13 April 2011


Cyclists - don't you just hate them?

Apparently MPs are to discuss a bill about punishing cyclists for reckless cycling, or killing

To be honest, it seems a little frivolous as I don't think they are very likely to kill us directly, or even indirectly, very often

But what I really want to rant about is the defence of cyclists, who once again continue to believe the rules do not apply to them

They cite stats that say they don't kill anyone - is anyone claiming they do? Their main crimes are breaking road rules and causing distress to pedestrians, nothing so grand as killing - it's a few kilos of thin metal going at most 30 mph, it's not particularly lethal

In particular, Guardian columnist and cycling advocate Zoe Williams says she is exasperated by the references to red light-jumping whenever bikes are discussed.
She insists the practice largely stems from fear, not arrogance, due to the high number of cyclists killed each year by heavy goods vehicles turning left at junctions, and says ministers should concentrate on tackling such deaths if they really want to make the roads safer.
 In short, she doesn't care about the trivial issue of bikes jumping lights - does anyone seriously believe this has anything to do with heavy vehicles on left hand turns? To tell the truth I don't mind the left turn on red (an idea I support for cars) as long as it's not a pedestrian crossing, what about all the other times they jump reds? In my experience typically on straights

I make a note of cyclists I see in the city every day at work, I have so far noted one single cyclist that didn't break a road rule (nothing technical about lights or helmets, usually pavement surfers or light jumpers), the vast majority seem to drive on busy pavements at speed and expect you to move...I will snap soon

And guess what happened just yesterday? I was with my mother, who is fairly immobile these days thanks to a back problem and isn't that agile, crossing at a simple pedestrian light, no turns or anything, and this dickhead in lycra ploughs straight through the middle of us at full speed, nearly knocking her over - yes, the lights were very much red (she's not that slow) and cars were waiting, there was a group of people crossing and this guy didn't even look - I had already crossed so frankly he was lucky to not hit someone, wasn't like he even had a gap!

So, Zoe Williams, defend that one - still a minor issue? Should cars break reds if they have a gap? My answer would be licence bikes as they are becoming so numerous, I should be able to report this sort of person as he is far too fast for me to even kick, and any pleasant, law-abiding cyclist should have absolutely no reason to disagree with this simple rule that all other vehicles are subject to

She adds: "Can you imagine if every time we talked about cars people complained about drivers doing 80mph on the motorway?
This has got to be one of the most up-your-own-arse arguments I've ever heard - bikes jumping red lights is comparable to slight speeding?

Considering light-jumping is an offence for both vehicles why are we making this comparison? You jump a red in a car you will probably get in trouble, why is the same offence for bikes as trivial as doing an appropriate speed

And likewise - drivers can, and do, get punished for doing 80, bikes have no enforcement - get some actual rules being applied then maybe we'll start making crazy comparisons

11 April 2011

Maybe I will vote 'yes' after all

Another No to AV campaign video, and now it's just getting silly

To be honest this sort of bullshit where they make up all sorts of nonsense to scare people is starting to wind me up

Firstly Alan B'stard makes a comeback in a ridiculously unrealistic political scenario - fairly clearly aimed at your average man in the street who doesn't do politics, but I was struck by the fact that the result was exactly the same as what we have now - a party who tear up their manifesto and do a deal with the Lib Dems to form government and have no accountability

...in what way is that different to what we have? They just tacked on 'because of AV', when FPTP has given us exactly the same situation

Then they end with the frankly offensive statement 'one person, one vote' - one of the main beefs of reformers like me is that we do not currently have 'one person, one vote' - more than half of voters cannot win and therefore do not even have a chance of being heard, for FPTP campaigners to somehow claim it is one person and one vote is downright lying (of course it technically is, and the film deliberately obscured the lines between voting for a government and a single MP)

What they really want is 'one Tory/Labour voting person, one vote...in a safe seat'

Anyway - Yes to AV! Out of spite

06 April 2011

Ever actually been to a library?

There's been a lot of talk about how libraries will be having to close due to cuts (which, by the way, has more to do with local councils deciding to cut certain services over other savings because it's politically expedient) but I really do have to ask, when did you last go into a library?

