Wednesday 29 January 2014

Regaining Focus

Today has been an interesting day in the world of cycling social media. You'd have to have been on another planet today (or not on social media!) to not notice the hulabaloo about the Advertising Standards Authority. I even managed to have my own say on the subject.

There has been a lot of anger generated.

Yes, they were stupid, yes we need to make sure that the ruling is changed, and yes it once again highlights the ignorance that anyone who uses a bike faces. However, it is very easy to loose focus when a juicy and easy target like the ASA comes along. I say this because a much more sinister news item was brought to my attention today.

Today a driver was found not guilty of killing a cyclist by dangerous driving.

Obviously we should always be careful when reporting on the facts of a case when we don't have all of the evidence before us, however, let's look at what facts we do have.

Mountbatten Way, Southampton

  • Cyclist was cycling along Mountbatten Way, a nice straight road.
  • Cyclist was wearing all the ASA approved safety gear (reflectives and helmet)
  • Cyclist also had lights on his bike (though it is not clear if they were on at the time)
  • Driver of mini-bus was driving along this road and passed the David Irving, the victim
  • Driver hear a loud bang, saw his wing mirror slam into his vehicle and thought he hit a road sign, but kept driving on.
  • Cyclist was hit by the wing mirror which smashed his helmet to pieces and was killed by the impact.
  • It was only later when the driver heard about the serious incident from elsewhere, that he contacted police.
  • Driver claimed he was driving slowly and that the sun had reduced his visibility

Now if I'm completely honest, I don't believe much of the drivers story. I suspect that many others feel the same. Driving slowly? Really? Didn't know he had hit a cyclist? Really?

I'm not going to go there, though. I'm going to assume that his story was true, which means we have a driver that was driving slowly along a straight road, slowly enough that he can stop within the distance he can see....

Distance he can see? Yes indeed, that is the way all drivers are expected to drive. Hmm. Then we hit a snag here don't we? Either one of two things actually happened here?

  1. He wasn't looking properly, i.e. he was distracted, and you have to be distracted for a long time if you hit a yclist, driving slowly on a straight road....
  2. He wasn't actually driving as slow as he thought...i.e. he was driving too fast to stop in the distance he could see.
  3. He had seen the cyclist, but thought he was too far out and thought he'd give him a close pass, which would teach the cyclist a lesson. Unfortunately he forgot about his wing mirror.

Opps. That was 3 not 2. Sorry about that, I forgot I wasn't straying from the facts that we know, although I have to admit, having cycled for a number of years on the road and having had experiences that have felt like punishment passes, 3 is a possibility.....

Anyway, if either 1 or 2 are true, then.....he was driving at a standard below which he should be expected to drive....i.e. Carelessly or Dangerously. So the fact that we also know that Mr Irvine had unfortunately died, it stands to reason that the court has to find the defendant guilty of, at the very least Death by Careless driving!

They didn't though

Running through the logic of this, that means that the jury decided that he wasn't driving, at least carelessly. Thus, he was driving at a standard expected of a normal and competent driver. Therefore......

...had any of those jurors been driving that minibus down that road at that time, they would probably have done the same.

That is a point that is really worth pondering.

The jurors have effectively admitted that they drive in a manner that could quite easily kill a cyclist, and it would just be one of those things, one of those know....something that happens that is no-one fault, just an act of God.....

Do we really believe that this was an act of God? 

I wonder if the jurors actually pondered this thought. I wonder if the judge instructed the jury to ponder this thought, the thought that, if I claim the right to use the 'there but for the grace of God go I' get out clause, then I too could be the man or woman standing there defending myself against the killing of that cyclist.

I drive in a manner that can can kill an innocent man, woman or child, on a straight road and my only excuse would be it was a bit sunny.

What is the answer then? How can we change this cultural justice?

In the past I've argued against new laws, but I do wonder if that is what is needed. Do we need a new law that makes responsibility absolutely clear and in some way protects the vulnerable cyclist better? Would additional guidance for the use of existing laws be sufficient?

