Saturday 28 July 2012

A new bike path?

The People's Cycling Front is forwarding a statement issued by a representative of the Bristol Cycling Campaign, in which he, Terry Miller, announces that there will be a new bike path opening today, Saturday July 28:

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Terry Miller
Subject:  Opening of new path in South Gloucestershire

Work parties have been working on the Coxcrove Hill to M4 stretch since Monday 23rd July.
The surface is machine rolled "stone dust".
I have been privileged to assist John Grimshaw, local residents from Pucklechurch other volunteers (& local contractors operating heavy machinery) for part of the week.
At the end of Thursday & Friday work was "on schedule".
The final working party for this stretch commences 10.00 Saturday 28 July ready for the opening ceremony at 13.30.
John Grimshaw is on Radio Bristol on Saturday 28 July around 08.20.

Working parties for the next stretch (north from M4) are expected from Monday 6th August from 15.00 to 19.00 (weather permitting).

The surface does not sound great -but it is exactly what the Pucklechurch branch of the railway path had before S Gloucs council and the West of England Partnership put a dual carriageway over it. The fact that John Grimshaw and Terry Miller were involved bodes well, while the engagement of the local residents may mean that it is welcomed more than a bike path goes down in Filton.

We can not confirm or deny the attendance of any representatives of the People's Cycling Front at the event. 

Friday 20 July 2012

RAC Foundation totally blows the "foundation" idea

This week the "RAC Foundation" has gone from being a car-centric research group to being the people that send mad rants into newspapers blaming bicycles for causing traffic jams.

Why? Their article on the conversion of gardens into driveways, covered in their blog.

It says
  • Seven Million gardens have been paved over to make driveways
  • This is due to the rise in car numbers, from 2M in 1950 to 28.5M today
Then it goes on
  • This number will rise to 32M
  • Councils need to "provide adequate space for stationary cars,"
This is bollocks -ignoring the elephant in the room

By saying that the number of cars in our cities is the driver for driveway-conversions, it is acknowledging -but failing to draw out, the harsh truth

There is not enough space to park the cars already in the country -and adding more cars to the country will only make things worse.

Blaming the councils for this is utterly fucking ridiculous. Where are councils expected to "provide adequate space for stationary cars," on residential roads. The roads have cars on both sides, many roads have cars half on the pavements to ensure traffic flow. All that is left is a formal conversion of the pavement to parking with parking bays (the Waltham Forest strategy) or complete occupation (the Montpelier strategy -were the lack of gardens forces this action in earlier than the rest of the country).

The only alternative way for councils to expand parking capacity in residential areas is to add underground parking areas under every city street. That's all that's left, and to whine on about "surpluses" that councils make from parking is so daft they should remove the world "foundation" from their title and call themselves "three-year-olds".

The Pedestrian Liberation Front (who are not associated with the People's Liberation Front, though we reach out the Black Kevlar Glove of friendship towards these fellow strugglers who also refuse to wear Hi-Viz) put the boot in  and make a key point.

You can reduce parking demand by providing alternatives such as car clubs.

Here is another point the RAC "foundation" missed as a cause of this. 

The rise in car ownership has been driven by a failure of government and councils to provide any alternatives that are safe, convenient and affordable.

Look at all the campaigning by the RAC foundation, the AA and the papers against fuel duty rises. Compare with the silence about train fare cost increase. Compare with the silence about the fact that UK train system is a complete fucking disaster.

Residential streets are meant to be the quiet and safe roads in the cities to cycle -the back roads that we are recommended to use. Yet cars parked on either side means that rat-running drivers end up chicaning down them at speed, making it quiet most of the time but hazardous whenever there is passing traffic.

Those parked cars take up space that could be used to provide safe cycle routes. There is a cost to that 28.5 Million cars that the RAC omits -even when not being used they impact better forms of transport.

If there really is going to be 32M cars soon -which shows the RAC believes those DfT numbers that appear to be pulled out of a hat to justify their own projects- then that means 4M more cars trying to take space away from walking and cycling.

