Wednesday 30 November 2011

Anger, Frustration, Police

Sorry, but this post requires a little bit of background reading. If you haven't already read it, look at this post first about an incident I had in Milngavie Police station 3 months ago, where I was threatened with arrest. Now, again if you haven't read it, read my post from yesterday here.

Right, you should be up to speed now. In fact you are probably about as up to speed as I am. I've had a busy day looking after the kids, so I haven't had a chance to think though this mornings phone call from the police. So this post is just about me thinking this through as letting you know what has happened. Apologies if it reads strange.

So this morning the phone rings. It is the officer that is in charge of the investigation. Obviously my e-mail has at last got a response. The introductions out the way the officer tells me that he was surprised to hear from me. It turns out that the complaint had been dealt with informally as I had requested.


Going back in time a bit, after I had sent the request in, Sgt xxxxxxx the investigating officer phoned me to say that he was in charge of it. He discussed the detail with me and pointed out that there were two options available to me. Informal complain, or formal complaint. He suggested that in the first instance we should treat this informally and see what the officer has to say for himself. Then I could decide from there if I wanted to take it further. This seemed reasonable, especially as it turned out the officer was on holiday at that time and would be for a couple of weeks. Sgt xxxxxxx would speak to him then and get back.

Fair enough.

So time passed and I hadn't heard anything. So I called on (and I have checked this time on my mobile phone records) 29th September at 13:02. Sgt xxxxxxxx wasn't in so I left a message for him to get back to me. He didn't. I'm busy so I didn't manage to phone again until the 30th October at 13:34 (again on my phone records). Again he was not in, and again I left a message for him to get back to me. Again he did not.

I finally found some time to e-mail as described in my last blog and today came the call.

The following is a rough reconstruction from my memory of the main points of the conversation

Sgt: We agreed that this would be dealt with informally, so I had a chat with him.

Me: No, I agreed that it was reasonable to chat with him to start with to know where we stood.

Sgt: No, we agreed to deal only with it informally.

Me: That was not what I agreed. Anyway, surely I would expect some form of reply from you about what happened at that meeting, especially considering he was not available when I first complained.

Sgt: I can only apologise about that.

Me: Is it not normal policy to respond to a complaint even if informal only

Sgt: I can only apoligise

Me: What was the outcome of the chat?

Sgt: Both officer xxxxxxx and the desk lady both denied they mentioned anything about arrest.

Me: That is a downright lie!

Sgt: Ummm, errr, sorry about that.

Me: What about the fact that he was saying filming faces and licence wasn't allowed

Sgt: He was only suggesting that there was a civil issue (There isn't!!!)

Me: Also I tried to contact you twice and left a message twice to call me back. Why didn't you?

Sgt: We have system where if someone leaves a message an e-mail is sent to me to contact you back. I never received such an e-mail

Me: But I definitely phoned twice

Sgt: I can only apologise.

Me: What about CCTV in the station, does that back up any of my events as described?

Sgt: Unfortunately this is an older station and doesn't have CCTV. They only get it when refurbished.

Sgt: You can make this formal if you wish

Me: I'll need to go away and think all of this through.....

So here I am. Feeling completely let down by the police.

Surely, even if he did get the wrong end of the stick and thought I just wanted an informal chat I should get some feedback? I was always considering the option of making it formal, after I had heard his response.
There is no way I said I was happy for it just to be treated informally. I very clearly remember it being suggested that it could be taken further later. If it isn't policy now, it should be policy for any complaint, formal or informal to get feedback after the person being complained about has been interviewed.

Why were my two phone calls ignored? Incompetence from those taking the messages? Was it ignored by the investigating officer?

What is certain is that the police officers lied about threatening to arrest me. I can assure you that happened. My wife would attest to how shook up and angry I was when I came back home.

What do I do now? Do I just drop this? Do I put it down to experience?
Should I put in a formal complaint against the original officer? They will just deny it again anyway.
Should I take it further? More senior officer? PCCS? MP or MSP?

I really don't know.

The only thing for certain is that I used to hold the police in high regard. Now, I feel like I can't trust them at all. I have lost all faith in Strathclyde police. That is very, very sad.

Tuesday 29 November 2011

Ongoing Police Complaint

What follows is a letter sent to Strathclyde Police today (contains some minor changes).

Dear Sir/madam,

On the 28th of August the complaint, (
see here), was sent to you via e-mail concerning the conduct of Officer xxxxxxx on the 14th of August at Milngavie Police Station. Following this I was contacted by Sgt xxxxxx  via phone indicating that he would be dealing with the complaint against the officer and would get back to me with regards to it.

It is now just over 3 months since I made the formal complaint via e-mail and I have had no further word on the progress, or lack of progress of this complaint. I have tried phoning Sgt xxxxxxx on two separate occasions to find out what was happening. Sgt xxxxxxx was not available on either occasion, but my contact details were left and I asked to be contacted back. I have never been contacted back.

