Roads Were Not Built For Cars

November 25, 2014 at 8:49 pm (Cycling, history, Rosie B)

Carlton Reid’s Roads Were Not Built for Cars is a revisionist history, reclaiming the role of bicycles in the development of roads and the cars that dominate them. When a class, a race, a gender reclaims its history it is usually in the cause of self-assertion. After reading this I was indignant when a privileged usurper tooted me for walking across the entrance of a cul-de-sac which they were turning into. Listen, these are my f***** streets too, you know.

Roadswerenot

The later Victorian age. The railway lines had cut through the country on their purpose-built tracks and profoundly changed ideas of mobility. The roads, once well maintained for mail coaches, had fallen into disuse. But in the 1870s and 1880s people started pedalling themselves at speed and with the commercialisation of the Safety bicycle in 1885  bicycling became popular with the elite, affordable for the middle-classes and then finally through second-hand sales and mass production, taken up by the clerks and the factory workers. It powered invention. In 1896 more than half of the 28,000 patents were for improvements in bicycles.

Psychobike

The Psycho Ladies’ Bicycle -1889. Step through for the skirt problem

Cyclists were heading from the paved streets to the countryside, on roads which unlike the railways were not then seen as conduits for fast-moving traffic. Roads were originally made for a human or horse pace and for short journeys. But a new desire had been formed – for self-propelled travel over a distance on a smooth surface.

Passage on the king’s highway is an ancient right in England.  A landmark court case in 1879 established bicycles as “carriages” under law and so with the rights to use the roads in the same way as broughams and hackneys. The Cyclists’ Touring Club had one of their members (an MP) add a clause to the Local Government Act of 1888 which effectively prevented county councils from creating by-laws to prohibit cycling on the roads.

Along with lobbying for legislation cyclists campaigned for better surfaces via bodies like the Roads Improvement Association. Some roadworks the members funded themselves. They produced equipment including a ring to measure the size of stones for surfacing, kept an eye on maintenance and made themselves guardians of the highways as modern cycling advocates act as wardens for cycle paths.   Eventually this work was taken over by the Road Board “the first central authority for British roads since Roman times”.

Where the cyclists went the motorists then followed and their lobby groups were often the cycling groups with “Automobile” added to the name. One of Cartlon Reid’s main themes is that this was not a case of the poor man’s transport (the bicycle) overtaken by the rich man’s vehicle (the automobile). Bicycles were at first expensive – the high-wheelers (“penny farthings”) were ridden by moneyed athletes. Aristocrats like the Marquess of Queensberry, Oscar Wilde’s enemy, were keen cyclists as was Daisy, Countess of Warwick, one of Edward VII’s mistresses. Arthur Balfour was president of the National Cyclists’ Union and Herbert Gladstone, son of W E Gladstone and one time Home Secretary vigorously pedalled, and pushed for street paving and road maintenance. In the USA the League of American Wheelmen was founded in Newport, the millionaires’ holiday village,

The League of American Wheelmen also campaigned for better roads via the Good Roads Movement, again with a combination of politics and practical demonstration. Their campaign included rolling “road shows”. “The Good Roads train.. would disgorge road builders, a traction engine, a road roller, a sprinkler and broken stone, from which an “object lesson” road would be constructed at prearranged stopping points.” Railway interests opposed them, and farmers, who were responsible for half-heartedly maintaining the rural roads, did not want to be taxed for the benefit of city-slicker cyclists, however much their own wagons jolted on the ruts and ridges. ”Eventually the farmers were won over and the politicians found there was mileage in a publicly paid for road system.” In 1916 the Federal Aid Road Act was signed by Woodrow Wilson, himself a cyclist who had been much impressed by the roads in Britain and France on cycle journeys in his youth.

By then many of the cyclists had become motorists as well. They were the rich who loved speed and self-propelled travel and the very latest gadgetry, promoted by the cycling industry’s flair for advertising. They used the maps that Messrs Bartholomew had crowd-sourced from members of the Cyclists’ Touring Club. The technology behind these early motors – the pneumatic tyres, the ball bearings, the spoked wheels, the precision engineering skills – had been created by the cycling industry.