Instead of complaining about lack of council investment in space for stationary cars, they should be looking at how much damage four million cars does to our cities, even when stationary, what better uses could be made of that roadway, and how to transition our cities from places where even the gardens are being paved over into ones where people can walk, cycle, use modern public transport -and car share when they actually need the carrying capacity or range of a car.

Monday 16 July 2012

The Vehicular Cyclists are missing the fucking point

One of our propaganda units has been arguing with @oceanmaestro on twitter -he believes that

  1. Hi Viz and bright helmets improve visibility to drivers, so increase reaction time, so improve safety
  2. "Florscent Bright Color make object bolder & easier to react to, inspires confidence & assertiveness?"
  3. "CycleLanes may account for 60% of majority of cycle trips & breed a safety complacency for 40% rest of journey"
  4. Segregated Cycle Lanes increase Cyclist-Pedestrian Collisions in busy Pedestrian areas?

Either Oceanmaestro is an "old school" Vehicular Cyclist, or he's someone trolling the modern cycle campaigners. Whatever: here's the response, including the swearing he was complaining about.

Let's look at the key points of the VC people. The old guard.

  • Roads are for cyclists too, aggressively claim them
  • Resist cycle paths because they are shit shared use paths
  • Resist cycle paths because they encourage complacency that will get you killed on the remaining bits of your journey.
  • If people were more confident they'd survive
  • All we need is to teach people confidence and they will cycle.
  • And today: Hi viz inspires confidence.

This is fucking bollocks.

Cycling has been designed out of modern roads and junctions -and in the eyes of the drivers. It doesn't fucking matter whether or not is it legal, whether or not you are in hi-viz -any junction that forces you to sprint across three lanes of traffic trying to get up on a motorway is not a road for cycling on. Hi viz might keep you alive for longer, but it is not the environment needed to create a mass revolution in cycling.

Same for A roads: if you look at the stats for the "he came out of nowhere" cases on the cycling silk's blog, a lot of them happen on A-roads, dual carriageways, etc. Dual Carriageways have designed out cyclists, A-roads that lead to them are going the same way.

It doesn't fucking matter whether or not you are allowed to cycle on a dual carriageway, it looks like a fucking motorway and people don't expect bicycles on it. That's a harsh truth. We have been designed out of roads where you can drive at 70mph. Which is fine, provided there is something safe and pleasant as an alternative: segregated bike paths that provide safe crossings of all junctions.

The VCs can whine on all the time about how cycle paths encourage complacency and will result in people being forced off the roads -but the roads and the drivers have done that already. All that is left are a few fanatics that the rest of the country views as brave, foolhardy people.

Their fanaticism hasn't resulted in a mass cycling revolution.

What we need are cities safe and pleasant to walk and cycle. Not shared pavements, not shared spaces, but proper pavements that don't have fat lazy drivers parking all over them, segregated cycle paths that aren't just short-stay parking, don't have HGVs driving past 6 inches away, and connect up the city rather than abandon you at the roundabouts.

  1. Anyone who thinks hi-viz is an alternative to this is someone who has given up and relies on superstition to get to their destination alive.
  2. Anyone who thinks that training is all people need to get round alive has to explain this: why do many experienced cyclists get killed?
  3. If the VCs want to put their hi-viz on and cycle along the A38 and A4174, that is their choice -the People's Cycling Front of South Gloucestershire will not stand in their way.

What we will oppose is any attempt from these defeatists to have any say in where the UK cycling money goes. Spending money on training is bollocks because

  • It doesn't make the streets any safer
  • It doesn't last. You'd need to spend the same amount of money the following year.
  • Infrastructure investments are that: investments. 

If the VCs are happing going on the ring road -they can. But they have to fuck off when it comes to asking where the money goes, as giving out hi-viz and saying "the ring road is safe, really, provided you have hi-viz and ride aggressively" is a failing strategy. It has failed for thirty years.

The old revolution is over! Cyclists! Arise and create the new Cultural Revolution!

Tuesday 10 July 2012

Urban SUVs -are they really that fucking useless?

