Posts Tagged ‘London’

If TfL's Feats Create Unpleasant Streets, Then That's More Lame.

From London Se1

‘Mayor of London Boris Johnson has ruled out making the current temporary 20 mph speed limit on Blackfriars Bridge a permanent measure despite a vigorous campaign by cyclists.

Mr Johnson was questioned at City Hall on Wednesday by Green Party London Assembly member Jenny Jones who put to the Mayor the findings of a 2008 Transport for London report which recommended a 20 mph limit on several Thames bridges.

“My information is that the general speed [on Blackfriars Bridge] is nearer 12 miles an hour, therefore a speed limit of 20 mph isn’t necessary and could be a serious impediment to smooth traffic flow,” said the Mayor. “I’m not convinced of the case for this.”

He added: “I do think more work needs to be done on cycling over Blackfriars Bridge … speaking as someone who uses that route the whole time I am very much familiar with the problems of the cyclist on Blackfriars Bridge and I am working with TfL to try and sort it out.

Ms Jones pressed the Mayor on why he was ignoring the findings of the report prepared by TfL in 2008. The Mayor replied: “I am told that it does not represent the best advice and therefore I am not pursuing it”.…..’

Danny, writer of the excellent Cyclists in the City blog provides an update here, and my favourite pedalling pugilist, Freewheeler, pulls no punches in his synopsis here. They think it’s war. And I agree.

To me and indeed the Cycling Embassy of Great Britain, the ‘Battle of Blackfriars’ has ramifications way beyond London which is why we have supported the London Cycling Campaign wholeheartedly. Our Press Officer (and flashmob ride Rabble Rouser) Mark Ames published a blog post for the Embassy site a couple of weeks ago in which he wrote the following,

‘……All eyes in London are on Blackfriars Bridge, but why is this issue important to the whole of the UK and not just London? Because Transport for London are governed by a rule called the Traffic Management Act 2004 which states that TfL’s obligation is to ensure the expeditious movement of traffic on its own road network; and facilitate the expeditious movement of traffic on the networks of others. This is all well and good, but how is TfL interpreting this rule? But does ‘traffic’ include people on bikes, people on foot and people on buses – people who have jobs to go to, shops to spend in, schools to teach at? The law is explicit on this issue: “traffic” includes pedestrians, cyclists and “motorised vehicles – whether engaged in the transport of people or goods.” (Traffic Management Act 2004, Section 31, and DfT Traffic Management Act 2004, Network Management Duty Guidance, DfT page 4, paragraph 10).

But TfL’s Draft Network Operating Strategy (May 2011) explains how this Mayor’s Transport Strategy (MTS) objective is actually translated into reality:

The key measure for smoothing traffic flow set out in the MTS is journey time reliability .(p14)

And how is this measured?

Journey time reliability scope includes all classes of light good vehicles, Heavy Goods Vehicles (HGV’s) and cars. (p14 – footnote 2)

So there you have it; pedestrians don’t count, buses and trams don’t count, cyclists don’t count. If you’re not in a car, you just don’t count. Figures via Cycle of Futility blog.……’

When I was a child (and a bit bored), my friends and I played a game where we tried to cram as many of us as we could into a phone box. It would appear that TfL along with all Highways Authorities across the land also enjoyed the same game. The problem is, they’re still playing it. In this exciting new updated version, the children (ironically) represent motorised traffic and the phone box is a ‘strategic road network’.

I think that the whole approach is incredibly anti-social. In any urban area where people live, work and play the car should have its place but the people come first. In the UK the people have their place but the car comes first and it is to the nation’s detriment in every way.

In a talk I gave for Movement for Liveable London last April, I spoke about TfL’s strategic red routes. To me, painting double red lines down a busy road merely amplifies the sense of urgency in the streetscape; these are not places to walk or cycle or shop or stop and talk with friends and family. These are places where you have to get through as quickly as possible, I assume to the next traffic ‘hot spot’.  