Clementcyclesbt-1

French cycling poster, 1897

“Carl-Benz’s Patent Motorwagon, the first true automobile, was a motorised two-seater tricycle… The key components for Henry Ford’s Quadricycle – including the wire spoke wheels, bush roller chains and pneumatic tyres – were from bicycles.”

The Nazis erased the cycling origins of Benz’s Motorwagen from history and monument and at the launch of the 15 millionth Model T in 1927 the Ford company claimed that the “Ford car… started the movement for good roads.” The now plebeian bicycle became something of an embarrassing ancestor to the more powerful and more progressive seeming vehicle.

So the well-connected cyclists who had lobbied for good roads became well-connected motorists who wanted unthwarted access to these roads. And they took them over, though they numbered only in thousands, while the cyclists were in the millions because the masses had begun to ride bicycles.

The rights to the passage on the King’s highway was a liberal right which then in the spirit of Ayn Rand was taken over by the strongest and most ruthless. Even a speed limit law was seen as “unEnglish” and as the motorists were of the upper echelons, they resented being treated as criminals for breaking it. (The motoring public is still resentful that they are subject to law – witness fury at speed cameras. One of the cycling groups’ aims is to lower speeds in urban centres to 20mph.)

Carlton Reid compares this to the enclosures “when land in common use by the many was fenced in and appropriated by the few.”

And like the landowner the motorist feels himself entitled to the roads. Hold up his passage he won’t feel merely inconvenienced, but righteously outraged, spluttering like Hilaire Belloc’s JP:-

I have a right because I have, because,

Because I have, because I have a right.
….
Moreover, I have got the upper hand,
And mean to keep it. Do you understand?

Familiar political themes run through this book. One is of how laissez faire can become devil take (or run over) the hindmost. Another is the Revolution Devouring Its Own Children. A group or class will agitate to bring about a change that will ultimately destroy them, like Iranian leftists demonstrating for the removal of the Shah only to end up being killed by Khomeini’s Islamic Republic. The cyclists lobbied for good roads and got them, and were then pushed off them by the sheer force of a ton of metal, going at five times their speed.

However though Roads Were Not Built… is a polemic shot through with a sense of injustice for the written out and colonised – the literally marginalised literally pushed in the gutter when they had literally paved the way for the motorist – it could be enjoyed by Jeremy Clarkson. It buzzes and hums with innovation and invention. It’s crowded with energetic promoters and lobbyists, engineers and entrepreneurs and tinkerers, sportsmen and pioneers. Cycling did come as a miracle, bestowing a sense of speed and independence. “The cyclist is a man half made of flesh and half of steel that only our century of science and iron could have spawned.” wrote Charles-Louis Baudry de Saunier in The Art of Cycling (1894).

In our own equally exciting and innovative age of computing we are half flesh, half digital stream. Thus Carlton Reid’s Roads Were Not Built… was kickstarted by crowdfunding. He put his researches on his entertaining blog. You can get the book as a big dead-tree soft-back with lots of colour plates (histories of cycling always have cool pics) or as an “iPad version with 10 videos, two audio clips, a 3D spinnable object, and 580+ illustrations, many of which zoom to full-screen.“

Charlesrolls

Charles Rolls of Rolls-Royce

The book ends with potted biographies of many of the motor grandees with a cycling background and their firms, my favourite being that of Lionel Martin. Eton rich. Held long-distance records on tandem and tricycle. He and his friend Robert Bamford were both members of the Bath Road Club and were souping up ordinary cars.

Their advertisement in the Bath Road News:- “If you must sell your birthright for a mess of petrol, why not purchase your car – from Bamford & Martiin Ltd, the most humorous firm in the motor trade.” These cars became Aston Martins.

“Martin was a tricyclist to his dying day. He was killed in October 1945 after being knocked from his tricycle by a motor car on a suburban road in Kingston-upon-Thames.”

 

Permalink Leave a Comment

Cycling in Cities

April 4, 2014 at 9:14 am (Cities, Cycling, Rosie B)

Entertaining video giving stats on cycling in cities

Permalink 1 Comment

Making it cool, making it normal

April 1, 2014 at 8:59 am (Cities, Cycling, Rosie B)

The well-heeled urbanite, in tailored threads, bicycles with pleasure through the traffic-clogged streets of Jakarta. Meet Monocle Man.