Here's an advert from the weekend's guardian, a paper that is meant to be "forward thinking". It's for some kind or urban SUV

"Be the envy of the School run"

Is that all they can fucking say about it? It means "your five year old car that still works perfectly and is on its second set of tyres doesn't look like an urban SUV so you should get rid of it and lease something more expensive so that people can look at you on the school run and say "cool", although by the end of the lease we'll have changed car styles to make this thing look out of date and you will want to do the same thing again"

This shows how the car industry is running out of things to say about cars -or reasons to justify replacement. This is why they are getting heavily into autonomic vehicles -there's nothing left to be done in engines, but integrating computers gives them a lifespan of a laptop.

What's really depressing is

  1. It assumes that everyone does the school run by car. Want to be the envy of the school run? Cycle there. 
  2. It assumes that how new your car looks is the definition of status in modern, suburbanite society.
  3. It assumes you'd get rid of a perfectly functional car in order to display this status symbol on the school run.
The scary thing: it may actually work.

If the advertising team know their customers, they will know that their customers really do want to show off which car they drive their precious offspring to school in. They may also know that the demographics of guardian readers means they are the target audience.

Whichever fuckwit came up with this probably drove home across london in their c-zone busting urban SUV feeling so fucking smug with themselves.

If you look at the money spent on car advertising, a single weekend's spend probably comes out to more than the entire annual "marketing bicycle" budget for the councils and government. They do the little leaflets saying "why not walk your kids to school", but every paper has half-page adverts saying "you need a newer car for the school run"

Indeed,the annual advertising budget probably comes to much more than the actual infrastructure investment on cycling. Someone -Carton Reid?- could research that, as it would make a good story. 

Car advertisments are the propagada arm of Imperial Car, as they repeat the same lie: get a new car and you will be happy. This is why pushing back at bollocks they say is important.

Sunday 8 July 2012

The origin of the Great Wall of Filton

At their AGM, Joe Steinsky took the attendees from the showcase Bristol City infrastructure, to the "what not to do" infrastructure of S Gloucs -infrastructure that was, remember, funded out of the Cycling City program.

David Arditti has put up his review.

First, regarding the MoD paths, those were the ones where bollards without illuminated markings went up to narrow the cycle route down to less than 1m for two lanes -making it the nationally famous Bollards of Death path. It may be abysmal now, but consider this: the S Gloucs cycle team spent money making it worse, then more money reversing their mistakes.

Which brings us, naturally to the Great Wall of Filton, which as David Arditti observes is "foolishly obstructed by a wooden post".

Its far, far worse than that. The shared space went in a couple of years ago to make this stretch of road walking and cycling friendly. Instead it shows why shared space is a shit idea that actively punishes anyone cycling. By allowing cars to park on the edges of the space, and giving people the "option" of walking and playing in the centre, it created conflict with anyone cycling, and Great Wall of Filton is the result.

What they could have done is a proper, segregated path through the shared space. No, giving the (new) residents the right to park their cars in front of their houses is more important.

Going back a few years, here is the planning decision.

"to achieve a significant shift in travel behaviour away from the private car towards a greater use of walking, cycling and public transport;"

Well, did it fucking succeed?

Reasons for the closure
  • The problems identified by the residents included the use of Eighth Avenue by through traffic to avoid congestion on Filton Avenue and vehicles travelling at inappropriate speed.
  • 15 injuries on the road in the previous 3 years.
  • "Traffic calming does not effectively deter either rat- running or anti-social driving"

These are all good goals. Closing the road to through traffic has helped. It's just the shared space development completely screwed things up:

The closure ties in with Bristol City Council proposals for the Horfield Estate Regeneration. This section of Wordsworth Road forms part of the proposed Home Zone and a large volume of fast moving through traffic would undermine the Home Zone.

See that? the closure came in with the shared space zone, not after it. There was an opportunity to do things better when the houses that were there before were ripped down - a segregated route that would encourage cycling, and, while it couldn't stop motorbiking, could isolate the damage. Instead the area got a shared space with some barriered road closure, and then, last year, the Great Wall of Filton.

At the original event, who was opposed?

One resident who felt that the turning point would be blocked (probably true), it would devalue their property (bollocks) and that other forms of traffic calming would be better. Some lazy git who likes driving, by the sound of things.

