Tuesday, 3 May 2011

"It's Ok to speculate if the helmet would have made a difference, but maybe on the driving ..."

I received a reply from the coroner. I still don't believe that it was at all appropriate for the coroner to comment on this, since he appears to have no actual knowledge of the basic data around cycle helmets ...

Dear Mr Lennon



I refer to your e mail of 27th April with regard to this Inquest that I concluded at Windsor Guildhall on Thursday, 14th April last.



I note the contents of your e mail and would respond as follows:

1. You do not identify your interest in this matter nor whether you are “a properly interested person” within the definition of the Coroners Act. I would be grateful for clarification.

2. It is apparent from your comments that you were not present at the Inquest but rather appear to be relying on the press report of the Inquest. As you will appreciate, this does not cover all the elements of the evidence that was heard in the course of the Inquest Hearing itself.

3. In my summing up at the conclusion of the evidence, I simply stated that Mr Honour may have had a greater chance of survival if he had been wearing a helmet rather than not wearing one at all. The principle injuries leading to his death arose from the blow to the head. I do not believe it unreasonable to comment that a helmet would have afforded more protection than nothing at all.

4. As regards the evidence about the actions of the drivers, this was investigated thoroughly, first by Thames Valley Police and secondly in the course of the evidence at the Inquest. The fact that the press chose not to report on this is a separate issue.

5. I would also advise that an Inquest is an inquiry to establish the facts as to “how” somebody met their death. It is an inquiry not a trial and I am specifically excluded from returning a conclusion that addresses issues of fault or liability.

I trust that the above clarifies the position.

Yours sincerely

Peter J. Bedford

H.M. Coroner for Berkshire

Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Cycle helmets might save you from being mown down!

Today I wrote to the coroner who thought that being hit by three cars at 40mph+ would somehow have been less fatal if the cyclist involved had been wearing a helmet. It seems endemic of the general attitude to death on the roads, especially of cyclists. Essentially, the verdict says to me: "It was just another accident. What a shame."

Dear Sir,

I am writing to enquire on what basis you believe that WIlliam Honour may have survived impact by three separate vehicles by wearing a cycle helmet. (See story at http://www.getbracknell.co.uk/news/s/2091712_cyclist_died_after_being_struck_by_three_cars)

He was travelling on a road with a 70mph speed limit and was hit by one of the vehicles at around 40mph. Since cycle helmets are designed to protect those falling from bicycles at much lower speed, and there is no current scientific evidence to suggest any substantial benefit in impacts at such high speed, I would like to know how you surmised that Mr. Honour might have been protected?

Further, the news story doesn't seem to suggest much investigation was made, during the inquest, into how far, laterally, drivers were from Mr. Honour: that one driver appears to have struck the cyclist doesn't seem to have been the matter of any interest to the court at all.

Thus, I'd like to know why it seems that the coroner's court doesn't appear to have made any investigation into whether drivers were travelling at a suitable distance from non-vehicle road users (i.e. Mr. Honour), and whether their driving / road behaviour contributed to his death.

Sincerely,

Tim Lennon.

Tuesday, 8 February 2011

I wrote to my MP about helping corporations dodge tax ...

Tuesday 8 February 2011

Dear Zac Goldsmith,

I note with, frankly, horror, a story on the Guardian today about tax
breaks the Government is planning to issue to medium and large
businesses. (At
http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2011/feb/07/tax-city-heist-of-century)

It seems to me that if, as the Prime Minister recently claimed, he
wants to rebuild Britain based on entrepreneur-ship, this isn't the way
to do it.

The nature of the measure will cleaRLY do nothing to support small
business, since they won't be able to access the benefits, and it
leaves us otherwise racing to the bottom of the corporate tax league
for no obvious reason.

Or perhaps everyone's misunderstanding the proposed measure. I'd
appreciate it if you would find out the details of the measure, its
intended consequences, and how it fits with broader Government policy.

Sincerely,

Tim Lennon.

I wrote to my councillors ....

Dear Katharine Mary Harborne, Richard James Montague and Lisa Carole Blakemore,

Richmond Cycle Club drew my attention to this piece of work from the council, concerning cycling: http://www.richmondlcc.co.uk/2011/02/04/lbrut-proposed-cycle-map/

It seems to me that this is not only a waste of money, but it demonstrates that the council is actually not really committed to encouraging more cycling in our borough.

Here's some brief notes I made about the map:
1. It doesn't show routes, it shows bits of road the borough think are appropriate for either 'use for quiet rides or family groups' or other roads.
2. Who cares about car club parking on a cycle map?
3. Sheendale Road is shown as continuous across the railway track. It has steps on I think both sides.
4. Last time I took the A316 I saw multiple signs requiring me to dismount on the 'cycle path' heading to Twickenham. While parts of the route are marked with a path, large parts of it are narrow, unmarked, plainly dangerous to cycle on, or all three: it is utterly inappropriate to claim the A316 as a continuous cycle route.
5. If you followed the map, you'd think to yourself that there's about one safe place (excusing Sheendale Road) to cross the train line if you're in a 'quiet family group'.
6. Signs that say "No crossing facility"? What are those meant to tell map users?
7. Parts of the South Circular *do* have reasonably wide cycle lanes, but they're not even marked.

In a wider sense, though, I'd like to know what the borough is doing to encourage children to cycle to school? And by this, I mean the provision of safe cycling routes which connect their homes and schools: it's my impression that not a single primary school in the borough enables its children to cycle to their school without havng to mix with traffic, and our only solution seems to be giving pupils lessons.

My children won't be ready for school for another 3 years, but by then I expect my borough to support children of 6 and up to be able to ride to school without having to play Russian Roulette with buses, cars and trucks: if the average adult in Richmond is too scared to take the correct position on our roads, how do you think children feel?

