Sunday, 17 August 2008

The news

Central London needs 100,000 extra cycle parking spaces to keep pace with soaring bike use, campaigners said today. An Evening Standard survey found dramatic differences in provision for bikes between city centre boroughs. Some of the busiest railway stations had no parking facilities at all.

Bike helmets - yes or no?

Green councillor Sue Luxton lambastes the policing of the climate camp and the treatment of those who arrived by bicycle: clearly us cyclists are a big terrorist threat, especially compared to climate criminals like E.On.

Criminal injustice:

The family of Scottish cycling champion Jason MacIntyre said justice has failed them after his death in a Highland road crash. They have attacked the £500 fine and six-month driving ban handed down to the man behind the wheel in the accident that claimed MacIntyre's life.
The MacIntyre family consoled each other outside Fort William Sheriff Court on Thursday, angry and feeling let down by Scottish justice. During a training run near his home in January the 34-year-old MacIntyre was hit by a van driven by Robert McTaggart. Earlier McTaggart had pled gulity to a charge of careless driving.

There’s some comment on this case here.

NYC cop attacks CM cyclist here.

Taxi drivers against pedestrians:

Taxi drivers urged Mayor Boris Johnson to step in after rephasing of traffic lights at a vital West End junction last month led to lengthy delays at the intersection of Holborn and Procter Street. Instead of allowing traffic on different legs of the major gyratory to move in turn, an "all-red" phase was introduced, when the lights show red simultaneously.

A high-powered police car smashed through railings in Whitehall

after being sent to catch a gang of pickpockets. The BMW saloon was written off in the accident at a busy crossing in Westminster. The two officers inside the diplomatic response vehicle were treated for cuts and bruises at the scene. It is thought the driver understeered at a sharp corner while turning into Parliament Street. Samantha Nadin had just hobbled across the pelican crossing on crutches. The sales assistant, 37, from Camden, said: "I had got to the other side when I heard an almighty bang behind me. I turned around to look and saw that a police car had gone right through two sets of railings. "It must have been going at some speed to do that. If it had been just a few moments earlier I would have been hit and killed."

Clearing the streets for drivers and cars:

Playing with a football in the street is a rite of passage for most young boys. But in one particular town, a kickabout could land them on the wrong side of the law. A council in Newark, Nottinghamshire, has sent out letters warning that children face prosecution and fines of up to £100 if they annoy neighbours with ball games. The drive is being led by the council's anti- social behaviour co-ordinator, Lynn Pallett. She said residents have complained of flowerbeds being trampled by children retrieving balls that have been kicked into gardens, while other householders have reported damage to vehicles parked outside their properties.

Billions more squandered on road schemes to ‘ease congestion’:

Britain's road-building programme will cost the taxpayer billions of pounds more than expected, with some major projects more than doubling in price in five years, research indicates. Figures compiled by the Campaign for Better Transport (CBT) pressure group showed that 41 road projects which had been calculated to cost £4.45bn will now cost taxpayers £8.12bn – a rise of almost 83 per cent.

The Met’s new ‘crime map’ identifies what the force regards as the top three forms of criminality Burglary, robbery and vehicle crime. (This last category naturally doesn’t refer to drivers terrorizing cyclists and pedestrians.)

Bad news for Piccadilly line users:

A third runway at Heathrow will turn the Piccadilly line into a tourist shuttle and inflict misery on commuters, opponents of airport expansion warned today. Hammersmith and Fulham council said the extra 220,000 flights resulting from a third runway would result in hundreds of thousands more travellers taking the Tube. It said this would cause severe overcrowding on the Piccadilly line - unless longer and more frequent trains were introduced - and seriously affect the quality of life of commuters living in the borough. The council pointed out the line is already running at 97 per cent capacity - "close to breaking point" - and that Transport for London had predicted a doubling of passengers with a third runway. Calling on the Government to refuse a new runway, Nicholas Botterill, the council's deputy leader, said: "Many residents already struggle to find a space, let alone a seat, when Piccadilly line trains roll into the borough."


The number of deaths caused by uninsured drivers has risen by nearly a third in six years while offenders have been facing softer penalties. Figures seen by The Times show that average fines for driving without insurance have dropped by 17 per cent since 1997, from £224 to £185. But uninsured drivers are killing four people a week, more than ever before. Only 263,000 uninsured drivers were convicted by magistrates' courts in 2006, compared with 255,000 in 1997, the study found.

The Government also expects about 150 motorists a year to be jailed after being convicted of death by careless driving. From Monday, motorists who cause a fatal accident while using mobile phones or switching on a radio face being jailed for up to five years. A driver who is distracted by texting a friend, applying make-up or drinking a coffee and is then in a fatal crash will face the same penalty. Robert Gifford, director of the Parliamentary Advisory Council for Transport Safety, said: “Death on the roads should be dealt with fully and formally. Uninsured drivers are more likely to be involved in a crash than insured drivers. Uninsured drivers are ten times more likely than insured motorists to have a drink-driving conviction, six times more likely to drive an unsafe vehicle and four times more likely to have a conviction for driving without due care and attention.

However, under recommendations issued by the Sentencing Guidelines Council, those whose offence involved ‘momentary inattention’ could escape with a community sentence. The most serious lapses in concentration should always incur jail terms up to a maximum of five years, it added. Road safety charity Brake described the SGC’s guidelines as ‘woefully lenient’.

More criminal injustice:

A driver who turned right in front of an oncoming car, causing the death of his passenger, has been fined £400.


