicycle transport looks like?

Of course not. Cycling transport, done properly looks like this:

amsterdam

And this.

SAM_5015

No helmets, no pro kit, no need to wring our hands about whether we’re earning respect from drivers. It’s safe for everyone, not just the strong and the fast and the aggressive.

So I tell you what Brad, if you really want to improve road safety for cyclists, stick your comments up your arse and talk to sports cyclists about sports cycling. I don’t want to hear advice on road safety from a Tour de France winner, I’d much rather listen to what the vulnerable, the slow, the quiet and the people who don’t yet cycle have to say on the matter. If we’re driving a cycling revolution forwards, these are the people we need to listen to.

 

Chasing the devil

Cycling in Britain is not half as popular as it could be. There might be lots of reasons for this and we could talk for hours bout them. The unsafe roads, the weather, the hills, the complete and utter failure to invest in any form of decent infrastructure. These are all good suggests but they’re all wrong.

The real reason? Marketing. Proper, coked up, devil worshipping, dog eating, marketing. The real nasty, evil shit that comes out of someone who used to convince pregnant ladies that cigarettes were good for their babies. The kind of ruthless bile that the Daily Mail uses to push it’s crack down the minds of middle class pensioners. The filth that Unilever use to peddle Marmite to an unsuspecting public. This is the stuff that cycle vendors need to adopt. It may seem an expensive step to take but my god it’ll be worth it.

The cycle industry really needs to take a leaf out of the book of the worst people in the world. These people push over a million direct deaths a year to their drooling addicts. Their product is way better at topping us and ruining lives than anything ever invented before and since. But you wouldn’t know it. These are the best. Their marketing is so slick it can make death look wonderful. It beautifies a gagging cloud, it perfumes a sickly mess of blood and guts. And most of us fall for it! I know I have. Oh how I desire this product and I’ve already got two!

I’m talking of course, about people who sell you cars. Not the showrooms or manufacturers. They’re just trying to turn an honest crust, honest. No, the real nasty, evil bastards who the cycle industry need to employ, are the people who make car adverts.

I’ll explain with pictures. Lets first look at how the masters do it.

SWEET JESUS! LISTEN TO THAT! You’ll never drive one in your life but you now want an AUDI. DON’T YOU???!!

Lets try another.

O M G !!!!!

TOM HIDDLESTON!
MARK STRONG!!!
BEN FRICKING KINGSLEY!!!!

Helicopters, mansions, film-quality production, driving like a cock on the embankment (it’s alright, it doesn’t encourage terrible driving). I bet that advert cost 20 million pounds to make but by god you want a Jaguar now.

Alright. Lets look at what the cycling guys have to offer.

Um……

OK, that was a bit unfair, how about this one?

Umm…..again. OK, lets pick the best TV advert for cycling ever made, ever. And it’s not that bad.

Eh? EH? You want to buy a bike now don’t you? No? No.

It’s not sexy is it? Most of them are wearing a helmet, they’re in a bike race for some reason (and as we all know, racing is actually the only thing you can do on a bike), there’s a crash near the end (try showing a car crash in a car advert) because cycling is dangerous and everyone who does it is a reckless bastard with attitude but at least it has ice cream.

So even Halfords, the best bicycle advertisers in the world with their £5523 advertising budget, isn’t really stepping up to the mark.

It wasn’t always this way of course. There was a bygone era when bikes were awesome and everyone wanted one. All the evil marketing people who didn’t work for the tobacco industry, worked for the bike industry. And boy, did they make bikes sexy.

HE’S ON A BIKE AND HE’S BEING CHASED BY A LION. BUT HE’S GOT A GUN!!
Whoever designed that could sell Lada’s!!! (Turns out it’s not a gun. Thanks Carlton)

raleigh-advert-3_2184271b

Normal people looking normal and happy on a safe road! No safety equipment, no gloves or lycra, just people dressed like normal people, ON BIKES. It’s so far removed from what we expect it *could be* a car advert.

article-2316116-1986B5AC000005DC-664_634x965

BOOBS!!! A FREAKING SWORD! LIBERATOR!
Is it a bike or a sex toy! I DON’T CARE! WHERE DO I BUY ONE?????

 

THAT is what I’m talking about. I don’t know when the car industry stole all the really ruthless marketing people who have absolutely no qualms about sticking a sword in an advert for a bicycle just to sell PRODUCT but it was clearly a turning point in the WAR (which is another very useful car marketing tool) between bikes and cars.

If we want to make cycling great again we need to stop with the nonsense, fill a couple of bins with cocaine and snorting champagne, get the long chequebook out and get those crazies to produce some SEX BIKE ADVERTS. We’re not going to produce change with a quarterly newsletter, only marketing that’s on fire is going to make this change happen.