Yours sincerely,

Tim Lennon.

Tuesday, 26 October 2010

Social Cleansing

"The longest suicide note in history" it may have been, but Labour's 1983 manifesto could also have been the last one to give any prospect of hope for a major part of the country's sense of well-being. I don't mean a feeling of safety from being overwhelmed by the Communist Bloc - the electorate took good note of that particular bogeyman and "rescued" us from him. I mean the very homes and society we exist in.

A while back I actually had a professional reason for listening to a 1983 Party Election Broadcast with Roy Hattersley et al trying to convince the Britain of 1983 to vote Labour. The party of the time was apparently unelectable, something to do with being peacenicks, pwned by the unions and being led by a man who wore a donkey jacket. One of their promises - we can of course only take this with the same kind of credence we would give to a modern party's pre-election promises, on, say, tuition fees - was to stimulate the economy, increase and ease societal tensions by commencing a programme of building new and better housing.

For various reasons then, they didn't get in. Thatcher did something clever and got people to buy the houses they lived in, making those that could speculators and capitalists in their own small way. She sold us shares in our utilities and suddenly many more people gave a toss about shares and property prices, jealous of the neighbours and lured into the kind of greed and speculation that the rich have always been able to afford.

Then, in a virtuous circle, the local authorities used this money in turn to build more and better-quality social and high-density housing, thus ensuring a future of shared stakeholding and civic pride in stable communities of mixed-income citizens.

Except they didn't. The f-----g w-----s. F--k knows what they pissed it all away on. New town halls and offices, certainly. But surely even that doesn't account for anywhere near what the windfall must've been. Who knows, maybe they weren't allowed to ring-fence it for housing. Maybe their budgets from central Govt. were reduced by the amount of money they got for selling their houses.

Upshot is, of course, that thanks to the Tories, the local authorities, New Labour (who to their infernal shame completely ignored this problem F-----G A-------S) and whoever else, there is not now, and there's not much of a plan for, such a building programme, which is now overdue by almost 2 generations (definitely 2 generations of the kind of over-fertile and pro-ceptive lower-social spectrum dwellers who ironically make such an overwhelming demand on such resources). In fact there is to be an anti-stimulus of a kind not seen since just before the 1920's depression.

Now, having been utterly ignored by the party supposed to represent or at least respect their interests (f-----g Labour f---s), and in the current "situation", those who rely on social and community-oriented housing have no-one as their champion, apart from, wait for it, The London Evening Standard.

Two articles today illustrate the diabolical and infernal situation we find ourselves in. The first is piece of sheer audacity and unwitting tragi-comedy, coming from a politician grounded in a history of local authority mindlessness of the kind that ended up killing Victoria Climbie and Peter Connelly. She's afraid of London turning into a middle-class ghetto. Lest we forget, she was a councillor in Islington for a decade. She was also a higher-ranking member of the governing party for the recent decade. You really couldn't make this up.

The second article is a bit late, as the process has been in effect for years already, but at least it's there in print. It makes the grim point with less tragic irony than Hodge can provide that any kind of "community" or "society" that remains in London will, unless a drastic turnabout occurs, be "cleansed" of its poor, who in turn will be shipped out to new bleak and spiritless ghettoes of their own, of rabbit-hutch and pebble-dashed ignomony. The people whose ancestors got the arse-end of the blitz or the empire, who were given meagre resources to share as newcomers arrived and who have been thoroughly unserved by all authorities, will now be exiled from the places to which they at least gave some kind of personality and spirit. They are being replaced, for as long as the current mileu exists, by more and more people whose only shared attribute is a rough correlation between their bank accounts. Welcome to the non-community.

F-----G C---S. Damn them all to hell.

Friday, 15 October 2010

I had a reply from my MP about Cycling and Cycling England ...

He said:
"Dear Tim Lennon,

Thank you for your email. I am an advocate of green transport, particularly
cycling. I don't yet know that Cycling England is to be closed, but
regardless, I accept that the Government will have to do many unpopular
things in the coming months, and for good reason.

But the Government takes cycling seriously. For example, to assist increased
provision of cycle training in England, the Department for Transport has
awarded grants of over £6 million in 2010-11 for "Bikeability" training.

The Government has also committed to providing £5 million to schools through
School Sports Partnerships in England to provide further Bikeability
opportunities. A further £500,000 has been made available in 2010-11 to
provide bursary grants for new instructors to help meet the increased demand
for Bikeability training. Schemes such as CyclingCity, CyclingTowns,
Skyride and 3 Feet Please are also proving successful locally and are
helping to promote cycling as a viable transport alternative.

The Government will be reviewing all spending throughout its Comprehensive
spending review, due to be published on October 20. Cycling England will be
considered throughout the review, alongside all Government expenditure
commitments.

Best wishes,

Zac Goldsmith"

Thursday, 14 October 2010

Letter to my MP re Cycling England

Email: timlennon@mac.com

Thursday 14 October 2010

Dear Mr.Goldsmith,

I'm writing on seeing that Cycling England is due to be cut in the
'bonfire of the quangos'. As per our previous discussion, this seems to
indicate that actually the Government has no real interest in
maintaining a national body, national standards, or national programmes
for cycling.

Cycling England is responsible for successes like the Bikeability
course and even the DoT's number suggest it is excellent value for
money (http://www.savecyclingengland.org/).

It's really hard for me to see how abolishing this very cheap body
(around £200k, apparently) is going to provide any value whatsoever for
our country, and I'd appreciate it if you would pursue the ministers
involved to understand just how they think devolving CE's role to local
authorities is in any way going to provide the same value or presence
that Cycling England has.

If you need more data or info to support discussion with them, please
don't hesitate to get back to me.

Yours sincerely,

Tim Lennon.