Friday 31 August 2012

iDRIVE Result

I'm sure most of you will have read my recent blog on the comments I received from an a learner driver school's official YouTube channel. It can be found here. The comment was quite shocking.

However, I have been very pleased with the response from iDRIVE themselves. I received a very quick initial response and after they had investigated the issue they replied to me in detail (without compromising confidentiality).

It turns out that it was an admin employee who had access to the YouTube, Facebook, e-mail accounts etc that sent the comment. I can only assume it was done when the employee thought he was logged in to his personal, anonymous account.

The employee was interviewed the following day. This is a quote from the owner of iDRIVE

I am unable to discuss with any third parties in detail about the contract breaches made, all I can say is that 7 breaches of the contract were found and for that we can thank you, and your viewers who brought it to our attention.
 ...however after a interview with the person in question, we found very little sympathy towards the comments made.
 So it would appear that the person in question had little remorse over the comments that he made and as a result is no longer employed by the company.

This is an unfortunate outcome, and one that I personally take no pleasure in. I was hoping that the person in question would have had some remorse and apologised for what they had done. As this was not the case I can fully understand the decision to let the person go.

It is a sad outcome.

However, I am very grateful to iDRIVE for their help in this matter and I wish them well in the future.

Tuesday 28 August 2012

iDRIVE Cyclists Off the Road

Please read the following follow up blog to the original blog I wrote below. I was very pleased with the companies response to this incident.

A Quality Service, Friendly, Reliable & Professional

That's a quote on the iDRIVE driver tuition website and reading the website you would have no reason to doubt the quote. The site, whilst a little over complicated seems reasonably professional. 

Why though would a prospective driver chose to learn with iDRIVEdt? 

The top reason is that they are committed to :

"high quality, reliable and professional training"

It all sounds very good, so I suggest you sign up quickly if you are looking for driving lessons.....oh wait a minute..... there is one small minor teeny weeny problem. 

They hate cyclists.

At least that would appear to be the case as I have just had the following comment coming from their official YouTube account (iDRIVEdrivertuition) on one of my videos (copied letter for letter and received at 19:58 this evening):

cyclists are fuckin dumbasses, kick em off the road. 

So there you have it. Until I hear any different (and I am contacting them for clarification) iDRIVEdt think cyclists are stupid and are suggesting that violence should be used to remove them from the road.

Remember folks, this is coming from people who are educating our young drivers. If driving instructors, those who are probably some of the most educated road users have this attitude towards cyclists do we really think that driver education alone will make the roads safe for all?

Edit: The comment has been removed from YouTube so he is a screenshot of the notification e-mail I received.


Monday 20 August 2012

Glasgow Cycling Czar

Today Frank McAveety has been announced as a 'Cycling Czar' within Glasgow city council. Here is a letter I have e-mailed to Mr McAveety on my own behalf and behalf of Pedal on Parliament.

Dear Mr McAveety,

First of all, please let me congratulate you on your appointment as 'Cycling Czar' in Glasgow City Council. I was pleasantly surprised by the news this morning that GCC had taken this step.

I myself am a Glasgow cyclist (from Torrance to my work in the south of Glasgow daily) and have been for a number of years a cycle safety campaigner. I started off by videoing my commute and posting incidents and things of interest on Youtube ( and also write a blog about cycling and cycle campaigning (

Most recently I came up with the idea, and jointly organised a protest ride and movement called Pedal on Parliament (POP) which attracted 3000+ cyclists to attend in April ( It also gained the support of well known cyclists such as Mark Beaumont, Graeme Obree and Sir Chris Hoy. It is POP's aim to make Scotland a cycle friendly nation which we believe can be achieved by following our 8 point manifesto ( Most importantly it is our belief to make cycling safe and increase numbers of cyclists significantly that there needs to be significant investment in cycle infrastructure. This will require funding streams not only from local council but from central government as well.

Glasgow's roads are unfortunately far from being cycle friendly, despite the suggestion of the fundamentally flawed Virgin money survey placing Glasgow 6th in the UK for cycle friendliness. Had the survey actually taken account of the numbers of cyclists, which is very low in Glasgow in comparison to other areas, then Glasgow would have been found somewhere close to the bottom of the table (see here for more details on how flawed the calculations were Despite the reality, there has never been a better time to invest in cycling in Glasgow. There is increased interest following our success at the Olympics, Glasgow will receive a further boost from the opening of the Velodrome, and Glasgow will be the proud host of the Commonwealth Games in 2014. Hopefully your appointment is the first step on this journey.

There is no doubt that investment at a time of financial strife is difficult, however, spending on cycling is truly an investment. Cycling brings about not only health benefits, something that is a very important consideration in Glasgow, it also brings reductions in local pollution and associated reductions in CO2 emissions, social benefits, economic benefits and reductions in congestion.  However, in the past money has been spent badly, and nearly all of Glasgow's cyclists will tell you that the majority of the cities cycle infrastructure is poor and at times dangerous to use. For money to be well spent the infrastructure needs to be fully FUNDED, properly DESIGNED, and properly CONNECTED.

As well as posting a copy of this e-mail on my blog (as I normally do) I have copied it to people from other interested campaigns (Go-Bike, CTC Scotland, Sustrans, and Cycling Scotland) who I am sure along with ourselves will be keen to offer advice on how best to take things forward in Glasgow. Therefore, I ask on behalf of myself a concerned Glasgow cyclist and and on behalf of POP for you to please invite us to have discussions with you on how to make Glasgow a cycle friendly city.

With both central and local government buy in, with properly target funding, and with the right advice, Glasgow can become a cycle friendly city.

