Tuesday 24 April 2018

Cambridge Cycling Campaign Election Survey 3: Conservatives

Lets be honest, in Cambridge the Tories are about as popular as a bacon and egg sandwich at a vegan convention, but they might just surprise us with a council candidate win if they had just the right candidate in just the right ward. But thats not the point - they're still part of the local democratic discourse here....

But not so much in my ward, Kings Hedges. Where Annette Karimi always stands, always loses. And doesn't answer this survey or indeed respond to anything else. She's a paper candidate and everyone knows it - no one even knows what she looks like. There are also no Tory answers in East Chesterton or Arbury. So the first I've found is down in West Chesterton, a chap called Mike Harford.

So, what are his (and his families) experiences of cycling and how does that shape his views?
I do cycle about town. I enjoy seeing families cycling together and exercising as people of all ages. However I am very aware of safety. My wife as a pedestrian and also a good friend have had injuries due to irresponsible cyclists . This area must be addressed . Cyclists with impunity cycle through banned areas. I would have local laws using traffic wardens to fine those whom break the law and endanger others which covers other cyclists and especially those with toddlers aboard.
Well that's a great start isn't it? Someone was hurt due to 'irresponsible cyclists'. What, some kind of pile up of 'irresponsible cyclists'? Is that what you mean? Or was someone hurt by one other person and you're for some reason holding us all responsible, and you're going to blame us all for it and seek to punish us by stopping us from 'banned areas'? Such as where, Mike? Sorry, but this is a terrible first impression.

Does he support 'Space for Cycling'?
 I fully support the idea of separate cycling zones and equally safe walking areas. All this should be structured in the upcoming environmental plans. Obviously this must be done within reasonable financial resources. So I do support your objectives.
Dude, we're spending £1.5bn + on the A14 - we can afford a few notes for cycle facilities.There is no financial restraint on road spending when its cars, don't ask us to beg for scraps. And I take issue with the fact that you feel the need to specify this is something only supported alongside safe walking zones - no one interested in good cycle infrastructure opposes that, why are you trying to play cyclists off against pedestrians? 

Does he support evidence based policing?
I enthusiastic endorse this view as already outlined. I was a County Councillor on Highways some time ago. Safety must always be a priority . I may not be popular by saying that motorists should not always take the blame.
Errm... What? Who said they should? Sorry like, but on three occasions in your first three answers you've had a little quiet dig at cyclists. I don't get it - do you just think we're too thick to spot that, or can you just not help yourself?

But wait, it gets better. What measures would support kids cycling to school? 
 Absolutely agree. I used to cycle to school. This is a health issue . Prevention of obesity comes to mind for a start. Loads of Chelsea Tractors clogging up roads is not good. However I think children could form small groups going to school together. I think parents have concerns about sex offenders and maybe a reason they don't cycle?
So its pretty obvious he doesn't like cyclists (from his first three answers). But he also doesn't like people in the wrong sort of car. And its potential rapists that stop children cycling, not drivers or lack of facilities. This is swivel-eyed stuff of epic proportions. 

Regarding planning and the load that falls on Camcycle to spot whats wrong with applications...
 I understand what you say but any planning must take account of all interested parties. To have a separate cycle planning officer would not help you. You already are lobbying well as are others. It is important to have good Councillors and officers to make good judgements. Unfortunately the quality of all these is often lacking.
Yes, it does have to take account of all parties - including cyclists. A cycling officer doesn't just do planning, they do a lot more than that - and its not the job of charities to fix problems missed because we don't fund the necessary scrutiny. You haven't really given any kind of answer here Mike - you just don't get it at all.

Regarding Histon and Milton Road junction plans and other junctions that need work...
 I agree with your campaign. Anything that keeps cyclists and pedestrians away from motorists is preferable especially in Cambridge.

Wrong. Wrong. Wrong. Wrong. WRONG.

Cycle lanes aren't to keep cyclists away from motorists. They're not. Thats not the point of them. The point of them is to provide fast, direct, safe routes to travel - if you start from the premise of keeping cyclists away from motorists you always end up with unrideable, indirect, badly thought out, poorly designed routes that no one uses. The point isn't to keep us out of your way, its to provide routes to encourage more people to cycle.  Gosh but so far this is a train-crash of a response from Mike.

