Wednesday 30 January 2013

Boycott Cambridge News

I can't claim credit for this idea, its the brainchild of Cottenham Cyclist who if anything has a bigger beef with Cambridge News than I do.

I can't find anyone who cycles in Cambridge, and who is aware of the local news output from Cambridge News (formerly just the newspaper Cambridge Evening News but now I suspect more familiar to most through its website) who believes that this increasingly hysterical 'news' source is interested in fair, unbiased reporting on cycling issues; it seems to many of us that they simply won't miss a chance to brew up trouble for us, to stir things up, and to troll for anti-cyclist hate.

My response? Well, my response has been to bite back. But @cotnm has come up with another idea - boycott them.

I mean, really, the world won't end if we get our local news from other sources. There are plenty of them (see article from Cottenham Cyclist). And maybe the best thing to do to shut off this constant drip, drip, drip of nasty is to hit them where it hurts - in the hit counter.

So for February, please, please, please ignore the crap out of the Cambridge News. Use the hashtag #boycottCN to spread the word - lets get these unrepentant cyclist haters to realise that what they're doing matters.

Tuesday 29 January 2013

This is where I nearly died today

I present Milton Road, Cambridge.

Not much to look at is it? Its got an off road lane on the right there, but you're sharing with pedestrians (basically parents and kids at commuting time) and, as often as not, cars coming and going across it. But going in to town (the way you're looking in the map above) you're sharing a bus lane - which isn't bad, for the most part. Besides, that off road route vanishes at the junction up ahead - you can't ride it all the way to the city centre because even badly surfaced, shared use pedestrian slaloms aren't designed in a joined up way...

Now click on the little forward pointy arrow - just once. You'll see that right where you need some protection, right where the road narrows and there is a junction, all of the protection you have vanishes. For me, this morning that meant that cars were queuing from the junction back to the bus lane (that junction to the right leads to Gilbert Road) - and a flat bed articulated lorry pulled up in the lane to my right, right next to me. You can guess whats coming next, can't you?

The lorry wasn't indicating left - and obviously I couldn't tell if he was instead indicating right! When the lights changed he put his foot down and went for it, straight in to the lane I was in (thus going straight on, changing in to the left hand lane). I can be very, very loud when I have to be, but not as loud as he was leaning on his horn in response!

Go back to the image above, click on the forward arrow a couple more times, look at the space between the traffic island and the pavement. That gap is where, daily, motorists expect to go through two abreast regardless of whether they're grating a cyclist against that railing on the left. Oddly enough I find turning right there much easier than going straight on, at least there is no expectation of driving through the space I'm in if I'm in the right turn lane.

While waiting at the lights I saw four other cyclists. Three kids illegally mounted the pavement, rode to the left of the railing and back on to the road - none of them risked their lives in doing so, none nearly went under the wheels of a lorry. Another (pensioner I should think from the look of her) mounted the pavement and came back on to the road at the pedestrian crossing - that one therefore arguably also went through a red light. Oh, she also didn't nearly die as a lorry came within two feet of her.

Never mind, you're thinking. This is Cambridge, surely there's a plan for sorting this kind of thing out? Of course there is. We're prioritising antisocial cyclists who mount the pavement right there because they're the ones causing problems


Thats right. 

At a terrifying junction where motorists, daily, scare children and old folks off the road, where if you stay on the road you will face people trying to drive right through you, our councillors have decided that its cyclists who are the problem. Not the motorists intimidating them, they can do as they choose. They're targetting US.

Welcome to Cambridge - where the sheer number of cyclists on the roads brings out the very worst in a cyclist hating establishment every bit as pathetic and narrow minded as everywhere else in the UK. Be under no illusions - City and County Councillors involved in making that decision have declared themselves our enemy.

So, readers, what should one do at that junction? Ride legally on the road and, sooner or later, be sideswiped (yes, even if you're assertively in primary position, drivers coming from the right hand lane are VERY angry if you do that)? Or ride illegally on the pavement and maybe live to see another day? 

Monday 28 January 2013

Cambridge News just don't let up...

And I don't blame them - as things stand now, they've got 108 comments. That means people coming back time and again, keeping the hit counter ticking over, generating hits, thus revenue. I don't know anyone who buys a paper copy of Cambridge News any more - at one time people used to for the jobs and small ads, now its awful hard for kids on paper rounds which are longer and harder because ever fewer people want a paper delivered. Trolling Cambridge to get more hits is, I suppose, one solution in a shrinking market place.

