Friday, 13 September 2019

My Procurator Fiscal Letter

The following is a letter I have just sent to the Procurator Fiscal office in relation to this incident.


Dear Sir/madam,


I am writing to you with regards to the case against xxx xxx (PF No: xxx).

I attended court yesterday as a witness in this case, having attended court previously on the 17th July, where the case was delayed. Whilst waiting for the case to commence I was informed that the driver had pled guilty and that I was no longer required in court. Unfortunately the Court Clerk did not know what exact charge the driver had pled to, and did not know the sentencing. I therefore phoned the Procurator Fiscal office later that day.

After passing on my details over the phone the operator was able to inform me off the sentencing outcome, but for some reason was not allowed to tell me what the driver pled guilty to. I'm not sure why I could find out one, but not the other. I was informed I would need to write to you to find out any other information. I know Mr xxx was fined £150 and received 3 points. Can you tell me if this was in relation to careless or dangerous driving?

Going by the level of fine and points that Mr xxx received I can only assume that the charge was dropped to careless. Can I ask for you to please inform me of how the PF assigned to this case managed to justify accepting this?

I am not sure if your systems allow you to view footage on YouTube. If they do though, you can view the camera footage of the incident in question here (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FO0ghcWrbmU). As you will see from the footage, I was placed by this drivers actions, in significant danger and suffered significant distress. The van that Mr xxx passed me in missed my right arm with centimetres to spare, at high speed, with an oncoming HGV.

Firstly, taking into consideration section 2A of the Road Traffic Act 1988, could this driving not be considered dangerous? It is obvious to any 'competent driver' that this driving falls 'far below what would be expected of a competent and careful driver'. Further, it certainly would be obvious to any competent driver that 'driving in this way would be dangerous'. Had his vehicle been a few centimetres further to the left, it would certainly have resulted in my serious injury or perhaps death. As a cyclist I have absolutely no crumple zone or roll cage to protect me.

I am sure that Mr xxx is an upstanding citizen, and this may indeed be the first time that Mr xxx has been charged with an offence, however the consequences of his actions, should his positioning have been only very slightly different, or should I have wobbled even slightly to my right, could have been very serious to myself, a husband and father of three. Why then did the PF agree to reduce the charge to careless (my assumption) considering the level of driving concerned, the very obvious danger that it represented and the very real effect that this could have had on my family?

Further to the above, having allowed for the charge to be dropped from dangerous to careless (again my assumption), why has the PF allowed for the sentencing to be almost as low as it is possible to be? Why for example, when a driver has clearly and of his own free will put another person at significant risk, at a level of very obviously dangerous driving, has the PF allowed the fine and the points applied to be at a level that is below mobile phone use, or a lack of insurance documents? Yes, the use of mobile phones whilst driving has significant potential to put other road users at risk, and so should be treated seriously,  but how can this incident where I was ACTUALLY put at significant risk, and placed in a state of obvious distress, not be sentenced to at least a similar level?

One thing is clear from this sentencing is, that it is not in any way a deterrent. With sentencing consistent with this, a driver could put 4 cyclists at risk (and potential serious injury or death) before being considered for a driving ban. If you had a family member who cycled, would you consider that justice had been served in a case like this?

I think it is quite clear from what I have written above that this case and the outcome do not serve the public interest. Therefore, I would be very grateful if you could inform me of the reasoning behind the dropping of the charge (my assumption) and the level of the accepted fine and points.


I look forward to your detailed reply.


Yours sincerely



Dr David Brennan

Friday, 12 October 2018

I Have Some Questions?

Cyclists are bad.

They run red lights.
They cycle on the pavement.
They are a menace!

At least that's what some commentators suggest.  Is this based in reality? Well yes, some cyclists do do these things. Why though do these commentators focus on these things when all around them, people driving cars do the same, and at greater risk to those surrounding them?



Why focus on the cyclists?

Why suggest, either explicitly or implicitly that we shouldn't invest in cycle infrastructure because some behave badly (nearly always endangering themselves and no-one else)?

Why do people focus their time disparaging an activity that has some many positive upsides for participants, communities, cities and our countries?

There is no logic. Is there? Please do let me know if there is? Let me know if there is a good logical reason to oppose safe infrastructure for cycling. Don't just base it on your own opinion, as that is almost certainly soaked in bias, as my own opinion almost certainly is. Base it on facts, research and logical argument. Please do.

Don't go on news programmes looking for soundbites. Don't point-score. Don't smile smugly when you feel like you've got one over on your opponent. Stick to logic. If you are truly right, if the facts and figures are on your side, you will win. Victory is really there for the taking. Why haven't you taken it yet?

