Parris is a famous UK newspaper columnist. As such he’s duty-bound to attack cyclists at some point in his writing career: it’s pretty much a columnists’ stand-by piece, a slice of invective guaranteed to rile cyclists, and boost the column’s online readership as cyclists are forwarded to the piece and some comment in the sort of kneejerk reaction the writer was hoping for.
The Parris piece started thus: “A festive custom we could do worse than foster would be stringing piano wire across country lanes to decapitate cyclists.”
Naturally, he’d say it was a light-hearted piece, not meant to be taken literally, but there’s no way on earth The Times would run a “light-hearted” piece calling for the bloody, indescriminate death of horse-riders or Jews or Muslims or disabled people.
The piano wire “joke” isn’t silly banter, it’s incitement to hatred, incitement to kill.
There was no need to go for the jugular in such a literal way. Parris could have made his points about littering without the death threats.
Tucked away in his poison there were some reasonable points. But Parris got it wrong about bottles of Lucozade (cyclists carry their own water bottles on bike rides) and the roadside rubbish he decries sounds a lot like it was thrown from cars, not by cyclists.
Not that cyclists don’t litter. Some do. Used sachets of sticky gel litter the roads on cyclo-sportives. This is not on. But, why did Parris up the ante and pick on all cyclists because some wear Lycra, some are louts and some may drop litter?
His first sentence is the sort of lazy ill-informed invective that newspaper sub-editors are employed to spot, and excise. That The Times sub left it in place may mean the newspaper was short-staffed over the Christmas period, or that the newspaper employs pig-ignorant sub-editors.
Here’s the Parris piece but with the word ‘cyclist’ satirically replaced with ‘homosexual’, and other choice edits.
A festive custom we could do worse than foster would be stringing piano wire at the entrances to gay bars to decapitate homosexuals.
It’s not just the good fashion sense, though Heaven knows this atrocity alone should be a capital offence; nor the fruity hairstyles, though these ludicrous items of headgear are designed to protect the only part of a gay man that is not usefully employed; nor the self-righteousness, though a small band of homosexuals on winter’s morning emits more of that than a cathedral at evensong; nor even the perverted disregard for all other bar users, though the lynching of a gay man by a mob of boozed-up hetro drinkers would be a joy to witness.
No, yet another homo-generated horror – and a new one – has come to my attention this Christmas. They’re chucking their empty moisturiser pots into hedgerows as they pass on the way to Hampstead Heath.
Bin-liners in hand, a group of us, infused with the seasonal goodwill that illuminates this column, of course, decided to walk a mile of a pretty and winding lane that had become particularly badly littered this winter, and collect it all. It’s amazing how much of the stuff there is when you start looking, and we ended up with a whole sackful. And what was the principal offending item? Versace spring-water bottles and empty Vaseline jars were lodged high in hedgerows at a gay man’s bottom level. Forgive me, but heteros were not the culprits here.
What is the carbon footprint of a panting, pill-popping, Lycra-clad gay bar frequenter? a) His or her journey to the gay bar is totally unnecessary; b) whole convoys of cargo boats steam the Atlantic to bring the unguents to be energy-intensively refined for their face creams; and c) the chemical processes that generate the vile materials that clothe, shoe and coiff a homosexual – not a man-made fibre among them – will be poisoning entire provinces of China.
But it’s the good manners and manicured nails one cannot forgive. In just one little posse of these perverted monsters there are levels of self-satisfaction that could power a small religious crusade, such as those awfully smug gay rights marches.
Does coming out turn you into an insolent jerk? Or are insolent jerks drawn disproportionately to homosexuality?
I don’t believe a word of the above parody of the Matthew Parris piece. It’s vile. And, quite rightly, the wrong thoughts it contains wouldn’t appear in any UK newspaper. So, how come the cyclist version was deemed fit to print?
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University of Leeds PhD student Dima Damen, from the University’s Faculty of Engineering, has developed a computer system that detects individuals parking their bicycles and can automatically warn security staff if it appears that someone other than the owner retrieves the bike.
“It’s difficult to monitor CCTV cameras, as operators normally have a large number of screens to watch,” said Damen. “This often results in bicycle thefts being missed, even if they are happening right in front of the camera.”
Currently at prototype stage, Damen’s system takes colour information from CCTV images when a bike is parked and stores it until the bike is retrieved. It then marries the stored information with the new image and where there are significant differences, it can raise an alert to CCTV operators. In initial tests using a camera located above a bike rack at the University of Leeds, eleven out of thirteen simulated thefts were detected.
“Without a system like this, the benefit of CCTV cameras is diminished by the difficulties of manual monitoring,” said Damen. “It’s a simple solution to an extremely widespread problem.”