The red paint signifies the red rag to a bull. People get flustered when placed under the pressure of playing TfL’s high stakes game. Tempers flare, road users punch other road users and mistakes are made, sometimes with tragic (and needless) consequences.

Many non-cyclists would probably rather do this than cycle through a UK town or city

To all bicycle riding and walking Londoners; please take part in TfL’s Draft Network Operating Strategy Consultation. The deadline is tomorrow. Further details on the excellent Cycle of Futility here.

I’m off on a study tour in the Netherlands in September with David Hembrow. The main reason is to weep openly at infrastructure provided by a nation that is actually capable of designing for such a simple and effective mode of transport and gives a toss about its people. Another reason is to do further research into how they got here from the car-centric Netherlands of the 1970’s. Although Mr Hembrow has written a very good blog post on ‘Stop de Kindermoord’ (Stop the Child Murder), there doesn’t seem to be much else on the social changes that occurred (even less in English).

My point is that there needs to be an emotive element that can engage all Londoners in the case of Blackfriars and the UK public in the case of villages, towns and cities across the land.

For the moment, I would like to suggest (and this is me speaking personally about an idea I had this morning and not on behalf of the Cycling Embassy of Great Britain) creating a special day where all cycling & pedestrian groups can unite to lay a wreath and hold a memorial service at TfL headquarters to remember all cyclists and pedestrians that have died in London as a result of TfL’s skewed logic. Then we can head along to Department for Transport and do the same for all those that have died in the UK needlessly as a result of a Department that refuses to take travelling by pedal or foot seriously and make these simplistic modes of transport simple.

I personally believe that it’s time we started to make this personal and poignant.

Words and Pictures

The police escort arrives to give me my Guard of Honour to the Houses of Parliament. Oh, and escort some MP's and Lords and yadda yadda yadda.

Last Wednesday, I caught the train up to London for the Annual Parliamentary Bike Ride which is the promotional prelude to Bike Week. As I was taking my Dutch Bike along, I had to catch the first train out of Worthing to beat Southern Rail’s [non-folding] bike ban which operates between 7-10am. I then cycled along Victoria Street, round Parliament Square (fine for me on an upright Dutch bike but I wouldn’t expect my mother to cycle this comfortably – unless she was actually a reasonably fit man aged between 18-45), over Westminster Bridge taking the vaguest of vague left turns into Belvedere Road toward the start point at the London Eye.

Carlton Reid interviewing Ed Clancy. He'd just interviewed me which was all the work he had to do really.

This is an event organised by CycleNation and ex-colleague Adam Coffman of CTC in particular. The great and the good of cycle campaigning were there including London Cycling Campaign’s new Chief Executive Dr Ashok Sinha. The ride was to take us over Blackfriars Bridge where Carlton Reid made this film.

We cycled along the Embankment, past Buckingham Palace and on to the Houses of Parliament where Norman Baker (MP for Lewes, East Sussex and Parliamentary Under Secretary for the Department for Transport) took questions before dashing off to catch a train.

Cycling over Blackfriars Bridge. It's quite pleasant and relaxing with a police escort. Some decent infrastructure and a maintained 20mph limit will do.

 It was all very nice but that’s all it was. I’m all for devolving power but it needs the Department for Transport to treat the bicycle seriously as a mode of transport and keep a grip on Local & Highways Authorities whose main mission seems to be making cycling look as inviting as a timeshare in Tripoli. Councils across the land are continuing to build pitiful infrastructure whether cycle campaigners want it or not and the Local Transport Fund is not going to help that – if anything it will only encourage them to paint more bicycle symbols on pavements. The Monday before the Bike Ride, I wrote a blog post for the new Cycling Mobility magazine outlining my views on this and more here.

What I really cannot understand is why this country continues to ignore the Netherlands and Denmark – countries that have had proven success in creating bicycle cultures, that have made lots of mistakes since the 1970’s when developing its infrastructure and learnt from them now using a mixture of solutions to achieve modal shares we can only dream of over here if we continue the way we are. Maybe I should have asked Norman Baker on the study tour I’m going on in September.