For that ward there's a really interesting pavement and commuter parking question, thus:
All-day free parking by commuters on residential streets increases traffic on already congested roads. This has an impact on cycle safety. Many times cars are parked on pavements or across dropped kerbs, making access difficult for people with disabilities or pushing prams. How would you solve this problem?
 And his response... 
I am very strong on this. I used to live in Kensington where parking is very restricted between residents and paid parking. I would have this in all areas in Cambridge. Off Mill Road London commuters park there to avoid paying at the station. Parking on pavements is a difficult one to prevent. It is reasonable for people who live in the area to have space for a car.i In the same way I support your idea to have one space in every street for cycles. Unfortunately the area was not built for cars. However on a positive note in the future car ownership will seriously reduce due to new motorised technology so in time all will gradually get better.
Errm... What? You would have more paid parking? But you don't really care enough about disabled people to stop pavement parking? Dude I don't get the problem here - parent with a buggy, or person in a wheelchair, versus someone with a 'Chelsea tractor' as you put it dumping their private property in their way? Who do you favour? 

There's also a direct question on Arbury Road in this ward...
The eastern section of Arbury Road near Milton Road is narrow, filled with parked cars creating a cycle safety hazard, and speeding traffic far above the 20mph limit. How would you propose to create safe cycling conditions along this part of Arbury Road, for instance by extending the new cycle lanes?
And his answer is crap. 
 Some parking restrictions seems the best way.

There is one, and only one, workable answer. A quality cycle lane on the whole length of the road. I should point out that none of the candidates just come out and say this, although the Green and LibDems come closest.

And the last question, about Mitchams Corner, he just bottles. Honestly, I don't think Mikes heart is in it.  

Ok. So far so crap. Lets go find another. Martin Keegan is standing in Romsey. Experiences cycling and concerns for him and other family members?
I have never learnt to drive a car, thus I get around by cycle, train, Uber, planes, taxis and buses.
I was seriously injured in an accident on the Chisholm Trail last year when I fell off my own bicycle, and saw Stewart Milne on the ground as the ambulance arrived at the site of the crash that killed him, just a minute or two from where I now live. I can't imagine what it was like for his family.
These incidents have given me an even greater awareness of the importance of cycle safety. Having become able to cycle again a few weeks ago, I am now much more careful about the routes I take.
I live alone; if I had kids, I'd try to ensure they were risk-aware enough to be able to cycle independently, as I did from about the age of seven.
And again, I've got that sinking feeling. Notice its not about the risk presented by lack of or bad facilities. Its not about the risk posed by motorists mixing with cyclists (such as the collision that killed Stewart Milne that Martin refers to). Its about cyclists choosing safer routes - which, of course, if said route isn't taking you where you need to be, is nonsense. Oh, dear.

And does he support 'Space for Cycling'?

 I am a big believer in segregating cycling space from traffic and pedestrians, less so in reducing traffic per se. Transport choice is partly a matter for the private sector and partly the state: the Conservative government recently introduced the Bus Services Act 2017 allowing more local government involvement in organising bus services.
In terms of actual road infrastructure: motorists have been the principal beneficiaries of design decisions for several decades; this has influenced current attitudes and the cost of new measures. I do not approve of the "creepy demand management" measures that seem to crop up to try to coerce transport users' behaviour, in particular any congestion charging scheme that would undermine personal privacy.
Until recently, I lived on Great Eastern Street in Romsey, which is basically a pedestrian-unfriendly car-park and occasional building site. Workmen would literally use the road outside my bedroom for preparing building materials, and there were often considerable difficulties parking bicycles in a manner which didn't interfere with pedestrian access given the very narrow pavements.
The speed-bumps and other anti-car infrastructure in the heart of Romsey make life difficult for cyclists as well. Romsey has unusual arrangements for car parking and traffic; measures clearly designed for facilitating cycling, like those little single-lane cycle paths too often end up benefiting no-one as they're used for parking wheelie bins and otherwise obstructed.

So.... Errrm... Does he? He supports letting the free market decide rather than influencing behviour with policy, but that policy largely favours motorists and doesn't work for cycling, such as the examples he's given? Seems to me that free-market ideology matters most to him, and everything else has to be shoehorned in around that. His answer here is nonsense.