I don't have the answer, but something needs to change. Until then, cyclists can almost be killed on our roads, with impunity.

Know Your ASA from Your Elbow

I've sat here for a while trying to work out how to start this particular blog. I never usually have a problem starting a new blog, but this one....this one is a doozy.

Where do I begin...

Umm.....hmmmm...OK......I'm going to have to say it......


Oops! Sorry about that. I've said something on a blog I promised a while back I wouldn't say again. Unfortunately, I need to say it again. Fear not though, this is not a blog about the NWC. The NWC is an innocent (ahem) bystander in something much, much bigger. Firstly though, you have to watch a video. Yes it is an NWC video......I know, I know..... but.....please do watch it. It will all become clear shortly....


Sorry about that. 

Now I want you to ignore all the bad stuff in the video, i.e. nearly all of it. All the references to horses, the fact that it is condescending in the extreme....etc. Ignore it all. I want you to focus on the only decent bit of the video. The last part from 34 seconds. 

What do we see from 34 seconds? We see a cyclist riding her bike in a perfectly acceptable manner along an unusually quiet road. We see a car overtaking the cyclist and giving the cyclist a good amount of room. Yes, the car has to go over the central line, but the driver has been careful to make sure it is safe to do so. The car is also going at a very appropriate speed, as safe speed in a built up urban area. The cyclist and the driver are both happy.

This, ladies and gentlemen, this last few seconds of the video (please ignore the words on the screen and the potholes at the very end!) is a vision of Cycling Nirvana. This small section of video heaven is a time and a place where everyone looks out for everyone else, and the safety of others is more important than saving a few seconds off of a journey.


THUMP!..........Here we are back in reality, but there is nothing wrong with dreaming. OK, we will probably need some cycle infrastructure there to direct the road users to co-exist peacefully, but it's a lovely snippet of footage that warms the cockles of one's heart.

The NWC, understandably, upset a lot of people. The advert in this blog was a prime example of why people felt compelled to complain about the whole advertising campaign, and they generally complained to the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA). The ASA have the job of upholding advertising standards, ensuring that we aren't overly offended by them, or completely misled by them. This means they have the power to ban adverts if they contravene the ASA code. I know of a few complaints that were filed with the ASA, and they were all reasonable. Unfortunately none of them were upheld. The ASA, for example didn't think that an advert suggesting that cyclists often give drivers the finger was offensive. This is despite the fact  that  the advert itself showed that middle finger being given, in a Sunday paper, in full view of any child who might be glancing over their mum and dad's shoulder. Not offensive at all, apparently.

Right. So what exactly do the ASA think is offensive?

Today I was contacted by the Scotsman and asked to comment on a new ruling from the ASA banning one of the NWC adverts. They have an article on that very subject here. I stress you to read it to prove that what follows is not just a figment of my imagination.....

Has the ASA seen sense? Has the ASA understood that cyclists felt insulted, by the NWC adverts? No.

Has the ASA finally felt that placing an image of a 'middle finger' in a Sunday paper was offensive? No.

Has the ASA felt that the adverts were grossly unfair to cyclists, as they suggested that cyclists were all guilty of running red lights or at least guilty of the sins of those who do? No.

This latest ASA ruling specifically bans the video above for the following reasons (I still can't believe this as I type it...)

.....We understood that UK law did not require cyclists to wear helmets or cycle at least 0.5 metres from the kerb. However, under the Highway Code it was recommended as good practice for cyclists to wear helmets. Therefore, we considered that the scene featuring the cyclist on a road without wearing a helmet undermined the recommendations set out in the Highway Code. Furthermore, we were concerned that whilst the cyclist was more than 0.5 metres from the kerb, they appeared to be located more in the centre of the lane when the car behind overtook them and the car almost had to enter the right lane of traffic. Therefore, for those reasons we concluded the ad was socially irresponsible and likely to condone or encourage behaviour prejudicial to health and safety.
The ad breached BCAP Code rules 1.2 (Social responsibility), 4.1 and 4.4 (Harm and offence).