Just don't pluck statistics out of thin air. Or a red bus with words written on the side. I'd definitely avoid that.

If you can't supply the logic and the facts behind that logic, with evidence, then what is it that drives your passion to stop active travel. Is it fear? Emotion? A sense that you no longer understand or can control the changes going on in the world around you? A niggly feeling that somehow progress, however benign might make your life worse? Perhaps progress is bad? Conflict is good?

Or are you just a prick, looking for air-time? Seeking attention by verbalising click-bait?

What is it? Really, what is it!?! I honestly don't have a clue.

You may realise just now I have so many questions and, I've been quiet for so long, here on this blog, these questions have just built and built until now they feel like they need to explode out of my head.

So here they are, digitally laid out before you. I'd really appreciate if you start answering them.

Thanks in advance.


Tuesday, 7 November 2017

Political, Will or Won't

Today I received a response from Rona Mackay in relation to the questions I asked previously. You can find the response below.



Hi David,

Sorry for the delay in replying to you on this matter. Here is the council response to your questions:

On phase 1 there were serious concerns about the safety of the design, particularly at road junctions and crossings. Given these concerns, the SNP group made a manifesto commitment to make phase 1 of the project safe, and to this end we have discussed with the roads department the following outcomes:
a) The cycle way will be reinstated more prominently by Cala before they leave the site.
b) Where the separation zone juts out we will put in reflectors (this is particularly useful for motorcyclists).
c) Extra clear warnings when there is an access across the cycle lane.
d) Extra bollards at McDonalds.
In addition to the above, the off main road phase (Kessington to Maryhill Road) was reported to the PNCA Committee on Thursday and agreed on. This will be in relation to Traffic Regulation Orders prior to signs being put into use.
In relation to Phase 2, with the complexity of the layout of the A81 at the junctions with Boclair Rd and ASDA it is envisaged that only bigger problems will emerge. At this time there does not appear to be any political will within the council to revisit the next phase of the project.
I know that you will be disappointed regarding Phase 2, but should there be any developments in this regard, I will contact you immediately.

Best wishes,
Rona

There are a couple of things of note. First off, there are 4 issues with phase 1 listed. One is that they think there needs to be some reflectors fitted. Secondly, they think some bollards need fitted. Thirdly they think some signs need added and finally the junction at Cala (Allander sports centre junction) needs reinstated to what it was before.

Remember Rona stated that phase 2 wasn't going ahead because of major issues with the lane.....

OK, so lets get b), c) and d) out of the way first. Very simple, minor changes. Will they make any difference at all? Almost certainly not. Total waste of tax payers money, if you ask me. However, if it means we can go ahead with phase 2, yeah, lets get some reflectors, bollards and signs.

a) is a little more interesting. This junction is described on the Cycling Embassy of Great Britian's blog (11th picture down). Yes, it isn't perfect and Cala, who are doing some house-building nearby dug this junction up and made it worse (what you see now). It needs a bit more of a ramp (OK quite a bit more), some different colouring for the lane and perhaps a slight narrowing of the cycle lane itself (not something I normally ask for!). So actually, what I and Friends of Bearsway want, is more work than the councillors want. They just want it re-instated to what it was before, with a lower ramp and no coloured lane.

But hey, we sort of agree.

Wait though, this is a relatively minor alteration of this junction. Yes it might make a big difference, but the actual alteration is minor. So, umm...what are the major changes to phase 1 that are required before phase 2 can begin? Some reflectors, bollards, signs and a slight change to one junction!?!?

I wonder how much snagging is required on every road build. Do they stop completion of roads until the first has been fully snagged and are perfect?!?!?

Hauld yer breeks though....there's more. They mention the' off road phase at Kessington/Maryhill'. Well, ok....but this is actually a completely separate issue. Nothing to do with Bears Way at all. Completely and utterly separate. So I've no idea why this was mentioned here.

Then comes the rub.

I'll summarise

We think phase 2 might be difficult, so we would rather not do it, thank you very much. Making active travel a real alternative, so that it's not just for the brave, is just too darn difficult. Sure, there are more cyclist injuries in the area where phase 2 would go, but we are more concerned about getting voted in by Mr and Mr Angry of Bearsden and Milngavie at the next election, than actually giving two tosses about active travel. Traffic levels might well be increasing in the area, pollution is a big issue, oh yeah and so is congestion and yeah, our national party wants more active travel, but.....we are concerned if we allow it to go to design stage, that we might get a good design and we might actually have to annoy Mr and Mrs Angry and give it the go ahead....So, we'll bury our heads in the sand and hope it all blows over.

