Wednesday, 1 February 2017

Dear Outraged...

Dear Outraged of Milngavie and Bearsden,

You are correct. I apologise. The Bears Way cycle lane has caused you chaos. I know this because I see it every morning. For example...


Horrific. Never mind that though. It is even worse at night! Egads!



I've come to realise that you are right. It's time to widen that road. I think we need dual carriageway as that works really, really well at reducing congestion as this road a little further down the road demonstrates...


So yes, no more extension to the Bears Way cycle lane please.

The future is bright. The future is motorised!


Yours sincerely,

The Ministry of Alternative Facts


Thursday, 5 January 2017

Humble Pie and Downright Lie?

I have an apology to make. Quite a significant one. One of my previous blogs was entirely mis-representative. This one. Even the title, "Failed by the police" is completely wrong. I was not failed by the police.

Thus, I would like to apologise unreservedly to Police Scotland and to the police officers that I anonymously implicated. I am sorry.

Police Scotland did not mess up on this occasion. That was completely false. My accusation, which was based on a conversation I had with a Procurator Fiscal, was that the police had messed up their procedures and hadn't applied a section 172, which requires a driver to identify him or herself when requested by the police.

There was no issue with the 172. Let me explain.

As I discussed in the above linked blog, I attended court for an incident where a van driver had (in my educated opinion) swerved his vehicle at me, whilst hitting his horn in anger. This forced me to swerve into another lane, which was fortunately empty. Here is the video.




I think you will agree that this was a seriously bad piece of driving.

The case finally went to court and whilst I sat in the witness room waiting for the case to be called, I was taken outside by the procurator fiscal (PF) who told me that there was a problem. The problem was apparently with the section 172. It hadn't been applied correctly. This meant that the defence would be able to have the case dismissed on the ground of not being able to 'legally' identify the driver. More details are in this blog. The PF told me that if the case went ahead it would fail, and I would have wasted my time. The PF then asked me what I wanted to do....

That bit was a bit strange, and only in hindsight does this make sense. Well, actually, even then it doesn't. Why ask me what I want to do? Anyway I agreed that if there was no prospect of prosecution, that there was no point. So I agreed that the case should be dropped.

I then went home, angry with the police, and wrote the angry blog.

But....

I wanted to make a formal complaint so I started writing that. At the same time I spoke to Herald reporter (Helen McArdale) who at the time was transport correspondent. She took an interest and suggested that she would do her own investigating. I left her to it, expecting to have my story confirmed.

Then I got an interesting reply from Helen.

The police got back to Helen and categorically denied that there was any issue with the section 172. They suggested that the section 172 had no bearing on the case being dropped.

Strange. Very strange. I expected that the PF would counter that suggestion. I expected that there was some form of miscommunication and that there was indeed a problem with the 172. It turns out they didn't and there wasn't.

This was the quote from the PF that came shortly afterwards via Helen.

.... the Section 172 had "no bearing" on the decision to drop proceedings in this case - .....the issue of establishing the identity of the driver wasn't an issue and he had provided details. The decision to drop the case was down to "other factors" and not related to any problems on the police side.

What!? Seriously!?!

I'll just re-iterate the following:

The PF (young lady) who took me out of the witness room was quite clear that the issue in the case was down to the section 172. In fact I remember seeing the notes in front of her and it had a 'post it' note on the notes for my case. It clearly said 's.172' on it. She specifically took me outside the witness room to discuss this, and told me that on this basis she could proceed with the case, but that as soon as the prosecution stood up they would call for the trial to be stopped. They would highlight the issue with the section 172 and the Magistrate would have no option but to drop the case. She pointed out that it could proceed, but would ultimately fail, and thus wasn't worth it for the strain I would be put through (she pointed out that they knew I posted on YouTube and that this would probably be used against me). On this basis she asked me.... did I wan't to proceed? I thought that this was a little unusual, to be asked this, but thought she was just being nice, as the only obvious answer was.... not to proceed. I left very angry, as you can imagine.