I feel I have waited long enough for this complaint to be progressed and I am now considering taking this to the PCCS if I do not hear about the state of the investigation within the next few days.

It feels like this complaint has been ignored or swept under the carpet.

Many thanks for your help in this matter.

I am not holding my breath. 

Friday 25 November 2011

It Has Happened Again

I'm sure most of you will remember my Oil Tanker incident which occured in March 2008. It was a horrible incident that unfortunately, due to technical issues never went to court.

Unfortunately, this morning I suffered a very similar incident in exactly the same place. This time instead of being icy it was pouring with rain. It was an HGV, although this time a tipper truck instead of an oil tanker. I came on at the same junction, I was well on the roundabout, more so than last time and the HGV pulled straight out. Had I not stopped on this occasion I would have been run over with the cab.

He did slow down a bit, gave a bit of a wave and drove off. He saw me all right. No question there.

There were plenty of drivers around who witnessed it, but they drove off.

So there I was stuck in the middle of the roundabout completely dazed and absolutely furious that the same thing could happen again.

I swore a lot and once the adrenalin had worn off, I was a bit shaken.

Of course, I'm no ordinary cyclist, I am a helmet camera cyclist, so I have it all on video, front and back. Interestingly, this time, due to the angle I ended up at, it is the rear footage which demonstrates how close it was better than the front. I know the name of the company that operates the HGV and I have it's registration. I even have a GPS trace showing my position and speed on approach to the roundabout. So the video has been edited and the police have been informed.  Of course, with it being a weekend it will probably be a day or so before they have time to see me, which is fair enough.

So where is the video? It is on YouTube, but it will remain unlisted for the time being. I am determined to do this one by the book, so it may be a while before it is released for general consumption. Sorry.

On the bright side, that is two HGV drivers who have done their best to wipe me off the planet and two that have failed. Perhaps, contrary to what my 'fans' suggest, I am actually riding a bike in a way that allows me to avoid collision.

I've decided that a slight change to my route is in order. I can come to that roundabout via a different direction. I'm not going to let that happen again.

After today hope I still have a few lives left.

Tuesday 22 November 2011

Crash, Bang, Wallop!

As a follow on from my previous blog I thought I should be as open as possible about the videos where I have made mistakes. So he is my list of videos where I either admitted I made a mistake from the start, realised later that I made a mistake, or more spectacularly, I crashed!

This will probably be a blog that my haters enjoy!

Crash 1
Filtering mistake
Undertaking an HGV
Blocking a car
Crash 2
Crash 3
Overtaking mistake
Almost a crash!
Cutting up a car
I hit a car!
Crash 4
My sheep incident
Lucky escape
Almost hit a car
Clipless Moment
Crash 5 (Ouch!)
Crash 6

I should point out that the above videos have occured over a 4 year period!

I try to be honest about my mistakes. I also try and learn from them. All I ask of other road users is that you do the same.

Thursday 17 November 2011

Too many incidents?

I'm a cyclist and I'm not involved in anywhere near as many incidents as you!

I'm on the receving end of many comments like this on a regular basis. Often on YouTube, but I am certainly not immune to this on internet forum sites either. This thread is an interesting example of how a thread can turn into Magnatom Bashing. You will need some time and patience to get through it!

I have certainly never claimed to be perfect. Sometimes I over-react, but I always try to remain honest. If that means showing a video where I come across badly, then so be it.

The argument that I am a troublemake and involved in far more incidents than anyone else is often banded about during these forum jousts. I can actually understand how it comes about. Imagine you have come across my videos for the first time and you start working your way through them. You flick past the boring videos, the ones where it shows me filtering through traffic, battling through floods, taking in the wonderful views and focus on the incidents. 15 or 20 videos later and it seems that all that idiot ever does is get into spats with drivers....he's a menace!!

What happens though if we take a step back. Actually look at all of my videos (I can also see the ones that are private for one reason or another) and see what the videos actually consit of.

This is how I would split them (186 at time of writing including a few private videos):

65 Incidents which were only annoying
15 Incidents which I considered risky to me
1 serious incident
31 which were observational of something positive (I was not directly involved)
27 which were observational of something negative (I was not directly involved)
17 which were either a mistake by me, or a fall that was my fault (admitted from the start or later)
14 that were demonstrating equipment
13 which were educational in some way
2 containing my family members
1 radio interview

So only 81 of my videos are of incidents where I felt someone else was at fault, and were at the very least annoying. Whilst I have been using a camera I estimate I have cycled 11320 miles. So that is about 140 miles between incidents. Remember that is incidents of any kind on predominently busy, urban, bike-unfriendly roads.

Taking only risky or serious incidents I have to cycle about 710 miles before I have a risky or very serious incident. Taking only the serious incidents (my oil tanker incident) which really risked my life, at the moment that stands at 11,320 miles.

