safe or popular?

Last week I posted good news, that the temporary buildings on Leyton Marsh are down. A couple of hours later Ron Binns announced a suspension of his prolific web-log “crap cycling and walking in Waltham Forest” from which the story was originally lifted. A sorry coincidence as Ron’s angry diary was a useful source of intelligence from the Essex side of the River Lee or Lea.

Last week I posted good news, that the temporary buildings on Leyton Marsh are down. A couple of hours later Ron Binns announced a suspension of his prolific web-log “crap cycling and walking in Waltham Forest” from which the story was originally lifted. A sorry coincidence as Ron’s angry diary was a useful source of intelligence from the Essex side of the River Lee or Lea.
Ron’s wide-ranging commentary sometimes featured short motion-pictures from the currently booming, head-mounted-camera-genre.

In January 2011, he used one to illustrate the ineffectual nature of cycle-training because according to Ron…

“…the more you cycle, the more you are exposed to risk, and the more likely you are to have these unpleasant experiences. YouTube is crammed with videos like this one:”

 

 

and two months later

“…cycling will never have mass appeal on the vehicle-dominated streets of Greater London, this short video will explain why.”

 

The two clips feature similar episodes, they both begin in a way that will be familiar to anyone who rides regularly in urban Britain, and is experienced enough to keep out of the gutter or the door-zone.

In both clips the camera-operator is proceeding innocently when a motorist behind starts blowing their horn because they want to overtake, even though traffic conditions mean no advantage is to be gained by such a manoeuvre. Almost immediately pedallist and sofa-jockey are forced to stop. Shouty, sweary exchanges follow.

Ron conflates these sorry little scenes of immaturity and discourtesy with deadly threat. Even though there’s no danger apparent in either.

To be safe on the road other people need to take notice of you. When you demand the attention of others you’re not in control of how they will react. Some might admire your choice of trousers. Others may start chewing their lips and thinking aloud “dozy fucking mare should be riding on the fucking pavement.”

In either case you’re not in danger. When someone following in a car blows their horn to express frustration they’re telling you three things…

  • …they’re thinking about you.
  • …they know they’re not allowed to run you over.
  • …you’re safe.

(Alternatively they may be trying to tell you that you’ve just dropped a glove, but that’s another story.)

A key skill in riding comfortably in city traffic is separating two issues:-

  • The social hazard of upsetting disappointed MDVs.
  • The real physical danger of being in a crash.

Perhaps Ron’s confusion of these two distinct categories explains his pessimistic view of cycle travel in London? Maybe fear of social conflict explains why his ‘Crap Cycling’ web-log didn’t take comments?

In his critique of cycle training Ron reveals…

“I find the concept of ‘defensive cycling’ quite an interesting one, because it tacitly accepts that there is an offensive going on. And cycle training is basically all about accommodating yourself to the mass-motorized battlefield.”

Anyone unfortunate enough to have tried to move a motor-vehicle with four or more wheels around, on streets busy with other motors, understands that you have no choice. You have to be pushy. If you’re not selfish you won’t get anywhere. Driving a car in a city busy with others trying to do the same thing is to join battle with your peers. Motor-traffic has a temper of it’s own.

One of the many pleasant things about city cycling is that – while you need the skill, knowledge and chutzpah to control the space around you – the flexibility and efficiency of your chosen mode means you don’t need to get involved in the battle. You can rise above it, defend the space around you but be generous to those less fortunate, less imaginative than yourself.

The main observation from Ron’s two clips is that – in both cases – the auteur looses his calm and ends up shouting and swearing. This incontinence risks dangerous escalation, surrenders the moral high ground, and lets slip any chance to promote growth and self-awareness in the agitated MDV.

If – when I’m riding my bike – somebody following in a car starts making a fuss because they can’t pass, the default is to check that there’s no source of danger present (and that they’re not trying to attract your attention because you just dropped a glove) then ignore the foolishness. Then – when it’s safe to let them pass and if there’s space enough ahead that they won’t be in the way, to let them by to continue their futile hurry with a courteous thank-you wave.

