Tuesday, December 04, 2012
Cyclo-Fascists: Arrogant, abusive and oh-so smug – why do so many cyclists think they’re above the law?
I have long had a remedy for cyclists speeding dangerously close to me as I walk along. I recommend my remedy. I hold a hand straight out with palm upwards at their face level. They know that if they collide with that hand their bike and they will violently part company, propelled by their own momentum. When they see that hand they immediately take drastic evasive action. And they can't object too much as a hand held that way is the classical stop sign. The trick is to hold the hand at the level of their faces. I may endanger them by doing that but if they can be uncivilized so can I. Cyclists HAVE killed people by knocking them down. Google "Raisin-Shaw" if you doubt it -- JR
By Melanie Phillips
One of the developments that I have cheered along in recent years has been the attempt to rein back the motor car in our cities and towns.
Although I am a driver, I have long all but given up driving in London and now travel instead mainly by bus or Tube. I have also discovered the delights of walking and enjoying the city’s stunning architecture and views — as well as literally rubbing shoulders with the rest of the human race, instead of sitting in solitary splendour within a motorised bubble.
Accordingly, I have welcomed the pedestrianisation of many streets, silently cursed the noisy, smelly cars — and also welcomed the arrival of the ‘Boris bikes’, the cycles for hire around the city that were an inspired idea.
Although I do not own a bicycle, I enjoy and approve of cycling. Like many others, I have for years observed and admired those Continental cities where half the population seems to be on a bike and where the traffic seems tamed as a result.
So getting more people on to bikes in London seemed to me to be a good idea — encouraging health-giving exercise, reducing traffic congestion and generally turning the city into a calmer, gentler and more civilised place.
How wrong can you be! For far from being calm, gentle or civilised, many cyclists have proved to be the exact opposite. While of course this by no means applies to all of them, large numbers of cyclists have brought a new level of aggression and indeed menace to our city streets.
As a pedestrian, I have encountered this on innumerable occasions. A few weeks ago, at a major intersection in Central London I started to cross the road when the green man flashed up at the lights.
Out of the corner of my eye, I saw something hurtling towards me and sprang backwards just in time. A cyclist had jumped the red light and almost knocked me down as he sped across the junction.
They ride the wrong way up one-way streets. They ride on the pavement, causing pedestrians to move sharply out of the way - sometimes into the road! - to avoid being knocked down
They ride the wrong way up one-way streets. They ride on the pavement, causing pedestrians to move sharply out of the way - sometimes into the road! - to avoid being knocked down
Furious, I shouted after him that he had jumped the lights. To my astonishment, he stopped and, looking back over his shoulder, shouted abuse at me for having dared try to interrupt his progress by crossing the road.
You can understand why cyclists become enraged by motorists who they may well fear have the capacity to kill them.
But what possible justification could there be for abusing a pedestrian — and when the cyclist himself had just put her in danger by breaking the law? Surely an apology to me was in order rather than a tirade?
But it seems that, while obeying the law or the rules of the road may be obligatory for lesser mortals such as car drivers, cyclists believe that they themselves are above such irritating trifles. As many others have also protested, cyclists regularly ride through red lights or fail to stop at pedestrian crossings — even when a car has just done so.
They ride the wrong way up one-way streets. They ride on the pavement, causing pedestrians to move sharply out of the way — sometimes into the road! — to avoid being knocked down.
In short, they behave as if they are lords of the universe. Small wonder, when they are generally treated with veneration as the harbingers of a morally elevated society. One particular campaign by The Times champions them as such unimpeachable icons of progress that it seems to suggest the entire road network should be reconfigured for their convenience.
Two days ago, it triumphantly reported an unprecedented £913 million initiative by local councils to put cycling at the heart of public transport.
Certainly, the toll of cyclists killed on the roads is alarmingly high, and it is only right that attention should be paid to making cycling safer.
Nevertheless, at least some of the time these accidents are caused by cyclists taking astonishing chances with their own lives — riding at night without any lights, cutting up cars or buses or overtaking on the inside so drivers cannot see them.
But none of these things is ever deemed to be their fault. The blame is always laid on others.
What sticks in the craw is the monumental arrogance accompanying such irresponsibility. For legitimate remonstration with them is all too often met with obscene gestures, swearing or other abuse.
