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Dear Boris, PM please get OFF your bike. Instead celebrate famous British car marques and engineers creating them
When you were Mayor of London you did great work trying to make cycling safer for the increasing number of people who felt it was the cheapest and, for many, the fastest way to get around the Capital’s narrow, congested streets.
But you also bought into the metropolitan elite’s infatuation with Europe, and Europe’s infatuation with the bicycle. Riding a bike the badge of membership.
Boris-bikes for hire. An expressed wish to double the number of cyclists by 2020. Sustrans, the cycling charity and lobby and their ego-centric, autophobic belief that motorists would share their enthusiasm for cycling if only there were cycle lanes to cycle on, with State funding as urban planners nationwide. Good for clean air if they did their job. Good for the planet too. Ho Ho!
Your heart was in the right place. Your advisers were not.
Mercifully in the General Election you dealt with those who thought that money was always where they needed it to be. Please now deal with very often the same people who believe that cycle lanes and cyclists should be where they need to be, with total disregard for the narrowness of streets, other road users, not least the emergency services – whose head on the block if the fire service or ambulance arrives late? – ignoring gusty, frosty, at times drenching weather, ignoring too health & safety hazard especially for those who hire bikes without helmets, electric ones more so, and not recognising a large personal disinclination to cycle in an aging population.
Your advisers – the Nanny knows best brigade – suffer from BCD, brain cell deficiency. Here cyclists do not have an equal right to be on the road although many appear to think that they have. They have a different right. Others have a much better right. They pay for it in taxes . They have 3rd party insurance. They keep to the Highway Code. They are less like to need A & E. for minor accidents. Cyclists are only 2% of all road users with those on two wheels far more vulnerable to accidents than those on four. Despite all the money lavished on cycle lanes no significant increase in their number in twenty or so years, just an increase in accidents.
Half an hour from Downing Street – an hour away in rush hour – you can see their crass mistake on the West/East side of the road along the Embankment and its toxic underpasses. I have seen it in Newcastle on Tyne in Gosforth and John Dobson Street. I have chronicled my protest in detail on my blog in www.deathofanightingale.com/blog.
Sadly, it is ongoing. The latest folly, ostensibly to clean the air, is to propose bus/cycle lanes two ways on the Tyne Bridge reducing all other vehicles to a single lane. This is a pinch point for all commuters driving North/South and East/West. It is also the access to Sage Gateshead enjoyed by all music lovers in NE and an amenity for many other things besides. It will have directly the opposite result to that intended.
Gateshead’s elite by the way is far ahead of the metropolitan elite when it comes to acoustic excellence. With the aid of Norman Foster and Arup the Sage offers quality to the NE that London and Simon Rattle can only dream about.
I write with feeling here. We enjoy the Royal Northern Sinfonia and the Newcastle Chamber Music Society. We have been in the full houses to hear Joanna Lumley, Simon Reeves and Ralph Fiennes. The BBC uses its space.
We have to allow 45 minutes for the journey by car when we eat at the Sage because of the long tailbacks in rush hour. When we go from home to a concert nearer to 7.30pm it takes less than 10 minutes. I have a blue badge, so driving is by far the best option.
Introduce bus/cycle lanes on the bridge and the tailbacks will be longer and last much longer. Much worse, while designed to reduce air pollution, there are three under-passes approaching the bridge from the North, one long and two short. Drivers and passengers of slow moving or stationary cars will be increasingly poisoned by toxic fumes and their lives abbreviated while life expectancy moves in the opposite direction.
To think that public transport will replace cars is to live in la la land. Or that one car driver in five will switch to a bike for all journey under five miles if there was a cycle lane for them as Sustrans envision likewise cuckoo. There are many much better ways to keep fit and combat obesity safely.
If you want to see evidence that the metropolitan elite are still living in the last century visit the celebration of the Car at the V & A. The electric car is still a “concept”. Nowhere Sunderland’s Nissan Leaf with its one pedal. Nowhere a Tesla car. Nothing to herald the car industry tooling up for electric cars. Nowhere a celebration of British-made cars. Nowhere famous British marques and the engineers who created them, Charles Rolls and Henry Royce, William Armstrong and John Davenport Siddeley, William Morris, later Lord Nuffield, Reid Railton &c .No James Bond’s Aston Martin. No mini-cooper chase in the Italian Job. No wonder the Department of Transport shows no signs of introducing thousands of fast chargers to help owners of old diesel cars replace them when they have no garage. Nothing to reignite UK entrepreneurial ambition or innovative skills. Just the dead hand of the American past. Metropolitan elitism past its sell-by-date. No wonder it’s been given notice to quit alongside Corbynism. No wonder the cycling lobby, Sustrans, still a protected species as urban planners fit only for the Zoo.
Use your bicycle pump as a weapon of mass destruction in the Department of Transport. Enough with Égalité and Fraternité with the bicycle. Just some old fashioned British common sense and fair play. Now your pre-eminence.
21st Century priority fast chargers and road-use duty replacing fuel duty to help the Exchequer. Welcome electric motoring.
SEASON’S GREETINGS TO ALL MY READERS