Saturday, 17 December 2016

Roadkill Grayling doors himself into a corner

The timeline appears to be as follows:
  1. Roadkill Grayling knocks someone off a bike by opening a door on his ministerial LR discovery, while it is stuck in stationary traffic.
  2. After telling off the injured Londoner, Roadkill Grayling continues on his way-unaware that the whole incident was videoed.
  3. Roadkill Grayling has an interview with the evening standard, is fairly critical of cyclists in London, still unaware his footing of him knocking someone down was videoed.
  4. The holder of the video, sees the interview, recognises the speaker, reads the patronising bollocks and hands the video to The Guardian.
  5. Roadkill Grayling's minions are left struggling for excuses, in what must have seemed like an episode of The Thick of It for those involved.
  6. BBC Radio 2 has a dial in debating who is to blame: the person on the bike or the person committing a criminal offence?
  7. Cycling UK has offered to fund a private prosecution, to compensate for the indifference the Metropolitan Police show for such incidents.
  8. Other politicians are saying "Guaranteed to backfire on cyclists in terms of public opinion"
No: it isn't bad for cyclists. It is a documentary of the failings of our streets and our elected representatives.
  1. It has shown precisely how today's streets don't work for vulnerable road users.
  2. It shows how those politicians who could make our cities safer don't give a fuck about safety.
  3. It shows how politicians are prepared to dismiss and ignore their own crimes, when blaming people on bikes for their injuries.
  4. It shows how free parking and chauffeured driving isolates senior politicians from the ways people get round cities: foot, tube, bus, bike and, when they can, Southern Rail.
  5. It shows how modern cities don't even suit people trying to drive, to the extent that the passengers just give up and walk to their destination.
  6. It shows that helmet cameras are so ubiquitous that "getting away with it" is over. The CMP prosecutions from helmet videos will only encourage this and shame those police forces who currently don't give a fuck into some form of action.
  7. It shows how rapidly even the BBC comes to the defence of a criminal caught on camera injuring someone. The DM? Predictable. But the BBC? They could have taken the opportunity and looked at how cities let vulnerable people down, how councils from Westminster to Coventry are doing nothing for pedestrians or cyclists —and link that up with our pollution crisis.
Roadkill Grayling's attitude to all cycling infrastructure proposals are now going to come in the spotlight, and be reviewed in the context of his own actions. The ES interview must be the last time where his response to questions about cycling safety is dismissed. Whenever he tries that, someone needs to go for the jugular: "how do we protect cyclists from people like you?"

It is certainly the last time he can say "we don't need safe space for cycling" -whenever he tries someone needs to point him at the video of of his own actions, which show how critical that need is.

Congratulations, to Roadkill Grayling, who, in one single action and a followup interview, has shown to all the failings of our cities and our politicians, and has implicitly committed him on a path of atonement. Because now he has no choice.

Sunday, 7 August 2016

When you call cyclists arrogant -look in the mirror

If you make a list of cliche terms to appear in articles and tweets, "arrogant cyclist" and "selfish cyclist" come up a lot as a way of defining why people hate cyclists —it's because they are "arrogant and selfish".

What does that actually mean?

Cambridge Dictionaryunpleasantly proud and behaving as if you are more important than, or know more than, other people:

OEDHaving or revealing an exaggerated sense of one’s own importance or abilities:

Now, what appears to constitute arrogant and selfish behaviour? Generally, holding up traffic.

Exercising your right to cycle between two destinations: arrogant.

Placing yourself in the position of the road recommended by the government to make it slightly more likely to reach your destination: arrogant

A parent cycling on the outside of the child so that passing cars will only endanger the parent, not their child: arrogant".

Whoever is using the term arrogant to describe cyclists should look in the mirror.

The very act of denouncing a cyclist for holding up your driving makes it clear that you are the ones with the over-inflated sense of self importance. The fact you consider it more important to arrive at your destination to your unrealistic timetable than it is for everyone to arrive alive is arrogant.

As for "selfish"? Surely wanting the roads for driving and being unable to share it with anyone on bicycle, horse or foot counts there.

Cyclist haters: the word you are looking for is : Insolentrude or impolite : having or showing a lack of respect for other people.

Because yes, we have no fucking respect for people who try to kill us as they squeeze past at pinch point, so will insolently get into the middle of the road to stop all but that 5% of drivers who seem criminal psychopaths on day release community tasks from school run to delivering parcels. Because yes, we have no fucking respect for anyone who beeps their horn repeatedly when we are on the school run and want to get their child there alive —and will insolently slow down just to piss you off. And because yes, if councils are going to build bicycle infrastructure that is utterly laughable, we aren't going to use it —and will continue to hold up your journeys.

Yours: the insolent cyclists

Friday, 26 February 2016

SMMT and the UK Government: Don't mention #dieselgate, buy a low tar car

SMMT and the UK Government: Don't mention #dieselgate

The SMMT has a new video up, claiming the EURO6 diesel is reducing pollution, and that new cars are cleaner.

What does this video ignore?

It ignores dieselgate, repeating the utterly discredited claim that EURO6 cars are better than before.

NOx Pollution in our cities is not getting any better. No doubt manufacturers will say "cities must address traffic flow" —but that's just a way of telling cities that congestion is their fault.

While it highlights the "real world" tests, it conveniently omits how the manufactures have pushed for "tolerances" on the test, so that they can keep driving cars that would otherwise fail the tests

It ignores that Paris is closing its roads to cars on alternate days, because pollution there is so bad *and their government recognising and acting on the problem*.

