Eye-opening eye candy: HOME, the full movie

Below, for your clicking pleasure, is HOME, a 1.5 hour movie about Planet Earth. It’s eye-candy, but it’s also eye-opening, even though you already know all the Al Gore/climate change stats.

HOME is bad for cars, Las Vegas, Dubai, Israel, cows. Good for greenies and fans of HD gyroscope cameras. Forget about the ragtrade sponsor, that’s how the movie is going to go viral: it’s free.

Yann Arthus-Bertrand, GoodPlanet Foundation President and photographer of ‘Earth From the Air’, produced the movie and he says:

“We are living in exceptional times. Scientists tell us that we have 10 years to change the way we live, avert the depletion of natural resources and the catastrophic evolution of the Earth’s climate.

“The stakes are high for us and our children. Everyone should take part in the effort, and HOME has been conceived to take a message of mobilization out to every human being.

“For this purpose, HOME needs to be free. A patron, the PPR Group, made this possible. EuropaCorp, the distributor, also pledged not to make any profit because HOME is a non-profit film.”

HOME can also be found on YouTube. If you want the movie on your iPod, iPhone or other players which can spew out MP4’s, subscribe to the Quickrelease.tv podcast on iTunes.

Tube strikes are fantastic!

TfL's 'Keeping London Moving' map

Fantastic for the bike trade, that is. Loads of people will be digging out their old bikes today, and patching up defects via their local neighbourhood bike shop.

Tube strikes aren’t so good for existing bike commuters because, overnight, the streets are awash with wobbly newcomers. But for organisations like the London Cycling Campaign, a 48-hour tube strike will have more of a lasting impact than any number of Bike Weeks.

Kudos to Koy Thomson and his LCC team: they’ve been fast and clever to produce a timely, useful Bike the Strike website. And, of course, I loved producing a Bike to Work special for LCC’s Biketube.org.uk. It’s a 52-page flickable PDF on Issuu.com and is already getting loads of views, adding to the nearly 100,000 views on the main sampler on Issuu.com.

I’m now thinking of taking the train down to London to witness tomorrow morning’s ‘rush hour’.

Are you an “everlasting scorcher with sunken cheeks”? So, how are your bowels?

I’m a sucker for old books on cycling. And the faded tome above is a real corker. It’s an American book on ‘how to bicycle’ from 1892, by L. F. Korns.

Almost the whole book is quotable but here are just a few choice extracts:

“A ride at moonlight is a nerve tonic that beats all the phosphorous compounds that Esculapius ever dreamed of.”

“As a means of locotmotion, it is the fastest of road steeds, is always ready for use, and never consumes grain.”

“To the business man who is shut up in an office or store most of the day, it is a God-send. It gives him the exercise he so much needs and which he would not get in any other way.”

“As a means of pleasure, cycling stands in the foremost rank, but in common with all the great pleasures, it may easily stand in the foremost in abuse. The desire to ride at an unreasonably high speed may become morbid…The ever lasting scorcher, bent like a hoop, and with sunken cheeks, ought to be quite sufficient warning against this abuse.”

“Cycling fills the remotest cells of the lungs with outdoor air. The pores are opened and the dead secretions are thrown off. It aids the peristaltic movement of the bowels…”

Here, the esteemed author, provides are some medical opinions:

Dr. K. K. Doty of New York said:

“Cyclers see considerable more of this beautiful world than any other class of citizens. A good bicycle, well applied, will cure most ills this flesh is heir to.”

J. A. Chase, a doctor from Pawtucket, surmised that bicycling would lead to fewer patients:

“I fear that the universal adoption of cycling would be bad for the doctors.”

Men of the cloth were bicycle advocates, too, reports Mr Korns. The Reverend W.J Petrie of Chicago said:

“I expect to see the day when not to ride a wheel will be a mark of a defective education, and people will say to such a person, ‘Why, where have you been brought up?'”

Rev. Maltie of Baltimore loved the airy freedom of cycling:

“If I were not a man, I would like to be a bird. As I am a man, I do the next best thing, and ride a bicycle.”

Clearly, I’m going to have to update my ‘Quote:Unquote’ article on cycling. This book, and 59 other flickable publications, such as the ‘Bike the Strike’ Bike to Work Book, can be found on Issuu.com’s Bicycling Group.

Bike the Strike Special

Next week’s planned London tube strike may never happen, but if it does, droves of Londoners will get on their bikes.