So, do I really seem to get into bother more than other cyclists? I know that the vast majority of the incidents that I have had, had I not recorded them, I would not now remember. So without a camera, if I reflected back, I too would think Magnatom seems to get into a lot more bother than me..

Friday 11 November 2011

Cyclist Scum

Cyclist scum?! That is exactly what a lady driver appeared to think of me.

I was actually quite shocked at this interaction with a driver for a few reasons. Firstly, I have been having great commutes for the last few weeks, so this has unfortunately ended my good run. It came out of he blue. Secondly, I have no idea why she reacted the way she did I did not holder her up. The large queue that I filtered past may have held her up, but I didn't, certainly no more than a few seconds. Lastly, she didn't look the aggressive sort, but as you'll see from this video she was particularly aggressive and most shockingly, full of contempt for me.


A cyclist DARED to speak to her and question her.

See for yourself....

Tuesday 8 November 2011

The Ultimate Cycle Commute Rucksack?

There are two distinct camps of cycle commuters. I'm not talking about those that want to cycle on the roads and those that want lanes. That's for another blog post. I'm talking about a far more contentious division.

Panniers or rucksack!?!

You have to get stuff to work, and unfortunately you sometimes have to bring work home. But how do you get it there? Some cyclists swear by Panniers as the answer. You will certainly have less issues with sweaty back syndrome. However, I am proud to be a Rucksack wearer, and have been since I started commuting.

So if you fall into the Rucksack crew, I can heartily recommend a rucksack.

The Deuter Trans Alpine 30. Trans Alpine? Remember I cycle in Scotland!

Seriously though this has been an amazing bag for me.

How many times have you read a review saying something was amazing only to find out that the reviewer had only had the item for 2 weeks?! Can you trust reviews like that? Rest assured this is no short term use review. I have in fact been cycle commuting with this rucksack since October 2006. The same one throughout.

I have had this bag just over 5 years. Think about that. That's 5 summers, and 5 winters. I've had this bag longer than I have been filming my rides with a helmet camera! It's been rained on, snowed on, I've came off my bike (a few times) with it on. It has been on my back in temperatures of 28C and temperatures of -15C. Over that time I have cycled many thousands of miles. It has taken a beating.

So what about the bag itself?

It's not a small bag, and that is exactly why I bought it. I needed space, as I tend to carry quite a bit. It's not unusual for me to be carrying, clothes for work, shoes for work, a note book or two, wallet, spare cycling jacket, spare batteries, tubes, multi-tool, puncture repair kit, water, mobile phone etc. So it can carry a lot! It has a nice number and nicely proportioned compartments and very importantly for the poor weather a rain cover (that is Hi-Vis yellow).

It also fits very well with restraining straps on the main shoulder straps and around the users waist. Once it's on I forget it is there. Do I get a sweaty back? Of course I do, but its not too bad, and with the Airstripes system, better than average. Mind you, it doesn't really bother me, and I think it is a price worth paying for the convenience of a rucksack.

Here is what it looks like new.
Looks good new...

So what does it look like now, having been through all weathers etc? Not too bad!

Ok, so it's understandably a bit tatty, but pretty good considering its use. Most importantly it has plenty of life left in it.

So how much is the 'ultimate commute rucksack'? Currently it is just over £80 from Amazon. Not cheap, but for a bag that does what it should and is built to last, its a good investment.

UpdateJan 213
Chain Reaction  are doing these bags at an excellent price of £65.99. A bargain at that price.

Sunday 6 November 2011

Does it get any better?

You may have noticed that I've been a bit quiet recently. Not like me, I'm not known for being quiet as I am sure you've noticed!

So why the radio silence?

A couple of reasons really. The first, and most boring is that I am busy. Yes, contrary to what many people say about me on my YouTube videos I do actually have a life. That life which has a busy job, a wife and three young children in it, has been pretty demanding recently. Not that that is necessarily a bad thing. Mind you, as I write this my wife is battling to get our youngest to sleep, now she has contracted Hand, Foot and Mouth for the second time in 2 months. That isn't such a great thing.

However, the slightly less mundane reason I have been quiet is commute has been quiet. No, the roads haven't suddenly cleared of cars, far from it. It has been pretty busy on the roads recently. It's just that I am going through a magical period of stress free cycle commuting.


It's never perfect, but any incidents have been of a very minor, forget in 10 seconds nature.

So no, videos then?....not quite. In fact I think I have produced my best video to date. Ok, that's my opinion, but you can have a look and decide for yourself below. The only thing I'll say about the video is that it was filmed during one of my best commutes ever. One of those commutes where from start to finish you just can't stop grinning. You just feel at one with the bike and everything around you...including the traffic.

I got to work totally buzzing and wanting to keep cycling for another 100 miles.

I love driving. Not commute driving, that's never much fun in Glasgow, but I do love driving, especially on open country roads. However, driving has never made me feel the way I felt during this commute, and never will.

Enjoy! :-)