|Cycling Plus forum postings are shown thus
Postings are reproduced exactly as they appeared.
|ABD responses are shown thus
|Question on Cycling Plus Forum 14 May 2003|
Anyone know much about this group? I've heard them described as "crass, irresponsible petrol-heads" and their website is certainly rather strident. Do they have anything going for them at all?
|Kathy Pike wrote:|
Hmm, I've just looked at their website (www.abd.org.uk/) and they do seem a little biased. I only looked at some of their environmental pages, but a lot of their arguements seemed flawed (They claim "You could burn every forest in the world, never mind the Amazon, and it would have an insignificant effect on oxygen levels in the atmosphere." Whatever happened to photosynthesis ).
It seems that most of their environmental arguements were based on "The Skeptical Environmentalist" which is a book that has recently been published arguing that humans don't really have a significant environmental impact. I haven't been able to read it myself, but according to some scathing reviews I've seen (and I don't think I've seen a favourable one for it) it suffers from flawed and selective statistics, and a tendency to ignore evidence that won't support its claims. (Of course, all scientists probably do this to some extent )
As Kathy says, scientists are often guilty of only noticing the evidence that supports their own pet theories. The ABD found it had a number of science trained members who were independently sceptical of the received wisdom on issues like global warming and air pollution. When we investigated, we found we weren't alone — and we were concerned that only one side of the argument was being put to the public.
Our website seeks to put the other side, the side nobody has heard — we don't think that challenging the status quo by summarising the evidence against it constitutes bias. Our environmental pages are drawn from many sources, with a considerable amount of work from our own in house experts.
And, yes, you could burn all the forests without changing oxygen levels — or carbon dioxide levels. Why? Because a mature forest is carbon neutral — it gives off the same amount of carbon as it takes in. That's why the land is very poor once a forest has been cut down — the goodness is all in the trees not the soil.
The ABD doesn't, of course, want to cut any forests down — the sentence is just a memorable way of making the point that forests don't regulate the carbon cycle on a global basis.
|Kathy Pike continues:|
Just read some more of their site. They're a bunch of raving loonies — and I'm a car driver! They claim that if people have a crash doing 70mph in thick fog, then it's the weather's fault, and speed was not to blame. Eh? Why not drive at a safe speed then? Do some drivers really really believe all this?
Urgh, I feel all dirty after reading that.
We find it very hard to understand how Kathy got this out of our website. It says no such thing anywhere, and never has. There is nothing more fundamental to the ABD's road safety strategy than necessity of moderating ones speed to the prevailing road conditions. We say so many times on the website, specifically using foggy motorways as an example on more than one occasion.
It is of course true that a rigidly enforced 70mph limit encourages motorway drivers to switch off their brains and believe that they are OK doing 70mph no matter what. This could lead to the sort of attitude attributed erroneously to the ABD on this occasion.
Ones Big Bruvva had to do a "speed awareness" course after being done by a camera for 32 in a 30 limit.
It was all done in cars and classrooms with advanced driving people in there.
He learnt a lot but it seems that they are all totally invincible and not in any way responsible for accidents because they know how to drive safely.
IT scares the Hell out of me! You can't educate pork!
It seems that pedaldog's big bruvva's day was not entirely wasted, and that the course tutors did a good job of turning around an undoubtedly cynical audience.
The ABD believes that training a driver properly can virtually eliminate errors on the part of the trained driver and enable him to anticipate and avoid most accidents caused by other road users.
However, attitude is just as important as skills and any driver who believes himself to be invincible is heading for trouble whatever their skills level.
Good advanced driving instructors are well aware of that, and would never knowingly suggest anything to the contrary.
We very much hope that the wrong impression was created when the story was retold rather than at the presentation itself.
|The Bruce wrote:|
Quote ABD website
"In 1992 Saab showed that a modern, catalyst-equipped car actually cleans the city air as it drives along!"
Well I never......looks like we were wrong about cars then.
|Andy Gates wrote:|
"In 1992 Saab showed that a modern, catalyst-equipped car actually cleans the city air as it drives along!"
The classic retort to this is, of course: "So feed the tailpipe back into the cabin."
Only in relation to certain emissions — carbon monoxide I believe — compared to levels in the air in covent (sic) at the time. Selective stats = bad science
True, but isn't the criterion "good headlines?"
