I’m still working on this thing. For now, click ‘Creative Splurges’ above and go to where things are actually happening.
Okay, I’ll admit it from the off: The London Cycle Hire scheme hasn’t started as badly as I thought it would. It does still worry me that the powers that be (such as they are) don’t seem to have considered the dangers inherent with the scheme.
For a start, we have enough problems with cyclists in London these days as it is, darting in and out of traffic, cycling on pavements and speeding through pedestrian crossings with little care of anyone’s safety. They also have a habit of getting crushed under lorries, something which the lorry driver is usually blamed for despite the fact it was probably an undertaking cyclist in the wrong place that got them killed. Cyclists do seem to have this high-and-mighty attitude that says ‘I cycle, therefore I can do what I want’, helped by a lot of advertising that paints a rosy picture of the health and environmental benefits of cycling. But I digress (as I often do).
The problem I have with it is this: The Cycle Hire Scheme will only serve to put more, inexperienced cyclists on the road, whilst at the same time (and this is the bit that really worries me) not providing even that most basic of safety equipment, a helmet. The main plus is that these inexperienced cyclists, being, as they always are, inexperienced, are not as aggressive on the road and the few I’ve seen seem to behave a little better.
Don’t get me wrong (a phrase I often find myself typing on this blog, usually a sign that I should really redraft everything because I’ve spent ages ranting), in principle it is a good idea, much the same way the car pool services (such as Streetcar of which I am a member) can be beneficial by saving people money whilst at the same time stopping them from using their cars or carrying bikes on crowded commuter trains, but I do fear that the Cycle Scheme hasn’t really been thought all the way through. I hope I’m wrong.
I really hate the way that people who exceed the speed limit are vilified so much. Speed limits are an antiquated way of controlling traffic, fundamentally flawed as they are based on the misguided tenet that speed kills. Speed doesn’t kill; bad driving kills. It is perfectly possible to drive at speed safely. Where it all falls down is when people, bad drivers, drive too fast for the conditions of the road or without consideration for potential hazards such as school children, or swerving in and out of lanes on the motorway. The problem comes with the fact that you can set up a camera easily to measure speed, but it is not so easy to measure bad driving, without putting policemen on patrol.
Speed limits, then, can be seen as another example of the nanny state, telling people what to do because they’re not smart enough to figure it out for themselves. Static speed limits are silly anyway since they do not take into account the conditions of the road.
Take, for example, the national speed limits on the motorways. Even today it is 70mph, a limit introduced when cars were little more than boxes on wheels and vehicle safety was not even thought of. Today’s cars are far safer, capable of safely achieving higher speeds, and decelerating far quicker. Unless there are police about, the only people going 70mph are the people in the slow lane, whilst those in the fast lane are usually hitting 90 or 100mph, and doing it safely. Why? Because they’re driving courteously, sensibly, and in line with the traffic flow and the road conditions.
What makes me bring this up, of course, are reports today that the few councils in the country brave enough to turn off their speed cameras have seen an increase in speeding at some of the camera locations. The emphasis is added because there doesn’t actually seem to be any reports of an increase in accidents at those locations, just an increase in people driving faster. People who, if the camera was switched on, would drive past it either paying more attention to their speedo than the road, or slamming on their brakes glancing around for a speed limit not noticing they’re about to be rear-ended by someone else.
Don’t get me wrong, I approve of the idea of speed cameras in certain locations, mainly outside schools or, more importantly, at sections of road with unexpected hazards such as deceptively tight bends or sudden dips in the road. But these cameras should be clearly signposted, highly visible with flashing lights and dedicated warning signs (not just the signs we have now, which effectively say ‘there’s a camera somewhere, but we won’t say where’), with the speed limit marked clearly on the actual camera so there can be no confusion. Maybe then road users will believe it when ‘they’ say that speed cameras are there for our safety, not to make money out of us.
Well, there it goes. England are out of the World Cup. Of course, it’s not really surprising. Despite a relatively easy group and a team of supposedly world-class players, we struggled to convince in qualifying for the knockout stages. Did we really think we were going to beat Germany?
