Monday, 12 August 2013

Nicewaycode : wake up, time to die.

Introducing a new law for the Internet

Hembrow's Law: whoever cites Franklin in a debate about cycling loses.

This week the losers citing Franklin are @nicewaycode trying to defend their bus ad:
Cyclecraft author John Franklin is strongly in favour of overtakes on the right unless the nearside lane is free of traffic in a multiple lane situation. 

The correct riposte to anyone who cites Franklin is: so fucking what?

Franklin criticises dedicated cycling infrastructure and claims that having it makes the Dutch lazy. Yet the fact they have that  infrastructure means that they can get to and from their destinations alive, irrespective of age or skill. By denouncing infrastructure and advocating taking the lane, Franklin has got the UK into a situation where about one cyclist a week is dying, yet all the Scottish government is prepared to is divert some of the tiny amount of money dedicated to cycling into an advertising campaign that says, essentially, "do not use what shit pieces of paint we've put in so as to claim that we are cycling friendly -as that  will only kill you"

(photo: Nicewaycode GB)

They have a point: the red-paint routes are shit. The showcase South Causeway cycle route is shit. What is proposed in Leith Walk is an even bigger pile of poo as they are actually spending money on road redesign there -but still producing something shit where there is space for it.

The nicewaycode people are just victim-blaming cyclists for even imagining that the shitness provided across Scotland for them is safe to use.

That "don't go up the left" advert is reflecting what campaigners like pedal on parliament are saying: what we've been given today is shite. The other sign, "maybe", means "maybe if you are fit and brave you could cycle in the traffic"

Which summarises the problem of cycling in Scotland. Except the niceway code fuckwits are just repeating a fact to cyclists, cyclist who, unless this is the first 15 minutes of a bike ride in Britain they will know: cyclists are not welcome.

These bus signs are the cycling equivalent of the Home Office "immigrants go home" racist vans. Here they are instead sticking buses in the bus lanes that cyclists are forced to use as they are the least unsafe par of a road, with a sign on the buses saying "cyclists: fuck off to the Netherlands"

Why are they doing this? Because the MSP with responsibility for cycling doesn't seem able or willing to make cycling a safe transport option in the country, and he lives in the imaginary Franklin Land where he, Franklin and the nicewaycode team can pretend that cyclists will live if they take the centre of a lane, don't run lights, and instead pretend that they are a horse.

Keith Brown, MSP has passed the poisoned chalice to the niceway code agency, with a brief "stop the cyclists running red lights and maybe wankers with a history of killing cyclists won't kill another one then get a light slap on the wrist as a penalty

Those naive fools took the bait -and so are getting vilified and ridiculed for producing what will go down in history as the "what not to do" example for any road safety campaign;  an example whose YouTube videos will be watched and laughed at by media studies students in future courses on the effective use of social media.

Here is the message of the cycling front to the niceway code: stop it before you make things even worse.

Go back to the minister and say "we are spending cycling money telling cyclists to not use the shit you build for them". Say "cyclists ride on pavements as you have provided nowhere else safe for them -and an advert isn't going to change that"

Finally, say "stopping now will save cycle fund money which can actually be used to make cycling in Scotland safer for pedestrians."

Because if you don't: you will just dig a deeper hole for yourself and your paymasters. The more bollocks you put out, the more of a reaction you will get from the cycling campaigners. Eventually those organisations naive enough to sign up: CTC, Sustrans, will drop put -and the publicity from that will mean Keith's spin doctor will be on the phone to you swearing  like Malcom Tucker, blaming you for the press disaster.

Stop now and tell the politicians that Franklin's approach is exactly what left Scotland in the condition it is in: a nation where most sit in traffic jams on their way to coronary heat disease  sounding their horn whenever one of the few cyclist does what Franklin says and gets in their fucking way.


  1. Brilliant - More of this please.

  2. Before blogs there was Usenet, and it was all vehicularists shouting down anyone else. We could've used a variant of this law (applied to the other John F.).

  3. This would be the same Mr Franklin who told us that all you needed to cross dangerous junctions is to be able to ride at 32 km/h. What a preposterous idea, and what an odious ableist little man.

    I'm in my early 30s, not entirely unfit, and I own a reasonably maintained seven-speed bike. I can jump across junctions at 32 km/h if I wanted (although hub gears make it hard to make the shifts in time). However, let's make a little list of people I know who can't:

    * [name redacted] who is relatively unfit right now but is trying to use cycling to get in shape
    * [name redacted] who suffers from MS but still rides a speed-limited electrically assisted bike
    * my student friends who can only afford third-hand clunkers with rust-covered chains
    * the 500 school kids who stream past my window (can you tell I'm in the Netherlands?) before classes in the morning on single-speeds - if your kids grow out of their bikes every two years, you're not going to buy them top of the line models
    * [names redacted], recently retired, weren't very sporty during their working lives, but are looking for something to do with their time and money now that they're in their late 60s and early 70s

    Note that in the blog post I linked to, commenters make the argument that 32 km/h is an attainable speed to any serious rider. That much is true for people like myself, but it's not something that any of the people I listed above could or would do. Those people are excluded from the joy of cycling in the disturbingly narrow world of the vehicular cyclist. The exact same groups of people - children, the eldery, the unfit and disabled - would have problems with overtaking a bus, which requires physical ability to get up to a speed that isn't five times slower than the surrounding traffic, and a significant amount of self esteem and confidence in your abilities which they likely wouldn't have.

  4. The danger here is setting up vehicular cyclists as the bogeymen. I'm amazed that they've had so much power in the Uk since the 30s - through their efforts alone preventing Britain from being a Dutch cycling paradise. Truth is councils are reluctant to create proper facilities because they find it difficult with their current mind sets: that there isn't space, not enough cyclists, can't slow down traffic, etc.

    I'm all in favour of Dutch style facilities but such facilities are sadly almost nonexistent in the UK - a pedestrian pavement with a cycle symbol isn't anywhere close. Until this happens then I've found vehicular cycling to be useful advice and that includes not using painted lines to undertake buses. Of course expecting cyclists to have to be vehicular is insane but the road system in the UK is insane.

  5. Agree with others vehicular cycling is totally unsuited to the majority of the population and not what we should be aiming for....however with the shite road conditions we currently have it does seem to be a safer way of travelling than hugging the kerb or cosily embracing the false sense of security a tin of green paint creates.

    But is it not going to be slightly tricky pointing out the hypocrisy of niceway suggesting ignoring infrastructure in place whilst also noting that charging lemming-like* down the left of buses is not the smartest idea?

    We want dutch style infrastructure but in the meantime...

    *yes undertakes can be done safely but you do see some silly stuff too.