This arrogance is not confined to behaviour on the road. It is part of a particular lifestyle. For this is the era of cycling-chic.
Once upon a time, alpha males roared around on motor bikes. Now leather has been exchanged for Lycra; the streets are thronged by other-worldly creatures dubbed ‘Mamils’ — middle aged men in Lycra shorts.
The marketing wonk who coined this term discovered that ‘Mamils’ are mainly men in their 30s and 40s from the upper social classes, who read broadsheet newspapers and shop at Waitrose — and may spend thousands of pounds on buying a bike. In other words, the cycle has become the must-have accessory of choice for our old friends, the progressive metropolitan intelligentsia.
For such folk, every single aspect of their lives is a statement — about themselves, of course, and in particular how worthy and progressive they are.
So for them, the cycle is not just a machine for getting about with two wheels, a saddle and a handlebar. No, it is a badge of unimpeachable virtue.
It effectively says of its rider: look how environmentally conscious I am, how socially responsible, how clean-living, humble and powerless — compared to the dreadful Mr Toads behind the wheels of their powerful, filthy, anti-social cars which are all going to destroy the planet if they don’t choke us all to death first!
That’s why politicians such as David Cameron, George Osborne and Boris Johnson have used the image of themselves on their cycles to burnish their progressive credentials (slightly dampened in the case of Mr Cameron, when it was discovered he was being followed on his cycle by a car with his official papers on the back seat).
This assumption of superior virtue confers an air of effortless entitlement, which causes certain cyclists to believe they can break laws with impunity — and if they mow down any pedestrians, well it’s the pedestrians’ own fault.
It is sanctimonious self-righteousness sealed in Spandex — and the rest of us just have to get out of the damned way.
Part of cycling’s huge boost in popularity was caused by the events of the summer, when Bradley Wiggins won the Tour de France and the Olympic time trial, which engendered huge excitement over Team GB’s performance in Olympic cycling.
One effect of this was the transformation of cycling from its association with wicker baskets, bicycle clips and a leisurely way of life to competition, winning and aggressively getting an edge over the other chap.
In addition to this harsher image, it lost its claim to intrinsic virtue when one of its icons, Lance Armstrong, was stripped of his seven Tour de France victories amid allegations (still denied) of doping.
In other words, cyclists are no better or worse than the rest of us. But when their faults are pointed out, they react as if they really think they are untouchable.
One journalist wrote recently that after criticising cyclists for their behaviour, she received death threats, vile insults and obscene abuse.
It’s high time such cyclo-fascists were brought down off their towering saddles and made to observe the same laws and social conventions as the rest of us. Inspiring sportsmen they may be; demi-gods behind handlebars they are not.
British social workers: Unbelievable sons of bitches
Parents murdered but surviving little girls not allowed to stay with relatives
The two young survivors of the French Alps massacre have been ‘kidnapped by social services’, it was claimed yesterday.
Zainab al-Hilli, seven, and her sister Zeena, four, were orphaned when their parents were gunned down in their BMW on a holiday to Lake Annecy on September 5. Their father Saad al-Hilli, 50, mother Ikbal, 47, and grandmother Suhaila al-Allaf, 74, were killed alongside 45-year-old French cyclist Sylvain Mollier.
The murders have baffled police both in France and Britain, where the Al-Hillis had a £1million home in Surrey.
Relatives claim they want to care for the girls but they have been placed in foster care by Surrey County Council ‘against their will’.
Their great-uncle, Ahmed al-Saffar, said Zainab and Zeena had been upset when parting from their aunt Fadwa al-Saffar, their mother’s sister, after a brief recent visit. He was also at the meeting. He said: ‘They were crying, asking “why are our meetings so short? We want to be with you forever”. We were devastated by it.’
Mr al-Saffar, a Swedish-based pharmacologist in his sixties, fears the council’s approach to the girls’ welfare has compounded the tragedy they are striving to cope with.
He said: ‘They would like to be with their family. We see their suffering after the pain and loss of their parents and how this then continues in their separation from the one they love to be with, which is their auntie.’
He said he had no criticism of the girls’ white British foster family, describing them as ‘kind and supportive’. ‘But the situation is not satisfactory and it is getting more difficult.
He said the family wanted ‘answers to questions about the girls’ future’ but there had been no response to emails and inquiries.