Good headlines are important to get the point across to the public. But headlines must illustrate good science, not bad. And this one does — as readers who dig deeper into the ABD website will see.
The fact is that car emission levels in the UK are not a threat to anyone's health. This has been true for some time for petrol cars and is now becoming true for diesels, too. Andy's classic retort is an excellent illustration — it is becoming increasingly difficult to commit suicide using a hose from the exhaust. People go unconscious because of the reduced oxygen content of the tailpipe but there isn't enough carbon monoxide to kill them.
|Flying monkey wrote:|
Looking at their site, they seem to have modelled themselves on various American right-libertarian anti-state, anti-tax, anti-environmental groups. Right bunch of nutters with a lot of the usual suspects quoted as 'authorities' (Richard North, Bjorn Lomborg et al.). They even have the University of East Anglia Climate Research group down as 'anti-car' — presumably their combined expertise on climate change is vastly inferior to their own amateur opinions... They just want to pay less, get more and go faster on roads that are free of public transport, cyclists and pedestrians.
Of course there are plenty of paradoxes here — they don't want motorists to pay more cash out but they do want the state to provide them with more roads! At the same time they don't want the state to pay out for railways. Bikes aren't mentioned at all. They seem to object to bus lanes because it stops drivers being able to turn left whenever they want — rather like the way many drivers treat cyclists! — however they don't appear to consider that slowing down and tucking in behind a bus (or cyclist) would allow you to turn left very safely with no risk to anyone else. They spend a lot of time arguing that roads are very safe but blame fatal accidents on everything except car drivers.
The ABD is not modelled on anyone, least of all from across the Atlantic. Any resemblance to any other groups is entirely coincidental! Everyone wants to pay less for more and have less hassle, and the ABD are no exception. However, we are all pedestrians and public transport users, and many of us are cyclists or horseriders, as well as drivers. So we want the best transport deal all round, which we don't think any of us are getting.
We want more roads, yes, but right on the front page of our website it says we want better railways, too. What's more, we don't mind some of the huge taxes we pay to use the roads being used to improve facilities for cyclists. And we mean genuine improvements, not tokenist pavement painting that no self respecting cyclist would use.
Cycling groups want better facilities and to continue to pay nothing. That's fine by us, so long as the better facilities for cyclists don't make life more difficult for other road users. Sometimes it seems that obstructing drivers is the priority and better cycling facilities or bus priority lanes are just a means to this end. That's unacceptable to the ABD.
As for tucking in behind the bus or cyclist to turn left in a bus lane, drivers are unwilling to do this because they fear being fined for using the bus lane. So they are encouraged to leave it to the last second, creating danger for cyclists. This is a good example of how poor legislation and road engineering can contribute towards dangerous road user behaviour. It does not mean that the individual road user has no responsibility for the error, but equally it does not mean that those responsible for it can wash their hands of a safety problem of their own making.
Just been to the site.
I think Kathy Pike's description of then as "a bunch of raving loonies" is being a tad generous!
Basically what they seem to be saying is "it's everyone else's fault for accidents / environmental damage / etc except the car drivers". Perfect argument for long custodial sentences for any Motor Vehicle Offence. Send Gunner round to deal with them, I say.
The ABD supports long custodial sentences for road users who kill someone as a result of a deliberate act of recklessness that could have been reasonably expected to result in death or serious injury and that the victim could not reasonably have avoided.
We also believe that drivers who commit multiple offences including car theft and driving dangerously whilst disqualified should be taken out of circulation before they kill someone.
However we do not believe that mass imposition of severe criminal penalties act as an effective deterrent to mistakes made by the majority of road users.
We also believe that it is wrong to impose a different criminal justice system on motorised road users from that imposed on others, as is suggested here.
We therefore oppose the introduction of unnecessary or inappropriate laws targeting motor vehicles, cyclists or pedestrians, and believe that those that do exist should be enforced in a targeted manner dealing with behaviour perceived to be hazardous by a properly trained police officer.
|Tim Pike wrote|
Just had their website pointed out to me by Kathy.
Stopped hysterical laughter now. Just. Well almost. OK so I'm still sniggering
Of things I saw:
"An end to the abuse of speed cameras."
