“While we obsess about knife crime and drugs, the real killers of our young are transport and suicide.”
This is the conclusion of the BBC’s Mark Easton, talking about the Grim Reaper’s Road Map. This is an atlas of mortality in Britain and shows the most common causes of death at different ages and in different parts of the UK.
Over the age of 50, it’s cardovascular causes which kill the most Brits (something which could be halted, if only more people cycled). Teens and pre-teens died mostly from “transport” ie for the most part killed while crossing the road (something which could be halted, if only more people cycled).
3200 people of all ages are killed on our roads each year yet little is mentioned on the news, unless it involves many people at once. Drip-drip death doesn’t count unless it’s to do with sharps or soldiers.
The BBC will report a soldier has been killed in Iraq or Afghanistan and will then re-report it the following day once the soldier’s name has been released, doubling the news impact. Such deaths are sad, but rare. Death on the roads is commonplace yet little is done about it, and much less is talked about it.
Perhaps the BBC could report road deaths in the same way it reports war deaths? There would just about be time…on BBC News 24. I think it’s relevant here to repeat the short story from ex-Python Terry Jones I’ve run before. This is from ‘Fairy tales and Fantastic Stories’, well worth shelling out for. I’m guilty of breaching copyright if I repeat the full text of Terry Jones’ story so I’ve extracted long excepts instead. You’ll still get the gist of the polemic.
THE FLYING KING
There was once a devil in Hell named Carnifex, who liked to eat small children. Sometimes he would take them alive and crush all the bones in their bodies. Sometimes he would pull their heads off, and sometimes he would hit them so hard that their backs snapped like dry twigs…But one day, Carnifex got out of his bed in Hell to find there was not a single child left. ‘What I need is a regular supply,’ he said to himself. So he went to a country that he knew was ruled by an exceedingly vain king. He found him in his bathroom…and said to him: ‘How would you like to fly?’ ‘Very much indeed,’ said the king, ‘but what do you want in return, Carnifex?’ ‘Oh . . . nothing very much,’ replied Carnifex, ‘and I will enable you to fly as high as you want, as fast as you want, simply by Continue reading “Time to report the grim truth”
I can’t think of many bicycle catalogues which lead with concepts from free-market economists and find it strangely wonderful that a bicycle co-op has done so. The new Winter 2008/09 catalogue from Edinburgh Bicycle Cooperative cites the ideas of Adam Smith to promote cycling to work.
Adam Smith [1723-1790], the author of The Wealth of Nations, is a favourite of right-wing arch-capitalists, a poster child for Reagonomics, even.
“If you are concerned about the economic downturn, you could do a lot worse than go back to the father of economics,
“This leading light of the Edinburgh Enlightenment espoused the notion that the behaviour of rational people is governed by enlightened self interest. It’s hard to think of a better example of enlightened self-interest than giving up the car and taking to 2 wheels. Do that and you’re pretty much guaranteed to save yourself a 4-figure sum (that’s the self-interest part) whilst dramatically reducing your carbon footprint (that’s the enlightened part).
“And if divorcing the car is a step too far, riding to work even 3 days a week could easily save you hundreds of pounds a year, while contributing to your fitness and well-being.”
Well, that didn’t take long. Last week I reported my YouTube videos were soon to reach one million views. I wasn’t paying attention over the weekend when the magic number was reached. My vids have now had 1,022,664 views (the graphic above can’t keep up). YouTube is fine for short and shonky vids but to get longer, higher resolution versions downloaded direct to your iPod or computer, subscribe to my free podcast on iTunes. And should you know somebody who you’d like to get cycling to work, point them to the audio podcast of the soon-to-published Bike to Work Book.
The top vid has had 176,600 views. This is to be expected when it’s some great footage from the Tour de France (the better, hi-res, longer version is available here on iTunes). Views for my second best vid are not as expected: a sponsored-video on how to wash and lube a bike has had 67,234 views.
There are some daft comments, as you’d expect from YouTube commenters who very quickly start fighting with each other, but, pleasingly, one viewer wrote:
“I am just the 57 year old child who needs a well delivered, simplified video like this. I’ve only started riding, and am not a mechanic, but would like to keep the mud and goop off my bike to keep it running well for me. Thanks for a great instructional video!”
This Cinecycle film is a promo for Hutchinson tyres. It’s truly gorgeous. It features a Masi fixie and a woman riding in red stockings and white heels.
