Friday 22 November 2013

Its the little things Police say that reveal so much...

A few comments from the Met. Police Commissoinner have rather reminded me that people often get the BIG stuff right when talking about cycling, but reveal their innate attitudes toward how things are and should be on the roads via the little things.

Take, for example, these comments from the aforementioned Sir Bernard Horgan Howe.
"Of course some people don't have the choice, economically.
"If you've got someone who can't afford to take a car into the congestion zone, if they did, you can't park it anyway.
"I understand why they take the choice, [but] it wouldn't be mine."
So cyclists are paupers who can't afford to drive or who aren't important enough to warrant their own parking space, eh Bernie? Trouble with your offensive generalisation is that it is, as ever, wrong - TFL data shows that cyclists in London (thats where you are Bernie, in case you're confused) have higher than average income. So while yes, undoubtedly cycling makes enormous economic sense, most cyclists are not driven to this because they have no other economic choice - the majority are doing it because its the best way to get around in a congested city. Will the Met never learn that stereotyping gets them in to trouble?

So we're paupers, basically. We cycle because we're poor, at least thats what the Mets boss thinks.

Closer to home I'm reminded of Inspector Poppitt of Cambrideshire Constabulary. While its gratifying that the people who answer tweets on behalf of the local police will be telling him to get his language right and stop saying 'road tax' I rather think that they could also do with getting 'vehicle excise duty' correct.

In itself a little error in terminology mightn't be such a revealing thing - although this does reinforce a very damaging myth. Its when we go and look to see what else Inspector Poppitt has to say about road policing that I start to worry (in that link you'll see that Inspector Poppitt basically wriggles out of accepting that he should police pavement parking).

It isn't always the big statements that tell us things - everyone in every position of responsibility will say that they support cycling, that cycling is a good thing to be encouraged. They'll say that they support the rule of law, that people should obey the law and act responsibly to make the lot of pedestrians better. Scratch the surface though, and it transpires that really caring about the needs of cyclists or pedestrians is a rare thing among the motoring classes.

Oh well. I suppose I can always walk down the road dodging vehicles next time the pavements are blocked by parked cars that there is no public interest in dealing with. If as an impoverished cyclist I can afford shoes, that is.


  1. It would be a great pity if that rusty shopping cart that you were SURE would fit between the wall & the pavement-parked car actually scratched that car, wouldn't it?

  2. I'm fed up of it - I'm thinking of standing for the PCC role next time it's up for election - on a platform of I want the police off their backsides and out road traffic policing - what do you think?

    1. Can't be worse than the PCC's we got this time.

    2. Good luck convincing the car-bound-by-choice rural Tories of that.

    3. So that's who drives around the city centre; car-bound-by-choice rural Tories! I knew it couldn't be the city dwellers or socialists, their post codes and politics obviously make them unimpeachably righteous. Thanks for solving the mystery, Hester!