If you’re feeling frisky, generous and sociable you can jump to the right and wave them through on the inside, like they were your team car going ahead to support a teammate in a break, then you can drop into the turbulence behind the car and follow – for the usually very short distance – until they are forced to slow or stop by sheer volume of traffic.

You’re then nicely placed – on the right of the car to engage them in cheerful conversation.

This is my best recollection of an exemplary exchange in the Queensbridge ...

..Road, E8, last Winter.

Me: You alright mate?

MDV: You should keep to the left.

Me: No, I was riding there because I didn’t want you to try and squeeze past where the road was narrow.

MDV: If you ride in the middle that’s how cyclists get run over.

Me: No they get run over if they get too far to the left. People don’t see them and turn left and run them down. That is a nice car.

MDV: Thanks

Me: Do you race it?

MDV: (slightly confused pause) No.

Me: If I had a car like that I’d want to take it to the racetrack and see if I could rip the tyres off the rims. (traffic-lights change) Have a good weekend

MDV: Yeah you too.

The target is to be safe and popular.

“I don’t want to be a speed hump”

Under current conditions there are plenty of riders, plenty of would-be riders, who don’t have the necessary combination of control skills, technical knowledge and social presence to own the road with sufficient confidence to enjoy sharing it with others using clumsier modes. Children are one obvious example of this.

A clichéd response from someone who rides but doesn’t like it, or would like to ride more but is put off by people in cars, or would like to ride but is fearful of current conditions – to the idea that a person on a bike can be an active and civilising influence on the prevailng, often brutal, road traffic environment – goes something like…

“I don’t want to be used as traffic calming.”

This is a sensible position that does not need to be defended.

Under current conditions there are plenty of riders, plenty of would-be riders, who don’t have the necessary combination of control skills, technical knowledge and social presence to own the road with sufficient confidence to enjoy sharing it with others using clumsier modes. Children are one obvious example of this.

It’s also much easier to be a civilising influence on streets whose layout makes riding a bicycle obviously advantageous. In places where the highway network is engineered to accommodate and enable motor-dependence it takes more skill, morale and operatic presence to defend a space and there are usually fewer opportunities to help others grow.

In a ‘traffic’ context active citizenship – taking the courtesy and consideration considered normal in motor-free space out into the dog-eat-dog World of motor-dependance – is an opportunity not an obligation.

There is no shame in not being able to, not wanting to, or not enjoying, riding in current conditions. Even the World’s greatest living Welsh person has been quoted thus…

“I certainly wouldn’t fancy riding across Vauxhall Cross or Elephant and Castle in rush hour…”

Nicole Cooke

Olympic Champion 2008

tougher than you’ll ever be.

“I don’t want to be used as traffic calming.” Is a sensible position that does not need to be defended but the position is also passive and asocial.

There is a lot of inertia in the cheap-energy economy. Motor-dependence has been a dominating social force for most of the last half Century and we are only just emerging from a period when questioning the idea – that everyone is, aspires to be, or thinks like, a motorist – put you beyond the pale of sanity.

Even in the current new era of mixed messages it’s easy for we – with a critique of motor-dependance – to become demoralised, bitter and apathetic. This may be especially true if going for a bike ride is more of an ordeal than a convenient and utilitarian outlet for frustration. More of a horror than a chance to take a rest, from cooking up grand theories of how best to enforce bicycle paradise. More of a nightmare than an opportunity to pretend, for a few jolly kilometres, that the happy day has already dawned.

Changing the World one bike ride at a time may be like trying to stop a bulldozer with a pea-shooter but if the peas are hard enough and we fire enough…

…well it can’t do any harm can it?

Ron Binns’ extended series of pessimistic prophesies  – “What won’t bring about mass cycling…” can be extended to infinity.