I was angry then, having heard the PF's latest response I was furious!!

Oh and one more thing.....The Sheriff court suggested that the accused was absent from court that day.

WTF!!?

I had to get to the bottom of this. Helen had helped me all she could (and I am grateful for that help!), but had two options;

A direct complaint,

and a

'Subject Access Request'.

The direct complaint is self explanatory and here is what I sent:

I was recently a witness in a case against xxxx xxxxx. On the 28th September I attended court.
Whilst I was there I was called outside by the Procurator Fiscal working on the case. She told me that unfortunately, due to a police error, the case was unwinnable. She pointed out that the police failed to process a section 172, and thus the identity of the driver, whilst know, could not be proven in court. She then suggested that the case could go ahead however, as soon as the defence lawyer stood up, he/she would call for the case to be dismissed on these grounds and would succeed. She then asked if I wanted to proceed. She pointed out that if I did, it would not be a nice experience as the defence lawyer knew I posted videos on Youtube and would use these against me.
I decided, based on this information to allow her to drop the case. I commented that there was no point wasting my time on something that can't succeed as I have a lot of work to do. She then made a comment about having lots of other cases to prosecute that day. She seemed relieved. 
Since that day the Glasgow Herald has taken an interest. After contacting the police, yourselves and the Sheriff Court she has ascertained;

  •     There were no issues with a section 172. Both the PF and police have confirmed this.
  •     There were no issues in identifying the accused for the purposes of the trial.
  •     The accused apparently was absent on the day of the trial. The local Sheriff has confirmed this.
  •     The PF now list the case as being dropped for 'other reasons'
Understandably, I am very concerned by this, as I only agreed not to proceed (I was surprised at being asked!) due to the particular issue surrounding the S.172. In fact I explicitly remember seeing a sticky note on her notes with S.172 written on it. There is no way otherwise I would have agreed to drop this case.
Therefore, please can you provide full details of why the case against xxxx was dropped. Why was I told by the PF that there was an issue with S.172 when there wasn't? Was xxxxxx absence allowed or did he break the terms of his summons? If so, has he been charged for this?
I look forward to your reply with interest.
Best regards
Dr David Brennan
The subject access request is a process by which a member of the public (i.e. me) can ask a body such as the PF to share any information they hold about that person (i.e. me). I therefore e-mailed the PF at the specific 'Subject Access Request' address and asked for information held about me, related to this particular case.

I received an instant reply that I would hear in 40 calendar days or less.

Some time later I received a reply in relation to my complaint. Here is a picture of the reply.





So...The Procurator Fiscal was in error.

Error.

Well, when you tell....and the following is my opinion I should stress....an untruth, a fabrication, a.....lie....then yes an error was made. A very serious error. An error of judgement that this fabrication would not be questioned. That someone, be it this particular PF or a colleague who suggested this course of action, made an error in deciding to deceive, because...... they were a bit busy that day and this was an easy case for them to get rid of.

Is it possible that my opinion of what has happened here is is wrong? Is it possible that a genuine mistake was made? Is it possible that someone might accidentally think that the section 172 had an issue when it didn't? I seriously, seriously doubt it. Even the procurator fiscal here suggests that a decision was made, at some point which is uncertain (probably when the PF felt a bit busy and decided to chat with me...), that this case was not in the public interest. They imply that the decision was taken before the PF came to speak to me.

Hmm.

Very confusing.

If that was the case, if the PF really had decided that the case was not in the 'public's interest' why did the PF suggest the 172 problem? Why give me an option to proceed or not? The PF in the letter doesn't even refute my recollection of events. They appear to agree that that section 172 was mentioned.

Let's take a trip to cloud cookoo land, and imagine that it was a genuine mistake. Even if that was the case...In what way was this case not in the public interest? Is it now reasonable to expect drivers swerving at you in (my opinion), obvious anger when you are riding a bike? That's just life, is it? Any why wait until the case comes to court, thus completely wasting my time? And I'm not really buying the whole, well, the defendant didn't have to show up excuse!