Who else? The S Gloucs Taxi association
The Workers Union Taxi Branch 2/106, whose address is in South Gloucestershire, are as follows:-
  1. Closure would be detrimental to their trade,
  2. A lesser measure should be imposed
  3. Making one or two roads traffic free will not help cyclists

Point #2 isn't an argument; it's a suggestion. Point number one: "we want our rat runs". That's what it means. This road used to be a high speed alternative, especially southbound, to Filton Ave. Northbound, the right turn at end meant you relied on goodwill from drivers stuck in the Northbound jam -and goodwill is pretty fucking sparse on a weekday morning.

Point #3 is fucking hilarious. When has the S. Gloucs taxi association ever given a fuck about bicycles before or after this? Never. Did they suddenly get take over by a cycling group and decided to care? Pretty unlikely. Instead they use the "we care about bicycles" argument to say "this road should stay a rat-run for taxis."

They make a point :making one or two roads traffic free will not help cyclists, but to say that means that roads should not be closed is specious-fucking-politician-style-argument-dredging.

Unless someone in Bristol or S Gloucs is prepared to declare a dedicated road closure down a fully joined up route -and it would be wonderful, if unlikely in the city, and never going to happen if fat-arse-allinson has power- closing roads one by one is all that's left. This road has joined up with the concorde way. it could almost be a good cycling route. Yet the taxi drivers were against the initial closure on the grounds that it wasn't a good solution for cycling in the city.

At least here the council had the backbone to tell the taxi drivers to go fuck themselves:

  • Eighth Avenue/Wordsworth Road are not suitable roads to be used as a through route by taxis and it will be possible for all properties on these roads to be accessed by taxis.
  • Lesser measures such as traffic calming would have little impact on the volume of through traffic.
  • The closure will have a beneficial effect on a 2 mile long ‘rat run’ that is currently promoted as a signposted cycle route between Bristol and the North Fringe.

Meaning :you shouldn't be rat-running here, traffic calming would miss the whole point of the proposal, and it is on a sign posted cycling route.

What has happened in the last eight years, then? The housing is done, the shared space built, and the residents -suburban car drivers that they are- don't see the point in a cycle route. All they see are motorbiking teenagers coming through their shared space, and are happy to have the route blocked.

Here's what happened, as an email forwarded to us says:

The changes were made through the Bristol Neighbourhood Partnership budget for Horfield & Lockleaze and were jointly funded by South Gloucestershire, (as it is right on the border of the two authorities). The issue was addressing a road safety concern with motorcycle speed through the stopping up, which was affecting pedestrians, cyclists and local residents using the facility. Bristol has received phone calls and correspondence from Ward Councillors, the Police, local residents and users on this particular issue. The speeding issues had been reported throughout the day as well as the night and were not easy to address through enforcement due to numerous motorbikes using this as a short cut.

As there was very little funding to address this, CCTV or completely re-engineering the stopping up was not an option, due to significantly less funding within local government currently. We believe the amendments probably do act as a very minor inconvenience for cyclists, in much the same way as a York-style staggered barrier may act. We also agree for the minority of people using a tag along or tricycle this is not perhaps a route we would advise using. Yet for the majority of cyclists it is still possible to use the route in a far safer way, without potential or actual conflict occurring at high speed with motorbikes. For tricycles or tag alongs we would suggest using The Concorde Way, (if they are heading to the MoD or other employers in the area), or the other alternative would be Filton Avenue. Although we do not envisage the amendments stopping motorcycle misuse, it will slow the current speeds and be a road safety improvement for most users and residents. Unfortunately a solution to this age old conundrum, which allows access for all, but stops issues with motorbikes has yet to be invented, although we do try trial new solutions to regularly check this.

In terms of alternative design solutions we did investigate at a number of other options including one to three bollard/s either side of the islands allowing cyclists to weave around them, but due to bollards potentially being struck by turning traffic, (particularly large lorries or refuse vehicles) and little or no budget the current arrangement was the best placement in terms of future maintenance.

As regards the footway, the staggered barriers have been implemented within our current BCC Environmental Access Standards and are as such DDA compliant, as far as we are aware. Finally, in terms of making the bollards visible at night, they do already have a retro-reflective band around the top.