Nothing will make people travel by pedal cycle until they decide it’s what they want to do. Once that’s what they’ve decided nothing will stop them. Trying to reduce this circular statement of the obvious, to any kind of Newtonian equation, is like investigating the workings of a watch with a 15lb hammer.

Riding like you own the road won’t bring about mass cycling. Helping others do likewise won’t either. But it can change their World. Riding a bike on roads busy with motor-traffic can be free assertion training.

Ron denounces cycle training because it’s subjects…

“…must be taught how, as a cyclist, to adapt your behaviour to this [hostile and dangerous] environment.”

Well it wouldn’t be much use if it taught people how best to behave in circumstances other than those that currently prevail, would it? Ron’s critique of cycle training echoes the old joke about a village idiot giving a stranger directions.

“If I were you I wouldn’t start from here.”

“I don’t want to be used as traffic calming.” Is a sensible position that does not need to be defended. You can’t calm traffic without calming people. Attacking those who aspire to calm and civilise other people – just because you don’t want to and you know they are very unlikely to hit back – is neither kind nor progressive.

never ride in the door-zone

The ‘door-zone’ is the corridor of uncertainty, where the doors of parked vehicles may be swung into your path. Never ride in the door-zone, or if it’s the only place to make progress, slow down.

The ‘door-zone’ is the corridor of uncertainty, where the doors of parked vehicles may be swung into your path. Never ride in the door-zone, or if it’s the only place to make progress, slow down.
If you follow this advice the most common crash that afflicts people who try to travel by bike in London will never happen to you.

The primary function of the highway is for people to pass and repass. If somebody wants to use that space to unload a vehicle they need to check first that they won’t endanger anyone else. If somebody throws a door into your way that’s their big mistake. They are in the wrong.

The question is:- “Do you want to rely on others for your safety or do you want to take responsibility for yourself?

Never ride in the door zone. Make others swear on whatever they hold sacred to never ride in the door-zone.

Riding outside the door-zone means you may delay others who want to go faster than you and can’t get past. The brutal truth is that if they want to be ahead of you they ought to have got up ten seconds earlier in the morning. The point is not to delay or annoy others but don’t put yourself in danger because others want to pretend to be in a hurry.

It’s good – for humane and pragmatic reasons – to be popular. It’s good to be safe. If you have to choose between the two which comes first? As they say in the USA – it’s a no-brainer.

A crash doesn’t happen when you upset somebody else. Deliberate road-rage assaults are rare enough to be international news. A crash happens when one or more people move purposefully into a space they anticipate will be empty, only to find – too late – that it isn’t.

That’s why it’s safest to ride where other people expect traffic to be, where they look for other traffic.

barriers to cycling (part 1.2)

It is – of course – a mistake to deduce a causal relationship from a correlation but you may have noticed… 27/09/2012: owntheroad.cc demands the resignation of Andrew Mitchell… 19/10/2012: Andrew Mitchell resigns… Potty-mouth Mitchell has been replaced by man-of-the-people Sir George Samuel Knatchbull Young 6th Baronet, CH.

It is – of course – a mistake to deduce a causal relationship from a correlation but you may have noticed…
27/09/2012: owntheroad.cc demands the resignation of Andrew Mitchell.

19/10/2012: Andrew Mitchell resigns.

Potty-mouth Mitchell has been replaced by man-of-the-people Sir George Samuel Knatchbull Young 6th Baronet, CH.

Luckily George – ‘the bicycling baronet’*–  had the wisdom and self-control to be nothing but courteous to the lowly police officers who busted him for drunk driving back in the long-gone, Thatcher-lovin’ 1980’s, when Lance Armstrong was a teenage triathlete, Jimmy Savile a national treasure and triple-chainrings exotic.

*Social progress demands that George’s nickname be updated for the 21st Century. Due to changes in perception of appropriate behaviour for toffs in city centres Sir George’s use of the (insert compulsory adjective) humble bicycle is no longer worthy of comment and from now on he will be styled George ‘the baronet’ Young.

good and evil (part 2)

Even as the myth of Lance Armstrongfinally crumbles to dust the reputation of a much less successful, ex-road-racer, who took every opportunity to associate with the powerful, and was known for good works, has also crashed hard.