Another friend of the family told the Sunday Times that the girls had effectively been ‘kidnapped by social services’.
They have formed a private Facebook support group for the sisters, and the friends have said they are ready to adopt the girls. They say they want to offer them some sense of normality as they come to terms with the tragedy.
One friend of the family said he has complained about the situation to his Conservative MP, Zac Goldsmith, after becoming frustrated at a lack of response from social services to his attempts to pass messages and gifts to the sisters, the Sunday Times reported. Court orders obtained by Surrey county council protect the girls from publicity and ban publication of any details that might disclose their whereabouts.
Detectives have not made a single arrest since the horror in the mountains and remain baffled as to who was responsible. A British cyclist and former RAF officer was the first to arrive at the murder scene. He found the three adults dead in the car and a dazed and badly injured Zainab wandering nearby. Zeena was not discovered by police for another eight hours, hiding in the car.
Surrey County Council declined to comment.
Principles? What principles? David Cameron banned British government ministers from speaking to Dalai Lama
David Cameron banned all contact with the Dalai Lama during crunch talks with Chinese Government over Euro bailout package earlier this year, leaked documents show.
The "blanket prohibition" on meeting the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader – imposed by the Prime Minister's team during crisis talks over Eurozone countries at a meeting of G20 countries – prompted a fierce backlash from ministers.
The ministers – Tim Loughton and Norman Baker – were barred from attending a private lunch with the Tibetan spiritual leader in the apartment of the House of Commons Speaker John Bercow minutes before it was due to start.
The pair then wrote to the Prime Minister to protest after the “deeply embarrassing” incident in June this year, according to a copy of the letter obtained by Channel Four Dispatches programme.
Mr Loughton told the programme that he and Mr Baker had originally been cleared to meet the Dalai Lama on his visit to the UK between 14 and 23 June this year.
The pair had been given the green light to attend the lunch on June 20 – Mr Baker is honorary president of the Tibet Society and Mr Loughton is a member of the Tibet Society council.
But on the eve of the lunch, Mr Loughton said “I had a whole barrage of calls. I’d made myself scarce in my office and the Department of Education were fielding most of these calls”.
Many of the calls were from officials travelling with Mr Cameron in Cancun, Mexico at the G20 summit, he said. The pair were determined to go.
But the then-foreign minister Jeremy Browne intervened, telling moments that they could not attend moments before it was due to begin.
Mr Loughton said: “I can only presume that given I myself and Norman Baker were both ministers it would be in some way have been seen as some Government support for the Dalai Lama if we were to go and have lunch with him.”
The pair wrote a private letter to Mr Cameron in July which they strongly protested about the way they had been muzzled, and complained about the “tremendous pressure put upon each of us at the 11th hour not to attend”.
The letter, copied to Foreign secretary William Hague and deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, said: “We feel we have to write to you to express our concern and annoyance with regard to the inflexible instruction given last week to ministers, prohibiting any contact whatsoever with the Dalai Lama during his visit to the UK.”
They said they could not understand how the Government could impose a “blanket prohibition on a minister meeting a religious leader in private in a non-ministerial capacity and we think this crossed a line.
“Our absence from this small private lunch is deeply embarrassing for us in terms of our longstanding Tibetan connections, and will have been registered by the Speaker, to whom we were obliged to offer late apologies, and doubtless will not have passed unnoticed by others.”
The pair said they felt British policy over China was “tantamount to saying that British foreign policy on Tibet is whatever China wants it to be.
“It completes ignores the fact his Holiness is a spiritual leader only and no longer holds a political position and is frankly just plain wrong.”
The row took place as China was in talks about offering £27billion, into a fighting fund expected to be used up by the International Monetary Fund to bail out Eurozone economies.
An earlier high profile meeting in May between the Dalai Lama, Mr Cameron and Nick Clegg went down badly in Beijing, which urged the UK to “stop conniving at and supporting” Tibetan separatist attempts.
Mr Loughton was sacked as a minister in the September reshuffle while transport minister Mr Baker is still in post. Mr Baker declined to comment.
A Government spokesman said: “The Dalai Lama was due to visit the United Kingdom twice in quick succession earlier this year. The Chinese Government always lobbies hard against any meetings between foreign governments and the Dalai Lama.
“We made clear in advance to the Chinese Government that British Ministers will decide who they meet and when they meet them - irrespective of Chinese lobbying.