The day after I was commuting to work and the puncture fairy visited me..

Bicycle repair in Shoreham by Sea

 In a former life I would have thrown my arms in the air, sworn a lot, replaced the inner tube as to engage in repair would lose valuable time in my cycling rat race (time was always against me when I cycled quicker for some reason), sworn again as I get grease from the chain and derailleur onto my work clothes in my super dooper courier bag etc etc. This time I just set about the gentle art of bicycle repair, reminded by the advice given to me by Stefan Petursson when I purchased the bike from Amsterdammers in Brighton. The conversation went like this;

Stefan: (put on your best Icelandic/Dutch accent here) ‘you know the best way to repair punctures on a Dutch Bike?’

Me: (put on your sexiest British accent here) ‘No’

I was at this point expecting to hear some incredible tip known only by the Dutch Peoples – maybe something treasured & carried over from generation to generation by word of mouth

Stefan: We pump the inner tube up like so…….and we listen.

I closed my eyes in a half wince/half flinch way. This advice was of course nothing new to me. But in that instant it made me realise that I had been taking the commute far too seriously with all the kit and speed and competitiveness and the subscription to Cycling Plus. By buying an upright utilitarian bike, I had yet to realise that things were about to get a lot slower and far more interesting. Again, this is not to discredit other forms of cycling as we are all part of one big family. But since riding the Dutch Bike my life has become simpler and cheaper and more spontaneous with more freedom and time for thought as a result. Exactly as cycling should be.

Lancing Beach just off NCN2 looking back toward Worthing. I can think of worse commutes.

Obviously they are not everyone’s cup of tea but quite why we ignore Dutch & Danish bikes (and indeed classic British roadsters too) as well as their infrastructure standards is quite beyond me. In the UK, mudguards are still regarded as an accessory! In Wimbledon Fortnight!! Madness, I tell you.

Dispatches from the Edge

Well, spring is definitely in the air and a young mans thoughts turn to…cycling. Well, a slightly older man anyway. This week has seen perfect weather for riding a Dutch Bike through the Third World of Cycling that is the UK. A gentle cooling breeze and gorgeous sunshine tempered slightly by the exhaust fumes. This is also my fourth month of riding without a helmet which has been liberating. It must be said however that now I’m riding a civilised bike in a more civilised manner, I’m not putting myself in dangerous situations. Also, I can’t help but feel that if a car collided with me, the car would come of worst against the Beast that is the Old Dutch.

Firstly, the Embassy news;

  • Due to the work, family and friends commitments of me and the rest of team, we are pushing back the launch date. 1st April probably seemed easy in the wave of Euphoria that accompanied the start up meeting on 29th January. However, April Fools Day is also a date that can backfire greatly in PR terms, particularly with regards our naysayers. We are instead aiming for Wednesday June 22nd which is slap bang in the middle of Bike Week (venue to be confirmed). This will go up on the Embassy website.
  • A Wiki has been established and material is being slowly added. It involves a lot of work (particularly as it’s coming from volunteers) but the results are very good indeed. A massive thanks to those that have contributed so far and we are always open to more volunteers stepping forward to contribute.
  • I have been receiving a lot of messages from people that love the new logo as it represents the everyday bike. Again, a very big thanks to our representatives that put the MAN in Manchester, Mr C and A2BJim.
  • People have been contributing too financially. Thanks to all that have dipped in to their pockets thus far. If you believe in our beliefs, you know where to click.

Other news

As far as the budget is concerned, I was going to write something big and profound but what’s the point when you have wonderful articles such as this from Joe Dunckley and of course Caroline Lucas.

My quick view for what it’s worth is that the Conservatives are still locked in the totally misguided belief that the motor vehicle is the key to jobs, prospects and prosperity. And they have also relaxed planning laws which will just result in more sprawl requiring more roads. The mountain we have to climb politically makes Mont Ventoux look more like the South Downs. I don’t think these measures are deliberately anti-cyclist because quite frankly I don’t think we even feature on their radar.