Monocle Man is the hip sophisticate who reads the magazine Monocle.

a magazine that is in general focused on a particular brand of well-heeled global urbanism, the go-to source for articles on  . .. such new-urbanist obsessions as bicycling (“Kenji Hall goes for a little bike ride — in the middle of traffic-clogged Jakarta with the city’s governor, a Spanish MotoGP world champion and the ambassador of Denmark”),

I’m glad to hear that bicycling is a new-urbanist obsession. Of course in some countries like Denmark and Holland it’s merely how you get about but in Britain it would be good news if it became the same sophisticated activity that it was in the 1890s, when titled ladies pedalled about London and the beau monde showed off their cycling gear in the Bois de Boulogne.

Au_Bois_De_Boulogne_Vanity_Fair_1897-06-03
Fashionable ladies in the Bois de Boulogne, Vanity Fair, 1897

Those rich folk turned to automobiles but poorer people picked up second-hand  and then cheap mass produced bicycles. Cars, in Britain, were for the elite. When they began to be owned by the general public, they were also used differently from how they are today – for excursions and holidays, not for day to day transport. You got to your work on foot, by bicycle and by public transport while cars did not become the habitual way of getting to work until the 1960s.  The film Made in Dagenham, about a strike in 1968, showed the factory workers arriving by bicycle. In 10 years time it would be by car.

Madeindegenham
Made in Dagenham

So part of cycling campaigning is to make cycling normal urban transport  and not a lifestyle choice.  The Guardian, for instance, has good articles about cycling but they are in the Life and Style or politics  section of the website, not Transport.

I heard a talk by Professor Colin Pooley co-author of Promoting Walking and Cycling;  New perspectives on sustainable travel.  A study was undertaken in four different towns/cities,  (Leeds Leicester, Worcester and Lancaster) among various communities on how people made their choices of transport for short urban journeys. The summary of the key findings can be found in Understanding Walking and Cycling.

The authors demonstrated that, even in areas of England where ‘utility cycling’ is relatively common, most cyclists still perceive themselves to be part of a marginalised group; this compares starkly with studies in Europe that have revealed the extent to which cyclist believe they are confirming to a societal norm.

While attitudes to walking and cycling . . are mostly positive or neutral many people who would like to engage in more active travel fail to do so because of:-

1. Concerns about the safety of the physical environment – for cyclists that is traffic, for pedestrians, scary streets
2. Difficulty of fitting walking and cycling into complex routines
3. Walking and cycling are “abnormal”

Certainly cycling is seen as a desirable activity. Why else would Google put up this image for Mother’s Day.

Mothers-day-6490543638970368-hp

Capes? Have they never heard of Isadora Duncan or watched The Incredibles?

But although bicycles are seen as a carefree family occupation – look at the advertisements for Center Parcs, for instance – they are not used as ordinary urban transport.

The key message that comes from this research is that at present in Britain using the car for short trips in urban areas is convenient, habitual and normal. . . Alternatives to the car – especially cycling and walking – are perceived to take too much effort, need planning and equipment that causes hassles, and may be risky and uncomfortable. They also run the risk of being perceived by other as eccentric or odd.

Common remarks from those interviewed by the study:-

“It’s not a cool thing for a girl to be on a bike”

“People assume that there’s something wrong with you if you don’t drive.”

There were various suggestions for remaking cities and towns for walking and cycling:,-

1. Fully segregated cycle routes on all arterial and other busy roads
2. Making pedestrian routes more welcoming (widening pavements, removing street furniture, better lighting, keeping them clear of ice and fallen leaves)
3. Restricting traffic speed on non-segregated residential roads;
4. “Strict liability” so that pedestrians or cyclists injured in an accident involving a motor vehicle do not have to prove fault in seeking compensation;
5. Urban design that makes eg shopping centres convenient for cyclists and pedestrians.

There are a range of bodies that could effect these changes from central government to private businesses.

