Tag Archives: politics

Words and Numbers

TinTinThis week the ‘greenest government ever‘ voted down an amendment to include a 2030 decarbonisation target in the Energy Bill. This was despite its own Tim Yeo tabling the amendment and that touchstone for environmental thinking among zillionaires, Zac Goldsmith, voting in favour.

It seems targets, like statistics, can be misused. While other numbers, like this unhelpful 3 digit offender lurking within 400ppm, can be safely ignored.

Sigh

I’d intended to take a look at just what the phrase ‘greenest government ever’ actually meant alongside a new power to veto windfarms being written into planning policy. I was going to draw a witty parallel between Europe interfering in the affairs of a certain member state and Britain blocking Italy’s ban on plastic bags. I’d lined up a seamless segue into tonight’s Beecause talk in the Fleece by way of said member state opposing a ban on harmful pesticides based on crap science. But what’s the point?

If words don’t mean what they say and numbers can’t be used to measure them what’s the point in writing them down?

Yesterday was World Environment Day.

And one more thing…

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Eight copy-paste-commuters

When you live with an issue every day, think about it most days, write about it once or twice a week, meet others who deal with it every month or so, and every now and then reach the influential with ‘the message’, after all that, it’s all too easy to kid yourself that you’re actually getting somewhere.

But not to worry, eventually the evidence trots up like a big bouncy puppy, so pleased with itself that it’s returned with just what you wanted, only to prove beyond all possible doubt that it forgot all about your ball, having been distracted by the bigger, shinier one thrown by your mates.

Whether it’s TfL and the Mayor’s Vision for Cycling in London or the CTC’s Cycletopia, the evidence suggests that if and when the able bodied and able minded think about disability cycling they still imagine it taking place in a park or around an athletics track, certainly not on a street or a cycle path.

They’re right of course, that is mostly where it takes place, and the rub is that’s where they’re keeping it – safely confined in their collective mind’s eye out of harm’s way.

So what to do? Throw in the hand crank or keep plodding on through the crowd of indulgent smiles? Well, like a lame Eeyore, it’s onwards, ever onwards..

The four point plan I knocked up in response to the Get Britain Cycling inquiry isn’t going to cut it on its own. As long as the common perception of cycling amongst those tasked with the job to Get Britain Cycling is being reinforced with images like the one above, handcycles and trikes are going to be forgotten about, and with the help of the five inaccessible kissing gates I came across yesterday on the Bourne Valley Greenway, disability cycling will remain confined to inclusive cycling projects.

We need some positive discrimination.

5. Make it Normal

Until we have an inclusive cycle network without all of the physical and mental barriers preventing people from enjoying the benefits of cycles as mobility aids, the disabled need to be included in the plans and expectations of all new schemes.

As an absolute minimum, an image of a handcycle and/or trike needs to be shown in the plans and design access statements for all new cycle infrastructure. Copy and pasted commuters an inclusive cycle network does not make.

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Bourne Valley Greenway

A Bittersweet Moment

“I want more women cycling, more older people cycling, more black and minority ethnic Londoners cycling, more cyclists of all social backgrounds – without which truly mass participation can never come.”

Sweet words from London’s Mayor. Bravo Boris. Not.

Aw come on. What’s not to like?

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A Plan for Disability Cycling

The Get Britain Cycling inquiry wrapped up yesterday – rather caught me out because I’d gotten used to the sessions being midweek! Anyway, let’s get back to that question raised a few weeks ago…

CTCTweets

I think it was put by Sarah Wollaston MP and following through the letterbox of twitter I don’t recall anybody addressing the disabled aspect of it. With the benefit of some time to reflect on it, this is what I would have said given the opportunity…

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Turning Dreams Into Reality

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Cast your eye over Cycletopia for a minute. It’s a lovely, fun, graphical way to convey what a bike friendly world might look like. Click on the image to see it full size.

Tomorrow sees the beginning of the inquiry into ‘Get Britain Cycling’ and what could be a major step forward in turning dreams into reality. Campaign director Roger Geffen will be there presenting CTC’s evidence to the All Party Parliamentary Cycling Group.

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The Big Ride…

TheBigRide…lived up to its billing on Saturday – the official estimate being 10,000+ people on bikes calling for the London mayoral candidates “to commit to continental-standard cycling infrastructure in the capital.” Or simply, “Love London – Go Dutch“.

It would’ve been more too, had it not rained all day. It didn’t once get to a point where I thought it was time to take my jacket off and display our Inclusive Cycling Forum T-Shirt. The Wheels for Wellbeing tabards are definitely the right all-weather solution!

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Making Your Mark

CrossIt took a while. It’s been going for about five years now, but the BUG eventually got an account, sending the first tweet in February. Sustainable Witney have an account too which is generally used to publish posts.

Depending on how many people or things you choose to follow, you get a relatively constant stream of twitterings of 140 characters or less on all sorts of topics throughout the day – should you need it.

Two that came in to my own account one after the other this morning caused the Mr Angry cogs to engage.

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It’s Only Fair

FairtradeLast year I signed a letter for a campaigner asking major tea manufacturers to make their products Fairtrade. That prompted me to take a look at the tea I drink, only to find there wasn’t a Fairtrade version being sold in Witney.

I wasn’t keen on moving to a different type of tea in bags, but luckily for me and the tea-pickers, the campaigning paid off and packets of Waitrose Darjeeling now sport the Fairtrade symbol.

Even more impressive has been the campaigning work of the local Fair Trade Action Group WAFTAG. For the past three years it’s never been clear exactly what it is about Fairtrade that would be unfair to Witney, and that in itself has made countering the objections an almost impossible task.

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All-Party Parliamentary Cycling Group

Big_Ben_traffic-224x300Getting a kettle installed in the Palace of Westminster is a big ask of either the antiquated wiring, the modern procedures, or both. Whatever the reason, Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson now appears to be in the home straight when it comes to getting a cup of tea into the office without running the risk of spilling it. Winner of 11 paralympic gold medals in successive games, Dame Tanni was appointed as a crossbench ‘People’s Peer’ in March last year.

We’re both early for the APPCG meeting entitled ‘Disablity cycling – how to increase participation’; Tanni’s the speaker. Resting on the green leather bench outside room five I’m glad of the chat, calming my nerves after having barged in on the Coastguard ten minutes earlier.

Westminster Palace is so popular with visitors this afternoon some of the attendees are stuck in a long queue for the security check. Luckily I’d been fast tracked and given a guide to pilot me round the circuitous step free route to the committee corridor – shortcuts for which Tanni, over several months, has now got memorised. Anyway, the rooms are in constant use so Co-Chair Julian Huppert, MP for cycle friendly Cambridge, makes a start and introduces the Baroness.

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Unequal Rights

DisabledCyclistSign-300x184The concept of the cycle as a mobility aid is taken more seriously in some places than others. Graffiti aside, this sign outside a library in Denmark is the best icon I’ve seen to represent the cultural chasm running down the middle of the North Sea. I challenge anyone to post a picture of an equivalent sign denoting disabled cycle parking in the UK.

Thanks to Cycle Chic blogger, photographer and style guru  Mikeal Coalville-Anderson for bringing this to our attention. You can read more about danish mobility aids here in his daily record of life in and around Copenhagen.

Compare that with this story of everyday life in our own cycling capital, where Ann Wright was prevented from cycling considerately along London’s South Bank by a PCSO.

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