Darwin Among The Cyclists – Further Cycle Lobby Idiocy

Heavy Goods

Note : Anyone who reads this and starts to foam at the mouth at any perceived ‘anti-cyclist’ stance, “never been on a bike in his life, wouldn’t understand, etc, etc”, should really read the previous post before continuing.

In further cycle campaign based lunacy, it would appear that “cyclists” have been busy lobbying the EU

Legislation requiring hauliers to fit the 450,000 lorries in Britain with sensors and emergency braking systems is being examined in Brussels following intensive lobbying by relatives of a young woman killed when she was dragged under the wheels of a HGV

Bummer. And what was this poor young woman doing at the time ?

… as it turned without the driver noticing her in the vehicle’s “blind spot”.

Oh I see.

It is – of course – a tragedy when someone is killed, and more tragic if that death could have been avoided. It is an even greater tragedy when the death could so easily have been avoided by the recently deceased.

By, y’know, not riding down the side of a lorry, in its blind spot. Were I a coroner, I’d write that up as suicide.

Still, at least the bereaved family didn’t immediately blame the driver, who could have done absolutely nothing to prevent the incident.

Or did they ? Let’s have a look at the campaign they’ve set up “No More Lethal Lorries”

They have a five point action plan – and yes, of course, this will involve spending some of your money. And some of other people’s money that will eventually end up costing you more of yours. Natch.

1 Cyclist-awareness training for drivers

All city lorry drivers should be have ongoing cycle-awareness training, including on-bike experience.

2 Drivers must take more responsibility

Authorities must recognise driver responsibility for doing everything practical to reduce risks. Blaming a ‘blind spot’ should be an admission of guilt.

3 Safer design for London lorries

Lorries designed for off-road use should be taken off city streets. The best mirrors, cameras and sensors should be fitted as standard.

4 Higher standards from lorry operators

Quality-assurance schemes such as London’s Freight Operator Recognition Scheme (FORS) should be mandatory, and the police encouraged to crack down on rogue operators.

5 More responsible procurement

Companies must only buy haulage services from reputable firms, with government taking a lead in encouraging best practice.

Red tape, bureaucracy, legislation, quangos, enforcement. And not one bit of it the responsibility of the actual cyclist. Hmm. In fairness, at the bottom of their action plan is this further point that they haven’t even graced with a number

Plus: Better education for cyclists

Cyclists must be given the most accurate and up-to-date information on riding safely around lorries.

Let me save you the first five and completely implement the unnumbered, insignificant ‘plus’ : Don’t. If you are the sort of person who requires guidance as to when and how it is safe to cycle around a lorry, frankly, it is not safe for you to cycle around a lorry, so just don’t.

The life you save may be your own.

Legislation, Legislation, Legislation

Of course, it is to be understood that the grieving relatives of the recently deceased often make hysterical, emotive and frankly unreasonable demands of the world, been there, done that.

Campaigners called for hauliers to be compelled to buy equipment which alerts drivers if a cyclist pulls up alongside them and brings the vehicle to an automatic halt if there is a risk of a collision.

But as we’re all smart monkeys, we know this, and so there’s no danger of this stupidity – which strikes me as potentially dangerous in itself – passing through the EU as actual legislation is there ?

The Independent understands that Brussels will table changes to pan-European safety legislation by August, while an existing directive requiring all new HGVs to be fitted with cyclist sensors and automatic braking will come into force in 2013.

Oh, fucksticks.

And will this be expensive ?

The haulage industry said it was committed to improving safety for cyclists, pointing out that freight operators had spent £78m since 2008 on retro-fitting mirrors to their fleets.

Yes. If it cost 78M just to fit some mirrors, I think we can probably safely assume that fitting some crazy futuristic cyclist seeking radar and autopilot equipment will be hideously, outrageously, expensive.

Mirror, Mirror, on the, er, Junction. WTF ?

Until today, I had never heard of a Trixi MIrror, then I came across this petition while digging through a twitter search.

We the undersigned call upon the Mayor, as Chair of TfL, and the Members of the Greater London Authority to:

– Immediately install “Trixi” mirrors at every A Road junction, starting with the A503, Camden Road, then move on to B Roads. Let’s have London-wide safety for our cyclists, not a patchwork cover.

Have you guessed what a Trixi Mirror is yet ? (Perhaps this is common knowledge?) Here’s a pic and an apposite quote from the Guardian, which illustrate it nicely.

What's wrong with this picture ?

Boris Johnson, the mayor of London, is seeking government approval to place mirrors at traffic lights to prevent collisions by revealing cyclists and pedestrians hidden in lorries’ blind spots.

So again, lots of lovely taxpayer lolly to be spent on letting drivers know when people are in their blind spots.

Once more with feeling

Look at that picture. Look at the cycle lane. See where the cyclist has had to ride to get to that forward box at the junction ? Yup, right through the HGV’s blind spot. This is stupid. And the solution to this problem is not to add the mirror to make it safe to do so.