Oh and notice, if I want to phone them to chat about this, I need to pay 7 pence per minute. Yes I need to pay them to discuss being lied to by them (in my opinion!).

So what has come of the Subject Access Request?....I hear you ask.

Well, I waited 40 days. I chased. I waited 80 days. I waited 92 days. I chased. I eventually got a reply saying that the complaint reply above, covered the Subject Access Request. It does not. Their response has not provided me with all the information they hold about me in this case. It only responds to my complaint, so I am still waiting....

I have chased this and well,.....perhaps they will eventually get back, but I gave up waiting and decided to write this blog. I will continue to chase and when I eventually get the information I require and am entitled to, I will then use that information to complain further.

Yes the PF is snowed under. Yes they are almost certainly understaffed. Yes I sympathise. But all sympathy from me was lost the minute....in my and perhaps your opinion....I was lied to.

More on this when I know more....


Friday, 9 December 2016

Accusing the Victim

A lot has happened to me recently. You'll know from previous stories and blogs that I've had tacks placed at the end of my path. I've had stones thrown at my house and car. Recently a letter was sent to my neighbours suggesting that if I don't stop reporting drivers to the police that thugs would vandalise the area and perhaps poison local animals

You can read it in this tweet.
So, please excuse me a little, that when I get an egg thrown at me a few days ago and I post about it on Facebook, that I get a little angry with one particular woman who, rather than demonstrate any anger at the incident itself or concern from me, gets angry at me for thinking the egg was thrown from a particular unidentified car.




Here is the text of this particular conversation, just in case it should disappear.....

Laura D:
Watched the video and i have no idea why you think is acceptable to blame one particular car without knowing for sure. I would be absolutely raging if I had innocently driven passed you as this incident happened to later find a photo of my car on the Internet and the finger being pointed to me.
Whatever happen to innocent until proven guilty?
"this is the vehicle the egg was thrown from"
Where is the proof?
Shocking accusation from a so called health professional
My reply:

Have you read what I've written above? The bit where I say I have no proof. The bit where I say keep an eye out? Exactly where have I shared anything apart from a make of vehicle? Is that identifying in any way? Which other vehicle exactly could this have come from? Possible from the houses? Perhaps, but incredibly unlikely due to speed and angle that it hit me, and lack of any images of anything untoward on the video. Most importantly where have I accused any person of being guilty? 


Oh and thanks for your concern. I'm fine thanks
Laura D:
Don't be flippant with me, this post isn't about how you are, it's a post trying to identify a car, on a road where there are many cars and also houses, like you've said. 
Yes I've read your comments, but those were made after you had originally posted this and advert others had put their valid points over. 
You are not always in the right,although it appears that you think you are. 
Other people are allowed their opinions, that's what happens when you create blogs,or Facebook accounts, we are allowed to say what we think, just like you are. 
And that's what I'm doing here. 
Have you ever thought of a career change, clearly you think you should be part of police Scotland. 
I have never had any issues with cyclists on the road, being a horse rider and being on the roads myself i know exactly what is like. 
But your tone, your attitude and your false accusations are giving other cyclists a bad name. 
I just pray.i never pass you and accidently sneeze, or look at you the wrong way or ill end up players ask over the Internet. 
Your very bizzare

My reply:

