Saturday, 23 August 2008

The news


Flying remains by far the safest form of transport. If you travel by air for a lifetime you have a 1 in 2.5 million chance of being killed. Use the train and that drops to 1 in a 50,000 chance. On the road that becomes a 1 in 200 chance.

Last year 2,943 people died on the road. How did the families of each of those cope? An air crash, by the nature of its size and rarity, always attracts more publicity - and far more fear - than road casualties. We hurtle towards each other at 60 miles an hour on small rural roads without knowing what the other driver might do. What happens if he swerves? Or his front tyre bursts? Or he is only 17 (or even younger) and travelling too fast? Nobody knows or really cares?

A VETERAN cyclist killed by a car driver on the Itchen Bridge in Southampton has been hailed a "figurehead" of the cycling community:

Derek Witt, 60, from Swanwick, was among four riders crossing the bridge on Wednesday evening when he was struck by an oncoming Peugeot 406 car. He died at the scene. Fellow cyclist, 32-yearold Peter Sneddon, from Whiteley, suffered "serious and extensive" injuries to his legs and chest. He was last night in a "serious but stable condition".Both men were married with families.MrWittwas also a grandfather. The cyclists, part of the Woolston-based DHC racing team, were heading away from Southampton and approaching the top of the bridge at about 8.45pm when the dark-coloured car crashed into them. The cyclists were returning from Calshot velodrome where they had been filmed to document the popularity of the sport because of the Olympics. Mr Webber added: "We all ride the bridge quite often. You don't expect it to happen when you have wide lanes and cycle lanes." Julian Gee, chairman of the Sotonia cycle club, the largest in area, said: "Our condolences go out to their families. It's a tragedy whenever a cyclist gets killed and is a reminder to us all how vulnerable we are on the roads."

A car was carrying seven people when it was in collision with two cyclists in Hampshire, police have said. All the occupants of the Peugeot 406 car, four men and three women, were arrested with the majority bailed.

Evading the problem of potential killers:

Residents in Swarland, Northumberland, have been asked to note down registration numbers of cars they think are over the speed limit. Northumbria police will then issue a letter to the alleged offender, and store their details on a database. But the police have be criticised for asking people to become 'do-it-yourself traffic officers' while some claim the scheme will be open to abuse to villagers with an axe to grind. If reported twice, motorists can expect a visit from an officer and after three they will become a target for police to monitor. Police came up with the scheme following complaints that drivers were not slowing down when entering the village from faster country roads. A range of speed calming measures were explored by the council, but none were considered acceptable by highways authorities.

In other words, the police will bend over backwards to avoid enforcing road traffic law and to avoid prosecuting dangerous drivers, highway authorities are far more obsessed with traffic flow than they are with the safety of pedestrians and cyclists, and even campaigners for slower speeds can be idiots. In this case the man leading the campaign is an ignoramus who understands nothing about speed:

Parish councillor Mike Shirley, who lives on Park Road said the council favoured the 'softly softly' approach. He added: 'As with the rest of the country, we have boy racers and the idiots.'Something had to be done. We are not interested in the lass that is late to get her children to school and doing 35mph, we are interested in the idiot that is doing 75mph.'

Someone needs to educate Mike Shirley, since

A pedestrian knocked down by a vehicle travelling at 40 mph has only a 5% chance of surviving; at 30 mph it is 45%, but at 20 mph the chances of surviving rise to 95%.

This week’s head-on fatality:

A 45-year-old woman driver died this morning after two cars collided head-on near Wantage. The accident happened on a bend in the B4494 shortly before 6am, just south of the town.

Yikes! The London Borough of Waltham Forest is more awful than Glasgow.

The so-called ‘Green’ electric sports car:

It looks just like a normal sports car, has a top speed of 125mph and acceleration of 0-60 in 3.9 seconds. But the British-built Tesla Roadster, which goes on sale today, has one major advantage - you'll never need to fill it up. The virtually silent car is powered by an 185kw electric motor and a stack of batteries in its boot. However, this is no G-Wiz - it really does perform like a sports car. In central London, with tourists and commuters rushing around, no one could hear the car coming. On several occasions I had to slam on the (thankfully very good) brakes as pedestrians walked straight in front, and cyclists were also oblivious.

Take care when photographing police vehicles transgressing road traffic law:

‘I sort of said, "Hey mate no entry" but he just shouted out the window, "F*** off, this is police business". 'But when I took a photo of them he came running out, battered the camera from my hand on to the floor and arrested me for three crimes, none of which I'd committed.'


A senior Norfolk police officer has been arrested on suspicion of driving while under the influence of alcohol.

Celebrity cyclists:

David Cameron was attacked by a white van driver who tried to push him into a car as he cycled home from a dinner late at night.

‘Losing control’:

One passenger died and many were injured when a coach crashed and ended up on its side. The accident happened following a torrential downpour on a steep and narrow road, just before a tight bend. The coach failed to negotiate the bend and collided with two cars in a driveway before smashing through a wall and coming to a rest on its side in a garden.

A local resident admitted that

there has not been a history of accidents on the cordoned-off bridge. But he added there was "a very nasty bend" coming down from Alton Towers and it was supposed to be 30mph at the cordon "but people use it like a race track".

A little-recognised threat to air quality:

Smoke from vessels at sea or in port is affecting the air quality of coastal cities, they said. Researchers identified 'primary sulphate' in ship emissions, consisting of tiny sulphur particles less than 1.5 microns across. Breathed in, they can lodge deep inside the lungs and pose a serious health hazard.

Motorists should pay more to park in shopping centres

to force them to walk more and reduce traffic congestion, according to a Government minister. Local Government minister John Healey said that local councils should charge more for basic services such as off-street parking…In a speech to the Local Government Association, he said: "Only one in five councils are using charging to the full potential. Not just to cover costs but to shape their area."

Swimming in crap:

Hundreds of bathing beaches are becoming increasingly contaminated with sewage thanks to the wet summer. Watch out for Paignton

Finally, it turns out that the photo of Rebecca Romero naked on a bike was doctored