I ask because I recently started using my local public library in my quest to read more classics, I am a fan of books and wish for there to be free public access to them

However, having actually been to a few I soon realised they are little more than hang-outs for deadbeats, the elderly and stay at home mums which provide more CDs, newspapers and magazines than actual books

In fact, I estimated that roughly an eighth of the building was dedicated to fiction, while the reference section was about as much use as a chocolate teapot

I don't know about you, but when I envisage saving the libraries I picture people perusing shelves crammed with literature, not an old woman saying how she just got the Lady Gaga CD to provide for her granddaughter to burn onto her computer

I think few people realise how bad public libraries are - I am not of course referring to great institutions such as the British Library, the Magdalene Library, or any decent university library (mine was top notch), which no doubt educated people regard fondly, but real local libraries which no doubt educated people never bother visiting because books are so damn cheap anyway

Because the truth is they are drab, underused buildings which can barely be placed in the same bracket with real libraries - no doubt they provide books to some people, but clearly it is very few and it seems to me that we have passed the age where we need to provide literature to the masses through poorly stocked local book houses, my local Tesco probably sells more Jordan autobiographies than the total number of books the library lends, likewise the internet is all but eliminating the need for reference material (and thank god because I pity anyone who is forced to rely on even a city library)

This may sound cruel, and to be honest, I would have thought so too a few weeks ago but having witnessed it first hand I have to conclude they are an outdated model - I still want to provide literature to the masses for free, but the model no longer fits - if you were to invent the concept today, you would not take a large building and stick a few rows of books in it, you would utilise the internet, or even mail-order, mobile libraries are probably more effective

There is of course, another argument for them - the community aspect, libraries provide one of the very few places poorer people in particular can attend classes...or where old people can spend their days communally reading newspapers

But could we not find a way to provide these services whilst getting rid of the books? It would mean smaller buildings and less staff, and I can't believe they even cost a lot now, so surely a 'community centre' would be very cheap

So yeah, cut the 'libraries' - frankly they are an embarrassment to the word and pretty much useless as a provider of books

I appreciate that this is a difficult concept to swallow, I would simply ask that you go and walk into your local town or city library and take a look - see how little use they are getting, how much space they are wasting and of how much use they are to your reading needs

I don't wish to close them per se, I just want to make a relevant service for this century

01 April 2011


Guido has helpfully posted a NO to AV video that points out BNP votes would be redistributed and could choose the winner

Oh my God! The BNP voters could swing it...

Yes, as the video shows, the small amount of BNP votes would be added to the other parties, pushing the second placed party into first

I'm not sure if this refers to Labour or Tory, or even Lib Dem, it's pretty much hypothetical anyway - but it is either of these two parties that would win - that's the AV system, nothing changes - it just reinforces a two-party system

That's actually one of the reasons I don't want AV, and I'll vote against it, but this kind of argument just infuriates me - there is no logic to this

The word 'BNP' is essentially being used as a bogeyman here - it implies we will get the view of extremists, and also that these voters don't deserve a vote, when in reality we will get a similar result to what we have now and as much as we dislike the BNP, you are allowed to vote for them and there's perfectly legitimate grounds to boost a second placed party because for example, the majority is right/left but the vote is split by a variety of parties, allowing the minority view to come through the middle - this will work both ways, as UKIP, BNP, Greens, Lib Dems, and Labour all split the right or left vote

What I'm saying here is the typical AV argument still stands, it's a debatable point (and I'm not backing either side really), using the term BNP to scare people into thinking 'they' will dominate elections is just scaremongering and frankly pathetic - the real reason the second placed party wins is because they came a very close second and are more preferred by the majority of voters

And of course, it also misses the point that voting patterns would differ from those made in a FPTP system, where people are forced to back the lesser of two evils - there would probably be more votes for smaller parties with a preference system

That said, I'm still anti-AV - it's a rubbish, pointlessly complex system that no-one uses and produces the exact same results as FPTP,  which again, no-one uses (except the US) - the whole debate is a false argument