London Cycling Campaign has been quick off the mark with a Bike the Strike website and campaign, called BikeTube.org.uk. To help promote this site I’ve partnered with LCC to produce this special edition of the Bike to Work Book sampler.

It’s also my first attempt at making the links and ads all clicky. Later on I’ll also play with embedding movie files.

Motoring texters need to be shamed, like drunk drivers

Driving while distracted with cellphone

I grabbed the shot above in London last year. Seeing drivers chatting on their phones is not unusual. It’s a deplorable, dangerous practice that impairs concentration. Perhaps worse, though, is the act of texting while driving. This requires both lack of concentration and an eyes-down technique that has death written all over it. Sadly, the death is usually of some unwitting person who comes into the path of the driving texter, as has been shown in numerous death-by-texting ‘accidents’ over recent years.

The other day – while a passenger in a car – I witnessed a driver texting on the M1. He was on the inside lane, no doubt going a little slower than usual for “safety”. As we drew parallel to him I could see him fiddling with his phone, looking down at the keyboard and screen, and bobbing eyes-front now and again to make sure he was roughly in the same lane he was in before he started texting.

As we were overtaking (I asked my wife to get well away from such a dangerous driver) I didn’t have time to take a photograph. Anyway, had I done so he might have wobbled and crashed; or chased after us to show his displeasure at being caught on camera.

Such unthinking morons text away from motorways, too. They kill. Texting while driving is not yet as socially unacceptable as drink-driving, but the sooner it is, the better.

I’m no huge fan of the No 10 Downing Street petition site. It’s toothless (Gordon Brown has not resigned, despite a popular request asking him to) and more of a diversion than a tool for democratic change. But it’s a focal point for campaigners and can bring out the best in their prose.

Allan Ramsey, for instance, has penned some of his best stuff thanks to his ‘mobile menace’ petition. It’s now got 1100+ signatories, a far cry from the tens of thousands of petrolheads who have signed a petition asking for speed limits not to be dropped.

We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to introduce driving ban and phone confiscation, if not car confiscation, for drivers caught using/holding mobile phone – potentially lethal weapon.

Ramsey campaigns for Roadpeace and is an inveterate letter writer, getting his views published in numerous local newspapers and cycle magazines. He also emails bike editors like myself. Part of his latest email is carried below. Whatever you think of his tactics, he talks a lot of sense.

Since reading the story about Leigh [Dolby’s] death, I have been deeply troubled.  But then which cyclist wouldn’t have been?

Leigh was a very experienced, capable and responsible cyclist. On August 30, 2007, Leigh’s life came to an abrupt, a tragic, an undignified and senseless end.  While training for a 225 mile charity ride, which he’d planned to celebrate his 55th birthday just two days later, he was hit from behind by a driver.  Why?  Was it because his killer was otherwise engaged – composing and texting trivial-trash on his hand-held mobile phone?

Instead of looking at the road ahead, as one is supposed to do by law, especially when driving at a speed which can kill, which basically amounts to any speed,  was Leigh’s killer looking down towards his knees, trying to focus on a tiny little screen and composing useless information by pressing tiny little buttons?

Despite admitting to driving dangerously, Thomas Duffield was found guilty of the much lesser crime of causing death by careless driving, and was subsequently sentenced to just 12-months in jail.  To make matters worse, when Leigh’s family appealed that the sentence was too lenient, the Lord Chief Justice in his wisdom ruled:  Not at all!

When Labour peer Lord Ahmed was involved in a fatal collision not too long ago, the judge ruled that although the records showed he had been texting in the moments just prior to the collision, because it couldn’t be proved that he was actually texting at the moment of impact, the incident could not be considered to be one of causing death by dangerous driving.  Consequently, Lord Ahmed was found guilty of just dangerous driving – no death to answer to – and [not] jailed accordingly.  

However, he instantly appealed against the decision, and after serving just 16 days of a very lenient 12 weeks, he was released – with a huge smile on his face.  Not so the family of his 28-year-old victim.  Isn’t life in the UK dirt cheap?

Now though, new sentencing guidelines are calling on judges to consider up to seven years jail for drivers causing death by texting.  What we really need are much tougher sentences for drivers who simply just use a mobile phone, in fact, even just holding one whilst driving is dangerous.

Anyone who is as troubled and as fearful as I am about drivers who ignore the mobile phone ban, and would like to see the current £60 fine and three penalty points replaced by phone and car confiscation (so that innocent lives aren’t confiscated) plus a driving ban, (as with drink driving), then they should petition on-line.