Lets put this story into context - if the allegation there is true then some complete gobshite got off far too lightly. And there my sympathy for the journalist ends. All the article then goes on to do is to offer a platform to someone who doesn't like cyclists.

We can of course go through the article, pick out the points therein, and refute them. Such as the claim that were this a motorist there would have been a harsher punishment, a blatantly false claim when so many killer motorists walk free. But, bluntly, why the hell would I? What, so because someone who has had a bad incident now holds that against people who are in no way at all related to what happened, who are neither responsible for or in any way involved in the incident, we're expected to get all apologetic? No, no, no. That  fantasy isn't worthy of a reasoned response.

What really is worthy of response is just how blatantly bad our local paper is being towards cyclists yet again. I've covered this before - basically if you hate cyclists because they ride over a bridge they're allowed to ride over or because you have a grudge against all of us for the actions of one, thats enough for our local paper to treat it as a story. In todays News you'll note that the Police have had no complaint or request for further investigation on this matter - this fact conveniently tucked away at the bottom of the page. 

You'll also note yet more of the same complaining there as we always see - cyclists still using the pavements on Gilbert Road (who'd have thought it, cyclists avoiding fast, dangerous traffic using the pavement rather than inadequate cycle lanes), on Tennis Court Road (an almost impossibly narrow, allegedly 20mph road which I can assure you motorists will readily drive at twice the speed limit on - riding on the pavement doesn't seem like an unlikely survival strategy there). While the journalist could have used this as a springboard to demonstrate the clear, suppressed demand we have for segregated cycle routes in Cambridge instead we've got an article that amounts to being a cheap shot at cyclists. Again.

Let me be clear - if a cyclist has hurt you on the pavement or by going through a red light, you have my sympathy. But if you extend that into any kind of view against cyclists rather than the individual who harmed you or, worse, you publicise such a stance as if its reasonable then I'm sorry - much of that sympathy has gone now.

Do you suppose Cambridge News will contact this cyclist for comments about motorists in general? I doubt it. After all, they didn't even allow comments on an article covering a cyclist knocked off and injured by a taxi driver - be under no illusions, Cambridge cyclists - this newspaper is not our ally. Its out to drum up as much anger against us as it can. 

I doubt whether anyone from Cambridge News is reading this. If you are, you can refute my arguments here simply enough - lets see some news stories from the cycling perspective. I don't mean some faux concern that a cycle bridge has a dent in it (yes, really, they covered that). You can find relevant information on whats happening to cyclists on our roads readily enough. The only question remaining is whether there is a single cyclist in the city who is willing to talk to you.

Monday 21 January 2013

Snowmageddon hits Cambridge Motorists

Turns out that most motorists in Cambridge are, in fact, morons when it comes to knowing what to do in the snow.

Gladys didn't know what had come over her

The evidence is simple and clear enough on a snowy day like this - all you have to do is count the number of motorists after overnight snow, and subtract from that the number who obey rule 229 of the highway code. Don't get me wrong - this isn't me being anti-motorist, in fact some of my best friends are motorists. But they must expect some criticism when they all act like this...

I don't expect anyone to be able to say what numbered rule in the Highway Code says, but I do hope that everyone knows what the rules are as apply to them and their mode of transport - and if you drive a car in snow there are certain rules you have to follow. The most obvious is don't drive around in a car covered with snow - clear the snow off the windows (ALL of them), the number plates, your mirrors, your lights, and any other snow that could blow off and cause a problem for any other road users (including pedestrians and cyclists). Hardly rocket science.

I counted 136 who didn't clear snow properly, who either had covered mirrors, windows or number plates, or who had an inch or more of snow on the roof and who were thus shedding. I counted 21 who were not breaking this law - I assume many of them were parked overnight in garages - for the most part these legal cars weren't just cleaned of snow, they were entirely free of it.

Or, in other words, about 87% of motorist in Cambridge this morning broke the law with regard clearing snow from their cars. This correlates nicely with what we already know about motorists breaking the law - the average British driver scoffs at the law, knowing that the Police in the UK don't give a monkeys about the daily lawlessness that blights every village, town and city in the land.