Bike theft is no laughing matter - a French study found that 23 per cent of bike theft victims won’t return to cycling - but, for a pre-Christmas tickle, watch this motorcycle thief falling from a moving van to the accompaniment of the Benny Hill chase music:
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Motorsport engineering specialists BERU f1systems has produced an info-rich, composite-framed bike, the Factor 001. The Factor 001 is said to be the “ultimate training tool combining innovative design and advanced electronics to record and analyse biometric data.”
This data is likely to include power as well as standard HRM output.
The prototype was displayed at the British Racing Drivers’ Club awards luncheon in London where BERU f1systems was sponsoring the Graham Hill Trophy, an award won by Formula One driver Lewis Hamilton. The fast Brit is to receive one of the Factor 001 bikes next year.
BERU f1systems’ MD John Bailey said: “It is very applicable that our first bicycle will be going to a sportsman succeeding at the highest level. The data the bicycle can generate will help such athletes to truly understand and enhance their training. Our order book is now open and orders will be treated on a strictly first come, first served basis.”
There’s precious little detail on the bike on Factor001.com but you can register for email updates. The bike is expected to retail for c. £10,000. The first pic shows a bike equipped with what looks like Speedplay pedals but also lots of proprietary components, from saddle through to headset-and-fork set-up. The bike features Factor001 wheels, a Beru-branded composite-and-alu rear mech, ceramic bearings (natch), and Beru disc brakes. Here’s a pic of the rear stays.
BERU f1systems produces vehicle wiring harness systems, tyre pressure monitoring, stress measurement and composites. In January 2007, BERU f1systems won the Autosport International Innovation of the show for its Wire in Composite technology.
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Or is it just ‘mud’ prefixed with some localised adjectives? I ask because at the cold and wet USA Cycling Cyclocross National Championships, being held this weekend in Kansas, Junior Men winner Luke Keough (CL Noonan) of Sandwich, Mass. said:
“I raced out in Portland two weeks ago and I thought that was the worst mud you could find. This stuff just put it to shame - it just sucked you in, it was slippery and sticky all at the same time.”
In ‘Cyclo Cross’, the much-reprinted CX bible, author Simon Burney writes:
“Just as Eskimos have a hundred different words for snow, so ‘cross cyclists should have a varied vocabulary to describe the different tyres of mud they encounter.”
But do they? Loamy, claggy, sticky, slippy, gloopy. They all end in ‘y’. Not quite perfect descriptors, then. And, of course, ‘Eskimos’ - more accurately, Inuit - do not have an unusually high number of words for snow.
A popular belief exists that the Inuit have an unusually large number of words for snow. This is not accurate, and results from a misunderstanding of the nature of polysynthetic languages. In fact, The Inuit have only a few base roots for snow: ‘qanniq-’ (’qanik-’ in some dialects), which is used most often like the verb to snow, and ‘aput’, which means snow as a substance. The Inuit language can form very long words by adding more and more descriptive affixes to words. Those affixes may modify the syntactic and semantic properties of the base word, or may add qualifiers to it in much the same way that English uses adjectives or prepositional phrases to qualify nouns (eg. “falling snow”, “blowing snow”, “snow on the ground”, “snow drift”, etc.)
FROM PRESS RELEASE:
Despite taking onboard a course barrier stake and some tape on the first lap, Shannon Gibson clung desperately to leader Cris Rothfuss in the Masters Women 40-44 category.
Incredibly staying upright through the greasy mud, Gibson plucked the tape from her wheels and ejected it - and the stake - with a javelin-like throw to the side.
Gibson, a former ballet dancer, matter-of-factly compared the incident to a recital.
“If your costume falls off in the middle of a performance, you just keep dancing,” she said.
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An alliance for walking, cycling, ‘wheeling’ and ‘passenging’ has been launched at the Bali UN Climate Conference. (Nice but is ‘passenging’ a real word?)
walking-cycling-wheeling:non-motorized means of transport such as feet, walking aids, bicycle, tricycle, velomobile, wheelchair, scooter, skates, skateboard, push scooter, trailer, hand cart, shopping cart, carrying aids; and above vehicles with supporting electrical drive (preferably powered by renewable energy)
‘passenging’:using means of public transport such as escalator, elevator, bus, tram, monorail, subway, lightrail, train, cableway, ferry, collective taxi, taxi (preferably with low-emission drives)
More than 30 global companies, business and user associations, expert organizations, local governments and United Nations agencies have joined together in a partnership for the integrated promotion of walking, cycling, wheeling and ‘passenging’ (the use of public transport) in cities.
“Climate change must be addressed in every community worldwide. We cannot just wait for governments to come to an agreement. As far as urban transport is concerned, we have got a solution to offer: EcoMobility,” said Konrad Otto-Zimmermann who heads ICLEI, an association of over 700 cities in 67 countries that are dedicated to sustainable development.