The ad must not be broadcast again in its current form. We told Cycling Scotland that any future ads featuring cyclists should be shown wearing helmets and placed in the most suitable cycling position.
........1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10.......and breath........


So, what we have here, is the ASA telling Cycling Scotland (and yes I'm not always their biggest fan), how to tell cyclists how to cycle. Apparently not wearing a helmet is socially irresponsible. (Sorry Netherlands, you are a country of reprobates).  Apparently cycling away from the curb (and I'm sorry ASA, but this lady is not cycling in the middle of the lane, no-where near it!), avoiding the cobbles and the potholes (yes take a look right at the end of the video, there are some craters there), is likely to lead to harm and offence.


I've heard the phrases 'you couldn't make it up', and ' life is often stranger than fiction' used before, but NEVER have they been more appropriate than they are now.


Yes, the NWC was terrible. Yes I would have been happy had the adverts been banned at the time. Yes there were some aspects of the NWC that I think were offensive and would lead to harm, and yet, here we are, long after the NWC has voluntarily closed the doors on the campaign, and we have the ASA banning one of the adverts based based on the only part of their advert campaign that actually demonstrated how cycling could and should be done.  

I don't have the superlatives in my vocabulary to convey my astonishment at this. I'm sorry. I'll just have to say Blimey! again.

All of this madness does raise an few questions:

Has the person who wrote this from the ASA actually ever ridden a bike?
Has the person who wrote this from the ASA actually ever seen a bike?
Where in the Highway Code is there any mention about cyclists riding about 0.5m from the curb?
Where in the video did the cyclist ride in the middle of the lane?
Does the ASA think the drivers head will explode if his car is forced to cross the central dividing line?
Does the ASA think there in no justification for taking the middle of the lane?
Does the ASA have some facts about the life saving properties of polystyrene that they would like to share with us?
Is the ASA suggesting that when I go riding with my kids and I don't wear a helmet that I am being socially irresponsible?
Has the ASA ever heard of a country called the Netherlands?
Is the ASA willing to pop over there and tell the Dutch in a public meeting that they are being socially irresponsible by not wearing helmets when they are cycling?
Is the ASA really being serious that Cycling Scotland, in all future adverts have to advertise cycling, and encourage more people to cycle, by having everyone in their adverts dressed up in hi-vis and helmets? Seriously?!
Does this ASA ruling apply to all future advertising of any nature about cycling?
Does the ASA think that cycling like this lady did, and wearing what she did is more or less socially responsible than...... driving to work every day, sitting in heavy traffic, belching CO2 and other pollutants out which are a risk for peoples health, putting other road users at greater risk (cars represent greater risk than bikes no matter what way you look at it), increasing the risk of early death through reduced exercise and contributing to increasing levels of congestion?

I look forward to some answers.......

The full ASA adjudication an be found here for your reading pleasure.

Wednesday 22 January 2014

The Problem with Frank

Glasgow City Council are not renowned for their active travel/green credentials. Glasgow is after all a motorway city. It's very heart was ripped out with the building of the M8 right through its centrein the 1970's. That is why it was a surprise when in August 2012 that Glasgow did something unexpected....

It appointed a cycling czar, Frank McAveety.

I commented on his appointment at the time here, and it's fair to say that, whilst I welcomed him into his new 'post' (it was more of a general change in responsibilities), I was a little sceptical. Thus I made sure I made it clear that cycling would only become a reality for the majority of Glaswegians if the council invested in infrastructure and that it was fully FUNDED, properly DESIGNED, and properly CONNECTED.

Frank is an ex-leader of Glasgow city council, and an ex-MSP who was once the Scottish Sports Minister, but he lost his seat at the last Scottish elections. However, never one to sit on his laurels he found himself elected to Glasgow city council soon after. Frank could I suppose be described as a career politician, and one who would obviously know the ins and outs of political life.