The lesson for cyclists? Treat motorists like the hardened criminals they keep proving themselves, en mass, to be. Fed up with getting a face full of snow when one of these white knuckled rage filled buffoons passes too close and too fast on icy roads, spewing slush from their wheels and white snow in your face? I'd suggest getting in touch with your police force, but they're just another branch of the motoring lobby so they won't give a crap either - I've tweeted the above image at Cambridge Police and their online twitter traffic cop, whats the betting nothing comes of it? 

So, dear readers, what the heck do we do about this? Would, as one friend suggested, asking at the next junction 'want a hand with your snow, mate?' before pushing white stuff from the roof down over the letterbox they've cleared to see through be considered hostile? I suspect it probably would...

Friday 11 January 2013

20mph Zone Coming to Cambridge. Sort of.

Eventually. Assuming it emerges from the deep grass its in.

By which I mean its still, for no obvious reason, two  years away, and then its being brought in bit by bit. And as on those roads that are already 20mph the police openly admit they don't enforce the speed limit anyway. I wonder whether these two facts may be linked and that, ultimately, our council is giving itself plenty of time and space to back out.

We are, at present, still getting it though. I approve, but lets be clear about what this is and what it isn't. It IS a great way to make streets safer for those already using them. In an urban area like Cambridge the evidence is clear - this can save lives. Don't fall for the quite outlandish stats that showed there was a rise in casualties in 20mph zones - that completely ignored the massive expansion of 20mph zones. If you go from practically none to quite a lot of such spaces, of course more people will be injured in them. The key comparison is between 20mph and 30mph zones, and the evidence is strong.

But this IS NOT a substitute for good quality cycling provision - while we should support this it must be clear that it is no alternative to segregated, high quality cycling provision, nor should we pander to jumped up, self important  local politicians who will spin this as a victory for cycling. It isn't - at best its an attempt to buy us off without giving us any of the road space we need and deserve, at worst it is cynically twisting something we're meant to see as an 'anti-car' news story to imply that it must be 'pro-cyclist' - and we of course know that the two are not synonymous.

The best evidence that this is not meant to help us out comes from the 'major' roads (by Cambridge standards - they'd not be in a large city) excluded from the plan. Milton Road and Histon Road are two such examples. Histon Road is home to a tremendously hostile sub-1m wide cycle lane, and Milton Road we know is a particular bogey with local cyclists who are bullied on to a bad shared use facility and then hassled by the Police who don't know where this facility ends any better than the cyclists do. Coming from the North of the City these two roads are the major access routes that cyclist will still have to use if they are commuting or coming to the city for liesure, and this proposal specifically excludes those key cling routes. This, quite obviously, makes no sense.

Looking at Google Maps I see that its about 2.5km from the Science Park to Mitchams Corner - or in other words there's a mile and a half of Milton Rod in Cambridge. At 30mph all the way, including the roundabouts, traffic lights etc. a car would cover that in three minutes. At 20mph it would take four and a half minutes. But of course you can't 'do the speed limit' all the way down - add on 30 seconds for the lights at Arbury Road (I'm being optimistic...), another 30 seconds at the roundabout, another 30 seconds at Gilbert Road (I know, this is the best run down Milton Road you've ever heard of...), lets assume one of the pedestrian crossings stop you or it takes some time at the Science Park, thats another 2 minutes in total. Then there's acceleration time... The most super-optimistic calculation shows you could save a minute and a half on a journey of six and a half minutes, almost certainly when you factor in time to reach the speed limit and you're down to saving well under a minute. And for that, we're sacrificing any improvement in cyclist and pedestrian safety on the routes into and out of Cambridge.

Make no mistake, this is NOT the act of a City Council dedicated to making the city a safe place for pedestrians - Milton Road and Histon Road are lined with homes, pubs, shops, side roads leading to schools, doctors surgeries... These are not main arterial roads, they're suburban roads full of homes that people should feel safe coming and going from. And they're the routes that people other than motorists MUST use to get to the City - bridges over the A14 restrict us to such routes, its all we've got. And we're saying that this 20mph zone is meant to be for cyclists and pedestrians? Thats rubbish.

So welcome this initiative if you like. But keep the pressure up for real improvements for cyclists. 

Tuesday 8 January 2013

Are Cambridgeshire Motorists all Criminals?