Professor Cooley was speaking to a converted audience, i.e. 150 cycling members of the public and sympathetic councillors.  To us he made three important points:-

1. A good urban policy is against the use of cars, not the ownership of them.
2. It should not be assumed that it is sufficient to change attitudes and make people more environmentally aware. It is necessary also to make the changes that enable people to translate these values into actions.
3.  Do not base policies about walking and cycling on the views and experiences of existing committed cyclists and pedestrians. They are a minority who have, against all the odds, successfully negotiated a hostile urban environment to incorporate walking and cycling into their everyday routines. It is necessary to talk. . .to non-walkers and non-cyclists, potential cyclists and walkers, former cyclists and walkers . . to encourage them to make more use of these transport modes.

The Leader of Edinburgh City Council, Andrew Burns, also spoke. Edinburgh has achieved 4% to 8% work rides within 8 years, with a target of 15% by 2020.  Councillor Burns cited Munich and Cologne as cities that have made progress in cycling. The utopias are Copenhagen and Amsterdam.

Bikecultureincopenhagen

Cyclists, Copenhagen

Edinburgh has a strong campaigning group, Spokes, and a sympathetic council, and so has achieved better cycling than the average in the UK, in spite of its chilly, windy climate, hilliness and (the council falls down here) pot-holed road surfaces. On some of the cycle paths at peak hour it’s like the M8 for traffic flow.  So it can be done.  But it needs political will.

However, to finish with another quote from Professor Cooley (paraphrased):-

“The politicians report that the electorate will not accept changes that will make it easier to walk and cycle, yet speak directly to the electorate and they are happy with these changes.”

Permalink 9 Comments

Unite on the streets

December 1, 2013 at 9:27 am (Cycling, London, Rosie B)

On our streets taxi, bus and lorry drivers and cyclists have an uncomfortable  relationship. In Edinburgh a piece of dangerously inept road design united taxi drivers and cyclists in protest, and this union of shared interest was presented as a kind of Ribbentrop pact.

Bella Bathurst’s The Bicycle Book had one chapter where cabbies spilled their dislike of cyclists. – for getting in the way, bending their wing mirrors and scratching their doors as they do that cyclist’s slither along the roofless tunnel that motorised vehicles create.

In London “around 50% of all cyclist deaths involve lorries, which comprise only about 5% of traffic, with a high proportion happening when left-turning trucks crush cyclists.” Construction lorries are the main culprit.

The London Cycle Campaign has an arm that attempts to improve co-existence between lorries and cyclists.  One simple method is for cyclists and lorry drivers to change seats. Cyclists sit in  the cab and note the restricted view of a lorry driver. A friend of mine. a London cycling commuter, tried this, and said it was an eye-opener, seeing where the blind spots are.  London councils offer their drivers a day on a bicycle to widen their understanding of what a road is like for a cyclist.

This kind of thing is obviously better than professional drivers’ and cyclists’ relationship being that of giving each other the finger and swearing.

The London Cycle Campaign also gives advice on how cyclists should drive near lorries.  Their advice confirmed my instincts – when I see one of those big bastards I don’t go near them.  I give them all the road in the world to get away from my space.

In_content

At the moment street design in the United Kingdom means cyclists and motorised vehicles having to share busy, fast streets.  Cyclists and the professional drivers are together in wanting to be apart. There have been six deaths of cyclists in London in a fortnight, about which Unite put out a statement:-

Unite, Britain’s biggest union, which represents London’s bus and taxi drivers, is calling on Boris Johnson to take urgent action to stop the tragic loss of life on the streets of the capital.

The union is urging the Mayor to invest, as a matter of urgency, in safe and effective cycle routes, separated from other road users to reduce the practice of cyclists using the capital’s congested bus lanes.

The number of cyclists on London’s streets has trebled in recent years, but the Mayor’s infrastructure strategy and spending policy is nowhere near enough to cope with the influx and is wholly inadequate.

…..

“Our bus driver members have been deeply affected by the tragic loss of life on our roads, and recognise the vulnerability of cyclists vying for space on London’s increasingly busy roads.

“Boris Johnson’s spending policy for cyclists is lagging behind reality. The Mayor and his cycling commissioner Andrew Gilligan have a lot to answer for, following their deeply inappropriate and insensitive comments. Their blasé remarks show utter contempt for the health and safety of all road users.