We’re that sporty thing people do in funny clothing. We’re the thing you put bikes on the backs of cars and drive miles to find somewhere to do safely. It’s that thing that Companies, Councils and even Governments mention in their literature showing an airy-fairy commitment to a greener future without actually doing anything. But the bicycle doesn’t actually count in societal terms. The bicycle just isn’t taken seriously other than being a counter-cultural curiosity and a hindrance to ‘progress’ at best. At least with more people cycling and walking, we don’t have to bomb quite so many countries to the tune of billions and commit our brave armed forces to secure oil……..sorry, I meant facilitate a regime change to create harmony for its peoples through a fair and democratic process.

Anyway, speaking of idiocy, I leave you with this nugget of an article from Celia Walden writing in the Daily Telegraph.

‘I nearly killed a girl on Monday. She was cycling in front of me around Hyde Park Corner in 1950s shades and a pretty floral dress, so caught up in reveries of herself as the heroine of a French art-house film that she swerved into the middle of my lane without signalling. There was no helmet, of course, and no high-visibility gear – which would have marred the whole sunny tableau. The worst accident she could think of was that her skirt might flutter up to reveal a charming pair of white cotton knickers. That she might be spatchcocked across three lanes hadn’t crossed her mind: the Fair Weather Cyclist prefers not to think such morbid thoughts.

I had wanted to confine my rage to the FWCs – currently the most dangerous strain on the roads – but I fear that may be impossible: basically I loathe all London cyclists. Like the café-goers who sit out on our narrow pavements stoically sipping cappuccinos in a haze of toxic hydrocarbons, these people live in a fantasy world. To them, Leicester Square is the Piazza Navona and our dual carriageways the cobbled backstreets of the Last of the Summer Wine. Traffic signals don’t apply to London cyclists, up there as they are on the moral high ground with their officially endorsed sense of righteousness. Sociologically, polls have shown that they tend to be a preening, upper-middle class bunch. They use words like “pootle,” and cycle home “smashed” from the pub. If Marie-Antoinette were alive today, she’d have a bike – with a sweet little Cath Kidston basket.

No, on reflection, 1950s floral girl is not the most pernicious cyclist out there. At least she, after a near-death experience with a London bus or the onset of a little light drizzle, will permanently withdraw from the roads. As we near the Olympics and our new velodrome is completed, there will be a growing breed of young male racers to worry about. And of course this lot are so confident on the roads that they will all be plugged into their iPods, calmly humming “lalalalala” along to Sasha Distel as that articulated lorry indicates left. …..’

Obviously she’s never travelled around a town or city in Mainland Europe with just a bicycle where the powers that be and the people actually give a toss. God knows what possessed her to write such angry, prejudiced drivel. Oh, no wait! She’s married to Piers Morgan, I KNEW there had to be something wrong with her! Phew! That’s that one solved. Enjoy the sunshine  gentlemen and ladies of course if you dare with Celia Walden behind the wheel.

Stylish Woman On Bicycle. Very bad apparently (Photo: Copenhagen Cycle Chic)

Street Talks and a Lovely Logo

If any of you are in London on the evening of the 12th April, I have been kindly invited by Movement for Livable London (the brainchild of Joe Dunckley of At War with the Motorist) to give a talk Upstairs at The Yorkshire Grey, 2 Theobalds Road, WC1X 8PN at 7pm (bar open 6pm). It is billed as…

Jim Davis, Cycling Embassy of Great Britain: I want what they’re having – how the rest of the world is achieving a real cycling revolution

(The title was Joe’s idea, and it gives me the ideal chance to do yet more research on what’s happening abroad)

Me publically speaking. I think that was either my first ever stand-up comedy appearance or the 'Noel Edmunds Wardrobe Appreciation Society' AGM

About the Movement for Liveable London (from their website)

Movement for Liveable London promotes discussion on how a fairer, healthier, greener and more pleasant future for London can be achieved by changing the way we move around our city.

