What killed off Merseytram?

This promotional Merseytram bookmark is about all that Liverpool City Region has to show for its previous big tram ideas.

The Liverpool Echo has an interesting article on its website – see link below:-

www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/news/liverpool-news/boost-top-priority-train-link-18259091

One of the major reasons Merseytram was killed off was because the first line proposed to be constructed was NOT to John Lennon Airport. Those that followed the Merseytram saga/fiasco will recall that Merseytravel, in trying to chase government grants/support, decided the first line was going to be built to Kirkby. And this despite it being a community which already had and still has a Merseyrail heavy rail station and a 15 minute frequency train service. It was a mistake from which Merseytram never recovered.

Since then there have been a number of calls for Liverpool’s Airport to be connected by rail despite air travel being an environmental challenge (to put it politely) as we dive head-long into an climate crisis which the world is struggling to address in any meaningful way.

You could say that a rail connection to John Lennon Airport (light or heavy) has been on the agenda for many years but so far the powers that be have failed to find an answer and when they got close (via Merseytram) it got shunted into a siding.

Cycling – What’s legal, what’s not/What’s advisable, whats not

With so many people cycling during our present health lockdown even I as a regular/daily cyclist for a few years now have been checking what cyclists legally can and can’t do on our roads. Whilst Googling around on the subject I came across this very recent Chronicle newspaper article which I thought was both well written and informative:-

www.chroniclelive.co.uk/news/north-east-news/cyclists-rules-roads-helmet-pavement-12815392

One thing some cyclists can easily forget or even deliberately disregard is that pedestrians are the most import thing on our roads, not cyclists or indeed vehicles. The other thing about some cyclists is that they don’t have bells on their bikes. How on earth are they to warn pedestrians, whom they are coming up on from behind, that they are there without a bell? I know some cyclists will think they are not cool with a bell on their bike but I can’t get my head around that rather daft excuse.

Also, because I’m a cyclist I find that non-cyclists seem to think I should be able to explain the deficiencies of other cyclists as if we are some kind of Borg Collective! (Star Trek fans will get this). Questions I’ve been asked:-

* Why don’t you cyclists use cycle lanes/tracks and keep off the road? (I do when they are available)
* Why don’t you cyclists have a bell on your bikes (I do)?
* Why don’t you cyclists carry insurance (I do), we vehicle drivers have to so you should too.
* Why don’t you stick to cycling outside of rush hours, you get in the way. (Do I really have to answer this?)

I could go on but you get my drift. Firstly, I am no more responsible for the behaviour of other cyclists than one vehicle driver is for another. Why on earth do some non-cyclists think cyclists are?

Cycle paths often end in the wrong/dangerous places as this one does.

And another thing, bad cyclists will invariably be bad drivers too. Most cyclists are also drivers of vehicles you know.

But what has really struck me in recent times is that cycling, outside of those who do it, seems to be quite unpopular. It’s as though some folks think it should be banned. In a bizarre and dangerous incident a while back a van driver overtook me just before a junction which I had signalled to turn left at. He then cut straight in front of me and turned left into the same road and slammed his brakes on. A more deliberate act of intimidation aimed at me I have never seen whilst cycling. Not only that he jumped out and told me to get off the road! I assume he wanted me to cycle illegally on the pavement (see the newspaper article linked above)? *

Yes I too get upset when I see adults riding bikes on pavements which have not been designated for cycling; it’s wrong and in my locality Merseyside or Lancashire Police should be challenging cyclists who do it. And yes I also deplore cyclists jumping red lights; they need catching a fining just like vehicle drivers who do it.**

I find cycling fun and it keeps me fit. What’s more it’s an environmentally friendly way of getting from A to B over short to medium distances. I try not to be a pain in the a**e to other road users and I hope the recent uptake in cycling will make bike riding a normal everyday thing which no longer requires explanation, apology or accusations.

* By the way does anyone have any stats from Merseyside and Lancashire for fines handed out for cycling on pavements? If you’ve read the linked article above you’ll have noted that between 2012/13 and 2017/18 only two people paid fines for cycling on pavements in the Northumbria Police area.

** Although in defence of the odd bit of pavement riding I can think of two places in my locality were cycle tracks start/end in daft/unsafe places all but forcing cyclists to use a short section of pavement.

Rimrose Valley Country Park – A sign of our times?

Footpath and cycle path through the lovely Rimrose Valley County Park

The Liverpool Echo has the article on its website – see link below

www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/news/liverpool-news/fake-signs-posted-to-spread-18248227#ICID=Android_EchoNewsApp_AppShare

Rimrose Valley Country Park.

How utterly bizarre, I wonder what on earth whomever put these signs up was trying to achieve?

I’ve tracked the proposed development of a new road right through this lovely County Park over the years and tried to do my bit via this blog site to oppose the road. There have been some odd twists and turns to date but this one is in the utterly bizarre category indeed.

My thanks to Keith Page for the lead to this posting.

Encouraging more walking & cycling – well I never

Walking and cycling destinations from Rimrose Valley County Park Country Park.

The BBC has the story on its website – see link below:-

www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-52592421

Quote from BBC article – ‘We need to protect the public transport network as lockdown is lifted, the UK Transport Secretary is expected to say at a press conference on Saturday.