There you have it. The Great Wall of Filton was the easiest and cheapest way to keep motorbikes out the shared space. And if you have an odd-shaped bicycle, Filton Avenue is your option. Which is fucking ridiculous.

Saturday 7 July 2012

A wanker driving an white e-van is still a wanker

In the Empire of the Car, pollution is one thing that threatens the car companies -as it puts them on a par with tobacco companies, and lines them up for being banned from cities. If that happens, a key feature of the motor car "you need it to get around" goes up in flames. They would lose the cities and be left with the long journeys. And as only a fraction of journeys are the long ones, there'd be a lot less cars on the road.  No school running parents, no bored commuters on the M32 -and no people buying cars and having them serviced.

This is why e-vehicles get so much hype. The car industry can't be so fucking naive to realise that it addresses all the problems of cars and how they are destroying our cities -but they can promise it, to say "we do care, things will be better -now go and buy that Urban SUV for the school run because your last car is five years old and doesn't have an ipod socket or reversing camera." They can go to the politicians and say "we can solve the cities' problems, give us: money, per-car subsidy, C-zone exemption, car-tax exemption, free parking, the right to drive down bus-lanes, free charging points, and so on. The politicans may so fucking naive that they do believe this -they certainly give out more fucking cash per e-car than you get on a bike to work scheme, and they so love to turn up at the car factories in Swindon, Oxford and Newcastle to get their fat faces in the local rags saying "we politicians care about the environment and about jobs in the area -vote for us". Bike to work schemes, custom framebuilders and the like just don't make for these press events -and they don't have the lobbying skills either. Which is why the money goes to e-cars and not fixing our cities.

Which means that the cities will carry on being shit for cycling and walking.

White van wankers are the front line in the war against the cyclist, the ones who hate bicycles and go out of their way to "show them who owns the road", "teach them a lesson" and generally vomit abuse at anyone on a bicycle.

They also park where they fucking like, whether that's a bike lane, bike path, pavement or anywhere else that is close enough to their destination that they don't need to walk.

Does anyone really think that moving to e-vans will make these fuckwits pleasant to share roadspace with? If you do, you're a naive idiot.

They will be just as aggressive, hate bicycles just as much, only now not be able to drive six inches behind your bike over-revving the diesel engine. Maybe also slower off the mark when the lights change. They will still park where they want to, still scream hate, still have passengers who lean out the side window and swear at you (you not had that? Come visit Yate). They will still think a cyclist coming down a contraflow should not be there and swerve over to clip you.

No, a wanker driving a van will become a wanker driving a e-van,

Wednesday 4 July 2012

We are at war with 'Imperial Car'

We live in the empire of the car: they are in charge. And behind the car: the car industries. They must feel threatened. What headlines do they fear

  • "closed to traffic" -devalues the car
  • "congestion charges" -increases cost of use
  • "traffic jams expected" -destroys value of car
  • "EU pollution limits" -shows cost of motoring
  • "Car crash kills family of five" -shows cost of motoring and doesn't reduce the blame like "cyclist dies in road accident -not wearing helmet".
  • "Oil prices to rise"
  • "Fuel duties to increase"

These threaten their livelihood -a livelihood that depends on people not just buying a new car every few years, but paying a premium over "car that gets you there" for "car as visible display of status". They have to show value in owning a car, and reinforce that cars are not merely something everyone needs -but something to show of one's status in modern society.

The People's Cycling front hereby declares war on Imperial Car makes a list of threats to these invaders  of our city!

  • Direct cost of motoring. Congestion and Parking fees connect drivers directly with the costs; fuel less so but still tangibly. Electric motoring with quarterly bills would be even better.
  • Opposition to the societal costs of motoring. Death of cyclists and pedestrians, pollution in cities, the destruction of our city centres, death of the high-street. Anything that forces cars to slow down destroys its selling point "speed", restricting access kills its key function "gets you there fast".
  • Congestion. So fucking ironic: cars create their own downfall in congestion and parking problems, problems that parking fees and congestion charges are used to mitigate.
  • Demographics. Cars lived off the baby boom, consumerism and the movement to the suburbs -places where every adult needs a car. Falling populations in western countries and a return to the city cores threatens this.
  • Cultural shifts. Cars go out of fashion. Not status symbols, no more than a bus is. The big risk here is that the (shrinking) youth prefer to be online with their friends over phones than stuck in traffic jams.