We aim to stimulate debate amongst citizens, campaigners, professionals and policy makers in the hope that together we might encourage politicians at all levels and of all persuasions to be more ambitious in their approach to sustainable movement and the design and management of London’s public realm.

We do this through hosting events, publishing articles and facilitating a dialogue between existing campaigns and other interested parties.

I’ve even convinced The Wife to come up to London too! I think what actually convinced her was me saying that I’d buy her drinks for the evening, however.

Other Street Talks worth checking out (probably more than mine) are as follows:

8th March 2011

Tom Barry, Boris Watch: State of the city – the highs and lows of London transport policy 2000 – 2011

4th May 2011

Dr Harry Rutter, Director of the National Obesity Observatory: Moving towards a healthier city – active travel and health

June 2011

Andrew Cameron, Director of Urban Design, WSP: How to make great streets

Hope you can pop along to them. But mainly mine.

Meanwhile, on Embassy business, we now have a logo all the way from the Manchester Consulate, courtesy of the wonderful, if slightly unfortunately monikered, Mr Colostomy (concept) and Jim (Execution). I hope you like it as much as me. Bravo chaps and chapeau!

By the way, there is another Wheelers Brunch in Manchester going on tomorrow (Saturday 26th February and the last Saturday of the month thereafter) if you fancy meeting like minded people who love bikes as transport. Further details on the Natural Cycling: Manchester blog.

From Little Acorns……Or £80.56.

Old Dutch on the train. Next to the automated toilet. Not exactly the Orient Express but…

And so it came to pass that on the 29th January 2011, at Look Mum No Hands on Old Street, London EC1, a new campaign movement was started. A small area of the cafe had been set aside as I anticipated about 20, which would be exceptional for any cycle campaign. However, this is not just any old cycle campaign and double that figure turned up cramming round tables with only the barest hint of lycra and I have to doff my hat to those that stood for an incredibly long time. Reports are are already appearing from the delightful Bristol Traffic team. Some key points are as follows;

  • The Mission Statement and Manifesto are going to be merged into a formal document for download. This obviously has to happen ahead of the launch but with the enthusiasm, ideas and talent I was met with yesterday, I don’t anticipate any problems.
  • The launch date has been set for Friday, 1st April 2011. Venue to be confirmed.
  • Cycling Embassy of Great Britain is going to be a not for profit company. I offered to set up the account and was startled when a saucer was instantly passed around the group and £80.56 was raised. I shall be meeting with my Bank Manager next Saturday morning to formally set up the account with my own contribution (and of course, any further donations would be gratefully received).

The Company Accounts – January 2011

  • With every new company comes a new structure. Roles are going to be defined for two Directors, Secretary and Treasurer. I shall be Chief Executive Director and Overlord. Alright, I made that last bit up. However, a sub-committee has been set up to look into governance. Findings shall be reported back to the Forum so everyone will have a chance to comment and nominate board members.
  • It has been requested that the website expand with a collaborative wiki so instead of going over topics again and again, people may be referred to the relevant wiki page (where the relevant information and references may be found on Dutch infrastructure or accident statistics for example). It shall also facilitate open document editing by Ambassadors.
  • A list will be entered into the minutes of charities, companies and organisations that we shall be hoping to work in partnership with.
  • The minutes, complete with actions and apologies shall be published during the week (I apologise for the tardiness but I have to make sense of hours of audio recordings and notes so please bear with me).

It would be fair to say that I was quite overwhelmed by the level of support I received yesterday – in particular Sally Hinchcliffe for basically becoming Co-Chair of the meeting, David Callaghan who supports the aims of the Embassy to the point that he flew in from meetings in the USA via our meeting in London before heading home to Bristol, Karl McCraken who had travelled down from Newcastle armed with two dozen bagels he had prepared for everyone, Danny from Cyclists in the City, I am not a Cyclist, Fatbob (Geoff) and of course Mark Ames from ibikelondon who, with Joe Dunckley from At War With The Motorist led our first ‘Infrastructure Safari’, seeking out the good, the bad and the ugly of London cycle facilities.