Playtimes were different then‘ soundtrack.
Even as the myth of Lance Armstrong finally crumbles to dust the reputation of a much less successful, ex-road-racer, who took every opportunity to associate with the powerful,

and was known for good works,

has also crashed hard.

Jimmy ‘Oscar’ Savile

Perhaps it’s possible to render the narrative of any life into a story of heroism and victimhood…

Abu Hamza al-Masri; a disabled war-veteran who lost an eye and a hand fighting to liberate Afghanistan from Soviet imperialism?
Tour of Britain 1951

…but Jimmy ‘Oscar’ Savile may test that theory to breaking point?

I always assumed his ‘charidee‘ work was an alibi for an absence of any discernible talent to entertain but now it’s clear that it also covered more sinister crimes.

In the 1980’s I worked in show business and was told by a young actress, in an idle, time-filling, location conversation, that Savile – already an unfashionable, preposterous figure – “liked pushing little handicapped girls around”. A friend who worked with Anthony Newley who’d been a pop-star in the early 1960’s, passed on the gossip that, when Saville first came to London he was a pimp.

With hearsay rampant how did the reputation of the nonce-case survive? How did he avoid exposure for more than fifty years? In asking this important question nobody has yet denounced the prolific kiddy-fiddler as a cyclist?

Are Tony Parsons, Matthew Parris, Kate Hoey, Petronella Wyatt all on holiday?

the magic circle

Personally I find punctures one of the many entertaining things about riding a bike. Their random character, the chance to stop where you hadn’t planned to, to demonstrate your competence and efficiency, your progress towards the distant – probably impossible – goal of ‘becoming a cyclist’. A puncture is a special message from God – or John Boyd Dunlop – “Go home and back-up your hard-drive my child. For surely if it spins and was made by men, one day it will fail.’

Personally I find punctures one of the many entertaining things about riding a bike. Their random character, the chance to stop where you hadn’t planned to, to demonstrate your competence and efficiency, your progress towards the distant – probably impossible – goal of ‘becoming a cyclist’. A puncture is a special message from God – or John Boyd Dunlop – “Go home and back-up your hard-drive my child. For surely if it spins and was made by men, one day it will fail.’
Let me make a bold prediction. There will be pneumatic tyres on suitcases within ten years.

Think about it? Wheels on luggage used to be quite a novelty now they’re everywhere. Baby carriages – once sedate appliances with leaf springs –  are now available with puncture possibility. Where will it end?

also seen in Stoke Newington Church Street

We can divide the World’s population into two categories, those who understand how to fit pneumatic tyres and those who do not. Key information is in the three digit element of the ISO number etched on your tyres ‘622’, ‘559’, ‘406’ or whatever.

These numbers are not much used in England, where ignorance of technical matters is often worn as a badge of honour. Here people prefer to use the historic designations – ‘700c’, ’26 inches’, etc. – of a tyre’s diameter. The problem with these is they aren’t definitive. According to the late, great Sheldon Brown who – as usual – provides the most comprehensive explanation of the subject, there are seven(SEVEN) unique, non-interchangeable tyre sizes that may be marked with the diameter ’26’.

Once – in a specialist bike shop to make a distress purchase – I asked the tattooed man at the counter for “two 406 tubes please?”

“Sorry we only do BMX.” He replied.

In his defence when I explained – gently I hope – that 406 is BMX, he took it on the chin saying: “Oh yeah, I’ve seen those numbers on the boxes” and thanked me for the clarification as he took my cash and handed over the rubber.

This three digit element – ‘630’, ‘590’ ‘349’, or whatever –  is known as the BSD – a TLA* standing for  ‘bead seat diameter’. The ‘beads’ are the wires around the inside edges of the tyre. BSD is the inside diameter of the tyre and also the diameter of the circle on the rim where the tyre beads sit when in use.

