December 2011 archive

A Spoonful of Sugar

It appears that Lord Sugar is a bit bored now that he doesn’t have any apprentices to bully in the board room.

This from the nicely redesigned road.cc

“Lord Sugar has ignited a debate over whether cyclists in the UK, like those in some parts of the US, should be required to carry identification with police being given powers to confiscate the bicycles of those who fail to provide it, but the government has said it has no plans to do so.

The Amstrad founder and host of the BBC show The Apprentice, himself a keen cyclist and owner of a fleet of Pinarello bikes, was speaking yesterday during a debate in the House of Lords following a question about pavement cyclists tabled by Labour peer Lord Harrison.

Lord Sugar, who regularly cycles both in Britain and when saying at his other homes in both Spain and Florida, asked government transport spokesman Lord Atlee, “Is it mandatory for a cyclist using the roads to carry some form of identification on them?”

“In the United States of America we are told to carry identification with us so that the police can take action against people who are riding on pavements or jumping lights.

“If you don’t have identification with you, they confiscate your bike and it is up to you to go and get it back and pay a big fine.”

In reply, Lord Atlee, who is the grandson of the Labour Prime Minister Clement Attlee, said the government had no plans to introduce such a requirement…..”

Then he had a think about it in the Board Room and instead of pointing at people, he started typing instead..

“…On Twitter this morning, Lord Sugar expanded on his comments yesterday, saying: “Cyclists should carry some form of ID, so they can get nicked by police for jumping pavement or lights. Otherwise they just lie who they are.”

He added that carrying ID was also a good idea for cyclists “in case they get knocked off bike in serious accident that might render them unconscious” and that when out riding, he always carried ID, cash for a taxi and a phone.”

I like to think he’s just a naturally pragmatic man saying naturally pragmatic things. I unwittingly always carry ID for the simple reason that my Drivers’ Licence is in my wallet. Do read the full report as it has pragmatic comment from Lord Young & CTC’s Chris Peck too. Personally, I sincerely hope it doesn’t ignite a debate because we still live in a nation where some are having a little bit of trouble understanding that catering for something so thermodynamically simple, libertarian, egalitarian, that increases health and wellbeing (physical and mental) for all ages, colours, genders and creeds, empowering to the masses, that produces no emissions for future generations, less financially damaging to personal wallets and budgets for the NHS, road maintenance, policing (more people on bikes and on foot means safer communities) and returning civility, neighbourliness and localism might be quite a good thing.

Because we have nurtured and grown such a car-centric culture in Britain (hence for some inexplicable reason we still need to debate 20mph limits where people are and curtailing someone’s right to drive slightly less like a pillock), to mention an ‘out group’ like ‘cyclists’ is to crack open the tar and feathers. In Britain, stick someone who regards themselves as a normal, ‘respectable’ citizen in front of a computer and suddenly they’re suggesting Hanging for those lycra-lout, scruffy, unlit/ lit too bright, tax dodging, smug, sanctimonious ‘cyclists’ who ride within 20 metres of them. Yet when there’s a road crash in their locality involving motor vehicles (even with horrific consequences), their computers fall eerily silent. It’s just one of those sad things involving normal, ‘respectable’ citizens.

In the spirit of the Apprentice (I’m 40 next year so ‘Young Apprentice’ is probably a little ambitious) and sense of justice in the UK & US which is obviously high up in Lord Sugar’s mind, I would like to suggest to him a new product – I call it the Bicycle Observation In Local Environment Realm SUIT.

Very Visible. Unless of course your job involves picking oranges.

Like the bicycle, it’s a beautifully simple design and all the Cyclists details can be stencilled on the back. It’s machine washable (despite cyclists being ‘the unwashed’), available in all sizes, high-viz (shown here in ‘Amnesty Orange’) and the best way to identify a group of deviants that will break the law at any moment, you mark my words. I did my market research in the comments section of the Daily Mail and local newspaper websites as they seem to know everything. For cyclists, there’s no wondering about what to wear on the bike anymore – the downside being that the fit might clash with a Pinarello, Rapha will still make their own Suit for about £500 and British Cycle Chic websites may look a little bit samey after a while, even with more Dutch bikes.

