As Beau Bo d’Or puts it,
George Carlin, Resist in Peace
"Gentlemen… we’re history."
Richard Herring is one of this country’s best comedians although is probably someone you’ve not really heard of or if you have is probably parked in the area marked "oh yes, didn’t he once do that thing with <x>" (where x in this case is probably Stewart Lee, y’know, him what wrote Jerry Springer The Opera). He writes a blog and is one half of the strangely excellent Collings and Herrin podcast (with Andrew Collins, who once did that thing with Stuart Maconie).
In a recent blog post he strays on to one of my favourite rant territories: motorists’ attitudes to cyclists. In particular an incident where a driver tooted his horn to indicate that he was about to turn left across him, thus cutting him up.
Using the horn is a strange thing where cyclists are concerned. In the UK a horn is generally an extension of WVM’s "what right do you have to be on my road", rarely is it of any specific use. (It’s rarely of any use to anyone, it’s generally a WTF wherever it’s used toward whoever, irrespective of what the Highway Code says.)
On the continent though it’s different. Spain and France in particular are countries with very strong and well mannered cycling cultures and there, especially on narrow roads, the horn is a friendly “I’m here, I’ll probably be overtaking you soon, but no pressure, just letting you know” sort of greeting. To British ears it’s a raucous bellowing threat so cycling on the continent can take a little getting used to.
But Herring alights on another point. The indicator. The blinkenlights on the corners of vehicles. My beef here is that most drivers use these in quite an aggressive way, they’re some kind of excuse for all sorts of behaviour, "I was indicating" allows you to push in and run lights and be generally a bit of a bully.
But here’s the rub, they’re called indicators not instructors. If you’re indicating it is to assert an intention, not to instruct me to do something. If I chose to react to them then sobeit, but the mere fact that you’re using one isn’t going to instantly make me jump at your slightest whim.
But when cyclists are assertive that’s when drivers get really mad, which is the real root of the problem: having to share the road with anybody else.
In a recent post he performed a proud blogging act: spouting off about something about which he thinks he knows a lot about, while claiming he knows he little and proving he knows next to nothing.
I’m not about to write a point-by-point rebuttal because a) he won’t see it, b) he won’t react to it and c) he’d only snipe in another update and lump my reaction with others if either a or b weren’t true.
He’s just almost exclusively – and spectacularly – wrong. The fact that I’m exactly the person he cites in point 1 (shorts, clipped shoes, messenger bag and fixie) is exactly the point. By saying “you are not the person to whom this advice is addressed” is implicitly saying “your advice is worthless”.
Which is ironic.
[tags]bikes, cycling, bad advice, jwz [/tags]
So last week I predicted a total lack of interest on the behalf of the police in actually punishing genuine wrong-doing. And lo it came to pass that the inevitable happened and I was, quelle surprise, bang on.
The irony of also receiving, in the same post as a form letter saying (to paraphrase) "we couldn’t be less interested in proceeding in this case", an option for me to attend a Speed Awareness Workshop (at my own expense and within the boundaries of the force where I was photographed, rather than where I live, despite the same company being responsible for both) for an infraction that caused neither inconvenience nor damage to anyone, is infuriating.
Where are the Red Light Awareness Workshops? Or the Pay Attention to Other Road Users Workshops? Why does the clown who came 2 seconds from killing me get off scot-free?
It really is enough to make you wonder why you bother trying to obey the laws that can’t be objectively measured. If a crime that cannot be either witnessed by a PC or photographed doesn’t actually count, then what’s the point in obeying it; I’m confident that it’s not for the benefit of my health. With the cuts and bruises more or less healed, I’m absolutely sure of that much.
Update: still no real word, but after ringing them up and expressing my disappointment at the lack of action, they’ve actually decided to delve a little more. Yay for proactivity. Although boo for having to chase them before they actually take an interest.
[tags] cycling, london, law, traffic, speeding [/tags]
Methods of enumeration, or at least the introduction to enumeration, let me count the ways. So Elizabeth Barrett Browning tried it (and is probably the most oft imitated in the blogosphere). For those of us of a certain age, no-one expects us to be able to do it accurately the first time (and would that be Gen X or Y?). Manfred Mann went down and XTC counted up.
