Sunday 20 October 2013

Cambridge News Trollumnism. Again.

Background to this story; someone turned up at a council meeting and hated on cyclists. They opposed the idea that people should be able to cycle in the city centre of Britain's most cycled town at all, with special reference to us being allowed to lock up bikes there.

This was based on the problem of cyclists being silent so blind people may struggle to be aware of us. 

To the best of my knowledge there has never been a complete ban on cycling through the middle of Cambridge - restrictions on cycling in the city centre prior to 2005 were incomprehensible, with some roads being banned for cycling for some of the time. Near identical roads, with similar numbers of pedestrians, were handled differently - with few repeat signs within the area thus restricted such that you could lock your bike in the city centre somewhere and re-mount later with no reason to believe that such wouldn't be allowed. It didn't work - which is why we replaced that with a city centre 'pedestrian zone' in 2005, with gated routes that allow cyclists through and signs saying 'drivers and cyclists look out for pedestrians' (I worry about those - are they telling motorists pedestrians are fair game elsewhere?).

Now, one person stood up in a council meeting and called for this to be rescinded. One person who, really, would benefit from exactly the same thing cyclists would - sufficient good cycle parking facilities such that bikes don't restrict pedestrian walkways, and clear, safe, designated routes for cyclists AND pedestrians to minimise the risk of conflict. We're on the same side. Whats more, for many folk who don't get around so well bikes are an invaluable mobility tool. Heck, Cambridge even has an excellent bunch of folk offering advice and try-outs on specialist bikes for this.

Now, this isn't newsworthy. Someone dislikes cyclists and uses a public platform to say so - not news. Some cyclists are inconsiderate and that gets some peoples goats - no more news than any other 'x' folk sometimes annoy 'y' folk. Its a complete non event. 

Calls for a fresh ban on cycling in Cambridge city centre have been made – because of “inconsiderate” riders
There you have it, right there - one person complaining. Calls for a ban. Singular request, immediately conflated to plural 'calls'. 

The rest of the report makes it clear that this. is. not. a. story. The reporter knows this - yet there it is, the inflammatory headline, sufficient to make it look as if we're at the centre of an epidemic of antisocial cyclists mowing down disabled folk.

Lets be clear - in drumming up false hate between the disabled and cyclists, Cambridge News is the enemy of both groups. We want the same thing - why is it that the Cambridge News doesn't?  This isn't news - its a footnote of a council meeting yet somehow because its anti-cyclist its a full story in the local paper. So much is said at such meetings, much of it isn't reported. So many views are expressed - the majority barely get a mention. Yet one person wants cyclists banned from the city centre and thats a whole news story?

Get a sense of proportion Cambridge News. And try to become part of a community rather than a troll for hate amongst it. You don't have to be so damned divisive to report the news.

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