Far cheaper option is simply to remove the priority boxes, lose the mirrors and for cyclists who are stuck behind a lorry or bus to just wait there and deal with it.

Look ma, I just saved a bucketload of other peoples’ money. Oh, and some lives.

Note: Anyone feeling the urge to rush to the comments and leave a snarky message about traffic fumes, don’t bother, I ride bus lanes. If it bothers you, don’t cycle on the roads. Or buy a mask. Or get off and walk around on the pavement.

I will simply reiterate what I said last time. Your safety on a bicycle is your responsibility. You take your life in your hands. If you rely on things like trixy mirrors, putative cyborg lorry systems, other people’s awareness of you or any other road features to keep you safe, you will be dead soon. And it will be largely your own fault.

Wise, wise words :

Because if you’ve put yourself in a position where someone has to see you in order for you to be safe — to see you, and to give a fuck — you’ve already blown it.
Neal Stephenson – Zodiac

London Calling ? Tell it I’m busy.

As Obnoxio The Clown rather neatly summarised :

If a man is tired of London, he must be tired of life, some Londonophile once wittered. He was definitely talking out of his fucking arsehole.

And slightly less than a week later, that was still true.

Even Charlie Brooker, whom I hold in some regard despite his being a Guardian columnist, pours scorn upon it this week :

London which, from my current perspective, consists almost entirely of looming grey building-shaped objects constructed from bin lids and misery.

So, London sucks. But how does London suck ? Let me enumerate the ways :

Environment

To start with London almost always smells of piss. Partly because there usually isn’t enough wind to blow away the ammonia fumes from all those late night impromptu lamp post wettings. If you live in London, you almost certainly don’t realise this, because your nasal receptors will be saturated with strangers’ urine, and even if they weren’t, you wouldn’t be able to smell anything anyway because after only three or four hours in our nation’s supposedly great capital you’ll be sneezing black shit out of your sinuses for days. The air quality is quite simply that bad.

Infrastructure

London’s public transport and comms infrastructure is frankly antediluvian. There’s no cell reception even in the stations, haven’t you Neanderthals down there heard of pico cells ? Even the Geordies have them. Once you’re above ground call quality is the worst for any urban area I’ve ever been in, and I notice these things. It’s all hiss crackle and chop, an artefact of Time Division Multiplexing being stretched to capacity. For instance, if you pause while you’re talking, the cell will sense the silence and give your time slots to someone else, causing your conversation to drop out, which may explain some of the ways that London’s denizens behave while on the telephone.

Tube, Train and Bus Station wise, with a few exceptions, everything else is falling to bits, or being knocked down and replaced with branches of M&S which gives much the same impression. Don’t try to go to the toilet at Kings Cross. It will cost 30p. You’d think that with all the traffic through Kings Cross all those 30ps would add up to a tidy sum that would be enough to keep the toilets clean, and you might be right, but instead TFL use all the 30ps to buy extra piss smell and pipe it in through the air conditioning.

Things To Do
None. Seriously. If you’ve been a couple of times and done the tedious tourist stomp around the museums you won’t find anything you can’t do at home, only it will be much more expensive for reasons you won’t find anybody able to explain.

Someone at the back is shouting about art’n’culture. Rubbish. Especially in art terms London is way behind the curve. Anything that gets shown in London has almost certainly been touring first to build up a rep. If you want bleeding edge contemporary work, London is the wrong place to look. Ditto theatre. Exceptions are made, obviously, for the crapulous likes of Emin and Hurst, but who wants to see their hideous shit anyway ?

The London eye is nice to look at, but is it really worth 11 quid to spend half hour finding out just how grim London looks if you can see nearly all of it of once ? Or to find out just how long is to long to be locked in a tiny glass bubble with a screaming child ?

People
London is entirely populated by stroppy wankers. This may seem contentious and rude at first, but it is basically impossible to be in London for more than a few minutes and not become a stroppy wanker. Especially if you use the tube. Your first time on the Tube, when you get on, you think “My god, this terrible, all these people are so rude!” by the time you get off, you’ll be ready to kick an old lady in the face if she delays you getting to the platform for more than two seconds.

In summary then …

London is overcrowded, over priced, over hyped, full of stroppy wankers and it smells of wee.

Look London, your population density is just to high for your physical and tech infrastructure, some of you are going to have to move.

Which brings me to the genuinely contentious subject of optimum population metrics, which caused a bit if a stir when it was discussed over at Landed Underclass’ place, and which I will be rehashing here at some point, safe in the knowledge that no is reading it. The controversy, dear reader and seeker after wholesale play slime, is that some folk think that even trying to suggest that finite resource base can only sustain a maximum number of people, and that there is some optimum number for a given resource base is tantamount to opening death camps and shoving in gypsies and chavs. As I said at the time, this shows rather a lack of imagination on their part.

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