Saturday, 14 June 2008

The news

The parents of a student killed while cycling are set to launch a private legal battle after claiming police failed to investigate his death properly:

Vinnie Carta, 21, from Enfield, a third-year physics student at Cambridge University, was in collision with a car near his student digs as he rode to his part-time job as a children's maths tutor last November. He suffered massive head injuries, even though he was wearing a helmet, and died in hospital the following day, with his parents at his bedside. No charges were brought against the driver, who was found to have been doing 48mph inside a 60mph zone, and an inquest recorded a narrative verdict that Vinnie's death was an accident.

But his parents, John, 51, and Anthea, 49, believe police and prosecutors accepted the driver's account of events without carrying out a thorough investigation or appealing widely enough for witnesses. Mr Carta, a bus safety examiner, said: "Vinnie was an experienced cyclist. He was on his new bike, wearing a helmet and reflective clothing. He was on a well-lit route, which he took all the time. He knew what he was doing. "The driver has changed his story several times. We think he was in a rush to get home, thinking he was coming up to a 60mph road, and just didn't pay attention to the road. Vinnie was flipped in the air and landed on the car.”

London’s new mayor plans to open up bus lanes to motorbikes:

LCC's chief executive Koy Thomson said: "While we would support measures to make motorcycling safer, such as a 20mph speed limit, there is no clear environmental, safety or congestion reason for allowing motorcycles into bus lanes."

Tom Bogdanowicz, LCC's campaigns manager, added: "Providing new, high-speed channels for motorcycles along major roads will inevitably increase motorcycle use. "More motorcycle traffic will spread to all streets in London and will bring with it an increase in casualties for vulnerable road users. We're asking our supporters to urge the Mayor to consider the safety impact on all London streets for every road user before any decision on allowing high-speed vehicles into bus lanes is made." A spokesman for Mr Johnson said he stood by his decision and the scheme would be rolled out in due course.

Andrew Neather comments:

Nationally, cyclists are three times more likely to killed in collisions with motorcyclists than with cars, and twice as likely to be seriously injured. Figures for these cyclist deaths in London aren't available but those for pedestrians are similar to the national picture - they're proportionately three times more likely to be killed or seriously injured by a motorcyclist than by a car. In 2004, that left 114 pedestrians dead or badly injured.

Another crackpot bus lane notion, this time from Enfield:

Congestion in London could be cut significantly by allowing car-sharers to use bus lanes, it has been claimed. Terry Neville, Enfield cabinet member for the environment, called on the Mayor to consider the idea as a matter of urgency. He said: "This will get London moving again. Congestion is choking London - both environmentally and economically. Bus lanes need to be used more effectively. By allowing people who car-share to use bus lanes we are making the most of London's road space and at the same time helping the economy."

Mr Neville also announced that Enfield would refuse to install any more "bus boarders" - bus stops that stickout into the road, preventing other vehicles getting past stationary buses and causing traffic jams. There are four in Green Lanes, a major route running through the borough. The council says the stops cause severe delays.

Climate change:

If current policy continues to fail - along the lines of the "agree and ignore" scenario - then 50% to 80% of all species on earth could be driven to extinction by the magnitude and rapidity of warming, and much of the planet's surface left uninhabitable to humans. Billions, not millions, of people would be displaced. Argues Mark Lynas.

Scientists warn

Emissions of greenhouse gases are currently running at twice that which the Earth can naturally absorb. To stabilise the climate, emissions will have to be halved, the statement says, adding: "Immediate, large-scale mitigation is required."

Critical Mass in Toronto.

Road carnage:

A criminal who walked free from court for dangerous driving offences, killed a mother just two months later as he raced down a street at around 100mph. A police officer who attended the scene of the crash said it was the worst carnage he had seen since the IRA bombing in Manchester.

A man has been killed in a collision with a double decker bus off Edgware Road:

The 63-year-old, who has not been named, was pronounced dead at the scene after the accident on Seymour Street, near Marble Arch at 9.40pm. Last month 23-year-old estate agent Emily Diamond was killed by a falling branch after a double decker bus hit an overhanging tree in Tower Bridge Road. In February pedestrian Carl Forshaw, 30, died after being hit by a No 15 double decker on Praed Street, near Paddington Station. In January Eileen Daley, 58, of Shepherd's Bush, was killed crossing the A4 in Chiswick when she was hit by a car and thrown into the path of a bus. In the same month three teenagers died when their car collided with a bendy bus in Charlton. Last October young father Lee Beckwith, 21, was killed when he slipped under a No 25 bendy bus and was dragged for a mile along Ilford High Road. His father, Paul, called for bendy buses to be withdrawn.

Former Premier League footballer and BBC pundit Steve Claridge has been given a suspended jail term and banned from driving after speeding at 100mph. Claridge, 42, was convicted last month of dangerous driving after speeding in "treacherous" conditions on the M42 near Solihull, West Midlands, in 2006.

His six-month jail sentence was suspended for two years and he was banned from driving for 12 months. Following the verdict, the court heard that Claridge, who now works as a football pundit on BBC Five Live, already had nine points on his driving licence. Outside court, he said: "I'm pleased with the way things have worked out."

A man who died in a Hampshire road crash was a three times 4x4 off-road British Rally Champion. Paul Choat, 43, died when his Mercedes convertible collided with a telegraph pole and a tree on the A338 at Blashford, near Ringwood, on Saturday.

Blue badge abuse is rampant across the UK:

In London, they exempt motorists from the capital's congestion charge, a concession worth about £2,000 on its own, before parking is taken into account. This has led to a flourishing black market in the badges, members of the all-party Transport Select Committee have been told.
It is understood that blue badges have been put up for sale on Ebay. The number of disabled badges has soared. In 1987 there were only 673,000 in circulation, equivalent to 14 per 1,000 people. By last year this had risen to 2.3 million or 46 badges for every 1,000 people and it is anticipated that there will be more than three million registered disabled motorists by 2012.

In Edinburgh

THE Evening News has reported that up to 70 per cent of the city's 18,577 blue badges are being misused and that there were five successful prosecutions last year.


MORE than 100 disabled parking badges were cancelled by a North Wales council after a fraud crackdown revealed the registered owners were dead.

One of the very few local authorities to be cracking down on blue badge fraud is Manchester City Council: Council environment spokesman Coun Richard Cowell said: "When motorists are found to be abusing the scheme with no regard for genuinely disabled badge holders being able to park the council will not hesitate to prosecute them." - as in this case.