Mark Ames holding court. Lovely speaking voice.

It’s also wonderful to hear that the first Wheelers Brunch in Manchester went very well. I look forward to hearing more as the week progresses but for now I’m going to conclude that I had a wonderfully exhausting day meeting lots of like minded people as well as representatives from established groups such as Cambridge Cycling Campaign and John Mallows from CycleNation to ensure we’re not treading on old toes. I have a lot of high hopes now for the Embassy and with the incredible groundswell of support garnered so far, we are going to succeed.

My New Mug. For coffee, Muscadet or Carlsberg Special Brew depending on the mood and budget.

And, no, I have no idea whether Freewheeler was there but I hope he or she is with us in spirit and Crap Cycling and Walking in Waltham Forest is right; we do want what the Dutch have got :-)

Thank you all.

The Cycling Embassy of Great Britain

Remember, this kind of stuff continues to be built whether campaigners object to it or not. To be fair, at least you can collapse on the soft grass laughing.

As my trusty Batavus Old Dutch and I were slowly grinding it out along the seafront against a biting, bitter 15mph easterly (something else we have in common – we both hate headwinds!) I was doing some more thinking.

The Governments approach to transport is like trying to cram lots of round pegs though a square hole. Instead of considering that there may be too many pegs trying to squeeze in together, or that the hole isn’t suitable, they increase the size of the hole so even more pegs can be crammed through whilst everything else has to squeeze in through the pockets of air that are left. If not as many people are killed and injured as the year before, this is regarded as ‘successful’ and ‘sustainable’. Repeat ad infinitum.

I then thought about some hilarious jokes regarding Moultons but I won’t share those with you yet, dear reader.

Anyway, tomorrow is the start up meeting for the Cycling Embassy of Great Britain. I have to confess, I’m very excited.

The meeting is to be held at Look Mum No Hands in Old Street, London at 12 noon.  This is a new national campaign that I hope offers a bit of an antidote to cycling campaigns in the past. PLEASE NOTE that this is the start up meeting and not the official launch, which will have way more glitz as opposed to people agreeing organisational structure, strategy direction, website development, marketing and actions. The reason we will be able to have more glitz at the launch is because we are catering for the 97% that aren’t regular cyclists in this country that won’t want to clad themselves in ‘rubber knickers’ as a Conservative MP or a casual Scuba Diving fetishist might say.

We have already featured in this lovely article on the Baby London website by Claire Rogers (also featuring David Hembrow and Amsterdamize if you needed a greater incentive to read it).

The Embassy has also now been mentioned on this wonderful blog post from Crap Cycling and Walking in Waltham Forest. Freewheeler has basically summed up my personal thoughts entirely as we have both made the steady transition, not from integration to segregation but from integration to segregation and cycling streets and decent cycling infrastructure standards and frankly anything else that tames the bull in a supposedly civilised society. If Freewheeler can make it through the urban jungle that is Outer London cycle infrastructure, he’d be warmly welcomed by all. I shall be wearing a suit, maybe with a carnation.

Apparently Karl McCracken is providing bagels (home made and shipped from the North East, no less!) and Mark Ames  (who sounds almost as well spoken as me) is providing us with our first ‘Infrastructure Safari’ where we go for a little jaunt around London seeking the best and worst of  attempts to squeeze cycling  around the more important modes of transport.

I will be doing more mentions in posts subsequent to the meeting as there has been some lovely support from lots of unexpected quarters, plus a technical review of the Old Dutch as by then I would have ridden it consistently 24 miles a day through very grimy coastal conditions and Central London too.

I will finish for now by saying that the Agenda is here, the Mission Statement is here and the draft Manifesto is here (prepared by our Wordsmith Laureate, Sally Hinchcliffe). If you cannot make it, but would like a comment or statement, or even an apology read out at the meeting, please email me direct on thecyclingjim@gmail.com

Oh, and a Happy Birthday to Mikael Colville-Andersen :-)

Did Philip Hammond MP Watch Too Much Thunderbirds As A Child?