Hi Laura, I am writing this from my own account, just to be sure there isn't any misunderstanding about who is writing it. 
I can assure you, in my reply I was not being flippant. In fact I was being quite serious. I was pointing you in the direction of the comments above, where one poster had commented on my claim, and I agreed that perhaps it had been strongly worded, and thus I corrected it. The tweet itself, in which I did state that it was 'definitely from the car', was an initial reaction to viewing the video. You'll notice that posters above comment that they can't see the link. The reason they and you can't link to it is because I deleted it.
Now, remember I posted this that evening having got in, and having had an egg thrown at me (quite hard I might add, it stung quite a bit). So that was my initial response. I corrected it without any issue. 
Remember also I have recently had a letter sent to my neighbours which has been threatening, that I have had bricks thrown at my house and car, and tacks left at the end of my path. All things considered, I think I was rather restrained. Despite all of this you come onto the thread and without any comment about the incident itself, or about how wrong it is, started accusing me of being unprofessional. 
In fact it is of particular interest that you mention my profession. In fact you edited your post to make sure you mentioned that I am a 'health professional'. You are quite correct I am (although only part time these days as I am also part of an exciting new spin out company developing a diagnostic and therapeutic in stroke, but you won't be interested in that....). Anyway...what does my job have to do with any of this? What does my career in Medical Physics have to do with me tweeting about being hit by an egg whilst cycling? My impression from this, and this may not be your intent at all, is that you are suggesting I am not fit to do my job, and that perhaps someone should put a complaint in. That's how that comes across. If that is indeed your intent, please feel free to. You wouldn't be the first. 
Am I always right? Well, of course not. However, I reacted to your posting on here, the way I did, for the reasons above. 
I am glad you have not had any issues with cyclists on the road. Neither have I. I have though, as a cyclist had many issues with drivers. I am not alone. If you don't believe me have a look at the Near Miss Project (http://www.nearmiss.bike/). It's an enlightening read. Also as the father of a daughter who rides horses (and who's wife used to) I too understand the needs of riders. I also know that sometimes riders are treated very badly on the road (http://www.herefordtimes.com/news/14293167.Horse_rider_shares_the_moment_lorry_got_too_close_for_comfort/)
Then you mention the most bizarre thing...false accusations. Who am I falsely accusing and of what? I have accused no-one of anything, I have even at the very earliest point, only suggested that the egg appeared to come from the vehicle. I have no idea who owns this vehicle, or even exactly which type of vehicle it is (although I think it might be a Mitsubishi L200). By posting this I am warning others to keep an eye out for such vehicles and to be careful around them, as it would appear they have a grudge against cyclists. Is that so bizarre?!
As for praying you don't sneeze when you pass? If I am honest that is just condescending. Do you ride a bike on the roads? Have you experienced being knocked of your bike, or having a vehicle driven at you? Have you experienced the abuse and intimidation? I have, and I can assure you it is not nice. I also know families of cyclists who have been killed. I was honoured to have been given a fallen cyclist's bike by one family as a thank you for the campaigning that I do. So, pardon me, if I get a little angry when I see people getting 'flippant' about the incidents that many cyclists face on the road.
Finally, do I understand how blogs and Facebook works? Well, it turns out I do. Public posts are, public, and thus free to be commented on and..... shared. Just to prove the case, have a wee look here (Link back to this blog). I think I managed to post the blog right..... 

Friday, 28 October 2016

The Mind of an Anti Bearsway Councillor

As you'll have seen in one of my previous blogs, I wrote a letter to my local SNP councillor Anne McNair, who voted against the Bears Way extension. Unfortunately, despite me chasing via e-mail and on Twitter (local SNP group Twitter). I never did receive a reply. So yesterday, seeing that Anne had a surgery 10 minutes walk from my house, I went along for a chat.

My 11 year old son came along, mainly as he wanted to hear why the lane wasn't being extended. Here is a summary of what happened. I should add, that twice during the meeting I stressed that if Anne wanted to say anything off record, that I'd be happy to keep those comments confidential. She didn't take me up on that.

First off, let me state quite clearly, Anne was very nice, was very willing to listen and whilst she did dodge a few questions a wee bit, she was generally quite candid. She gave me about 50 minutes of her time. I thank her for that.

I was though, pretty dismayed by the end of the meeting.

First off I explained who I was and the fact that I had tried to contact her on a few occasions without any reply. Anne explained that Cllr Ian MacKay had put together a that was supposed to have been sent to everybody. I certainly hadn't received that, and Anne was surprised. No matter if this was true or not, my letter did not ask generic questions. I wanted to know why Anne had voted against it, not everyone else.

