Friday 14 September 2012

Starting a Conversation

I've written a bit in the past about the situation in Glasgow with regards to cycling, and how we are behind Edinburgh in cycling terms. I've also written a letter to Glasgow's new cycling czar Frank McAveety making the point that a lot needs to be done to set Glasgow on the right path.

Frank did get back to me. Here is his reply.

Dear Mr Brennan

Thank you for taking the time to contact me regarding cycling in the City.

I will be developing some ides for the City relating to cycling - as a general mode of transport, as a recreation and as a sport.  I hope to pull together some ideas for the period ahead that will benefit the City in the long-term.

I look forward to sharing ideas with all interested parties.

Best wishes.

Councillor Frank McAveety

I must admit I wasn't overly impressed with the reply, it came across as a standard reply and suggested that he would be formulating plans without actually listening to the opinion of cyclists. However, I understand from cyclists that have met him that this is not the case and that he is interested in listening and working together, so we should extend the benefit of doubt to Frank.

Of course Frank and Glasgow city council can only act on what they know. They need to hear our thoughts about cycling in Glasgow, about what needs to be done and how best to accomplish it. My view and the view of Pedal on Parliament (and many others) is that to effect change in our urban environments, to actually get 10% or more of people cycling in our cities requires investment. We need to make our roads safer, and feel safer.

To help start the conversation, we at POP are holding an event this Sunday (16th September) where we ask you to fill in a postcard and send it to your councillors (or here in Glasgow perhaps Frank) stating what you think Glasgow should be doing to get it cycling. On the day we ask you to post that postcard and take a picture of you posting it a let us know about it, either via twitter (#goldenlegacy) or e-mail (or my contact page).

Another option is to come along to one of the posting events we have organised. In Glasgow it will be outside the Veleorome on Sunday at 3pm. We will be bringing along our own Golden Postbox to post your cards in.

We will have some postcards that you can fill in, but we are limited in numbers. If we run out, you can always fill a postcard in later.
Are our politicians just along for the ride?

If we let our  politicians and councillors know what the people of Glasgow want, then we stand a better chance of getting it. So come along to the Velodrome on Saturday (or to the other similar events elsewhere if you aren't from Glasgow). write your postcard and pass on your thoughts to your council.

Together we can make Glasgow a cycle friendly city, and Scotland a cycle friendly nation!

Thursday 6 September 2012

Tesco Demonstration On How Not To Reply

I recently had the misfortune to see some pretty shocking driving from a Tesco driver recently. You can see the video below

I honestly believe that if I had not put my hand out to discourage him from overtaking, there would have been an accident there. Look at the rear footage and see how quickly after the Tesco driver decides to pull back in that the car coming the other way passes. His final overtake was dangerous too.

So I decided to write a letter to Tesco:

Dear Sir/Madam,

Unfortunately I am writing to you to complain about the very poor driving I experienced from one of your drivers.

I am a cycle commuter and I commute between my home in Torrance and my work in Glasgow. On this particular occasion I was on my way home and was cycling along Boclair Road (B8049) toward the Auchenhowie Roundabout. The incident happened at approximate the location shown on this google map (

As I am a cycle safety campaigner and I have had a few dangerous incidents occur when commuting to work, I routinely video my commute to work with a helmet camera and a rear view camera attached to my bike. Therefore I have video footage of the incident which I have placed on YouTube here (

As you can see from the footage which was taken at approximately 5:40pm on the 29th August, the Tesco van (BG12 FRR) attempts to overtake on a blind bend where there are double white central lines, when a car is fast approaching. The driver only pulled back from the manoeuvre when I signalled for him to stop with my outstretched arm. Had he not stopped I am in no doubt that this would have resulted in a very serious accident. There was never enough time to contemplate an overtake and there is no way the driver could have seen that the road was clear enough to complete it.

Unfortunately he did not learn from this initial incident and overtook shortly afterwards, again on a blind corner with an approaching car. This time he had just enough time to complete the manoeuvre.