Despite this, Frank is actually quite a likeable chap. He is friendly in his approach, seems down to earth, and certainly talks in a way that suggests he knows his subject matter.  I've had the pleasure of meeting Frank a few times over the last year and a bit so I feel I know him, even if only a little bit. Frank also has probably got to know me a little bit. The fact that he often comments if I am at a meeting with him that, 'the trouble maker is here' (in a friendly way) suggests I've made an impression. I suppose I do make a bit of nuisance of myself.

I'm sure I could quite happily sit down with Frank and have an enjoyable pint and chat, and I know I'm not alone in thinking that. Quite a few cycling related people have said similar things to me.

Frank was nice. Frank seems to understand the issues. Frank might make a difference.

What exactly then, is the problem with Frank that I elude to in the title?

The problem with Frank is not with Frank himself. I could be wrong, but I do think Frank is genuine in a lot of what he says. He has got out on his bike and cycled around the city (he still hasn't taken me up my offer though....) and he has listened to lots of views. He has attended lots of cycling meetings, and discussions. He has taken questions and it would appear, he has answered them honestly.

OK, OK, we get it, you don't think the problem is Frank, so what is the problem with Frank!?

Frank is a buffer (I'm sure he's been called worse!). Frank is not a decision maker. Frank does not have enough influence to actually make any significant difference.

These are of course, quite grand assertions. However, I have evidence. Despite Frank being in his position of cycling czar since August 2012, I've seen two sets of plans for cycle infrastructure coming from Glasgow that are, quite frankly (pardon the 'almost' pun) a pile of steaming poo.

Exhibit A: Cycling routes to Cathkin Braes.

A route consisting of almost exclusively shared use paths, dropped kerbs and bollards.

Exhibit B: Fastlink associated cycle provision

A route that consists yet again of shared use paths (which appear to be two way share use paths), the removal of existing, useful cycle infrastructure, new tortuous routes, and some on road, non-segregated painted cycle lanes.

Now I know for a fact that at just about every meeting that Frank has attended, he has been told facilities like this are not acceptable. Shared use paths for example aren't just an issue for cyclists, they are an issue for pedestrians as well. All shared use paths achieve is conflict between cyclists and pedestrians whilst clearing the roads for cars......and that's the thing. That's the very thing that is very clear from all of the plans that come from Glasgow City Council.

Car is king, and car must and will remain king.

Believe it or not, we as cyclist actually have quite a strong voice nationally at the moment. The media especially, is sitting up and listening. This is forcing the government and the councils to listen.....a bit. The problem is that they have selective hearing.....

What's that I hear?.....cyclists want cycle infrastructure? Hmmm.....take some space away from cars? Eh? on a minute.....I'm sure they actually said was.....take space away from pedestrians didn't they......ah yes....we can do that.....

The problem is, that at the moment pedestrian groups such as Living Streets, just don't have the same loud voice, and so whilst the council isn't hearing cyclists, it isn't hearing pedestrians at all. We end up with a situation that just shifts the conflict from one set of road users to another, and discourages all modes of transport except the car.

Exactly what the politicians in Glasgow City Council appear to want.

So what's to do? Well, we need to reply strongly to the consultations I've discussed previously. We need to look beyond Frank and start engaging the people who actually have power in the council to change the way that transport is viewed within the council (is that a particular councillor, LES or SPT, it's not entirely obvious who....) and we need to start ramping up the local pressure.

Watch this space. Myself and my fellow campaigners at Pedal on Parliament are considering exactly how best to take this forward. There could and should be an demonstration in Glasgow of some sort this year, especially with the Commenwealth Games being here.

At he moment the Glasgow's politicians don't care. It's time we made them care.

Monday 20 January 2014

Cycling: More Afterthoughts

Just when you thought it couldn't get any worse...

If you haven't read my previous blog on the wonders of Glasgow City Council's approach to cycling it is worth a wee read. Have a look here. However, I have a wee update to that particular blog....

Don't get your hopes up! Glasgow CC hasn't seen the light and contacted me to say, yes we are muppets and it is now a top priority for us to completely overhaul the cycling plans. Did you really think that would happen?