I think that just above covers the last two paragraphs.

Actually I can summaries it with two words extracted from the e-mail

Political Will.

Actually its quite unusual for a politician to admit that they just don't want to do it. No actual reason given, just that...nah...not for us, thanks. So we have a national party saying that active travel is a national policy and we have an MSP of that national party sending me a response that completely and utterly goes against national policy.

Hello Transport Minister, are you reading this!?!?

So, that's it then. Time to pack our bags, and give up on the lost cause that is East Dunbartonshire.....well, ....no. Quite the opposite.

First off, if you live in East Dunbartonshire, contact your councillors and MSPs (of every party) and let them know that this is not acceptable. You can do that easily here. It's time to find 'the political will'. I'm not just talking to you, the resident of East Dunbartonshire though. I'm talking to everyone else in Scotland. Contact your MSPs and tell them that you are shocked by what you see happening in East Dunbartonshire. Let them know that you will not accept that attitude where you live.

Finally, contact Humza Yousaf (his e-mail is scottish.ministers@gov.scot Just add FAO Humza Yousaf). I actually think Humza gets active travel and I'm excited by the national changes that are occurring, but if he has councillors and MSPs from his own party that are rebelling against national party policy, that needs to be dealt with, right?!

Oh and you, yes you, cycling campaigns, cycling orgs etc. You don't get off scot-free either. It's time for you to make your voice heard as well. What do you think about this approach? Is it acceptable? Should we just abandon all hope in East Dunbartonshire, or will you help me lobby the council, and all the parties in the area to find this missing 'political will'?

We sit on the edge of a great opportunity to truly take Scotland's transport system into the 21st century. However, if we sit back and expect politicians to make the leap, without being pushed, we will find ourselves falling back into the car dominated abyss. So take this stand with me. Let's help give our politicians the political will, to make East Dunbartonshire, and Scotland, cycle and people friendly.

Monday, 30 October 2017

Bear Way Extension? Not Likely!

Here is a short e-mail trail between myself and my MSP Rona Mackay concerning the active travel discussion in Holyrood tomorrow (31st October some time ater 2pm), and the extension of Bears Way. I'll leave the e-mails here without further comment, unless you want to add your own....

Dear Rona,
Following on from my questions on Twitter, I was wondering if you will 
be attending the active travel debate on Tuesday at Holyrood?
I am very concerned with the state of active travel in East 
Dunbartonshire. I have heard from very reliable sources, that the SNP in 
the region do not want to consider extending the Bears Way cycle lane 
past its current location. This is particularly concerning considering 
recent data released demonstrating that the majority of cyclist 
incidents (resulting in injury) occur in the area of phase 2.
You can see the data for yourself at this link 
(https://bikedata.cyclestreets.net/collisions/#15/55.9223/-4.3139/opencyclemap). 
Bears Way phase 1 was a great start, but on its own provides no 
significant safety to those cycling through the area, as they still need 
to cycle on the road in the most dangerous areas. The extension of Bears 
Way is absolutely vital to the area in which traffic congestion will 
only serve to get worse with the new builds in the area. 
I would be very grateful if you could attend the debate and address some 
of these issue.

Reply from Rona:

Dear David,
Thanks for your email. I asked you to email as I prefer not to enter into constituent discussions on social media. I hope you understand and didn't want you to think I was ignoring you.
To answer your question, I am not taking part in tomorrow's debate on Active Travel. I am speaking in another debate tomorrow which is more directly related to my work on the Justice Committee.
With regard to Bears Way, I think you know my stated position - and that of the SNP group on EDC who voted to postpone the extension before the May election - that I am not in favour of extending it until the problems with Stage 1 have been addressed. How long this will take, and if indeed anything has been progressed on that front, I will have to ask the Council, which I am happy to do on your behalf.
I am fully supportive of Active Travel and I am happy that the Government is taking this forward as a priority throughout Scotland. However, I maintain my position that Bears Way is extremely badly designed and I do not believe it serves the best interests of cyclists, motorists or pedestrians.
I know it is unlikely you will agree with me on this, but I hope you respect my position.