The BBC understands Grant Shapps will encourage the public to continue to work from home if they can.

Those people who need to travel into a workplace will be urged to consider choosing more active ways to travel like walking and cycling.

The intention is to take pressure off roads and public transport networks.

It is believed that Mr Shapps will talk about using the unique “opportunity” of the lockdown restrictions to change the way we get to work.’

That folks are walking and cycling more during our present health crisis is a given and it’s clearly a big positive, along with less pollution producing traffic of course, in these difficult times. Interestingly though governments have shown little enthusiasm for promoting healthier pollution-free ways to travel over many generations other than via sound-bite token nods towards walking and cycling to try to make themselves look green.

Now, however, government is in a fix when it comes to unlocking lockdown due to buses and trains not being able to move large groups of people because of social distancing requirements. The consequence could and probably will be grid-lock on our roads as more folks turn to their polluting cars. All of a sudden Government needs a way to stop traffic jams so ‘get on your bike’ as the rather unpleasant Norman Tebbit once said although in a totally different context.

Of course for health/fitness, reducing pollution and traffic congestion reasons government is right but, and it’s a big BUT, our cycling infrastructure is poor, inadequate, crap etc. compared with many other European countries. You see more enlightened European governments have been investing in it over all those generations that UK politicians have been making but token noises and throwing the odd crumb off the table. How the chickens have come home to roost…….

A map produced to show Merseyside/Liverpool City Region cycling route aims of recent times. Many are still that aims….

My previous blog posting of January 2019, regarding quite limited plans to improve walking and cycling infrastructure on Merseyside seems to be relevant too, so here it is:-

tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2019/01/11/walking-and-cycling-in-the-liverpool-city-region-lcr/

Click on the photos to enlarge them…….

Brexit – Let’s face it other then the Brexiteers we all knew there’d be few to pick the crops

Jonathan Calder hits the nail squarely on the head in this blog piece about the lack of crop pikers in Brexit Britain

liberalengland.blogspot.com/2020/04/brexit-fantasies-die-in-fields-of.html

Sorry to have to say this to those farmers who voted for Brexit but you voted to have (or in this case not have) what you now seem to be upset about. Would it not be an idea to think about what you are voting for in future, just saying.

5G – Why are some folk so upset about it?

The BBC has the article on its website – see link below:-

www.bbc.co.uk/news/newsbeat-52395771

I think I’ve only been asked about the safety of 5G once as a local councillor and on that occasion I suggested that the enquirer contact Sefton Council’s Environmental Health for help/information.

But apart from genuine enquiries from people wanting to know more about 5G where have all the conspiracy theories come from? Is it because our present health crisis makes folks are more vulnerable to those who make up scare stories? Indeed, some utterly ridiculous conspiracy theories try to link 5G to Covid 19! Could it be the Chinese connection with 5G and the concerns around the involvement of a major Chinese tech company? Why was there no fuss over 4G yet there is over 5G?

We’ve even now got to the stage of attacks on what are believed to be 5G tech facilities and threats to BT workers!

The problem with conspiracy theories is that they are hard to debunk because any argument against them is seen to be the establishment making up stories to defend what the believers of the theories think is true. The more ‘evidence’ that is presented the more it entrenches the belief that the ‘authorities’ are trying to hide a big secret. There are still people out there who think that man actually didn’t go to the moon. Alternatively, some think the there are humans living on the moon. I fear the 5G conspiracy theories are in the same league.

Remember over Brexit when a Senior Government MP said people have had enough of experts or words to that effect. That was the reaction of someone having their barmy Brexit theories challenged and hitting out at those who were offering a different evidence based alternative which they needed to to try to discredit. But daft things said by our leaders are not said in isolation or without consequences and some will say if the government does not believe in experts neither will I and we end up in a post-truth Trump-like society where conspiracy theories can all but become mainstream.

Readers of the-is blog site will know that I’ve been pondering on antisemitism and the appalling things that flow from it, having had it in previous generations of my own family I’m ashamed to say. What I’m learning is that antisemitic thinking is akin to those who pedal conspiracy theories as so many attacks on Jewish people are linked to such theories.

Am I a scientist or a tech expert? No of course I’m not. Do I believe there is scientific/health related problem with 5G? Well I’ve seen no credible evidence of such so why would I think there was and then tell others that I thought there was. Do I have any 5G concerns? Well yes but it’s with regard to those providing it and the support for it and whether it will lead to information being taken for inappropriate/illegal purposes but there are many of us who have that worry.

In life the vast majority of conspiracy theories are actually cock-ups but there are some completely made up theories that seem to take a hold in society and gain traction because some folk want to believe them. Brexit and the EU is one we’re presently living through. But just ask any Jewish person as they’ll probably tell you that they’ve had to live with conspiracy theories against them for generations upon generations and look what that led to in 1940’s German; except that some conspiracy theorists will actually say that the holocaust never happened!

Finally, social media has been a big help to those pedaling conspiracy theories as they can put stuff out there and then get us to pass it on simply because we have been taken in or because the message has fitted with our own ill-informed prejudice. If you’re asked to pass something on just think, is it really true or are you being used to pedal someone else’s conspiracy theory.