What I can provide you is proper digital versions of the plans and not just pictures acquired by candle light.

Do GCC have a Cluedo? I think Magnatom did it, with the candle stick, in the pub.
So here are the plans for you to peruse at your leisure. (plan 1, plan 2, plan 3, plan 4, plan 5)

Please do have a look at them. Please share them with anyone you think might have an interest in them, and please feel free to add your comments here, or perhaps send your comments on to the council.

It gets worse though.

Glasgow, which apparently means 'Dear Green Place', does indeed have quite a few green places. There are parks scattered around Glasgow and in general, are actually pretty nice.There is a list of some of them here. Glasgow's parks are there for the enjoyment of the whole of the Glasgow community, and as such there does need to be a few wee rules to make sure everyone treats them and the people in them with respect.

Fair enough.

Glasgow has recently decided that the management rules need a wee bit of an update and have put this update out to consultation. You can have a look at it here. The consultation ends on the 14th February (I won't make any jokes about Glasgow CC loving bikes....) Here are a couple of interesting excerpts:

Cycling is welcome in parks, but only on tarmac paths or roads, designated cycle tracks or mountain bike courses.
Cyclists must maintain proper control of the cycle and ensure they do not endanger other road users. Cycle speed should not exceed 5 miles per hour.
and also:

Where permitted, vehicles must be driven safely and must not obstruct or risk causing injury or damage to other road users. Vehicle speed must not exceed 10 miles per hour. 

I think this is a first. I've got to this point in the blog and I am actually speechless (is there an equivalent in the blogsphere?). Where do I start with this one?
I suppose I should start with the obvious questions that the above management rules raise

Will you be providing track-standing lessons to cyclists who might want to use the parks?

Will the 5mph rule extend, not just to amateur cyclists using the new Glennifer Braes mountain bike course, but to Commonwealth athletes as well?

Has Glasgow city council looked at the definition of a vehicle and do they realise that a bicycle is a vehicle (apparently a bicycle is a vehicle according to the UN's 1968 Vienna Convention on Road Traffic and the fact that the UK is a signatory of this convention suggests.....)?

Therefore, on my bike am I allowed to cycle 5mph (and possibly fall off as it is bl**dy difficult to remain below 5mph and remain in proper control of a bike, especially when you have a council van determined to go the full 10mph behind you) or can I ride at 10mph?

Why are vehicles, and lets for argument sake assume you mean motorised vehicles here, allowed to travel up to 10mph and bikes are only allowed up to 5mph?

So many questions!!!

Yes, I know that the limit for cyclists is 'should' and for vehicles is 'must', but that is almost certainly down to the fact that bikes generally don't have speedometers and thus will find it damn hard to judge 5mph, never mind keep below it!

What I think this yet again does, is illustrate the regard that Glasgow CC has for the pedal bike. It is seen as a nuisance, an inconvenience, something that has to be discouraged and, if you absolutely, ABSOLUTELY have to plan for it, make sure it is added on at the very end of the planning process, as it can just bl**dy well fit around all the other far more important modes of transport!


Yes, I am ranting, but please remember that this is the best that Glasgow has to offer cyclists at a time when Edinburgh has just unveiled plans for a £10m and when Glasgow is about to welcome the worlds athletes to its boundaries. Not only is this a scandal in its own right, I'm beginning to feel embarrassed at telling people I'm a Glasgwegian.

What can we do?
Write to the council. Write to your councillors. Write to the papers. Try cycling 5mph and film yourself doing it, oh and.... 

....who is coming for a chat with Glasgow's cycling Czar Frank McAveety on the 30th January?

Friday 17 January 2014

Cycling: The Afterthought

Anyone who commutes through certain parts of Glasgow (Along Pacific Drive for instance) just now will be acutely aware of the ongoing road works. Glasgow is in the process of undergoing a transport transformation. It's not on the same scale as the Edinburgh tram works, thank goodness, but there is a small revolution in public transport taking place.

It's called Fastlink.