We the People's Cycling Front of South Gloucestershire shall fight the invaders! We shall look at all these issues in turn and show how the Empire of the Car is threatened -and what are they doing to fight back.

Before then, look at how they are denying the truth. Here's Audi's "ugly ducking" video

Look at the old footage -villages you can walk around in. People. It would be nice to walk round there, to go to local shops.

Consider what Audi want to sell their customers. A countryside empty of people, animals and bicycles. The car is portrayed as driverless, as it speeds down empty roads -roads that never get seen outside car adverts. Inside the car, in the blue glow of the audi interiors (VW/Audi Group like their blue dashboards), the driver -a man, obviously- warms his oversized buttocks on the heated leather seats. He speaks to his wife on the iPhone via the speaker system, tell her and the family not to wait up as a financial crisis has occurred and he is essential to society because he has to fix it. Then he phones up his (french, naturally) mistress, says the satnav says he'll be there in six minutes, so get the champagne out the fringe and the kimono on.

That is what Audi are selling. Status -and a world that doesn't fucking exist. Yet they promise it, they say "buy our overpriced toy and you can have it". You can't, it's bollocks. Not even your own wife wants to bed you, your kids are bored with your work stories, your colleagues think you are a wanker who can't stop talking about cars, even though carbon road bikes are bling toy of the month. Even you worry about the fact that you aren't getting enough exercise -as is your doctor.

Buying a new Audi will not fix the problems in your life -it will just make you poorer. And it will make society itself poorer, which is where the rest of us have to give a fuck.

Over the next month or two, expect more coverage on these threats -and how to use them.

For now, consider this: the amount of money spent on cycling -all of it- is a fraction of the money spent on car advertising alone. One fucking US Superbowl advert costs $3.5M, enough to put in a decent segregated cycle path in a city where neither TfL or S Gloucs traffic planning department had any influence. Who was prepared to spend that much money? General Motors, in an advert showing how buying a car was the right thing for all patriotic Americans.

In all those adverts -not a single fucking bicycle. Even the pedestrians know their place and keep out of the way of cars. This is where the real motorist training budget goes -not on bluewash from the DfT, but on Imperial Car propaganda saying your life would be better if all the bicycles got out of the fucking way.

Monday 2 July 2012

Motor Group Sob Stories

A fuel cut for the suburbanites of the South and Centre of England. That's what the tax duty reprieve is. Something for the Daily Mail readers who drive into the cities, get stuck in traffic jams and whine about it. Something for the Daily Mail to campaign for, and for the politicians who read it and care about its voters to listen to.

That shows a limitation of the Times campaign: it hasn't got near the fuckwits who read the DM and write comment rants that invariably use one of the following words or phrases: numpty, simples, AND THATS A FACT, RIGHT NOW, "57% run red lights", "law-breakers", "lycra-louts",  "read the highway code" and anti-cycle rants "I got knocked down by one and nearly died". Until those dimwits can see any value in cycling, there's a vast group of people out there that are not only danger on the roads, they have political influence which, as seen last week, can do nothing for making cities livable.

There's also the RAC foundation, which seems to vie with the Institute of Advanced Motoring for being the motoring equivalent of the Taxpayer's alliance: an organisation that has influence even though they talk bollocks. They are good at their propaganda though.

They are great at wheeling out sob story characters whenever fuel duty rises, congestion charges, workplace levies or anything else that may interfere with the right to drive into a city and park where you want.

The nurse who works shifts -implicitly female. Needs a car as public transport can't be used, parking levies and fuel costs are her problems on low wages. Ticks the sympathy "nurse"; can use shifts to justify the drive.

Not: the consultant. Paid lots, expects free parking in the hospital even though the nurses and assistants are expected to pay.

Completely ignored: the fact that the nurse doesn't get paid much, if she's under 25 her housing benefits will get removed, and the NHS cuts are making her life worse along with all the patients.