Seems like an inflammatory question, I know. But hear me out before writing me off as a loony!

We know that there have been various surveys done over the years asking people whether they speed, or use hand held mobile phones, etc. And we know that the national picture is incredibly depressing - survey after survey reminding us that dangerous road use is endemic. And with so many surveys we can start drawing some conclusions as to what proportion of motorists really are criminals on our roads. Back of an envelope style, anyway. Most commonly quoted figure is 70% of motorists admit to speeding in the UK - I'll use that to be getting on with (although I wonder how any simply don't admit it?).

When a local police chap started to talk on twitter about how many speeding offences they've recorded from the start of last April to, well, yesterday, my nose started twitching and I got that 'oh, we can do some sums now' feeling. And then I realised that these sums will necessarily require some hand waving... but heck, lets do it anyway.

27,542 speeders caught in that period in Cambrideshire. Obviously thats not all different people, nor is it one person taking the piss. That means more than 97 per day, 35648 per year if its not a leap year. Which is a hell of a number.

There are 622,000 people in Cambridgeshire according to Wikipedia. Out of 62,500,000 (again, Wikipedia) people in the UK. So we're about 1% of the population. Lets therefore assume we've got about 1% of the motorists - best answer I can find is 38,000,000 in the UK. We now see that, on average, there is 1 recorded speeding incident per 9 motorists in the county. Or, the figure for speeding offences is 11% of the figure for how many motorists there are.

But, you cry out, what about all those surveys saying that 70% of motorists admit to speeding? Yes, you're right - what that means is even if you do speed, over the year you've got almost a 6 in 7 chance of not getting caught. The probability of getting caught, on any particular day, is absurdly low (and presently I hope to remember how to do that sum...). If you speed where you know there are no speed cameras you're pretty certain not to get caught, of course.

Right, thats a lot of averaging things out and guessitmating, but my figures won't be FAR out - if they're off  by much for Cambridgeshire then rest assured they're right for the Cambridgeshire population as a percentage of the UK, and there is no reason to assume that this county is particularly odd in this regard. What conclusions can we draw?

Firstly, speeding is a massive problem here, like everywhere. And its something you can do and get away with if you know where the speed cameras are. Frankly the odds on any given day of getting caught are next to nil. Catching one out of every nine of these offenders per year? Cambridgeshire Constabulary, you are not doing enough. Sorry, there it is.

Secondly, the police do love to come out with big numbers but they're not quite so good at putting them into context - I find the figure of 1 recorded offence per 9 motorists per year, when we know that 70% of motorists speed, particularly annoying. What sounds like a cracking figure from the cops isn't really as great as all that, in context of how massive the problem is. In that context its frighteningly poor.

These 'danger motorists' are risking our lives and getting away with it. But thats okay, we've got a PCC now. He'll be on their case. No? Oh dear. Well, never mind, our local papers can bring the reality of this to the attention of the populace, surely they must want a story like this which puts any of the woes about cycling into context? No? Oh dear. Well, thats okay, after all the PCC doesn't interfere with operational matters and a police force like ours must have the sense to realise that its these dangerous motorists who are causing, statistically speaking, all of the problems. No? Oh deary me. 

Ok, you've read it now. Feel free to call me a loony.

Monday 7 January 2013

Cycle Lane Hogging - Cambridge Style!

The cycle bridge down by Cambridge Station really is a good facility - cyclists on one side pedestrians on the other. And no cars. Its a key part of joining our city up for cyclists. Here's an image from Geograph (a cool resource, this contribution copyright of a chap called Finlay Cox)

The entrance from the Rustat Road entrance has had a bit of a problem with the wooden bollard here being knackered, but thats a triviality really, I mean no one could possibly mistake the covered bridge labelled as a cycle bridge as anything else. Could they?

View Larger Map

I mean, its pretty bleeding obvious that this is a cycle bridge. Pan around a bit on that street view above. Look at the markings. And then ask yourself why a guy in a Jaguar decided to try to drive over it.

Genuine mistake? Maybe. But once he's gone up there it sounds very like he's just kept going - he got at least to the top of the bridge before going back. So a mistake compounded by what, hoping that it'll all just work out okay somehow? 

What strikes me most about this is that even where we do okay for cycling facilities, there is nothing that can be created for cyclists that some motorist won't try to mess up for us!