The centre of the rim – the ‘well’ of the rim – will always be nearer the centre of the wheel, and a smaller circle than the bead seat.

life changing information

In order to fit a tyre on a rim you have to control the bead with tension so it stays along the shorter circle of the rim well. This generates enough slack to flip the last section of tyre bead over the rim wall.

People who think fitting tyres is hard don’t know how to do it. There’s no shame in this. Nobody is born knowing how to mount a tyre on a rim. The problem has lately been exacerbated by ‘puncture proof tyres’. Some of these are so rigid that – as well as giving a slow and uncomfortable ride – they are harder to fit.

A pneumatic tyre is already a  Faustian bargain. You get to ride on air, but will also suffer random punctures. Nasty armoured tyres raise the stakes of this gamble. They mean you are less likely to get a flat, but when you do it will be harder to get the tyre off to change the tube and more of a challenge to get it back on.

If you understood the above – and didn’t know it before – you are now on the way to joining the minority group, the people who know how to fit tyres without hurting their fingers or losing their sang-froid. This minority divides into those who can fit tyres but don’t have the conscious competence to explain to others how it’s done, those who know how they do it but want to keep that knowledge secret. If you can charge others £17.50 to undertake a simple task on their behalf, and you’re not able to do much else, why would you want to give them the secret of doing it for themselves? Others among the cognoscent are so desperate to drag the innocent down to their own tragic level of bicycle-dependence that they give the secret away freely.

Readers of the Guardian online may have noticed this item on Monday’s front page, a link to free content, moving pictures with audio commentary and written notes, from MadeGood.org.

I’m proud to be a collaborator on this project to spread knowledge of, and confidence in, the simple – not rocket-science – subject of keeping push-bikes running sweetly. This directory of instructional films will soon be enlarged. The plan is to make the library comprehensive and keep it updated.

Off course some people – especially young men with old man beards – will find plenty of weak spots in this work-in-progress. But hey, it’s free, and you have to start somewhere. Punctures are part of riding a bike, and the first twenty are the worst.

*TLA = three letter abbreviation.

barriers to cycling (part 1.1)

So it turns out that last week’s bold assertion…”nobody has denounced Andrew Mitchell as a cyclist” was contradicted by a classic ‘will this do?’ space-filler from Tony Parsons,  who is mostly known for being Julie Burchill‘s child bride and his sub-Hornby formula novels. Doubtless Tony is tortured with envy and disappointment that he can’t follow his peer group onto high-end bikes without looking like he’s wheel-sucking Robert Elms.

So it turns out that last week’s bold assertion…

“nobody has denounced Andrew Mitchell as a cyclist.”

 

…was contradicted by a classic ‘will this do?’ space-filler from Tony Parsons,  who is mostly known for being Julie Burchill‘s child bride and his sub-Hornby formula novels. Doubtless Tony is tortured with envy and disappointment that he can’t follow his peer group onto high-end bikes without looking like he’s wheel-sucking Robert Elms.

It just goes to show that in this era of mixed messages not everyone is keeping up.

A second assertion from that post…

“that a posh person choosing to get about on an – insert compulsory adjective – humble bicycle is now a non-story”

…awaits contradiction.

But a third…

“that authority has trouble categorising bicycle-traffic”

…is incontrovertible.

barriers to cycling (part 1)

In a week of waffle – on the ugly spat between Andrew Mitchell and his gate-keepers – there’s been exactly zero comment on the fact that a senior member of the Government might choose to travel by bike. Fifteen years ago such zany behaviour would have had him labelled as an odd and remarkable fellow; ‘the bicycling whip’. A first lesson to draw from the affair is that a posh person choosing to get about on an – insert compulsory adjective – humble bicycle is now a non-story.

It’s now unworthy of comment to find toffs travelling by bike, after all their social status is inviolable. This may not be much help to others who had less money spent on their education and whose parents were not Government ministers, but it’s still a positive development. In all the talk of contempt and condescension, even though bicycle-travel is a key element in the narrative – nobody has denounced Andrew Mitchell as a cyclist.