 

What Philip Hammond MP would look like if he were a puppet and.......wait a minute..

Philip Hammond MP, Secretary of State for ‘Transport’, gave a speech this morning to the Conservative Party Conference in Birmingham. In it he outlines very big plans. Very big plans indeed.

I used to love Thunderbirds when I was a child and I’m now positive Philip Hammond did too as it‘s the only way to explain his childish policies. Its futuristic World was one of bombastic visionary schemes – huge supersonic aircraft carrying thousands of passengers, Mega Atomic Power Stations, Pink Rolls Royce’s zooming along empty wide fast motorways. In Hammonds World we see Mega Super Fast High Speed Rail Links, Ultra Low Carbon cars zooming along efficient road infrastructure, all powered by Atomic Power Stations.

Dr Mayer Hillman in his brilliantly pragmatic book How We Can Save the Planet outlines how a popular misconception to global warming is that we can somehow develop our way out of the problem. That technology will save the day like some sort of International Rescue. Mr Hammond’s speech this morning contained the following,

 “…….. let’s not forget that over 80% of all journeys are undertaken by car and Britain’s roads represent our greatest investment in transport infrastructure. Clearly, while motoring was synonymous with carbon production, it couldn’t be a major part of Britain’s future transport plans.

But the idea that the only solution is to force people out of their cars is pessimistic, outdated, Labour dogma. This Government is supporting the ultra-low emissions technologies that will see the carbon output of cars plummet over the next two decades.

Drawing fuel, not from petrol pumps, but from an electricity grid which Chris Huhne is determined to make one of the greenest in Europe. The Coalition has signaled its commitment to de-carbonising motoring by confirming, ahead of the spending review, grants for R&D and generous consumer incentives for every ultra-low emission car sold.

Putting our trust in technology, and our country at the forefront of the green-motoring revolution. The first new-generation electric cars will appear on Britain’s roads early next year and the first volume British-built electric vehicles will roll off the production line in 2013.

So motoring can again become part of our future transport planning, as the greening of the car saves it from extinction and that means we can end Labour’s indiscriminate war on the motorist as we focus on the real enemies – carbon and congestion.”

These words are as astounding as they are absurd (and I’m sure many blogs today will be picking them apart) but the worst aspect of his speech is in what he didn’t say – You may be wondering where walking and cycling feature in all this. They are after all the most cost effective, clean, easily available forms of transport we have. The fact he made no reference to these transport modes at all in his speech (supposedly extolling the virtues of sustainable transport) is as telling as it should be alarming.

In an earlier blog post I discussed how the set up of Cycling England was flawed and its passing could be regarded as a good thing. However I wrote that in the hope that cycling would be brought back in-house within the DfT and receiving a more deserving share of the transport spend. Even if cycling does move back, the future looks very bleak indeed in the wake of such an obviously car-sick Government Department. The fact that walking and cycling improves the nation’s health, produces no carbon or noise pollution, allows people to engage with their surroundings and neighbourhoods and is the most effective way to get through towns and cities seems to be lost on dear Hammond. Also the fact that infrastructure is cheaper with a better rate of return. And that walking and cycling is more fun and the increased fitness makes you better in bed (that last bit is my opinion but I’m sure you’d all agree).

When Thunderbirds was created, it was a brave new World; the Apollo missions were under way, new materials were being discovered, soon one could fly from London to New York in three and a half hours – and look elegant puffing on a cigarette whilst you flew beyond the clouds. In Thunderbirds World you didn’t need to walk or cycle anywhere as technology could take you to wherever you wanted to go. That World has long gone in a plume of supercharged 4-star exhaust fumes but clearly left a mark on our dear Hammond who clearly loves all the science involved.

Which is why the Coalition cut funding for scientific development and research. Oh well, I’m sure the motoring lobby can step in to help. FAB!

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