Jim Kelly, Unite taxi representative, said: “Unite’s bus and taxi driver members report that in many places the Mayor’s blue Cycle Super Highways are not fit for purpose – a bit of blue paint is simply not enough to keep cyclists safe.

“Urgent action is needed to develop a safe cycling network that takes cyclists away from the capital’s busiest and most congested thoroughfares. An example of good practice can be found in Cable Street East London, where cyclists have a route segregated from traffic – a safe alternative to the busy Commercial Road.”

Meanwhile the London Cycling Campaign is “calling on the Mayor to redesign every major junction in Greater London to make cycling a safe, comfortable and convenient experience for everyone, and is demanding he take immediate action to address Cycle Superhighway 2 from Aldgate to Bow. ”

Liein

 More than a 1,000 cyclists blocked traffic as they lay in the road outside the Transport for London (TfL) headquarters tonight to protest recent road deaths.

Here’s the vision of an infrastructure presented by Boris Johnson and Andrew Gilligan, his cycling commissioner:-

Cyclists

The present blue painted lines are presumably supposed to be a step towards that urban paradise, but they contain shocking sections at present.  Follow this link to a video which shows how bad a place it is at the moment, and looking at it, with the segregated paths being in short chunks that disappear at junctions, I wouldn’t cycle that for £1000.

Another video shows how the Dutch, who are the cycling gods, manage their infrastructure. There are different light phases for cyclists. There are rights on uncontrolled crossings for pedestrians and cycles, and clear sightlines for lorries. What makes me really envious are the safe busy roundabouts, which are my greatest fear. Oh, note that the red-light jumper is a British lorry!(2:29).

These aren’t mock ups. They’re pictures of actual people using safe infrastructure in actual cities

Permalink 1 Comment

Cycling Investment: Spokes Autumn Public Meeting – 19 Nov

November 18, 2013 at 11:51 pm (Cycling, Rosie B, transport)

The Scottish Government has announced a welcome increase in cycling investment in the 14/15 draft budget – but funding drops again in 15/16 and in any case is nowhere near enough to meet the government’s own ambition for 10% of all journeys in Scotland to be by bike by 2020…

What is needed for investment in cycling and active travel as a whole in Scotland, and how can we campaign for that?  Find out what’s happening and get your ideas over at our autumn public meeting…

The Panel

Alison Johnstone MSP  –  Co-convener of the Scottish Parliament Cross-Party Cycling Group, initiator of the Parliament’s first ever debate on cycling and a Spokes member.    Alison will chair the meeting and hopes to take back to the Parliament ideas and enthusiasms from the meeting.

John Lauder  –  Director of Sustrans Scotland.  John will summarise their current work with Councils and other bodies across Scotland, and what could happen if (or when!) government funding for cycling reaches European levels

Sara Dorman  –  a Pedal on Parliament organiser, Spokes member and a public representative on Edinburgh City Council’s Transport Forum.  Sara will talk from a PoP perspective on the need for greater active travel investment and what it could achieve.

Tom Ballantine  –  Chair of Stop Climate Chaos Scotland and board member of Scotland’s 2020 Climate Group.  Tom will outline the SCCS campaign for a doubling of Scottish Government active travel investment from 1% to 2% of the transport budget in 2014/15, rising to 10% by 2020 so that the meeting can discuss what we can all do to push for change
When, Where, What

Date: Tuesday 19 November
Time:  7.30 – open 6.45 for coffee, stall, exhibition and chat
Venue:  Barclay Viewforth Church, Bruntsfield Place, Edinburgh

Poster here.

Permalink 1 Comment

Acting for Active Transport

October 28, 2013 at 9:49 pm (Cycling, environment, Rosie B)

Hundreds of people will gather outside the St Andrews House government offices at  1.00-1.30pm on Weds 30 October to call on Finance Secretary John Swinney MSP, the man in charge of the 2014/15 Scottish budget, to double investment in walking and cycling.  Be there!!

The event is organised by Stop Climate Chaos Scotland, an umbrella body for over 60 Scottish organisations including environment, community, faith and international development groups, trades unions, student unions, and of course transport and cycling groups such as Spokes, Transform and Pedal on Parliament.