The first interesting fact that I heard, regarded some comments from Jim Gibbons. After the vote he had e-mailed people suggesting that there would be congestion at Boclair (despite modelling suggesting otherwise), if the lane went in. Interestingly the SNP group apparently 'gave him a row' over that e-mail.

The next interesting thing was that she didn't realise that Keith Small was suggesting that segregated cycle lanes in general were not the way forward. Anne seemed to think he was only talking about the A81. From his comments, and a meeting a friend of mine has had with him recently confirms he is opposed to them completely. Anne looked a little uncomfortable at this.

It was then decided to ask a difficult question. Were you pressured to vote as a political group on this?

The answer was very interesting. Anne pointed out that voting in a group was normal practice. Normally the SNP was outnumbered by a coalition of the other groups, which the SNP couldn't stop. Only on planning, were councillors expected to vote individually, apparently. This I found very surprising. Councillors are individuals I thought...

I then pointed out that Cllr Cummings (Ind) just before the vote, stood up and confirmed that this would be a free vote. Everyone murmered in agreement and someone, not sure who, said that this was always the case.

Obviously it wasn't. Anne, did not remember Cllr Cummings comment.

Anne then pulled out her mobile phone, whilst I was talking. She was showing me a picture of one of the chicanes in the lane at one of the bus stops. At this moment, I knew where she was going.

Design. She didn't like the design. So I went into detail about the fact that I was probably the first and most vociferous opponent of the lane's design in the early days. I pointed out that I had blogged about it, and had meetings about it. However, I also pointed out that having lived with the lane, cycle in the lane, and driven alongside the lane, I had grown to appreciate it. I talked about the children I now see cycling along that road, that I had never seen before. I talked about the families that use it. I talked about the fact that it isn't yet connected and that some big issues would be resolved by extending it....

We got into a discussion about why it had been designed the way it did. I pointed out that the bus stops could have been designed better, but remedial work had been planned (now stopped). I discussed some of the internal battles that went on within the council between departments (I've very good sources for this) and that the design is always going to be limited in scope in the current climate due to limited funding....

But a lot of cyclists don't use it! 

I must admit this surprised me. I'd heard this line being used before, but I didn't expect it from Anne. I pointed out that surveys have shown that 92% of cyclists do use it. Actually, a very large number considering the fact that Anne thinks the design is terrible.

She repeated the cyclists don't use it line, and I repeated the 92%.

We talked about off road, and I pointed out that cyclists are people and want to go where people want to go. That is down the main routes. They are main routes for a reason! I also asked how people would get to the off road routes.. Anne didn't answer.

At this point someone popped their head in to the room and Anne had to pop out for 5 minutes, At that point I looked at my phone. That is when I saw the following Facebook reply to a news item about our advocacy ride.







When Anne came back in I showed her this, and I mentioned that these are the sort of images that the SNP are unintentionally aligning to.

She looked uncomfortable.

We discussed share use, and I pointed out that shared use wouldn't work, as I and many other cyclists just wouldn't use it. Anne suggested that roads like the A81 weren't the best place to start, and I suggested that main arterial routes were exactly the best place to start....etc. But it was at the end when I asked again...

Why did you personally vote against the scheme?... This was Anne's answer..

They messed up phase 1, which was the easy bit, and you've got cyclists using the main carriageway. That tells me there is a design fault. Phase 2 has harder junctions and I'm not convinced by what I've seen in phase 1 that phase 2 will be designed right.

I then asked the following...

Why then did you vote against it now, when we have only seen preliminary designs? If you are concerned about the design of phase 2, why not let it go to the detailed design stage where you can actually see the design, and vote on that!?

I actually asked Anne this question in two slightly different ways, and both times, she screwed her face up a bit, and shrugged. She didn't have an answer.

After the second occasion I added...

Can you see why we are frustrated....?

Yes, David.

I then finished off by saying that I feel the decision was ridiculous, especially considering the benefits that cycling would have on pollution, congestion, health, etc. I also pointed out that the decision had ramifications far beyond East Dunbartonshire and that many from outside the area were watching closely.