What’s that? I’m fired? Thank you Lord Sugar.

Once again, here’s a film I made a while ago for the Cycling Embassy of Great Britain. In the final clip you might be able to see why [subjectively] some cyclists in Britain might favour the pavement at the moment, particularly with children. Happy cycling wherever you are.

and then you go and spoil it all, by saying something stupid like….

I was sitting at home last night minding my own business when I got sent this nugget by the good folk of Spokes – The Lothian Cycle Campaign via Twitter. It is from FACTS, The Transport Professional’s Magazine (issue 65, 2011).

Now, I know there are many within the haulage industry that are doing their best to alleviate the tragic and needless suffering that occurs on our roads on an all too frequent basis with some particuarly high profile and dreadful incidents in London recently. In fact I bet there are many in the industry that care more than the Tory Assembly Members that walked out of yet another meeting that just happened to have the issue of cyclists safety on the agenda (and let’s be frank here, they don’t give a shockingly shiny shit about bicycles or people that use them).

However, it doesn’t help matters when Phil Flanders  (Scottish Director – Road Haulage Association) settled down last June/July to write something joyless & slightly moronic like this….

(I have added links, either to articles referred to or to stuff that I think will calm you down. I seriously advise you open this link in a seperate window and enjoy the soothing music whilst reading the following)

“There have been a spate of accidents involving cyclists and lorries recently and as usual the lorry is the big bad bogeyman. It reminded me of an article I read last year in New Zealand where they have a similar problem. It appeared in the New Zealand Herald and was written by Eric Thompson. He refers to a report mentioning that Mercedes-Benz Vice President of Safety Engineering, Ulrich Mellinghoff, told a road safety conference in Melbourne that mixing bicycles with motorised traffic was an ‘unsafe practice’ that needed changing.

A public road with motor vehicles is no place for a cyclist, no matter how they bleat about having every right to be in the same place as a car. A cyclist will always come off second best in an accident with a motor vehicle. No matter whose fault it is, in any type of motor versus pushbike altercation it’s not going to take a rocket scientist to work out who’s going to end up in the back of an ambulance.

He suggests that for road safety reasons:

All pushbikes must be fitted with rear-vision mirrors – as other vehicles are required by law;

All pushbikes must be fitted with indicators, or a similar device – as all other vehicles on the road are required by law.

They can only ride single file on a single lane road unless overtaking as other vehicles on the road are required by law;

Be fitted with headlights that must be on at all times as other two-wheeled vehicles on the road are required by law.

All bike riders must pass a road-license test as are all other people who venture out on public roads;

All pushbikes must be registered and pay a road tax – as all other vehicles on the road are required by law. They should be able to get a reduction for low emissions!

I would go further and add that all must have adequate insurance for any accidents they cause and maybe even liability insurance for those who knock people down.

Those cyclists, and there are many, who play their iPods or other types of mobile music should also be charged for committing an offense of cycling without due care etc etc as they have no chance of hearing any vehicle approaching and are totally unaware of what is going on around them.

Some have started to fit small video cameras to their helmets. If you are unfortunate to upset them on the roads they will report you to the authorities and will have evidence of whatever it was that you did. There are cases of this already where the police have taken action!”

I won’t dwell on what we have just witnessed as it’s difficult to know where to start and he is of course entitled to his opinions. I hope the music helped. To try and deconstruct such ill-informed guff is as futile as trying and mop up the River Thames with a J-Cloth. Maybe this is what happens when the Conservatives get in power and organisations such as the RHA get a little bit over excitable.  I wonder if he has any children or grandchildren that try to cycle and whether he brainwashes the freedom and happiness out of them? Lest to say come in Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Littlejohn and all others who have inflammatory views for money, your time is clearly up.

Jeremy Clarkson - Must now be classified as 'a bit tepid'