“It was never intended that any Minister would meet the Dalai Lama on his second visit. We are committed to striking a balance between taking a clear position on Tibet, and sustaining broad-based engagement with the Chinese Government.
“It is only through engaging China that we can help bring about positive change to human rights in China.”
How to convince people that women should become bishops
Not much episcopal gravitas here
Reverend Sally Hitchiner over the past week. She has posted several tweets on her Twitter page — where she describes herself as an ‘Anglican priest, faith adviser, broadcaster... and finder of funny things’ — on the subject of ‘the theology of fashion’.
She was so preoccupied by it that she even conducted a Facebook debate on the subject.
So we shouldn’t be too surprised then, that this weekend, the 32-year-old Church of England vicar took her theological studies even further forward, posing for a fashion shoot for a Saturday broadsheet magazine under the headline: The Vicar Wears Prada.
In the main picture, Rev Hitchiner is reclining on a leather chair wearing a £480 black leather jacket by Frances Leon, a £505 Prada top and tight silver leather trousers by the Mother label that come in at just over £1,000. She also wears £535 leopard print Christian Louboutin heels, that rest on a leather stool.
In one shot, a heavily kohled eye gazes sultrily at the camera beneath a £239 Andrew Wilkie leopard skin hat set at a flirtatious angle, covering her other eye. Her blood red lips pout above her sharply white dog collar.
In another picture, the vicar poses in a £1,025 blue, back and cream Stella McCartney top, accessorised again with her dog collar.
Another uber-trendy picture sees Rev Hitchiner in a £646 black skirt by Graham & Spencer, £209 Sandro top, £355 shiny blazer by The Kooples and £995 ankle boots — again by Louboutin.
Few of her flock can afford to wear such clothes — though in fairness, Rev Hitchiner borrowed them for the shoot. On her modest vicar’s stipend, her label of choice is the fashionable but infinitely cheaper Top Shop.
But Rev Hitchiner certainly enjoyed herself. ‘Wearing a dog collar in a fashion shoot was quite a powerful experience,’ she declared afterwards, in a game attempt to give her day of dressing up in designer gear some sort of theological perspective.
The fashion shoot appears to be some sort of response to last month’s vote by the Church of England’s governing General Synod, which decided against allowing women to become bishops.
After agreeing to ordain women priests back in 1994, it has taken until now for the vote for women bishops to take place. As a consequence of its failure, the schism between CoE ‘traditionalists’ and ‘progressives’ is wider than ever.
There is no need to spell out whose side Rev Hitchiner, who had been mooted as a future bishop, is on. After all, would a ‘traditionalist’ wear Louboutin leopard print heels?
Exactly. It’s a look that hasn’t been received quite so well by the Church’s more traditional followers. But Rev Hitchiner believes she is not alone in the clergy in enjoying the frivolities of fashion.
Explaining that many priests like to ‘accessorise’, she says: ‘Everything in life has two sides. It’s not that the Church of England is perfect and that twinsets and pearls are perfect.
‘It’s not that some supposedly frivolous areas in life are not worthy enough for God. The fashion industry is important. Obviously, Nietzsche said a lot of things about God I don’t agree with, but there’s his theory that beauty makes you good, that engaging with things that are beautiful is an antidote to the ugly and the difficult. ‘Historically, the arts have been honoured by the Church as a spiritual gift, and the first spiritual gift mentioned in the Bible is craftsmanship.’
Indeed. The great cathedrals of Europe, the Renaissance painters, Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel. The list is a long and fine one. Now to add to it we have Christian Louboutin’s leopard print heels and a Stella McCartney top.
‘I’m in awe of Stella McCartney,’ she says. ‘I think she’s got a gift from God, although I’m not sure she would agree with me.’
Rev Hitchiner’s unusual clerical style is apparent, too, on her Twitter and Facebook pages. For her Twitter page, she selected a photograph of herself wearing a tiara-style hair clip. In one picture on Facebook, she is winking at the camera.
Confronted by all this attention-seeking, one is duty bound to ask the question Rev Hitchiner is presumably dying for us to ask: is this really fitting behaviour for a woman of the cloth?
Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.
American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.
For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN (Note that EYE ON BRITAIN has regular posts on the reality of socialized medicine). My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here.