It highlights that "with Diesel, CO2 emissions are down", while failing to cover the consequence, "with Diesel, NOx emissions are now an unacknowledged public health crisis"

The reason for VW cheating was to save 300 Euros/car. That's all.

VW Audi Group chose to poison people across Europe and the US to save £200 per vehicle. That shows how little manufacturers value the lives of their customers and their families. Because if the claims that in-car NOx is worse than people away from the road, it's actually their own customers who are dying. If dieselgate spans more companies, car companies will have shown that same cynical willingness to kill their customers as the tobacco companies.

And what do they do? They produce videos claiming that their "low tar" cars are not poisonous, that their "filters" work, ignoring "passive diesel smoking". And they fill the press and TV with adverts implying that driving is a status symbol. This is of course, exactly like the tobacco adverts of fifty years ago.

For anyone reading a paper this weekend, look out for the car adverts,

Adverts highlighting how the new models are less polluting than the old ones

Adverts targeting women

Adverts associating cars with sports
Adverts associating SUVs with extreme outdoor activities
Adverts in front of national landmarks

Nowadays we'd look at those adverts and laugh at the naivety of the adverts and their audience, but we still expect and accept papers and magazines full of glossy adverts for products which are, en masse, killing thousands of people a year.

Accompanying the fantasies of the SMMT comes the silence from central government. Even if Cameron gave a fuck —which he doesn't— the EU negotiations would have forced him to do whatever was needed to keep Angela Merkel happy. Now that's done, is he going to suddenly roll out some emergency anti-NOx measures? Not a fucking chance. The environmental legislation that is forcing the government to act comes from Europe, its exactly the kind of "red tape from Brussels" that the Brexiters will be railing against.

Instead the SMMT, the UK government, the main London mayoral candidates are all quietly pretending Dieselgate was a minor US detail, that there is nothing to worry about.

If there's one thing which will break this calm its a pollution crisis which can't be blamed on the saharan desert or pollution from the EU. If that situation arises, pro-city activists need to be ready to draw awareness to the issue. Hold a protest outside a VW showroom, get hold of any form of mobile pollution sensor and start visibly testing cars in parliament square.

This summer: demand air fit to breathe

Sunday, 14 February 2016

Diesel drivers blaming cycling infrastructure for pollution: STFU

A regular theme with the "no cycling facilities" campaigners is the "causes congestion" claim, which they follow through to "creates pollution".

Here is the official response from the People's Cycling Front of South Gloucestershire:

Nobody who drives a diesel car has the right to accuse cyclists of causing pollution

People who voluntarily bought a diesel car, are the ones causing pollution. Now, it's not their fault: the car companies lied, and governments clearly covered it up. Why did people do it then?

  • Lower fuel cost
  • Car tax benefits, due to CO2
  • Combined message from car companies and governments that "diesel was good"
  • Claims in the early 2000's that EURO3+ was going to fix the PM particulate pollution, by burning the particles off, albeit giving off NOx in the process.
  • Claims that EURO6 was going to fix all pesky NOx problems that surfaced in the Mid 2000s.
The promise then, was clean diesel: fuel economy, fun cars, no pollution. This is what the EU car industry focused on, and what VW tried to sell to the US

It turns out that that this fairy tale had one small flaw: it was bollocks.

We know that now. Post-dieselgate, diesel car drivers can't point to the cyclists and say "it's your fault! you are to blame for pollution!".

They should be pointing at the car companies and said "you lying bastards, you told us these cars were suited to cities, when in fact they are killing them." Then they should turn to the UK and other EU governments and say "Why did it take the US government to find this out? What did you know —and why did you cover it up".

Then they should look at their beloved car, point at it and say "I'm sorry, you have to go"

Except for some special cases(*), there is no law in the UK that says cars and vans have to be diesel. We've always had a choice. Well, it turns out one choice, "clean diesel", was a lie —and that can only be corrected by the individual action of car owners.

Sell the diesel car! Buy a petrol one! If you have the money, go for a hybrid petrol one. And then start campaigning for something to be done about diesel in our cities. Because it's poisoning you too.

Yes, selling off your diesel car will pass the problem down the chain, it will probably get picked up by someone else. But at least now you can say "I've done my bit". And if you aren't prepared to even start with that —you can shut the fuck up when it comes to saying bike lanes cause pollution. Your decision to drive a diesel car in our cities causes pollution. Either get on a bike, a bus or get a petrol/hybrid/electric car.

Finally don't even think about buying a diesel car or van in 2016, new or second hand. Anyone who does that is either choosing to ignore all the press coverage of dieselgate and NOx pollution, or choosing not to give a fuck. Whatever choice, if you now buy a diesel vehicle, you have publicly surrendered your right to complain about: cyclists causing pollution, road tax changes which penalise diesel, fuel tax changes that increase cost/mile of diesel, and any future ULEZ zones across the UK which either ban you from driving your diesel car in —or may you pay for the privilege of causing pollution.

The car manufacturers and EU governments have shown that EURO6 won't deliver; that all those spreadsheets and timetables for NOx pollution going away are as fictional as WMD-in-Iraq dossiers. Which means that city-by-city, controls will have to go in on diesel car use. Don't wait for that to happen, get rid of diesel today. And if not: STFU.

[There's one notorious exception: london black cab drivers who really are made to drive diesel taxis. And TfL is dragging their heels about affordable replacements. That doesn't mean they can point to the cyclists and say "it's your fault"; they should point at the vans, at the commuters, at the cars and say "we don't have a choice —you do, and you still choose to drive diesel". In particular, cabbies should STFU about slagging of Uber drivers for driving Priuses. Smacks of jealousy there.]