The Fly Swatter and his Torch – Do you really want twice as many cyclists in the UK by 2040?


 Ever wondered why there are so many cock-ups? Here’s another one in the making as I write.

Visit my website and you will see why I am into fly swatting. Just one fly in particular. The Fly in the Ointment.” Planners and politicians never factor human fallibility into their plans and expectations, least of all their own fallibility. It is the ever-present fly in their ointment – their naiveté.

If you can’t see it, you can’t swat it.” However, even if you do see it, swatting it is not easy. I’ll explain when I come to the fly swatter and his torch later on.

First let me remind you why you need to see the fly. With the policy of Inclusion of children with special needs in mainstream schools, the educational planners didn’t see it. 70 years on the Times Educational Supplement is still recording that it is a mess. I won’t repeat it all here. Just a quote from their 8 June edition: “Cuts are not the only reason why we’re in the Inclusion mess we’re in…… most of all, among teaching staff, headteachers and governors, attitudes to – and expectations of – disabled young people and their families need to change.” The ideologues didn’t anticipate bullying, exclusions, impact on mental health, the stress on the teaching and caring professions, and additional costs for kids with a multiplicity of totally different special needs.

For me history repeats itself. Another set of planners today are responsible for this bit of lunacy:The government wants cycling and walking to become the norm by 2040 and will target funding innovative ways to encourage people onto a bike or to use their own two feet for shorter journeys. Plans include specific objectives to double cycling, reduce cycling accidents …″. To that end, they are building cycle super highways, a new one due to start in July, running up to Swiss Cottage and Hampstead.

Mike Brown, London’s transport commissioner, said Boris Johnson, the current foreign secretary and former mayor of the capital, had carried out the plans for major cycle lanes too hastily, causing congestion problems for other vehicles. “I think it was ill-judged, it was too fast and ill-thought-through in the speed in which it was done.” Despite that new mayor continues it.

Every planner may not be a cyclist but he or she is a cyclist manqué, the epitome of the perfect lycra-clad, helmet protected cyclist, one that always cycles with fulsome care and attention, and in total conformity with the Highway Code, in a world where all other cyclists are the same, in a world where all other road users will be careful and law abiding, with UK’s roads and roundabouts facilitating it. No unguarded moment from anyone. No temptation to cut a corner. Heaven forbid that planners cut corners. Grenfell Towers’ cladding building regs just an exception. A & E untroubled. Zero injuries and fatalities a worthy objective. The extreme vulnerability of the cyclist on the road totally ignored, and injuries to cyclists seven times more than thought to be the case.

And with that belief, another one. Put a super-cycle highway at everyone’s front door, or a mile or two away, with a few more spaghetti-like segmented but unsegregated cycle lanes where the road is wide enough, and everyone – not just mamils will go out and buy a bike if they haven’t already done so. Just make streets narrower to accommodate all those cycle lanes, gridlock the traffic and make motoring more expensive. Money for all this? A little more QE perhaps?

With that great expectation, the planet will be saved, and no-one will be fat.

Along with the fallibility of the planner and those planned goes the infallibility of the democratic process, even when it has been taken over by a small group of wacky, ego-centric, auto-phobic cycling zealots.And sustain the myth that the State can do no wrong? Even though they increasingly gridlock London by the day. Even though their priority should be to prepare for the coming of electric vehicles to clean the streets of pollution, especially from diesel cars. How about lots of 100kW rapid chargers for all those owners of cars without garages for a start?

Now, I come to the “Fly swatter and the Torch”. I came across on YouTube two very helpful suggestions on fly swatting that have some relevance here. The first graphically explained the difficulty of swatting flies. The fly doesn’t want to be swatted! It has many eyes and can see the swat coming. It takes evasive action if it can. So true here.

The second provides the answer. Shine a torch on it first, and then, hey presto, it’s easy to swat.

The problem of course is no torch. The media has thrown away its torch and substituted a dummy instead. If only there was a London or a provincial editor of the calibre of Sir Harold Evans when he edited the Northern Echo, the Sunday Times, and The Times, and fought against the system for the victims of Thalidomide and for the good name of Timothy Evans hanged for a murder he did not commit. If only there was a crusading investigative journalist like him.

If only cyclists could fly!


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