UPDATE: Gosh, but look, Cambridge News have worked out why this happened. And apparently the motorist was 'unobservant'.

Interestingly, when the local police were staking out a section of pavement cyclists were using beyond the completely unlabelled end of the cycle lane, no mention that they were 'unobservant' or indeed anything other than unquestioning reporting that the cyclists were in the wrong. And where cyclists are legally using a different cycle bridge in Cambridge, the same local paper seems to be trolling for more anti-cyclist sentiment.

Doesn't take a genius to see what side our local paper is in the phoney war on Britains roads, does it?

'Crackdown on Cyclists' based on ignorance

Its official.

Graham Bright, PCC for Cambridgeshire, could not have based his crackdown on 'danger' cyclists on analysis of accident stats in Cambridge (and as good bash at said analysis as you'll see, which is actually quite hard, can be seen here) because he holds no information about that.

Or in other words, Graham Bright declared war on 'danger cyclists' without ascertaining whether said danger is or is not real. He based his policy, which is to encourage the expenditure of dwindling resources, on his own view which he can neither defend nor justify with any reference to any accident data, at all.

Need I remind readers that Graham Bright did not win a majority of votes within Cambridge? So a man who the majority of Cambridge residents do not choose to represent them, has imposed a police priority in a demonstrable vacuum of knowledge?

Are you listening Cambridge News? This is a scandal. Why aren't you reporting this as a scandal? Oh, thats right, you obviously side with Graham Bright in hating cyclists.

Sunday 6 January 2013

Comments - No longer anonymous...

By all means disagree with what I write here - the intention of this blog isn't to preach, I'm writing many of the posts in a calculated, provocative style. Thats the point of them - cyclists need to put their case forward in as straight forward and direct way as others do, and stop being so apologetic about not wanting people killing us on the road.

But there have been a few comments from 'anonymous' that have been rather too 'hit and run' critical in my view. Stand by your words - man the feck up.

So anonymous comments are now blocked. Open ID or Google identification will work.

So, Anonymous, you still there?

New Cycle Park 2: Push Bike Along Pavement, THEN Upstairs

Couldn't make it up.

Here's the animation for how to get to the proposed bike park by Cambridge Station.

So, building this from fresh, I've got to ride or, I assume, push my bike 50-100m along a pavement slaloming parked cars, pedestrians and trees, and then I've got to dismount and push or carry my bike up the stairs?

Bugger that for a lark. Unacceptable. Oxford Architects? The clue is in the name - this is Oxbridge sabotage gone mental. Go back and start again from scratch. What we need is PERFECTLY simple - a cycle park we can blody well cycle to, and in which we can cycle to get somewhere near the locking spaces. You wouldn't build a car park where the driver has to get out and push, if you think its appropriate to ask cyclists to do so you're a grade 1 idiot.

This. Is. Not. Good. Enough. Fix it.

Friday 4 January 2013

Cambridge Evening News - Why do you hate us?

Actually, they don't. It just appears that they profit out of building up hate towards us - which in practical terms is the same thing.

Look at it this way; half of the population of Cambridge ride a bike. Not every day, but within the city itself that means something between a fifth and a quarter of the share of traffic is cyclists - we're somewhat worse when it comes to getting people across the boundaries of Cambridge, in and out of the city under their own steam, but by British standards we're a cycling city -THE cycling city

The other half of the population walk, drive, or travel by bus and/or train. Pretty much everyone in Cambridge travels by more than one mode, it would be stupid to assume that the city is made up of 'cyclists' and 'everyone else'.

But that 50% figure is just too tempting for our local paper, the Cambridge News Online (or Cambridge Evening News, depending on what you're used to calling it). They've got an issue that neatly divides the city, and boy, are they exploiting it.

Its not easy being a local paper these days - the once lucrative ads sections have long been under threat from  an ever expanding stream of social media and sales sites online. Who wants to pay to advertise their car in the local paper any more when you can flog it more or less for free online? The formerly fascinating list of bric-a-brac you'd see for sale in the ads part of newspapers, the thing that many used to buy the paper for, is pretty much gone now. The small ads are sparse - the golden era of local papers prospering on such ads is a thing of the past.

To survive these papers have to have an online presence, one that generates a significant number of hits; if they can get people coming back time and time again to read the comments section (content that has real value to them, that their readers add for free!) then that is a bonus.