FREE PIC- On Your Bike Campaign EM 01_4

A similar SCCS event two years ago marked the turning point in a successful campaign by Spokes and many other organisations to reverse severe active travel cuts which the government had included in the draft 2012/13 budget.

This year the draft budget for 14/15 does include a welcome rise in active travel investment but it is nowhere near adequate to meet the government’s ambition of 10% of all trips in Scotland to be by bike in 2020.  There is growing cycle use in Edinburgh, but, for Scotland as a whole, only 1% of all trips are by bike (around 2% of work trips).  Furthermore, under the draft budget, cycling investment peaks in 14/15 and starts to fall back again in 15/16.

Location:
outside St Andrews House
Regent Road
EH1 3DG Edinburgh
United Kingdom

Date:
Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Time:
1 – 1.30pm

1395875_10152035084774744_222826718_n

Permalink 1 Comment

More on Cyclegate

October 23, 2013 at 6:49 pm (Cycling, Rosie B)

By the jeering tone, I’d guess that the makers of the video think it’s unreasonable for a cyclist to cycle where cars go. “The privileged are most privileged when unaware of their privileges.”

Permalink 4 Comments

Not Plebgate but Cyclegate

October 20, 2013 at 8:02 am (Cycling, Rosie B)

I have to take issue with Jim D’s post on the so-called “Plebgate”.

Although it is less shallow than the common wisdom at the time which subjected the incident to a crude class analysis,  it still missed what this incident demonstrates about the deeper structures of our society.

The crude class analysis went:- Mitchell is a toff, toffs are arrogant sods and therefore Mitchell must have called the boys in blue livery (sudden class victims) “plebs”.  Many of these commentators have now withdrawn this, and have seen the event instead  as an indication of corruption in the police force.  Chris Mullin took this line from the very first.

Those who suspected right from the beginning that Mitchell’s treatment had been unjust and unreasonable were the cyclists. as shown in this discussion:-

“Why couldn’t he ride his bike through this gate when other ministers can drive their cars through it?”

“I would also be most put out to have to dismount and use a stretch of pavement instead of a perfectly good road, considering that if I’d arrived by car I could have driven in.”

“The claim is that he has previously cycled in and out of the downing street road entrance and on this occasion he was directed to the pavement gate and blew his top.

Thinking of older footage of Dave C etc cycling into downing street showed them continuing along the road with an open gate.”

“If my reading of the reports is correct, he’d been in and out of the main gate on his bike previously several times that day, and was only on that occasion told to dismount and go through the pedestrian gate.

While I do not for a moment condone abusing a police officer, I think I understand the reaction of being pissed off with someone who one perceives as acting as a “jobsworth”.

“Bad news on this one. Jeremy Vine has just announced that this will be one of the 4 stories on his Radio 2 show this lunchtime – from the angle “is this story about how everyone, including the police, hates cyclists?”.”

Chrishoylogo

The cyclists recognised an act of oppression for what it was and nailed the role of the police, who are always the Praetorian guard for the ruling establishment.  As anyone with half an eye and a quarter of a raised consciousness can see, the ruling establishment of our societies are drivers and their automobiles, whose control is shown in every aspect from the shape of our cities to conflicts about oil. They dominate our world, not just with their aggressive presence in the streets but also with their collateral – the parking buildings and supermarkets with vast parking spaces, the motorways and the commuting sprawl in the countryside. They are overwhelmingly there, in full tarmac and asphalt.

You can tell a ruling class by its reaction to anything that encroaches on its privilege. A painted cycle route, permission to join taxis and buses in lanes closed to the private car , more money spent on cycling infrastructure are met with the same howls of indignation and thwarted entitlement that capitalists have always greeted a tax increase or Factory Acts. The police saw Mitchell as a cycling upstart, asking for the right to use a route designated to his superiors and were as ready to suspect him as a bunch of black guys in a leafy neighbourhood. Then they fitted him up.

It is no coincidence that most of the commenting classes disbelieved Mitchell since most of the commenting classes go about in cars, and there is an overwhelming hostility towards cyclists.  Their anti-cyclist bigotry was glaringly obvious – and like all bigotries, led to blindness about an individual case.

A sane society would appoint Andrew Mitchell as Minister for Transport. Instead it questions his integrity and harries him from his job.