The ultimate goal of the Alliance is a zero-carbon mobility system for cities:
“Whilst billions are being spent on having engineers make the car less environmentally harmful, let’s be aware: the ‘zero carbon vehicle’ was invented more than 200 years ago and is called the bicycle,” said Otto-Zimmermann.
“With the bicycle, humans even surpassed evolution – moving by bicycle requires less energy input per kilometre than walking.”
Brian Williams, Chief of the Energy and Transport Section of United Nations Habitat said:
“Urban transport is the world’s fastest growing source of greenhouse gas emissions by a factor of two. Given that there remains a 20 to 25 year-long window of opportunity to slow the trajectory of emissions growth, a dollar spent on mitigation in urban transport immediately is worth two dollars spent elsewhere.”
“As a corporate enterprise, we believe that industry has a fundamental responsibility to reassess its role in regard to protecting our natural environment.” Yoshi Shimano, Chairman, Shimano
“As a father of four children and an avid bike commuter, I fully support EcoMobility in promoting alternative, earth-friendly forms of transportation.” Dan Britton, President & CEO, Chariot Carriers
Bike companies Shimano, Giant, Trek and the Accell Group are part of the Ecomobility Alliance. Chariot Carriers of Canada is another, and so is Denk Engineering of Germany (soon to be former design consultants to Scott USA), showing that the Alliance it’s not just open to the big boys.
Ecomobility is all about:
Advocacy: Positioning ecomobility as a solution in the climate change debate, by advocating ecomobility at international policy fora and negotiations.
Promotion: Raising awareness of the benefits of ecomobility through an ecomobility label as a distinction for city districts, public and private facilities, and the Cities Enjoy Bicycles Awards.
Investment: Encouraging investment in ecomobility infrastructure, vehicles and mobility aids.
Innovation: Building ecomobility systems in cities through product innovation and creative cooperation in cross-sector partnerships.
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The Sustrans’ Connect2 scheme garnered 42 percent of the 286,285 votes entered by members of the public for the winner-takes-all Big Lottery Fund beauty contest.
This was the biggest-ever UK Lottery grant awarded by public vote.
Funding will be transferred to Sustrans for the scheme over the course of five years, starting in 2008. The Connect2 project will cost a total £140 million, of which £50 million will be Lottery money, with the rest being match-funded from other sources.
Announcing the winner, Sir Clive Booth, chair of the Big Lottery Fund which distributes Lottery grant money, said the Sustrans project had won nearly half of all the votes cast.
“It really won hands-down. What did it was that public support was terrific. Given there were four projects, getting half the vote was a big achievement. I think it has captured people’s imaginations because it is going to affect their lives right across the UK.”
John Grimshaw of Sustrans said:
“This is fantastic news, and thanks to everyone who voted for Sustrans’ Connect2 in the People’s £50 Million Lottery Giveaway, and for your help in winning £50 million of funding from the Big Lottery Fund for Sustrans to invest in walking and cycling UK-wide. This really is an amazing achievement for our charity and the many local authority and other partners with whom we will work on Connect2. We simply couldn’t have done it without you and your votes.”
The Quickrelease.tv calendar isn’t a static list of events, it’s a live feed which is available on iCal and Google Calendar. Sync your PC or Mac to this calendar and get daily agenda emails, dates on your cellphone and other fancy stuff that make static online calendar lists sooooo last century.
Bicycle Dates 2008 include all the obvious candidates such as the Tour de France as well as new or unique events such as the unicycling world championships, Iowa’s Big Wheel Ballyhoo and Italy’s restoration ride for heroes, L’Eroica.
Sync to the dates and they load to your calendar program. Any changes or additions are automagically updated on your machine seconds after I make the changes on my machine. Once you’ve sync’ed to Bicycle Dates 2008 you choose which of them you want to highlight with alarms and auto-emails. For instance, the Fred Whitton Challenge takes place in May but is always over-subscribed the day after entries go online on January 8th. The online entry date is already loaded to Bicycle Dates 2008 so all you have to do is set the alert on your machine. Google Calendar and iCal both have intuitive alerts settings.
You can also set up Google Calendar so it emails you an agenda each morning so you don’t have to look at your PC/Mac calendar to know what bicycle events are coming up that day.
iCal meshes beautifully with the iPhone and now Google Calendar does too. Both cal programs also mesh with standard cellphones.
A selection of the listed bike events are given below. There are many, many more.
The People’s Million’s £50m lottery giveaway project has a YouTube channel. Video views aren’t enormous, probably because ITV has buried what was going to be a flagship series in the ratings graveyard slot. This is because of the recent telephone voting scandals on ITV and other channels.
But if the YouTube video views are representative of online and telephone voting, the Sustrans walking-and-cycling project should be announced the winner on Wednesday. The voting closes at noon on Monday. Vote online here or call 0870 24 24 602.
Here are the views to date:
Black Country Urban Park
And here’s the genuinely moving appeal from Lorraine Kelly. It’s by far the best of the four presentations:
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