The tale of hot-temper has another lesson; that authority has trouble categorising bicycle-traffic. In this period in history, in the UK, if you enjoy the simple luxury of cycle-travel, you have to get used to occasional, ritual humiliation.

The third lesson is that Andrew Mitchell is clearly not much of a politician. When confronted with injustice an activist has three basic choices…

  • To fight, Mitchell has a military background but clearly shooting his way out of the vehicle gate was not a practical option. The streets of SW1 are made for tanks, there are barracks of elite troops standing very close by. If he’d gone for the Maoist option – “political power comes from the barrel of a gun” – he may have got away with his life but it probably wouldn’t have helped his career?
  • To defer, politely to ‘jobsworth’ authority and make, in due course, reasoned complaint, to the proper authorities, that the new Downing Street Gate policy is both unfair and inconvenient.
  • To take non-violent direct action; on being told that the riding gate could not be opened, that ‘for reasons of security’ he’d have to dismount and walk back to the pedestrian gate, Mr. Mitchell could have explained courteously to his obstructors that they were clearly discriminating against human-powered vehicular traffic and calmly insist that they arrest him so he could make his case in court. If this demand had been refused he could have used his handy ‘D’ lock to shackle himself to the gates and wait for something to happen. If convicted he could have refused to take any conditional discharge, refused to pay any fine, gone to jail and started a hunger-strike.

All he actually did was rant. The exact terms of his discourse are still contested but nobody is denying he lost control. He became impolite which is impolitic.

Mitchell’s verbal incontinence has obscured the real issue. His grovelling apologies say nothing of the injustice that provoked his childish wrath. His lack of self-control means an opportunity, to focus national debate on whether it’s OK to force people on push bikes to WALK, when those in limousines get to ride, has been lost.

He must resign.

substitute

Travelling without a bicycle can be an unsettling experience. Looking up from your reading book, glancing round the train carriage with the ominous feeling that something’s missing; only to remember, with relief, that – because you’re rattling South from London-Waterloo in the rush hour, and can walk from the station to the appointment at the other end – you left your trusty, rusty push-rod locked-up on platform 11.

Travelling without a bicycle can be an unsettling experience. Looking up from your reading book, glancing round the train carriage with the ominous feeling that something’s missing; only to remember, with relief, that – because you’re rattling South from London-Waterloo in the rush hour, and can walk from the station to the appointment at the other end – you left your trusty, rusty push-rod locked-up on platform 11.
If you have to travel without a cycle always consider taking an umbrella. An umbrella is a useful tool but can also serve as bicycle methadone. Umbrellas and bicycles have a lot in common. Both are invaluable when required but can be awkward encumbrances when not in use. Both are prone to technical failures, particularly if not of serviceable quality, or used inappropriately. You might have to fiddle with them to make them work. Beware of USO’s(umbrella shaped objects) sold at unrealistically low prices.

An investment-grade cotton gamp from here

…is a nice accessory, and when rolled, can serve as a makeshift ice-axe in emergencies, but carrying a 200 quid example – like riding round town on a three-grand bike – may be nerve-wracking. If something of this quality…

…ends up in lost-property, it’s got to hurt.

A personal favourite – a nice compromise between economy and durability – is the Rohan treking umbrella.

370 gramme bicycle substitute

The G.R.P. stick and frame make a lightweight package that can flex nicely in strong winds reducing risk of sudden failure. It will never corrode. The manufacturers make no claims for the canopy’s UV protection, suggesting carcinogenic rays can get through – which won’t happen with the old-school cotton example – but it’s still cool in the shade.

paramilitary picnic chic

It comes with a mesh sheath so will dry while rolled and can be toted slung across a shoulder rifle-style. Alternatively strap it on your big, butch courier bag for the ultimate in paramilitary picnic chic.

starting pistol

England is mysterious country, so far North that Summer daylight lasts past bedtime, yet warmed by ocean currents to avoid any prolonged Winter, suspended between Europe and America, balanced between Germanic and Latin Europe, with a rich language that fuses both traditions.