A homeowner whose cottage was 'ripped in two' by a drunk teen driver has branded the British justice system a 'joke' after not being awarded a penny in compensation.Landscape gardener Trevor Gardiner was left with a gaping hole in his cottage when drunk public schoolboy Edward Boyd smashed through his home after losing control of his car.

Gardiner spoke out this week after Boyd, 19, a former pupil at £26,000-a-year Stowe School in Buckinghamshire, appeared before magistrates to plead guilty to a string of charges. Canterbury Magistrates Court heard how the teen had been out drinking vodka and Red Bull with friends in Canterbury, Kent, before deciding to drive home while nearly two times over the drink drive limit.

As he drove home he lost control of his Volkswagen Polo - a gift from his parents for passing his driving test - and crashed through Mr Gardiner's home. But instead of giving himself up Boyd ran from the scene and called friends to pick him up after the 2.30am crash on June 14th.
The court heard last week how Boyd - who admitted drink driving, failing to stop and obstructing a police officer - was caught after police spotted him covered in blood in the car. Boyd also gave the police officer a false name in a bid to escape justice, but eventually admitted his crimes after calling his mother. But in court last week he escaped with just a £400 fine and 200 hours community service.

More London drivers are getting nicked for parking offences (cue hysteria by the gutter press and the AA):

Drivers in London were issued with 140,000 more penalty charge notices (PCNs) over the 12 months that ended in March than in the previous year. motoring organisations said too many tickets are still being given out. "The system may not be in chaos but I think the question of whether it's fair is debatable," said a spokesman for the AA.


Colin Smith, deputy chairman of London Councils' transport and environment committee, defended the growing number of fines. He said: "Motorists are often irritated to find they have been issued with a ticket but the simple message is if you don't break the rules you won't get one."

Crap councils never admit they’re wrong, do they? Hilariously, after being caught out publishing a leaflet which erroneously showed the skyline of Birmingham, Alabama, a Birmingham city council official blustered The picture on the leaflet is meant to symbolically represent an urban area.

Good news!

In the USA, sales of Hummers have plummeted by 40% in the US this year.


In Britain motorbike sales are up by 22 per cent, to 14,306, as people flee congestion charges, increased car taxes and the rising cost of fuel.

Climate change, or just traditional bad weather? This week saw flooding, destruction and deaths as storms spread across Britain


A clean-up operation is under way in Northern Ireland after torrential rain caused floods in many areas. Rivers burst their banks and countless roads were impassable, leaving motorists stranded. Others had to abandon their cars in flood water. Hundreds of homes and businesses were also badly damaged.

There are few more depressing descriptions in the English language than "cycling campaigner" Says novelist and journalist Will Self, who puts forward ad hoc measures that could make it easier for two-wheelers.

London commuters

face train fare rises of up to 10 per cent because of an increase in inflation

In the courts:

A biker who reached speeds of 130mph (209kph) on an A-road through Wiltshire has been sent to prison for 15 months.

The BBC supplies lavish publicity for one man’s whinge:

Business leaders and motorists have complained to Devon and Cornwall police about the amount time taken to investigate road crash scenes. The average road closure after a serious crash is about six hours, which can lead to long tailbacks. In fact this story cites just one individual: Tim Jones, of the Devon and Cornwall Business Council.

A four degrees rise in global warming? Oliver Tickell:

The collapse of the polar ice caps would become inevitable, bringing long-term sea level rises of 70-80 metres. All the world's coastal plains would be lost, complete with ports, cities, transport and industrial infrastructure, and much of the world's most productive farmland. The world's geography would be transformed much as it was at the end of the last ice age, when sea levels rose by about 120 metres to create the Channel, the North Sea and Cardigan Bay out of dry land. Weather would become extreme and unpredictable, with more frequent and severe droughts, floods and hurricanes. The Earth's carrying capacity would be hugely reduced. Billions would undoubtedly die. All our policies to date to tackle global warming have been miserable failures. So are all our efforts doomed to failure? Yes, so long as our governments remain craven to special interests, whether carbon traders or fossil fuel companies.

Rail passengers face slower train journeys into London than 21 years ago:

Popular services to the capital are slower than in 1987 despite rail network and rolling stock improvements. Critics say rail firms are "padding out" timetables by adding a few minutes to journeys between key stations to ensure trains arrive on time.

Met police staff have been caught using their passes illegally to avoid paying for train travel.

The End:

The startling loss of Arctic sea ice has major meteorological, environmental and ecological implications. The region acts like a giant refrigerator that has a strong effect on the northern hemisphere's meteorology. Without its cooling influence, weather patterns will be badly disrupted, including storms set to sweep over Britain. What really unsettles scientists, however, is their inability to forecast precisely what is happening in the Arctic, the part of the world most vulnerable to the effects of global warming. 'When we did the first climate change computer models, we thought the Arctic's summer ice cover would last until around 2070,' said Professor Peter Wadhams of Cambridge University. 'It is now clear we did not understand how thin the ice cap had already become - for Arctic ice cover has since been disappearing at ever increasing rates. Every few years we have to revise our estimates downwards. Now the most detailed computer models suggest the Arctic's summer ice is going to last for only a few more years - and given what we have seen happen last week, I think they are probably correct.' 'It does not really matter whether 2007 or 2008 is the worst year on record for Arctic ice,' Maslowski said. 'The crucial point is that ice is clearly not building up enough over winter to restore cover and that when you combine current estimates of ice thickness with the extent of the ice cap, you get a very clear indication that the Arctic is going to be ice-free in summer in five years. And when that happens there will be consequences.