Sunday, 13 July 2008

The news

The father of a 17-year-old girl who was fatally injured in a collision with a cyclist has said it is "laughable" the man has only been fined. Mick Bennett said Jason Howard should have faced manslaughter charges and been jailed for several years over Rhiannon Bennett's death in April 2007.

Howard was an "arrogant and vile little man", Mr Bennett said outside court. Howard, 36, of Buckingham, was fined £2,200 on Tuesday after being convicted of dangerous cycling in the town. During Howard's trial, Aylesbury magistrates heard Howard had shouted at Rhiannon to "move because I'm not stopping" before crashing into her.

Sgt Dominic Mahon, of Thames Valley Police, told the BBC Howard could have been travelling at about 17mph when he struck Rhiannon, "imparting a great deal of force" on her.

(And since a cyclist can impart a great deal of force and kill a pedestrian at 17 mph it does sort of make you wonder why no senior police officer has ever had a bad word to say about bull bars.)

Howard was riding a £4,750 custom-built bicycle. He had a previous conviction (but what it was for was not identified).

The penalty for killing a pedestrian as a result of reckless and dangerous cycling does seem extraordinarily lenient when compared to the sentence handed out to the cyclist who snapped after being abused and cut up by drivers and who maliciously damaged vehicles but hurt no one, for which he was sentenced to 16 months in prison for eight offences of criminal damage.

The case of Jason Howard generated a lot of commentary, much of it on traditional lines.

As greater numbers of cyclists take to the roads, are they becoming more irresponsible? plaintively asks the car supremacist BBC (Top Gear but not a single programme about urban walking or urban cycling).

Hugh Bladen, from the Association of British Drivers, certainly thinks so. "They are a rule unto themselves, to put it bluntly," he said.

(But then the laughably unrepresentative ABD is a tiny collection of petrolhead nutters and climate change deniers.)

Road safety officer Martin Cook, from West Sussex County Council, said growing numbers of bikes on the roads had sparked "very strong feelings" among people. "There are groups who feel there should be a lot more engineering to facilitate for cyclists and others who feel cyclists shouldn't be on the road," he said. "It's about trying to find the common ground with the two."

(No, it isn’t. Those are false alternatives.)

Richard Morrison:

Few motorists seem to understand, let alone sympathise with, the chief reason why cyclists appear to swerve erratically: the potentially life-threatening ruts and potholes on many roads. Why should they understand? In the cushioned safety pod that is the modern automobile, the driver doesn't even feel the bumps. In a country that gives such priority to motorists, is it desirable, even possible, to cycle “responsibly”? If I added ten miles to my journey each day, I could probably do the whole trip along quieter, meandering backstreets. But I haven't got all day. So I commute along the quickest route: the A-roads. Here, if I cycle “responsibly”, I will share the road with thundering juggernauts and white-van maniacs.

More crap walking:

The partial pedestrianisation of Parliament Square, designed to make London a glorious city for Olympic visitors has been axed.

The reason? Sources close to the £18 million project, originally given the go-ahead by Ken Livingstone, claimed it had been abandoned to avoid angering motorists.

Apparently other schemes are also due to be dumped, to ensure that London remains Europe’s most walking and cycling unfriendly city.

The decision has been greeted with enthusiasm by the Evening Standard:

The balance of power in our public spaces needs to shift more towards pedestrians. But it should not do so if the result is to create disproportionate disruption to traffic and chaos to the streets where it is displaced.

More Olympic news:

A MEMBER of the British bobsleigh team has been fined for speeding.

Crap cycling in London:

Lord Turner launched a stinging attack on the failure to make London more cycle-friendly and called for a dramatic increase in special bike ways "physically segregated" from cars. In what may be seen as criticism of former Mayor of London Ken Livingstone, he said: "We still do not have cycle ways like Amsterdam and Berlin. "We have bits of paint on the ground with buses and taxis occupying it." The peer, who regularly cycles from his home in Kensington to his City or Westminster offices, added: "Given how little distance we have made in terms of cycle ways, the increase in cycling has been extraordinary and that suggests that it could go much, much further if we simply invest behind that."

A PLAN to allow bikers to use bus lanes is being fiercely opposed by Hackney cyclists.
Hundreds of people have signed a petition against London mayor Boris Johnson's proposal.

This week’s mobile phone killer:

A lap-dancer who was driving at 95mph while over the limit and using her mobile phone when she crashed into and killed a woman has been jailed for 6 years.

And now Scotland.

The Scotsman newspaper is proud of its campaign to save the planet:

THOUSANDS of Scots have stepped up to the challenge of fighting climate change and are helping our country set a shining example to the rest of the world. Environment secretary Richard Lochhead ate just Scottish food for one week in May.

And now why not watch The Scotsman’s promotional video of the gas guzzling Landrover defender. And there are also some great Scotsman cheap flight offers here.


ROBOT buses could be on the way to the streets of Stornoway at a cost of £700,000. Councillors on Lewis are looking at the futuristic scheme, which would be the first of its kind in Britain.

The driverless 10-seater buses would only travel at 7mph - about twice walking pace. But supporters of the plan insist it would provide "convenient and reasonably fast" public transport. They also claim the robots would improve the environment by taking buses and cars off the streets. The battery-powered robot buses are controlled by a central computer and use satellite navigation.