The family who has to choose between filling the car and feeding the kids. Implicitly: running an old car like a 1995 Mondeo estate into the ground, can't afford something small and frugal. They "need to drive to work" - work whose distance from the house is never actually covered but the implicit message is the sole job they found is tens of miles away.

Not: the family who has discovered that their BMW M3 urban SUV is now so expensive to run that they have actually looked at selling it and getting something more fuel efficient.

Ignored: that impoverished family will also be fucked over by massively rising house fuel bills, and whenever they do use public transport, its costs will be going up above the RPI, let alone up above wages which, for everyone who isn't a banker, have effectively been stagnant for the last decade. Also ignored: why do they need to drive to work? Decades of under-investment in public transport, the destruction of the railway system and the failure of cities to offer safe cycling infrastructure.

The Elderly disabled driver. Needs a car, is dependent on it for hospital visits. Ticks the sympathy card, their disablement is a justification for having to drive.

Ignored: those disabled people who can't drive for their condition and whose public transport option is getting more expensive and less reliable. Or those people whose Asthma is made worse by the pollution, ended up in a wheelchair from a driving-related crash.

Ignored: whether it is safe for elderly disabled people to be driving -and given that at some point within a few years they will have to stop driving, why our cities are designed so that they have no other transport options. The buses are gone, the suburbs don't have corner shops as everyone now drives to the hypermarket with the free parking -all the while whining about fuel costs.

These are the sob stories, again and again.

Yet who really benefits from fuel cuts? People who drive big-engined cars long distances.


  • corporate employees cruising along the motorways on their work phones. 
  • North Fringe employees who commute in from Chepstow and Swindon, and the rural sprawl of S Gloucs. 
  • The affluent middle classes in their urban SUVs on the school run
  • Companies who depends on national distribution centres: the supermarkets that fuck the farmers over and ship local food to places like avonmouth and back again -the same wanker supermarket companies whose HGV drivers think it is acceptable to park their trucks wherever they fucking want whether its a bike lane or not. Which, to be fair, is because they have no fucking choice. Tesco's delivery schedule doesn't give a fuck about bus lane hours, zebra crossings or safe parking. All it knows is what supermarkets need milk, the distance between them, and how much money is saved having an HGV deliver it round the city.
  • People who live in the suburbs, drive into the cities and sit in traffic jams texting complaints about bicycles to twitter and facebook.
  • Taxi drivers who leave their engine running while waiting at stations because they want to save money on starter motors and then whine about how much diesel costs them. 

These win from the fuel duty cuts, because the more fuel you use, the more this actually matters.

The poor? The underpaid? The elderly? The NHS staff? They're fucked by everything else this government is doing, yet the AA  and RAC foundation pretend not to notice that, while the Daily Mail actually praises all of Cameron's actions on that front -no sob stories there.

The cycling campaigners need their own sob stories:

  • The Nurse who can't cycle to work as outside rush hours the bus lane, the only lane that offered a hint of safety, is a parking lane for commuters.
  • The Family who can't take their kids to school by bike as the suburban SUV families on their school runs make it too dangerous.
  • The person without a driver's license who can't cycle across the city to get their exercise on the way to the hospital, as you need to "keep your wits about you" to cycle in traffic -and there's fuck all bike parking in the hospital anyway.

These stories need to be found locally, for local papers as well as national ones. They need to look "normal" in the photos, not hi-viz wierdos that the DM readers can't relate to. No helmets, except maybe on kids (to avoid the vitriol that would come from the DM readers who "care" about kids except when they cut them up on the school run).

For example, for the family example, you'd want them saying "we'd love to use the ring road path, but a child couldn't cross the M32 on-ramp alive.", filmed in front of the crossing.  Puts a need of all cyclists on the path into a perspective where the bike-haters can't be so dismissive.

For the nurse, someone whose is moving from Frenchay to Southmead as part of the big merger, but isn't confident that she can cycle along the A38.

The person without a driving license -same story. Far enough away from some shops or the hospital that they really do need transport, no public transport (i.e. : anywhere in S Gloucs), and no option to cycle as where they are paths they dump you at every junction to sprint over.

Fight the motoring propaganda groups with sob stories that show they not only don't represent society, they don't care about the people who really suffer in today's cities.