Are cyclists really the scourge of our streets? Of course not, the Ch5 show was just prejudice and entertainment

A cyclists on the towpath of the Leeds Liverpool Canal in Aintree Village

The Channel 5 entertainment show of last night was all about the evil of cyclists – yes that’s right the people who have gone carbon neutral to try to help save the planet and who generally are fitter and healthier than many vehicle drivers too I bet.

Here’s a take on the programme from The Guardian web site by Rebecca Nicholson :-

That some cyclists ride in stupid and irresponsible ways is a given; why they probably drive vehicles with the same lack of respect for all around them too. And yes I grumble about grown adults riding on pavements, jumping red lights and not stopping at Zebra crossings as well. Only the other night – it was 10.15pm – in Maghull and I was sat at a set of traffic lights in my car (you see cyclists are drivers too) on the dual carriageway A59 when a youngish chap wearing a black T shirt and shorts rode his bike past me down the wrong carriageway. A deliberate attention seeking act no doubt. But as I say drivers of vehicles can be just as bad.

Me in my cycling gear

We used to be a nation of cyclists but after World War 2 we fell out of love with cycling and head over heels in love with driving cars. This shift, which has led to air pollution that is killing us and huge obesity problems is now on the turn again. You could say that what comes around goes around as cycling is once again becoming a mass participation mode of transport and a way to get and stay fit.

I’ve been a regular cyclist now for around 4 years having spent a good 30+ years when I hardly ever peddled at all. I can’t understand why I stopped cycling as I love it and feel much better both mentally and physically for getting back in the saddle. I mostly cycle for enjoymnet and fitness although at times I find my bike can get me into places where car parking is hard to find to do a bit of shopping.

Yes I have encounters with vehicles and I’ve blogged about them previously; there are some very bad drivers out there. But the real problem is the lack of cycling infrastructure, another issue I have commented on before – cycle lanes that finish in the oddest and sometimes the most dangerous of places, the lack of safe cycling routes from logical point to point places and even such simple things as no dropped kerbs such as right outside the brand new Maghull North Station. I could go on but you get my drift……

As a young lad living in Rochdale between the ages of 6 and 10 in the 1960’s I cycled all over the place and as a mature chap in his 60’s I’m now doing the same thing. Cycling, like modern tramway systems in urban areas is the future of sustainable transportation.

Alcohol on Trains – And what about Merseyrail Guard McGee?

A recent TV programme on Channel 5 that ran for a number of weeks followed First Great Western staff around as they tried to keep their trains running on time and smoothly despite all kinds of challenges.

But what struck me was the number of times that drunks were a part of their everyday working scene. I have mentioned recently my concerns about our booze dependent culture but here it was laid out before us on prime time TV.

The obvious question that kept coming into my mind was why does First Great Western allow such badly drunken folk onto their trains to create mayhem for their staff and their sober passengers? Indeed, why would any train operator allow this?

And this takes me back to a matter I blogged about some time (21st December 2012) ago when a Merseyrail train guard was jailed for the death of a badly drunken young lady who tragically fell under a train when it left a Merseyrail station. I said at the time that the conviction was wrong and that in my opinion the unfortunate young lady was surely substantially responsible for the situation that she inadvertently put herself in. My views have not changed and I still feel for Christopher McGee the guard who found himself in an impossible situation and was effectively blamed by society through the courts because one of his passengers was acting in a way that was clearly dangerous to her own health and wellbeing.

After watching the Channel 5 programme all I can say is that such a tragedy is going to happen again if train operators and British Transport Police continue to turn a blind eye to those who are dangerously drunk – they should not even be on the station in the first place never mind near a train. A recent Alan Williams article in Modern Railways Magazaine makes this very point very well.

But there is another aspect here and that is the sober passenger. Do train operators think that letting drunks onto their trains is treating the vast majority of the travelling public well? If they do they are in effect knowingly allowing drunks to spoil the journeys of the vast majority of their customers.

McGee was blamed because someone else got drunk – that’s not justice.