What is Fastlink? Umm, errr, that's actually a pretty good question. It's sort of a new bus route thingy. Sort of. The confusion is a result of the fact that it started off as a guided busway/tram type thing which was quite extensive, but it has been downgraded to a partially segregated bus route that has only one route. It will be going between the city centre and the New Southern General Hospital which is currently being built. Turns out, I can see it being built from my work, just about 30m from where I sit.

The NSGH itself is controversial. It is being built to replace two other hospitals in the city that were both more central. The NSGH is however, a bit out in the sticks on the south west side of the city. Many people thought it was daft to build there. However, that decision has been made and the hospital is taking shape. So, good decision or not, we have to live with it.

One of the downsides of the NSGH site is that it doesn't have great transport links. You're not too bad for public transport if you are coming from the west or east, but not so great from the north and south. That was part of the reason I started commuting there by bike. Driving, especially from the north can be troublesome. Part of the reason for this heavy traffic is people commuting to the current SGH. With the larger NSGH, this will only get worse. try and keep everyone happy, transport links had to be improved. Thus, a new scheme to get people in from the east was The east? Not the north and south? Yeessss.....Anyway, Fastlink was born. Actually, that might not have been the original reason, but with the reduction of the plan to just the one route, that is affectively what it it has become. A transport link to the city centre for the NSGH.

Now's a good time to watch this video.

This is just the first phase in the development of a bus priority network which will be rolled out across Glasgow as funding becomes available.....

Public transport is good. In fact I am incredibly pleased that Glasgow City Council are at last looking at prioritising something else other than, the car. This is especially pleasing considering only about 50% of Glasgow households have access to a car.


You knew that was coming....

....having watched the video, what cycle infrastructure do you see? If you look closely you will some parked bikes. That's it. Not one bike is being ridden anywhere, and there is not one piece of cycle infrastructure anywhere. Not one.

Of course, one could argue that whoever did the graphics was just being a bit lazy that day. Bikes might be harder to render than cars or buses, and perhaps they just forgot to add in the bike infrastructure.

Unfortunately i think it's more sinister than that.

The reason that there is no bike infrastructure is very simply down to the fact that, at the time that the plans for the segregated bus route was devised, and the time that this video was produced, there were no plans for the cycle routes. Yes, dear reader, shock, horror, cycling was added on later.

A bolt on. An afterthought. I challenge Glasgow City Council to prove that assertion is wrong.

I am not a traffic engineer or planner, so please correct me if I am wrong again....but isn't it a good idea to plan something as a whole, and not plan some bits first and then add on the rest later as a bolt on?

It gets worse though as I have just had the pleasure of looking at the plans that have now been developed for cycling around the Fastlink scheme. They are not public yet, so I got a glimpse of them through someone who knows someone, but going by the fact that Glasgow CC seems intent of pushing through the Fastlink plans with the minimum of consultation.....

ASIDE: The Squinty Bridge also known as the Clyde Arc and the Finneston Bridge has two way bus/taxi/cycle lanes on it currently......I say currently, but work is underway to change the infrastructure on the bridge. Fastlink will be taking over and cyclists will not be allowed to use the Fastlink lanes. We will have to use the road with other traffic, or the new indirect and pedestrian shared routes (see below). Remember the work is underway, but the consultation for the Traffic Regulation Order that would allow the bridge to be used the way it is being rebuilt (right now) is open until 24th January. What would happen then if the objections were upheld......? Feel free to write to if you object.

....Unfortunately the plans are only on paper, but I managed to get some photos. So here they are, going from East to West.

Add caption

Ah yes, they were rather big maps and you won't be able to see much even when you click them. You can see the originals here, here, here, here and here.

I'm not going to say much more just now. I'm going to let you have a look at the plans yourself. Feel free to ask questions, make comments, praise them, or trash them. I'll talk a bit more about what I think are the big issues later. I will leave you with one detail of the plans which isn't actually cycling specific, but which I think is hilarious. Have a look at this....

It's Scalextric. Full size. With buses.