So what am I counting? The number of reasons for leaving Virgin Media. We’re hoping to move house in the next few months so it shouldn’t be too much of a hassle to change to someone new; there is no way we’ll be renewing them if or when we relocate.
Why? In no particular order:
Bandwidth: If I pay for xMb/s, then I expect some decent proportion of that. If you can’t deliver me that speed reliably (and you are a cable provider after all, so it’s not like you’re going to be able to blame attenuation, contention ratios and various other ASDL excuses) then don’t ask me to pay for – and certainly don’t taunt me with adverts all around the place claiming things you blatantly aren’t delivering. If I don’t pay your monthly fee, you’ll cut me off, but you’re allowed to not hold up your end of the bargain.
Traffic Shaping: While we’re on the subject of your end of the bargain, I’ve an unlimited data plan. In my dictionary, that doesn’t mean "in the bottom 95% of downloaders". You’re selling me unlimited and if you have no intention of following through on that, then change my T&Cs. If you want to cap my data plan, I have no problem with you having that power, just let me know in advance and I’ll decide whether that’s acceptable to me. Don’t advertise unlimited and then punish me for actually having the cheek to presume that’s what it means.
I’m quite a heavy podcast consumer. I’ve got loads on my queue, many of which arrive daily (Buzz Out Loud, tech5 and the BBC News, for example), a few times a week (Coverville, IT Conversations or Adam Curry), weekly (TWiT, Security Now and Fighting Talk) – and countless others from the Beeb, the Guardian or wherever else.
This usage is all perfectly legal – no question of P2P or filesharing, but they will certainly combine to gigabytes a month. I have no idea whether this puts me in the top 5% – I don’t know of a precise way to tell. I do know that I’ve noticed some traffic shaping when I do try to fire up some torrent clients. (And bittorrent isn’t automatically illegal – UK Nova for example will pull anything listed that isn’t there legally (e.g. popular series which it knows will be quickly available on DVD).
Net Neutrality: oh and isn’t this the biggie. Apparently the idea of a content provider (youtube, the bbc, google, this blog you’re reading) paying for its connection and you paying for your connection isn’t enough. The middle man should just be able to decide who you read and who you’ll get frustrated waiting for. Well Mr Berkett my opinion of you and your company is about the same as your opinion of net neutrality.
Phorm: if you’re in the UK and haven’t heard of Phorm then you really need to do more with your surfing, it has even got as far as the BBC. Basically (with the Carphone Warehouse and BT) what Phorm is about is illegally (and invisibly) intercepting your requests for web content and then changing the adverts that are shown, displaying instead content tailored to what it thinks it knows about you.
I mean, really, just where do you start?
Triple Play: this isn’t really a criticism, but it doesn’t make it any easier to break away. Because Virgin deliver their broadband via cable, that’s also how we get our TV and landline. So by lying about what they’re providing to us, they’re able to subsidise the package price and tie us even more tightly in. If we want broadband from another provider I need either a BT line and then a Phorm-free ISP (I wish I could return to my old provider Eclipse, they were ace) and then also into the arms of Freeview or Murdoch’s Sky for the TV. Not much of a choice, is it?
Virgin Media: just say no.
[tags]virgin media, net neutrality, broadband, rant, cable[/tags]
Recently I was sent a fixed penalty notice for doing 20% over the speed limit. That sounds like quite a lot and it is certainly sufficient to be banged to rights. I was doing 36 and it was a 30mph zone. Strictly I do deserve that ticket. The fact that it was a deserted road on a Sunday afternoon is totally irrelevant. No police officer was present at the location of the offence and, as such, they rely on the evidence provided by a camera, which is believed unequivocally. I’ll get points on my licence and some level of fine.