“And Norseman and Negro and Gaul and Greek Drank with the Britons in Barking Creek”

Rudyard Kipling

The London 2012 Olympics™ were a magic time.

England is mysterious country, so far North that Summer daylight lasts past bedtime, yet warmed by ocean currents to avoid any prolonged Winter, suspended between Europe and America, balanced between Germanic and Latin Europe, with a rich language that fuses both traditions.

Imperial history adds more layers of richness. Great Britain is a Scottish concept, London an Irish city, we’re all Jamaicans now and right across South Asia schoolboys, who may never visit Yorkshire, do impressions of ‘Sir’ Geoffrey Boycott.

Stuart Hall – Anglo-Jamaican sociologist – said: “In the modern World, if you ask someone where they come from expect a long story.” The people of this archipelago have a head-start on modernity, the Romano-British were hyphenated even before the Anglo-Saxons blew in.

Invite an elite selection of the one-track-minded to come and show off in the World crucible of London, revise the budget upwards as often as necessary and the resulting magic will shine through even the grey haze of McDonalds, mondialisation and militarism.

There’s appetite for change in British Society. Tony ‘mad-bomber’ Blair becomes prime minister and it’s hailed as a bright new morning. Diana Spencer is slaughtered in a car-wreck and the temper of the nation is supposed to have changed forever. Men are finally jailed for killing Stephen Lawrence and nothing will ever be the same. Expect the current, sorely belated revision of the Hillsborough Stadium crush narrative (what an emborisment) to generate the same kind of waffle and Ferry Lane, Tottenham Hale to be renamed Mark Duggan Boulevard amid a blizzard of insincere apologies around 2035?

The great festival of running and jumping is the latest candidate for ‘nothing-will-ever-be-the-same’ status. Let’s not get carried away.

The golden trio of Greg Rutherford, Jessica Ennis and Mohammed ‘Mo’ Farrah inspired a joke that’s funny and progressive…

“A ginger, a mixed-race woman and a Somali refugee walk into a pub…

…and everyone cheers.”

…while in other news the UK border agency are spitefully terminating the courses of a load of people – who’ve spent thousands on studying in this country – only because they happen to come from outside the European Economic Community.

I enjoyed the Olympics – an all day roadside drinking session in the Mole Valley, hearing a prolonged chant of “One, Two, Tree.”   boom joyfully down the street on the night of the men’s 200 metres final, a trip to the Paralympic athletics with my Grandsons – but it’s now a relief not to hear the propaganda, about Olympopolis being ex-wasteland, repeated almost every day by Sebastian Coe, Tessa Jowell or some other land-grabbing liar who doesn’t give a fuck about grassroots sport or the prosperity and quiet enjoyment of the people of the Lower Lea Valley. Folks were working, living and recreating there before the bulldozers rolled in. The promised velo-park is not a gift. If secured it will be reparation.

The prolific web-log ‘Crap Cycling & Walking in Waltham Forest’ – said by some to be the work of Ron Binns, an old comrade from the glory days of the NO M11 Link Road Campaign and former editor of ‘Walk’ magazine – usefully highlights the first promised deadline of the ‘morning-after’ era.  I’d have asked for permission to reproduce the images and copy but CrapWalthamForest doesn’t take comments. So here they are pirated. If you are Ron Binns or any other brain behind CWF feel free to endorse or object.

15th October 2012

By this date these temporary and highly controversial structures built for the Olympics on green open space in the Lea Valley (including, naturally, a tarmac car park), will have been demolished and the entire site will have been returned to green, grassy space where local residents are free to wander. Nothing can possibly go wrong and there is no reason to believe that this deadline will not be met. Trust them – they’re Waltham Forest Council.

 

Let the ‘Legacy Wars’ begin.