Tuesday 14 January 2014

The Streisand Effect and Autotec Scotland

I recently had a bit of a close shave with a breakdown truck on my way home, and as I often do in situations like that, I posted a video. As the incident occurred with a commercially owned vehicle I also contacted the company in question, asking that they watch the video and ensure that their drivers be more considerate of cyclists in the future.

I never had any response back from them.

Usually if I have contacted a company and they haven't got back to me, I'll send a chaser e-mail, but I usually leave some time before I do that. On this occasion whilst waiting between these e-mails I received a message via YouTube.

The YouTube Community has flagged one or more of your videos as inappropriate. Once a video is flagged, it is reviewed by the YouTube Team against our Community Guidelines. Upon review, we have determined that the following video(s) contain content in violation of these guidelines, and have been disabled:
Self Doubt (Autotec Scotland - YX60FAU)

It would appear that either the driver, or the company (Autotec Scotland) requested that the video be removed as they felt my video was inappropriate. Hmm. The problem is that YouTube, in their wisdom do not tell you which guideline you have broken, so you are left in the dark.You can find YouTube's terms of use, here.

Hmmm. Can't see anything I broke there.

Looking specifically at the community guidelines, again, I can't see how the video could be deemed inappropriate. There is no pornography, animal abuse or bomb making. No acts of violence. I have copyright of the video, I have not said anything hateful, and I have not collected any personal information.....oh that is of course, assuming that the chaps face isn't counted as personal information.


So the only possible thing that the video was removed for, was the fact that the drivers face was in view.


Yes, but it was in full public view and so was his poor driving. In fact, in this particular video the driver was apologetic. he actually came across ok, so why he or his company would want it removed is a mystery. I say he or his company, as I am still totally unaware if it was he or his company that removed the video. Anyway, the fact remains that in the UK there is no expectation of privacy in a public place, otherwise no-one could take photographs except in their own homes.

After the video was removed I contacted Autotec Scotland again and asked them why they had removed it. I asked was it them, or was it the driver? Once again, they have failed to reply. So I do not know who is trying to cover this up. What is certain, is that the companies lack of reply is indicative of their approach to road safety. It suggests that they don't care. I could be wrong of course, but without a reply telling me how they dealt with the incident, how sorry they are, and if and why they had the video removed, then I have to draw my own conclusions.

Can we see the video?

Ah, yes, that's a good question. Of course you can, just not on YouTube. Here it is.

Autotec Scotland - YX60FAU from David Brennan on Vimeo.

Unfortunately I don't have a paid Vimeo account, so this won't play on all players (it won't play on mobile phones for instance). So if you want to download the video, for any reason, here it is here.

Do you think this is an inappropriate video? Do you think the video should have been removed?

Monday 6 January 2014

Winter Glove Review - Castelli Diluvio Delux

I live in the west of Scotland. In winter it rains, it snows, and it is cold. These, I suspect, are the reasons that Evans Cycles decided to send me two pairs of winter gloves to review. So here I am having spent a month testing a pair of Castelli Diluvio Delux Gloves and a pair of Louis Garneau Shield Gloves on my daily commute to and from work. Have my fingers survived the Glasgow winter so far?

Fingers and hands are a funny things. Some people can cycle year round with the minimum of coverage claiming not to feel the effects of Jack Frost. Others (and I fall into this category) are big girls blouses, and suffer from painfully cold hands at even the mention of colder temperatures. This means, what suits one person doesn't always suit another. However, I know I am not alone in my pursuit of the perfect weather cycling glove.

In fact, I have discovered over the years that it doesn't exist. I have in fact discovered (and this is a fact that Evans and other cycling shops will no doubt be pleased about) that instead of there needing to be one perfect cycling glove, there needs to be four.