Permalink 25 Comments

Tories -v- cops: what Mehdi said

October 15, 2013 at 11:32 pm (Civil liberties, Conseravative Party, cops, Cycling, Jim D, police, strange situations, Tory scum)

We don’t, as they say, have a dog in this fight…
…but we can’t improve on the following. Which is odd, because:
1/ It’s by Mehdi Hasan (not our favourite pundit)
2/ He wrote it in in December 2012.
But note Mehdi’s words:
“Might Mitchell now be able return to government in the next reshuffle? It could be difficult: he did, after all, admit to swearing at the police, plus it was Downing Street that seems to have orchestrated his apology – and resignation.”

Above: Tory scum in foreground; corrupt, lying cops in background

Amusing to see how the Tories are falling over each other to declare their shock and horror – shock! horror! – that the police might not be the paragons of virtue, probity and honesty that they have always assumed them to be. Shocked Tory MPs should, perhaps, have a word with the victims of Hillsborough and the family of Jean Charles de Menezes…

From the Times splash:

“The row between the Conservatives and the police over Andrew Mitchell deepened yesterday when MPs questioned the credibility of the officers’ log at the centre of the “Plebgate” saga.

“David Davis, a senior Tory MP, said that the official record of the former Chief Whip’s brush with police officers in Downing Street contained a falsehood that would not stand up in court. The account was tainted because CCTV footage challenged its assertion that there were shocked witnesses, he added.

“The Tories also seized on the timing of a now discredited e-mail that helped to bring down Mr Mitchell as pointing to police collusion. The e-mail was sent by an officer posing as a passer-by before the police claims that Mr Mitchell had called them “f***ing plebs” became public.

“… Scotland Yard suggested that the 30 officers conducting a “large scale and complex investigation” would take well into the new year before they reached conclusions.”

Might Mitchell now be able return to government in the next reshuffle? It could be difficult: he did, after all, admit to swearing at the police, plus it was Downing Street that seems to have orchestrated his apology – and resignation.

Then again, if expenses cheat David Laws can come back, anyone can come back…

Permalink 3 Comments

We Will Ride Bicycles

October 8, 2013 at 7:48 pm (Cycling, Feminism, Middle East, misogyny, Rosie B, women)

Campaigners in Egypt say the problem of sexual harassment is reaching epidemic proportions, with a rise in such incidents over the past three months. For many Egyptian women, sexual harassment – which sometimes turns into violent mob-style attacks – is a daily fact of life . .

In 2008, a study by the Egyptian Centre for Women’s Rights found that more than 80% of Egyptian women have experienced sexual harassment, and that the majority of the victims were those who wore Islamic headscarves.

Said Sadek, a sociologist from the American University in Cairo, says that the problem is deeply rooted in Egyptian society: a mixture of what he calls increasing Islamic conservatism, on the rise since the late 1960s, and old patriarchal attitudes.

Egyptian women fight back:-

Women’s initiative launches “We will ride bicycles” campaign

An Egyptian women’s initiative has launched a campaign entitled “We Will Ride Bicycles” to confront sexual harassment in the streets and public transportation. . .

“Riding a bicycle and feeling the breeze of the air is one of our simplest dreams,” said the campaign’s event page, adding that all women should be allowed to freely ride bicycles without being harassed or judged.

The activists behind the campaign said they chose the theme of riding bicycles to promote women and girl’s rights to run errands through cycling without being afraid of attracting negative reaction in the streets.

Scheduled for Saturday, the event’s assembly point will be outside October War Panorama on Saleh Salem Street and its end point will be at Azhar Park. “The campaign’s main objective is confronting the unjustified rejection of the community concerning females riding bicycles,” said Michael Nazeh, one of the founders of the campaign.

Egyptcyclist

Let me tell you what I think of bicycling. I think it has done more to emancipate women than anything else in the world. It gives women a feeling of freedom and self-reliance. I stand and rejoice every time I see a woman ride by on a wheel…the picture of free, untrammeled womanhood.

Susan B. Anthony, February 15, 1820 – March 13, 1906
American campaigner for women’s suffrage and civil rights

Permalink 1 Comment

Next page »