Saturday 17 May 2008

The week’s news

Epidemic news first.

Red-light jumping is at "epidemic proportions" in London, a survey reveals. Pedestrians are being put in danger by road-users who race through traffic lights each time they go red. The survey for the Evening Standard found one in every 25 - including motorists, cyclists and bus drivers - routinely "runs" traffic lights.

At Trafalgar Square, researchers spotted 117 road-users charging through lights after they turned red over a three-hour period. Fifty one were cyclists, 13 were motorcyclists and 23 were car drivers. Eighteen vans shot through on red, as well as four police vehicles not on emergency calls, three lorries and five buses.

The survey was repeated at other locations in central and outer London with similar results.

This survey did not include the new Mayor,who was filmed cycling through six red lights, failing to stop at a zebra crossing and mounting the pavement.

What’s more

We are suffering what she calls a noise epidemic. The resulting physical fights kill five of us a year, and the stress, according to the World Health Organisation, another 3,000. Noise aggravates many of modern Britain's characteristics: alcoholism and addiction; aggression and violence; and a general desire to flee the country.

You can take a peek at the noise map here

And now sponsorship news. Firstly

Paul McCartney’s new ‘green’ car was delivered… by plane, from Japan to Britain.

Paul was offered a Lexus as a gift and ordered the hybrid limo because it helps to reduce emissions. Carbon offsetting firm said the plane journey would have caused a carbon footprint of 38,050kg, compared to 397kg for a three-week boat journey. Director Mike Rigby said: "That is the equivalent of driving the car around the world six times." Paddy Gillett of the anti-aviation lobby group Plane Stupid, said: "For anyone to pretend that a private limousine is in any way eco-friendly is like pretending a private jet is. It's total greenwash."

Sir Paul, who is also a vegan, has previously lauded Lexus for their commitment to making hybrid vehicles. Lexus sponsored the singer’s 2005 US tour.


Members of the European Parliament are routinely accepting gifts, wages and hospitality from companies they are charged with regulating.

Among senior British MEPs who admit taking gifts, money and hospitality from businesses is the West Midlands Conservative MEP, Malcolm Harbour. He is a leading figure in the debate on carbon dioxide and fuel efficiency in Brussels. Since 2004, Mr Harbour has been loaned 18 cars by the industry. Also courtesy of the car industry, he has attended Grand Prix races and received cross-country driving instruction.

Provided they declare any interest, MEPs are not breaking any regulations. Mr Harbour says he drives cars because he needs "to understand what is going on, and I declare it as I feel that I have nothing to hide". Another self-declared beneficiary of the car industry's generosity is Martin Callanan, a Conservative MEP for the North-East. In 2006, he was given a discount by Ford when buying a new car. Along with a colleague, he recently tabled a crucial amendment to a report on CO2 emissions for cars. It gave manufacturers three extra years to prepare for the limit, a move described as "disastrous" by Green MEPs.


The concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has reached a record high, according to new figures that renew fears that climate change could begin to slide out of control.

Scientists say the shift could indicate that the Earth is losing its natural ability to soak up billions of tons of carbon each year. Martin Parry, co-chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's working group on impacts, said: "Despite all the talk, the situation is getting worse. Levels of greenhouse gases continue to rise in the atmosphere and the rate of that rise is accelerating. We are already seeing the impacts of climate change and the scale of those impacts will also accelerate, until we decide to do something about it."

Former footballer and TV pundit Steve Claridge has been found guilty of dangerous driving.

Following the verdict the court heard that Claridge already has nine points on his driving licence. He was fined and given three points on November 1, 2005 for ''failing to give information as to the identity of the driver''. He was also fined and given three points in August of the same year for a similar offence. On December 29, 2005 he was issued with a fixed penalty notice for exceeding the speed limit on a motorway and given a further three penalty points, the court heard.

Adjourning sentencing until next month, Judge Peter Carr said he considered the dangerous driving conviction ''a serious matter'' and imposed an interim disqualification, banning Claridge from driving immediately.

Come to think of it, I’ve never seen an obese cyclist. And now

fat people are now being blamed for global warming. British scientists say they use up more fuel to transport them around and the amount of food they eat requires more energy to produce than that consumed by those on smaller diets.

According to a team at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine this adds to food shortages and higher energy prices. Researchers Phil Edwards said: “We are all becoming heavier and it is a global responsibility. Obesity is a key part of the big picture."

Mr Edwards and his colleague Ian Roberts argue that because thinner people eat less and are more likely to walk than rely on cars, a slimmer population would lower demand for fuel and food.

Two political bloggers have been involved in transport issues this week:

Blogger Guido Fawkes was sentenced to a three month curfew order this afternoon after being convicted of driving while over the legal alcohol limit and without insurance. Appearing at Tower Bridge Magistrates Court the blogger, real name Paul Staines, was told the curfew would operate between the hours of 9pm and 6am.

Staines, 41, will also have to wear an electronic tag. The judge also handed down an 18-month supervision order and a three year driving ban. Staines will be required to retake his driving test when the driving ban has elapsed. He was also ordered to pay the prosecution’s £60 costs.

The custodian of Lenin’s Tomb was apprehended while out on his bicycle taking photographs:

They advised me, while one of them looked through all the pictures on my digital camera, that this is the sort of thing that is liable to get one arrested under anti-terrorism legislation, what with it sort of being near a major transport hub. They further advised me that following arrest, one would usually end up being strip-searched and possibly questioned for quite a long time under what might prove to be testing circumstances.

Staying with politics:

The 60-year-old Mid-Sussex MP, who already had nine points on his licence, was banned from driving for two months after admitting driving without insurance. He was also fined £215 and told to pay £35 costs by magistrates in Crawley, West Sussex. Soames, an Old Etonian friend of Tory leader David Cameron, was summoned to appear in court after the footage showed him riding the quad bike at Slaugham, near his home in West Sussex.

On the crash front:

It may not look like it but this was once a thriving newsagents. But all that changed in just a few seconds when a driver lost control of her car and ploughed through the front door.

A driver killed himself and ruined the life of a passing taxi driver in a drunken high speed collision:

"Although there is a lack of physical evidence to ascertain the exact speed, my colleagues and myself believe from the evidence that exists that Mr Singh's car was travelling at around 70mph."

After the inquest at Westminster coroner's court, Mr Jones said outside: "I have to live with these injuries for the rest of my life. "My life has been shortened and I will never do things that I loved like ski ever again. And this is all because someone decides to drink before getting in their car."

In Plymouth

A lying policeman who invented a bogus car chase to avoid paying a speeding fine has been spared jail.