Compare that to this morning’s events where on my normal route to work I was setting off from a set of lights at which I’d stopped, it had been red but which had just turned green. To my left a car driver had gone through the red lights from the minor road that joined my major road. He had realised rather late that this was a bad idea; most drivers would have thought that the red light was enough. He stopped lest me and three lanes of my fellow travellers mowed him down.
Trouble was he stopped dead in the middle of my lane, about 6 feet from where I was accelerating away from having been stopped and the third thing I thought was, “I seem to be on the ground”. My second thought was “I seem to on his bonnet”. The first had been “What the <blazes> is that car doing there?”
After relatively cordially exchanging details, having a following driver give me his details just in case I needed him as a witness and a couple of fellow cyclists check up on me (the espirit de corps de velo is mostly alive and well), I went on my relatively careful way.
The trouble is, that while perfectly cordial on the phone and then in person, I’ve not really been led to believe that the police will do anything. I’ve given them a detailed statement, the details of the witness and the mark and details of the errant driver. While I’m absolutely convinced that the police have better things to do with their time, I’m even more convinced that my infraction pales into insignificance with that I suffered this morning.
I’ve been left with a few cuts and bruises, the bike’s faired better but has a few new scratches. If I’d been in a pub and received similar, someone would have been arrested. But because no police saw the event and it is, in effect, more or less my word against his, I’ve been left with little confidence that the driver will be punished at all.
So my word as an upstanding, tax-paying citizen is worth less than that of an automated revenue generating camera. Which is a fine state of affairs, guv’nor, and no mistake.
[tags]cycling, accident, speed cameras, london[/tags]
It was a pleasant enough evening, so I headed home "the long way", including a detour to Richmond Park. Nothing too extreme, but probably about 25km in all. It’s not going to prepare for anything loopy, but better than nothing.
I had quite an eye-opening ride, apparently I’m a bit dim and my fellow travellers were kind enough to educate me:
I genuinely think that London’s roads are a friendlier place than they were 10 years ago, but some evenings I am reminded that it’s a fine line between getting home in one piece in a good mood and remembering that the average fellow road user is likely to want you to not be there and is prepared to forego normal social mores to let you know that.
[tags]cycling, london, richmond park, wvm[/tags]
All the hyperbole aside about the size of the thing and the number of people on each floor, the Super Tower looks cool.
Trouble is, it also looks like the mice have been at it.
[tags] london, skyscrapers [/tags]
Another day, another London transport story, anyone would think there’s a mayoral election in the offing (NB. don’t vote Paddick). So TfL are targetting cyclists to pay more attention. At its centre is a video [do the test] which is interesting enough and makes a point worth bearing in mind: the mind is easily fooled and we can be paying too much attention, not seeing the wood for the trees if you like.
Paying attention is something that surprisingly few people do. Most of the problems on the roads don’t stem from impatience or inherent rudeness, they stem from an inherent lack of attention, specifically to predicting what is about to happen – and making your behaviour easy to read for others so that they can safely and accurately predict what you are about to do (providing, of course, that they’re paying attention).
So the point in the video is almost completely and ironically missed; spotting things that aren’t expected is never going to happen. Asking people to do it is ridiculous. It is like warning people not to have a chip pan fire while crossing the road, a null reference exception gets thrown as you’re pulling away from the lights or looking at the sky for dead pixels. Oh.
Ask people to behave preditably … well, that’s impossible too, but it would be safer all around.
It’s a bit ironic really, some people with so much time on their hands that they can watch TV for 11 hours of a Saturday (and then complain about it), but don’t apparently have the ability to change channels and watch a different channel. Or a DVD. Or going outside for a walk. Or talking to friends. Or reading a blog. Or writing a blog. Signing a pledge.
Presumably they wouldn’t want to get out of the house to play sport themselves as they’re obviously misanthropes who object to physical exercise or people enjoying themselves, so maybe the walking and meeting friends is out.
Still, on March 8th it’ll happen all over again, which some of us at least can’t wait for. Although I’ll be in the bar watching Scotland-England, so much more fun than sitting on your own, festering in your own bile ahead of complaining to the authorities.
[tags]bbc, whingers, tv, sport, complaining, curiosity[/tags]