We stood up, shook hands and I took a slightly bored and tired 11 year old home, unfortunately not really having moved forward very much. I had to do it, I had to understand why a councillor who was actually pro-cycling in the past, had voted against Bears Way.

We are now left with a path that starts and goes no-where, a section of a community that is angry enough to suggest placing tacks on a path where families are going to cycle, and a number of councillors who I believe, and this is my personal opinion, voted for the benefit of themselves rather than the area and people they represent.

I'm not sure my son will value the word of politicians from now on. I think he is right.

Monday, 10 October 2016

Predictions and Action

Tonight I was going through old draft posts. Anyone who writes an active blog will likely be in the same position as me. You have blogs you publish, you have blogs that you start and then delete, and you have blogs that you start, get a fair way though and....well, you move on and it sits there as a draft, usually never seeing the light of day. However, tonight I came across this blog.....

It was me being a bit daft. I was imagining a crazy situation where councils were ripping out cycle lanes and people were calling for roads to be widened. I actually wrote this about a year ago. A sort of Armageddon thought experiment.

Oh dear.

Yes, it would appear that my thought experiment is coming to pass. Cycle lanes are being ripped out and as you will know if you follow this blog, Bears Way is not being extended and who knows, might be ripped out too, as the local SNP don't think segregation is the way forward. 

Let's just give up then? Not a chance! Oh no. If we give up now, that's the end. But if we fight, and we fight hard, and we continue to challenge the misinformation and , let's face it, downright lies, then we will win in the end. Not sure?! Well, all you need to do is sign a wee petition. It only takes a minute (unless you want to add a comment, which is always welcome!). Despite what some of the locals tell you, you don't have to be local to have a say. What happens with Bears Way will have an effect on future schemes all around the country.

******-------So please, PLEASE... sign this petition here -------******

Anyway, here is the blog that was a draft. It looks like it is coming to pass, but only if you let it....



You know what? Let's forget it.

It's too much hassle, people just don't get it. The car is, and always remain king.

Let's just leave it there.

No. In fact that isn't enough. Let's get the cycle lanes that have been built and rip them out. Let's return the roads to their former glory. Nice and wide, nice and fast and free of cyclists and pedestrians.

We all need to get to where we are going fast. We need to get to work, we need to get to the gym (to ride a stationary bike), we need to visit friends, we need to pop a couple of hundred metres down the road to the local shop to get some milk. We need to take the kids to their sports clubs...we need to take the kids to school.

That all has to happen fast. Time is precious, time is short. It does not matter that when we get to where we are going that parking spaces are short, we will just ask the council for more. Congestion is a problem, though it isn't because there are too many cars on the road. Oh no, there just aren't enough roads and the roads that we have don't have enough lanes.

Build more roads, and widen the ones we have!

Sure, we'd loose a bit more green space, but that doesn't really matter, as we can all drive out to the countryside. Sure the countryside has a shortage of parking spaces, but once again our councils can sort that. Oh, and the roads might need widened to get there fast...

All this talk of obesity? Not a problem. With more people driving and more parking spaces outside gyms, we can get to the gym quicker and more often. None of those pesky cyclists holding us up! Parking will be free of course. Driving costs far too much already don't you know!

In fact, we need to make sure the price of motoring goes down. We need more oil. Yes! Fracking is the answer. Oh, yes the majority of UK fracking will only produce gas and not usable oil, but fear not, other countries can increase their fracking too! There is plenty of oil in he ground, we just need to innovate and we can draw out more and more.

Run out?! Ha! Not in our lifetime. That's someone else's problem....and as for climate change, well, we could do with it being a bit warmer in Scotland.

Pollution? Na. Cars are getting cleaner and cleaner all the time. Car manufacturers are honest decent folk who want a cleaner environment too! Anyway, electric cars are coming and there is absolutely no pollution from electric cars whatsoever. Yes, at least half a cars lifetime emissions come from the cars manufacture, and yes, electric cars need to get their electricity from somewhere, and that somewhere is often polluting, but hey, it's another chance for innovation!