Bluntly local paper Cambridge paper has no financial interest in reasoned, level headed articles about cycling. They want to generate anger - they want bile from cyclists, they want anger from motorists. They want this to remain a divisive subject. Don't believe me? Lets look at one of their (many) recent articles on the subject
Signs banning cycling on a Cambridge footbridge should be removed and measures put in to reduce tension between riders and pedestrians.
That is the call from Cambridge Cycling Campaign, which wants the Green Dragon bridge, a key city route, properly opened up for shared use.
This refers to the most recent newsletter of the Cambridge Cycling Campaign - note that  in said newsletter the Campaign (and my regular readers will know I'm no staunch defender of the Campaign - they do some things well, other things not so well) make it entirely clear that there is no ambiguity as to whether cyclists are 'bannned' from crossing. We're allowed to ride over that bridge, to do so is entirely legal, despite advisory signs asking us not to. 

Bottom line - no one is saying that signs banning cycling there should be removed. The signs there do not ban cycling.

In fairness to the CEN, they go into this in a little more detail further on, but they then come out with this absolute howler:
But the move is unpopular with some. Ronan McLister, landlord of the Green Dragon, which is opposite the bridge, believes it should be pedestrian-only, saying only about one in 20 cyclists dismounts.
He said: “The cyclists do not slow down and you’ve got parents pushing prams along there. The cyclists rule the highways, They want to rule the pathways too.”

From this of course we can immediately draw some conclusions - that 95% of cyclists don't think that this is a safety issue is one, or that as the 95th percentile have chosen its not an issue the signage should be made more clear to reflect that this 95% aren't breaking the law anyway. We could conclude that if its as dangerous as all that there will be plenty of data to support this claim; data on pedestrian injuries on the bridge. Data that is conspicuously absent from the article...

That the Green Dragon is no longer a pub worthy of the custom of cyclists in Cambridge is another (more obvious, in my view) conclusion you may reach. Seriously Mr. McLister? We rule the highways and want to rule the pathways? Are you listening to yourself? Have you ever ridden through the traffic in Cambridge? Wow. I'll be keeping well away from HIS pub if he's got that attitude towards 50% of the population of Cambridge! Guys, do you want to run a successful business in Cambridge? Start by not alienating half of the population. How is it that you don't understand that?

There are problems if you want to ride over that bridge when its busy - I was there on New Years Day with another two cyclists, and we dismounted to cross because of the number of pedestrians (95% don't dismount? My arse!). When its quieter I ride straight over - it is after all legal and safe to do so. When its frosty it can be hazardous, but my answer for that would be to grit it rather than close it to cyclists - and I'm sure pedestrians would benefit from gritting it too. Instead our local paper gives further credence to the same guy saying there should be barriers to stop us sliding on the ice because we end up in the road? How single minded do you have to be to not point out that gritting would solve this?

This is pretty typical fodder from the CEN - look at articles therein over the last few weeks. There isn't any analysis of whether the claims made against cyclists are accurate or fair - its a news source that is happy to repeat any anti-cyclist story - missing the real stories such as the fact that the police were staking out a junction were the end of the cycle route is completely unlabelled, the PCC spouting nonsense that is not supported by accident or injury data, and there is simply no analysis whatsoever of naff County Council pathos.

I'm not asking for the CEN to suddenly become the cyclists best buddy - I understand, guys, you've got to get hits on your site and you phrase articles, especially headlines, in such a way as to get them. But take a step back and ask whether you can achieve the same, or more, through applying better analysis to these stories before you release them? What would you rather have, a juicy article where the PCC is shown to be wasting police resources over issues that are responsible for a tiny proportion of cyclist injuries, or merely another one where people keep coming back to say they hate cyclists? Would you like an article exposing the poposity of county councillors (that'll keep everyone entertained for hours) or do you just want to troll for  anti-cyclist hate?

It isn't (or shouldn't be) the job of journalists merely to report opinion - and as can be seen from the article on the Green Dragon Bridge they're not even doing that - they're seeking to perpetuate the so-called 'war on the roads' - why else would you start the article with the complete fantasy that cycling there is prohibited? Surely a journalist doesn't want to merely be a 'content provider' who generates 'hits' for revenue - you want to be someone exposing the truth. Come on guys, can't we have real journalism reflecting the real issues rather than this road-warmongering?