Avert your eyes when the fixie rides through stop lights, and when both cyclists ride where pedestrians hold sway. Oh, and if you think all urban cyclists should wear helmets, you might want to give the video a complete miss.
In fact, it’s amazing Daniel Leeb’s film got through corporate censors.
The cover of the Bike to Work Book has photos of some cyclists wearing helmets, others not. Now, in Australia and some US states perhaps this laissez-faire attitude to lid-wearing might get the book banned but I feel it’s important to reflect reality.
In the real world, not every cyclist wears a helmet. In the Netherlands, hardly anybody does and there’s no epidemic of cycle-related head injuries in Holland.
This has nothing to do with cyclepaths segregated from motorised traffic. Cycle helmets are designed for slow speed crashes from a height of one metre, they are not designed to save cyclists in impacts from cars.
Helmet wearing ought to be a choice, not a stipulation. The photos on the cover of the Bike to Work Book, and inside too, will be chosen on artistic merit, not polystyrene quotiant.
I raise this issue because others have done so. It’s a subject long debated in cycle circles. Cyclists all choose to disagree! Want to read around on the subject? Over on BikeBiz.com I’ve published 90+ articles on the ‘helmet compulsion debate’. For the record, I’m a pro-helmet, anti-compulsionist. I wear a helmet when cycling but don’t wish to impose my personal choice on others.
Some argue that if helmet compulsion saved just one life, it would be worth it. This seems such a sensible position, but it’s misguided. If people were genuinely concerned about whole population safety they’d also argue for enforced helmet wearing for motorists. This is a measure that would save thousands of lives per year but nobody seriously argues for it because driving is perceived to be safe (it’s not) and is a ‘normal, everyday activity’ so car helmets would be a disincentive to driving.
Bingo! It’s the same for cycling. Many people don’t take up cycling because they think it’s unsafe (it must be, you need to wear helmets). As we all know, the health benefits of cycling far outweigh the risks. It’s far better to attract people to cycling in the first place, rather than deter them by telling them they can’t start cycling unless they wear headgear. This reduces the number of cyclists, increasing danger for the rest of us.
More cyclists equals more road safety, helmets or no helmets.
The Bike to Work Book will feature advice on buying and correct fitting of helmets. It will also list those countries and US states where helmet use is compulsory. There will be articles from both sides of the helmet argument. But there will be no policy that every cyclist must be shown wearing a helmet.
You’ve just got to love the strength and power of Dean Downing of the Rapha Condor team. Here he is climbing Scotland’s Mennock Pass in the 2008 Tour of Britain. To make it extra hard for himself he’s schlepping a pannier bag. And it’s full of bricks, too.
OK, he’s not, it’s a pannier bag on a touring bike behind Downing but made you look twice, huh? It’s the winning image – bigger here – in the Tour of Britain Photo Competition and was taken by Emma Felton of Cumbria.
Over 300 people submitted their favourite images from this year’s Tour of Britain for consideration by a panel of judges, comprising professional cyclists, cycling journalists, Tour of Britain organisers and Canon, official imaging supplier and longest serving sponsors of The Tour.
The winning image was taken on stage seven of this year’s Tour of Britain, depicting Rapha – Condor – Recycling.co.uk duo Chris Newton and Dean Downing in the company of An Post’s Mark Cassidy and Juan van Heerden of the MTN Energade team.
I’ve produced another cover for the Bike to Work Book and, as I’m a glutton for punishment, I’m again seeking feedback. I’ve done this before: here, here and here. I got lots of excellent comments, but no cover consensus.
Above is my current fave (here it is larger). I designed it after I did the voting panels below. I made the changes thanks to suggestions that the two covers below are too dark and remind folks of night-time riding, not commuting. I also took on board comments about the ‘to’ not being big enough, made the ‘work’ into a tint of black, and replaced some of the darker images with brighter ones:
The abstract image is by Mikael Colville-Anderson of Copenhagenize.com. He’s also one of the contributors in the book, alongside other experts such as Marc van Woudenberg of Amsterdamize.com and basket-making bike blogger David Hembrow. Mikael also took three of the pix on the updated cover.
I’d appreciate any feedback on these latest test covers. I’m also inviting a public vote so even those who don’t want to comment can, sort of, have their say. A poll with all the covers visible – er, except the one above – can be found here.
The same poll can be found below in Widget form, although you have to click in to see the covers (if you like the image above best, click ‘none of the above’ and state you like Version 7):