  1. Glove 1: Summer mitts. These are for those rare days when the sun shines and the temperature rises (a rare thing indeed)
  2. Glove 2: Rubbish weather glove. Just a bit too cold for the summer mitts meaning you need full coverage, but not too much insulation.
  3. Glove 3: Cold weather glove. It's pretty chilly out and without proper protection it would hurt!
  4. Glove 4: Bl**dy baltic: Any sort of exposure and you can't feel your hands for the rest of the day.About  -5C and below.
Due to monetary constraints I rarely have all 4 of these gloves at the one time, and recently I've been making do with 3. These gloves can also be supplemented on occasion with liner gloves where the wrong gloves are all you have for the ride back home.

So what about the Castelli and Louis Garneau gloves?

First off the Castelli.


These were a first for me. I had never up until this point ever owned a pair of Neoprene gloves. I must admit I would never have chosen neoprene gloves myself as I have always strived for wind and waterproof gloves. However, I was very interested to try them, so try them I did.

Over the last few weeks the weather has been pretty wet and windy, and in Glasgow the temperature has been somewhere between 4C and 8C at the times when I commute. Therefore, as this glove is sold with a suggested temperature range of 4C - 15C the weather was in the right ballpark. Therefore, these gloves have been on the most. Thus I haven't managed to try out the Louis Garneau gloves as much as I would have liked. I've heard that the weather is set to get colder, so I'll save the full review of them for later.

On with the Castelli review.....

The first thing I noticed when I put them on was how thin they were. My hands felt quite exposed. I also noticed how flexible they were. In fact I have found that I can do everything I need to do in the final stages of heading off on the bike (switch on/off lights and cameras, lock doors, put my helmet on etc). That is very useful for me as I often need to sort stuff around the bike outside in the elements. Having the gloves on mean my fingers don't get exposed. The only thing I can't do with these gloves on is work my phone. Smart phone friendly finger tips would be a nice addition.

But how did they actually do at keeping my fingers warm?

Pretty good to be honest. You first need to get used to having wet or slightly damp hands. No matter what the weather, you hands will be damp, either from sweat or rain. However, that doesn't really matter if they keep you warm, so long as you don't mind the slightly damp feeling, which I didn't. In most conditions they kept my hands surprisingly toasty.

I did find that when it was towards the colder end of the range (i.e. 4-6C) and if it was raining quite heavy at the time, meaning that the rain was cold, that my hands would get quite cold. This issue was especially acute at the start of a ride.  However, once my body had warmed up, there was enough insulation in the Neoprene to warm my hands back up again. I never actually got home on my 12 mile commute with cold hands.

Am I happy with them. Yes I am, and I'll continue to use them throughout the winter. I just need to make sure that if it is below about 6C and raining heavy that I go for a different pair of waterproof gloves. The Louis Garneau gloves perhaps?

On the looks side they do the job nicely, at least they would do if the rest of my kit looked as good. Wearing them I feel like I need to upgrade the rest of my cycling gear to match! I can imagine though, that Lycra warriors out on a club run would look the bees knees in them with their go faster stripes!

I did come across one problem with the gloves. It turns out that they don't like sitting on hot radiators. Not having had this type of glove before I didn't know that Neoprene and high temperatures don't mix. Through my own stupidity I managed to melt a few holes in them! Despite this, I haven't noticed any reduced performance (the holes are small). Lesson learned. This does mean that drying them can be a bit more difficult, but I've found hanging them above the radiator on a window sill is good enough to get them dry for the ride home at the end of the day.

One other problem that I have heard about, though not experienced yet is that they can get smelly. If you don't manage to dry them properly for a few days, they can take on a life of their own. Over the last month I've been careful to turn them inside out at the end of each ride and to get the dry. I'll report back if I have any future problems.

All in all, I've been pleasently surprised by the Castelli gloves. I'd certainly suggest having a look at them and other Neoprene gloves. If you do get some, let me know how you get on!

(Disclaimer: Evans Cycles approached me asking me to write a review of these gloves. That was very kind of them. Thank you! However, don't be fooled, I have a reputation to uphold, so if I think something is rubbish, I'll say so. These gloves weren't rubbish! You'll see that is the case as you will undoubtedly see them in future videos as I continue to wear them.)