Now his answer to the next question is even worse. The question is the old 'evidence based policing' one, namely:
Safe use of the roads is a major issue. Our view is that traffic policing, of all groups of road users (cyclists, drivers, etc.), should become a greater police priority, and that this should be evidence-based, namely based on the relative levels of danger presented by each such group. What are your thoughts, and where would your priorities be?
His answer:
 The question doesn't distinguish between the cost of harm, the probably of harm, and the costs of preventing or mitigating harm.
Well, no, because the question isn't about harm, its about evidence and policing. I note that this candidate seems very concerned about 'costs' and not at all about 'values'. It isn't clear whether he's interested in 'evidence' or even 'policing' from this answer.

As for kids cycling to school, this question:  
 We are keen to see more children being able to cycle safely to school independently. Ideas from our members to assist this include protected space for cycling, parking/pickup bans 200m of schools, cycle parking. What measures would you suggest?
He replies with...
 I don't have kids, and am not an expert. I grew up in a different era, in a city much more conducive to safer cycling by children. The types of measures contemplated in the question don't strike me as likely to be practical in making a difference. There is probably a way of changing the culture, but it should be done gradually and by consent.
You can't change culture by just wishing for it. No city, anywhere in the world, has achieved mass cycling or improvements in cyclist safety by wishing for some nebulous concept of cultural change to just happen. This is complete nonsense - safe cycling facilities and changing how parents get to school by requiring cars park further away has been proven to work. 

Regarding planning:

The planning system is not fit for purpose. It's a very complicated problem that can only really be solved by Parliament, but the last few decades have presented numerous legislative opportunities to all the major parties, and the Liberal Democrats. Conservative councillors such as Chris Howell were vocal in opposing the Station Square catastrophe. We are less likely to take an indulgent attitude to the officers, and we need to get back on the city council to resume this spirited opposition.
Again, thats just weird. It doesn't acknowledge the problems as discussed in the question and it doesn't  really answer the question other than saying 'vote Tory'. 

This ward has a local Mill Road question, which is...
Mill Road is one of the premier high streets in the country. It is also an important cycle route since it crosses the railway. But it is also covered with badly-parked cars and plagued by speeding motorists who disregard the safety of people walking and cycling. During the Mill Road Winter Fair we get a glimpse of an alternative Mill Road, one that provides an amazing public space that people can really enjoy. For the rest of the year, how would you like to see Mill Road improved so that it can be a better place for people living there, shopping and visiting?
 This is an excellent question - Mill Road is loud, congested, polluted and absolutely hostile to cycling. And the response is...

My phones' image galleries are full of badly parked cars on Mill Road, albeit the bit that's in Petersfield, but the tailbacks that can be caused by a single illegally parked car can stretch all the way to Romsey (I had a photo of this too somewhere).
As it happens, I am not a big fan of closing roads for the Winter Fair and I don't agree with the premise that it provides an amazing public space. Some people don't feel welcome and I am one of them.
The Mill Road traders have recently had a tough couple of years but it must be possible to improve the way deliveries are currently handled.
I'm struggling to express how little I understand this response. Mill Road Fair (and the Winter Fair) attract many thousands of people who spend lots of money in the shops, stalls, and cafes there. Its a colossal success enjoyed by, well, a colossal and diverse array of people. I've never heard anyone say they feel unwelcome there - this 'some people' would appear to be this guy. He's also failed to give us any credible suggestions for fixing the problems on Mill Road - yeah, illegal parking, thats one thing. What about the buses? How about the extra traffic that housing developments are bringing? What about pollution? 

His answer on pavement parking and fly-parking shows he hasn't understood the problem or what powers the City Council has. 

There's another hyper-local question regarding Mill Road bridge, and its a good one:
 Overtaking on Mill Road Bridge is highly dangerous and scary for many people who cycle, from parents with children to very experienced people. The police response so far has been extremely limited. Instead, we would like to see high-profile, concerted action resulting in prosecutions. What are your views?
 Martins answer is stupid. 
I have always advocated crowdfunding private criminal prosecutions where the police and the CPS are letting crime get out of hand and the community needs to act, though I don't expect the Cambridge Cycling Campaign to share my radicalism in this matter.
Thats not radical. Its unworkable. Individuals can't identify perpetrators of illegal overtakes, we haven't the resources. You aren't being radical by advocating a dumb idea, you're just being dumb.

He has replied to whether some street space used for car storage (a term he gently takes issue with) by complaining bikes get stolen outside in the last question. And, thats it.

Thats our two Tory candidates looked at. And I've got to say, I've rarely encountered a more pointless bunch. What a load of total crap. 

If cyclists being treated with respect is important to you, don't vote Tory. Zero out of 10. Just don't bother. 

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