My reply:

Hi Rona,
Many thanks for your reply. Of course I respect your position on this, 
however I do wholeheartedly disagree with it. As someone who finds phase 
1 Bears Way the safest and most enjoyable part of their commute, I find 
it hard to understand what problems with phase 1 would justify a 
moratorium on the design and implementation of phase 2, something that 
the crash data demonstrate is desperately needed.
I would be the first, and probably was the first 
(http://www.magnatom.net/2015/05/bears-way-heaven-or-hell.html
http://www.magnatom.net/2015/05/bears-way-not-for-everyone.html) to 
criticise some aspects of Bears Way. It certainly isn't perfect. 
However, it is far superior to what was there before. As I have ridden 
on it over time, and seen others (including many children) riding on it, 
I have come to realise that despite its minor flaws, it is a huge 
benefit to those who use it and who could potentially use it, if it was 
finished.
Just recently the Cycle Embassy of Great Britain, a well respected UK 
wide campaign group, rode on the lane and gave it its approval 
(https://www.cycling-embassy.org.uk/blog/2017/10/13/a-glasgow-excursion-the-cycling-embassy-agms-third-infrastructure-safari).

Considering that the overwhelming majority of the cycling community 
support the extension of the cycle lane (I could provide a list of 
organisations if you require it), could you please list for me what 
issues that the EDC SNP group have with phase 1? Also, if the resolution 
of the issues on phase 1 are all that is holding up phase 2, can I ask 
what work your councillors have been conducting, and what internal 
communications they have been making on behalf of constituents to 
resolve these issues? I have seen a lot of public discussion with 
regards to the shared space on Kirkintilloch (which I might add, I am 
not a huge fan of), but absolutely nothing with regards to progressing 
Bears Way.
 

Wednesday, 3 May 2017

The Mind of a Candidate You Shouldn't Vote For

At the very recent, and VERY successful PoP Glasgow demonstration, I took advantage of my position as the M.C at George Square to give a wee speech (haven't found a video of it, does anyone have one?). The thrust of the speech was that, this being council elections, we should vote for local issues, not national issues. For example, it doesn't matter one iota if a candidate supports independence or not, they only get the same say on that issue that we all do!

Vote on local issues!

I also recounted a comment someone had made to me recently where they said:

You can't base your vote on a cycle lane, surely?

They were referring to the fact that I was going to be basing my vote on the approach that councilors had to the Bears Way cycle lane.

But its only a cycle lane!!
This was the response I gave in my PoP speech.

But what he didn't understand was that it isn't about the cycle lane at all. It's about so much more. It's about pollution. It's about health. It's about the environment. It's about efficiency use of space. Is about providing our children with independence. It's about eradicating congestion. It's about appropriate use of land space. It's about reducing transport deprivation. It's about people friendly towns and cities. It's about places...

To expand on that... The facts behind investment in cycle infrastructure are overwhelming. Investing in cycle infrastructure pays back significantly in so many ways, too many ways for me to try and reference in a short blog.

Investing in cycling is a no-brainer!

So, when I look at my what my candidates have said in relation to Bears Way, it isn't just telling me what they think about a cycle lane, it is telling me if they are someone who bases their decisions on fact, on research, and on logic.

If a candidate is saying that they support cycling, but is suggesting that you do that by looking for wiggly back routes, and plotting them on a map, whilst pandering to the whims of Mr and Mr Angry who don't like segregated cycle lanes, as it means they have to drive a few MPH slower, then...well... that's obviously the way they will conduct future council business.

In East Dunbartonshire one party in particular has made their opinions on segregated infrastructure very clear. The SNP. I critique their election propaganda on it here.

Two other parties have also made their thoughts clear on the Bears Way. Both Labour and the Greens have stated quite clearly that they support extension of Bears Way along with proper design of the next phases.

Last week I also contacted the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrat candidates in the area, asking them if they would support the extension of Bears Way. I haven't heard back. Going on past record, the conservatives had previously supported extending it, and the Liberal Democrats voted to stop it being extended. The lack of response from both might or might not speak volumes...

I also personally contacted a local independent candidate in my area (Bishopbriggs North and Campsie)  Brian Reid. His comments were very reasonable with regards to issues that the council have with forward planning, and he stated:

I do believe that any extension of  cycle ways should be a priority for our council.

Am I telling you how to vote? Absolutely not. These issues may for you, be only one of many that you will be considering. However, as I've mentioned, consider the candidates approach to something that can only be a good thing, and you might have just seen...

....the Mind of a Candidate You Shouldn't Vote For......*


*Actually you should vote for them....For them all....In an Standard Transferable Vote system you can actually vote against people by scoring them last. It's called Vote Till You Boke. **

** Oh and look at http://walkcyclevote.scot/ to see if your candidate supports three important asks.