Monday, October 9, 2017

How not to build a cycle park

A brand new, recently opened office building in Cambridge has been built with the worst cycle parking access I have ever seen. The block attracts some of the highest rents in the city, and there are very limited car parking spaces available to people working in the block, so almost everyone is expected to arrive by bike, foot or public transport. You're going to need a big cycle park, and here it is, in the basement of the building:


So far so good. But I am full of admiration for the cyclists that have managed to get their bikes down there. This is the challenge required to use it...

Having got through the double door entrance, its down two steep flights of stairs, either carrying your bike, or using the slippery side ramps:




Then that special late addition to the original planning application, a sharp right angled turn:


And then its on to the third flight of stairs, and finally on through the two sets of fire doors:


A fit, able-bodied cyclist with a light bike and no panniers would struggle with these stairs - anyone else - I suspect the cycle park is utterly useless. For the lucky few with car parking spaces, there is of course a ramp that would be much better for cyclists:


But any cyclist daring to try using this faces the wrath of the building managers. Remember this is a brand new, high profile office building in the cycling capital of the UK - how has something so rubbish been built? Do we blame the developers who built it, or the Council that gave it planning permission? Perhaps we should ask Alexa?

If you are fed up with this kind of nonsense, please considering joining the Charity Camcycle (https://www.camcycle.org.uk/membership/join/) - Camcycle volunteers spend a lot of time reviewing and commenting on planning applications to try stopping stuff like this getting through - sometimes complaints are ignored by the planners, sometimes late amendments slip through the net, but many, many times applications are improved for cyclists with benefits for all road users.



Friday, June 9, 2017

Letting off Steam

Its difficult to express how angry I am with Teresa May and the Conservative Party right now. 

I spent many years actively involved in the party - I was elected twice to Cambridge City Council, where despite the efforts of an entire constituency association since we currently have no Councillors. I gave up investing my time in vast quantities because of frustration at how useless the party was, and how hard the resistance to changing that was. There was no point destroying my life to help the party make progress, when surrounded by so many people in the party trying to undermine me.

The party on the ground has become a shell, the number of activists is tiny compared to our opponents (and I don't think this is just because I live in Cambridge). The Lib Dems here must have delivered the entire constituency around a dozen times this election, Labour not much less - both clearly had many hundreds of people on the ground during the campaign. I'm told Bedford has 1,000 momentum members. 

But the party's behaviour, and Teresa May's in particular during this election has been beneath contempt. There was no leadership, no vision, no intellectual answer to Corbyn, despite ever more abuse and dishonesty from the left, there was no effective response, no attempt to fight on the party's record over the last 7 years, and they never once saw the result coming. May hid from debate most of the campaign. The electorate were treated with complete contempt, as if just mentioning the word Corbyn would deliver victory. There is no point trying to create 'Strong and Stable' as a brand if your behaviour is completely contradictory to the brand values. 

But why would party members want to get involved in this organisation when they too were treated with such contempt. Candidate selections conducted by an opaque clique. People who had done nothing for the party fast-tracked to finals for successive majority seats, whilst others were blocked. Candidates imposed on minority seats with no member involvement. The manifesto was a disaster (actually still is) - again doubtless the work of a small clique, without proper scrutiny, and seemingly devoid of any clear principles or positive vision. Price controls, industrial strategy, etc, etc why would any conservative want to support this stuff. It did however contain several policies each individually toxic enough to turn off large parts of the electorate, for no particularly good reason - fox hunting, dementia tax etc. The tragedy is, that done well, and with decent planning, we could have been on the way to a Conservative government, with a good majority, boldly reforming society for the better. A proper adult conversation with people about the future of the NHS and social care. Real reform on tax simplification. A plan to build the houses we desperately need. Instead we have fudge.

I'd still like to be involved in politics, but I want something I can get behind - competently run, open accountable and transparent in how it works, democratic. Socially liberal, tolerant and international in outlook, whilst fighting tooth and nail against the Socialist vision of state control that causes chaos and misery whenever and wherever it is applied. I spent years trying to change the party from within. Maybe it needs a party within a party to drive reform, because if they go on like this, one day people will stop voting for them just because they are the established centre right party, candidate selection will cease to be the remaining source of power in the party, and the whole thing will collapse.

The party is still toxic up and down the Country - you get desensitised to the attacks from the left, but many Corbyn supporters just constantly stream vile abuse across social media. The party never challenges this, they just soak it up, not at all worried that huge numbers of normal, professional people are getting behind a party led by marxist terrorist sympathisers. The professional party are hopeless and the leadership appears to be utterly clueless, and I don't see that changing any time soon.

Meanwhile, we have a government in hock to the DUP and a now infinitely harder brexit negotiation to ponder. Happy days.