Well, I did, briefly, during the rally in the first half where we came back from 2-0 down to draw level at 2-2. Or at least, that’s what should’ve happened. If it had, as crap as we were playing, it would have been a turning point in the game. We’d have come out in the second half without the desperate need for a goal which saw us stretch our embarrassingly lax defence, and we might have been able to snatch a winner. Or crash out on penalties like we usually do.
We can only hope that this incident is enough for FIFA to look again at implementing goal-line technology. It’s a disgrace that that sort of decision can be allowed to stand at a sporting event like the World Cup. People accuse pro wrestling of being silly because of what happens when the referee is knocked down, and yet it happens all the time in football. Rugby, cricket, tennis, even snooker have implemented some kind of technology in order to ensure that the right call is made. How are we supposed to promote good sportsmanship and fair play when we have people like Thierry Henry teaching us that cheating is okay, as long as you get away with it? Had that ‘disallowed’ goal been the difference between the two teams and seen England crashing out then the English FA should have seriously considered installing goal-line tech in the Premiership against FIFA’s wishes, or refused to participate in the Euro Championships in 2012 (I know the latter sounds a bit drastic, but something needs to change. It’s not like we’d win it anyway).
Still, we didn’t deserve to win it. Now we can get on with enjoying this World Cup. England, in failing to qualify for the 2008 European Championships, made a huge mistake. Not in letting their fans down or damaging our reputation, but because it showed us in the UK that you don’t need your home team to be in the championships for it to be an enjoyable tournament. Euro 2008 was the most enjoyable championship I’ve seen, because England weren’t around stressing us out with dodgy performances and stinking up the field. So let’s sit back, and relish in Brazil, Spain and Argentina showing us how a World Cup should be played.
I’m not ashamed to say, I’m not particularly pleased with this turn of events. I voted Liberal Democrat in order to stop this very thing happening. That said, I’m quite pleased that the LibDems have gotten somewhere and that Nick Clegg is Deputy PM. Time will tell how well this little coalition will last.
It did however get me thinking. Yes, I feel that my vote has been somewhat wasted because the very thing I voted against has come to pass. But surely, the vast majority of people who voted either Labour or LibDem were voting against Cameron, weren’t they? Labour and the Liberals have always had more in common either of them have with the Conservatives, so in many constituencies people would usually quite readily vote for either one or the other in order to keep what my dad describes as “the Tory toe rags” out. This is something Nick Clegg appears to have sadly forgotten.
Now if that’s the case, surely the sums can be looked at this way: Labour and the Liberals between them had 315 seats, the Tories 306. In my book, that’s 315 constituencies voting to not have David Cameron as PM, compared to 306 voting for him. Or, in the slightly fairer way of looking at raw voting figures, 10,706,647 people voted for the Conservatives, whilst 15,432,296 people voted against them. Surely that should be taken into account?
But of course, that is not the way of things. For a start, our voting system – unlike the Americans’ – means you vote for your local representative, and that then goes on to decide who gets the big job. The only people who voted for or against David Cameron in a real sense were the people of Witby, his constituency. In America you have separate votes, you chose your President, and your local representative, in different polls.
We also vote for, rather than against, in polls, making the simple case of more is more decide the election.
Oh well. Not much can be done now. Time will tell if this coalition will last a full term or if it will all fall apart in a matter of months. I just hope the public have the sense to protest when the Tories inevitably start trying to do things they shouldn’t.
I leave you with a simple, paraphrased quote from Douglas Adams: anyone capable of getting themselves elected as Prime Minister should on no account be allowed to do the job.
This is my first blog.
In many ways, that is a little surprising. Most people who know me in person know that I talk a hell of a lot. Some would say too much. The general consensus is that most of what I say could be categorised as “bullshit”. I also like to write, although – as is often the case – liking to do something and actually sitting down to do it are two very different concepts. I should therefore be prime fodder to have a blog. But no. I’ve been meaning to start one for ages, but never sat down to do it.
Until today, that is. Let’s see how this goes.