Thursday 16 August 2012

Am I too Negative?

I had quite an interesting debate on Twitter recently. Unlike the 'discussions' that occur on my Youtube videos (the ones where people wish me dead) this was an interesting and well informed discussion. Both sides made a reasonable argument (ok....I hope I did!) and whilst we chose to disagree we did so on good terms.

The poster was suggesting that my approach to campaigning is too negative. To be fair I can see why people can think I am too negative, as quite a few of my more recent posts have been about the safety aspect of cycling.

Let me though dispel one misunderstanding. I do not think cycling is dangerous. If I did, I wouldn't do it. I have three wonderful young kids, and I would love to be around for them for a long time to come. I unfortunately lost my father at an early age, and I am determined to be along as long as possible for them. In fact part of the reason I cycle is to keep as healthy as possible.

However, what I do think is that cycling is significantly more dangerous than it should be here in the UK. To ride on many of the roads I ride on you need skills and confidence that very few new cyclists would ever have and many people would never attain.

For example, can you imagine a cross section of the population cycling on roads like this?

Would this road be safe for an 8 year old to cycle on? Be honest.

The road above could with a bit of thought and money be made safe for everyone. It just needs to be DESIGNED, CONNECTED, and FUNDED.

There are those that suggest that increasing numbers will lead to increasing safety. Will it though? Today the Department for Transport released it's latest figures on Britain's road casualties.

I'd normally post some statistics. If you want to see those you can look at the DfT report. All I ask is you look at the graph above. Look at what is happening to cycling casualties, rising significantly. Pedestrians don't fair great either.

What is important to mention here is that we are missing the denominator. We don't have the figures for the increase in cycling. There are probably more cyclists, thus leading to more deaths and injuries. It makes sense.

Is it inevitable though? If cycling numbers increase will deaths increase? Yes. If we do nothing. If we think that letting people cycle on our roads as they are is acceptable then we will have to accept more cyclist dying.

....Or we could do something. Do something before this gets out of hand. We could spend the money now to make our streets safe for everyone. It has been done, it can be done and with the right political will, it will be done. Are willing to watch that graph of cyclist KSI continue to rise next year, the year after that, and the year after that?

Am I being negative? Or am I being realistic? What do you think?

Monday 13 August 2012

Health and Safety

Cycling is safe. Cycling is dangerous. Cycling is safe. Cycling is dangerous.

It's a circular argument that has a tendency to do what circles tend to do....go around and around. I've certainly had reason to discuss the safety of cycling in the past (here and here).

There are definitely two camps, those that tell you that cycling is not only safe but that you are 746,654.543 times less likely to die young if you cycle. They will quote you figures for the distance travelled by bike, on foot, by car, by plane in canoe, etc and prove to you with statistics that per mile travelled cycling is the safest way to travel and safer than scratching your nose.

Camp two are the scaredy cats. The big girls blouses who roll up their trouser legs when walking just in case their leg shrinks, the trouser drops below the foot and they trip over. They are even, and this one is really crazy, even known to put some polystyrene on their heads in the belief that it would provide protection from a 10 tonne bus.

OK, I may be exaggerating just a teensy bit, but there are certainly cycle campaigners who would prefer us to play down the downsides to cycling for fear of scaring new cyclists away. The idea is that with more cyclists comes increased safety. The safety in numbers hypothesis.

I fall into a different camp (but I'm no scaredy cat!!). I think there is a reality that we need to face. Not that cycling is dangerous, (I'll not split hairs over the differences between the act of cycling and the act of interacting with other road users), but that it is more dangerous than it needs to be. I've discussed here, that if we compare cycling to exemplar countries, we can see a great disparity in the casualty figures.

As I have eluded to above, statistics are messy and can usually be twisted one way or the other. In fact it is not the statistics themselves that are messy, but the assumptions upon which they are based or the way they are calculated. For example there can be no doubt that cycling is a healthy activity. It reduces obesity, it improves cardiovascular fitness, and is quoted as increasing lifespan and making the cyclist look and feel younger. Let's be honest though, you don't need to cycle on the roads to gain those benefits. You could quite easily drive to the gym get on a gym bike and gain nearly all of the same health benefits as riding a bike on the road.

Cycling is healthy, but most forms of exercise are.

This is where the problem arises. Recently I had a discussion with someone on twitter who thought I was being melodramatic about the dangers of cycling. I tweeted back that ignoring the dangers was a bit like sticking your head in the sand. The tweeter replied '...cycling is 77 times safer than not cycling'.

Now I have no idea where that statistic was plucked from, the could well be some veracity to the comment. However, cycling is certainly not 77 times safer than not cycling. In fact staying at home, wrapping yourself in cotton wool, and living in a nuclear bunker without any other human contact is probably thousands of times safer than cycling. However, cycling is probably thousands of times healthier than living in that bunker.

That is the crux of the issue. Too many people mix up health and safety. Cycling is incredibly healthy. Most people would gain from it enormously if they took it up. Is it safe though? That, as always the case with safety, depends on your reference. No, cycling is not safer than living in that nuclear shelter (unless of course it is in a high radon area.....). Is it safer than driving? Not in the UK it isn't, but it is in the Netherlands.

So perhaps we shouldn't cycle, but all drive to the gym and go on bikes there?!


That is the beauty of cycling. Going to the gym is healthy, but it isn't good for the environment, it won't reduce congestion, and it costs lots of money. Cycling is good in so many ways that it makes so much sense. The solution is not to cycle less, it is to design our roads so that they make cycling safe so we can all share in the health and related benefits.

Until that happens we must be careful not to bury our heads in the sand.  If we do nothing, more people will die unnecessarily.