It is as I am sure you are aware,  to overtake any vehicle travelling over 10mph when there are solid white lines. It is especially foolish to do so on a blind corner when a car is approaching the other way. As my helmet camera also records GPS I know I was travelling 18mph at the point of his first attempt and 22mph at the point where he actually overtook me.

Please could you investigate this incident and remind your drivers, whilst they might be on a tight schedule for deliveries or are keen to get home early, that they should not compromise the safety of other road users. Had there been a collision on this occasion it was very likely that not only the occupants of the oncoming car would have been seriously injured, but I may have been caught up in it too.

Many thanks for your help in this matter.

Best regards

So I waited for a reply. It came a few days later.

Dear Dr David Brennan

Thank you for taking the time to contact me and please accept my apologies for the delay in responding.

Further to your email, I’m appalled to hear about the driving of one of our employees which you recently witnessed. I can appreciate how annoyed you must’ve felt and would like to thank you for bringing this to my attention.

Please be assured this matter has now been escalated to the Store Manager Mr Billy Gardiner in the St Rollex store. I’m confident this will be fully investigated and the necessary steps taken to ensure this doesn’t happen again.

Many thanks for making me aware of this driver and if I can be of any further assistance please don’t hesitate to contact me. 

Kind regards

I must admit I was left feeling a bit flat after this response, but it was possible that this was an initial response and I would get a proper response following the store managers investigation, so I wrote to ask if I should expect any further correspondence. 

Dear David

Thank you for your further email.

No you won’t receive any further correspondence regarding this matter as we’re unable to discus any action that has been taken with a member of staff.

Although, please be assured this will be fully investigated.

So that is it. I have to say I am not impressed with this reply. Let me explain.

Firstly, the main reply to any complaint should come after the investigation is complete. Yes, an early acknowledgement letter should be sent out, but that should not be the only correspondence.Yes it is good to be reassured that it will be fully investigated however,  by only replying before any investigation I have no evidence that this is indeed the case.

Secondly, the response is very obviously a standard response. The responder was appalled to 'hear' about the incident in question. This to me suggests that the responder at no point has looked at the footage (and they certainly don't mention it) and so at that point has absolutely no idea as to how minor or serious the incident was. Thus, it comes across as a downright lie when the responder suggests that they 'can appreciate how annoyed' I felt.

The whole letter has a very hollow ring to it.

Finally, and this is the most annoying part of all of this, is the fact they take the usual 'sorry can't share any information with you' line. Now, I am no lawyer, I've even spent years spelling the word lawyer wrong and been thankful for spellchecker. I am, however pretty certain that no human rights would be infringed if, having spoke to the driver, asked him for his explanation of event, etc that the company could not come back to me with further information. I am not looking for the drivers name or address, I am just wanting an explanation about why he did what he did, if he was sorry about what he did, and an assurance that he would be disciplined in accordance with the companies procedures to ensure that an incident like this would not occur again.

Perhaps, and this would be the icing on the cake, perhaps the company could describe a little about what driver training is available to the drivers, and what procedures it has in place to ensure that the companies driving standards are constantly kept up to scratch.

Yet all I recevied was one pretty poor and hollow sounding letter, not actually apologising for the drive that I saw. The only apology the letter actual contains is for the slight delay in responding. Perhaps that is the problem. Perhaps time delays are bad, bad driving to reduce time delays are ok. That's certainly the feeling I get.

Am, I asking too much? No. I have had replies even better than this in the past. First Bus invited me around for tea cakes and a tour of their facilities! Now I am not expecting every company to invite me to visit their facilities. All I and other cyclists (or other road users) ask is that our complaints are taken seriously, that we get enough information back to know that our complaints are taken seriously, and that companies in general realise that road safety needs to be taken seriously.

If a company like Tesco can't get it right, what chance do we have of making our roads safe for everyone?