Maybe this could be added to the review of the sex laws ?
"Driving down a clear open road at dawn with the sun coming up behind you is surely one of life's greatest pleasures."
These people have clearly never had sex
"we object strongly... ...Dangerous advance stop lines for cyclists."
OK this one didn't make me laugh just think: Has anyone here actually felt these to be dangerous?
Now one more quote to really fan the flanes:
"And, have you noticed how, these days, the driver is always to blame for accidents? Any recklessness on the part of pedestrians or cyclists is regarded as irrelevant."
Lets just not go there
The ABD certainly believes speed cameras are being misused and wants it to stop.
We haven't done any surveys as to our members' levels of sexual experience and we don't intend to — but we did only say that driving was ONE of life's greatest pleasures.
The ABD believes that in certain circumstances advanced stop lines could encourage conflict between motorists and cyclists that would not otherwise have occurred by allowing cyclists to stop directly in front of other traffic rather than to one side.
The ABD believes that all road users should take responsibility for their own safety and that blame for an accident should be apportioned to all parties according to their conduct, whatever mode of transport they happen to be using at the time.
and apparently motorways are Britain's safest roads because there aren't any pedestrians...
This is the sort of thinking that should be shut in bamboo cages and poked with sharp sticks ((c) Hunter S Thompson)
|Kathy Pike responded:|
...although if an accident forces you to walk on the motorway, you're dead (three people were killed on the M25 yesterday, for those who hadn't heard).
Logically, pedestrianised high streets are even safer, 'cos there aren't any cars allowed...
This is a very important point.
Until the early 1990s, Government policy was to improve safety by separating motorised traffic from vulnerable road users. This was a key reason for the continuous improvement in road safety up to this point, with both new high quality roads and pedestrianised high streets playing a part.
Now the government has reversed its policy and is forcing pedestrians, cyclists and motorists into ever more constrained and dangerous situations by refusing to build new roads, closing underpasses and introducing all sorts of constrictions which prevent motorists from taking avoiding action or from allowing cyclists enough room.
Some would say that individual road users should be able to avoid such collisions by taking care — and so they should. Poor engineering does not remove the need for individual responsibility. But that cannot excuse the government from using cyclists and pedestrians as cannon fodder in an attempt to slow down the traffic instead of removing the hazard altogether.
On motorways, most accidents are caused by drivers failing to pay proper attention and the tragic incident mentioned was no exception. Enforcing speed limits can only make this worse. In this case the absence of a central refuge on a four lane motorway, where it is possible that breakdowns will not be able to get to the hard shoulder, was also a contributory factor. This is a demonstration of the dangers caused by inadequate investment in our road network.
|Paul Mumford wrote:|
I seem to remember reading here a couple of months ago that the taxes collected from motorists supported the road system only.AND that it fell short by £23 billion,income tax,council tax etc.providing the rest.That means a non-driver supports,nay,subsidises the motorist.Since when did car excise duty pay for rail and buses?
The exchequer raises something like £40bn in direct tax on the motorist — vehicle excise duty, fuel tax, VAT on fuel and VAT on car purchases.
This does not include income raised by local councils in parking charges, residents permits and the London Congestion Charge.
Total government spending on transport, including national roads, local roads and subsidies to rail and bus operators amounts to something like £6bn. This massive subsidy of the exchequer by the motorist is a fact of life, but some in the anti-car lobby suggest that the motorist doesn't pay his way — even that motoring is somehow subsidised by society as a whole.
This argument depends on totting up the highest possible estimates of all social costs of motoring — the cost of accidents, congestion and health problems erroneously attributed to vehicle exhausts — and setting these against the direct taxes paid by motorists. This is the calculation that Paul Mumford has read about.
Of course if the social costs of motoring are to be included, then so must the social benefits — flexibility and mobility of the labour force, reduced costs of distribution of goods and massive improvements in the economy, choice and quality of life for the vast majority of the population.
But they are ignored — the anti-car lobby likes to pretend they do not exist.
It is particularly absurd to debit the cost of congestion against the motorist without first crediting any economic value for the fact that he is making the journey in the first place. This is like suggesting that people are getting poorer because they are paying more income tax!
|Tim Pike wrote:|
I'm willing to believe that the impression given by the website is not indicative of all of its members I hope that many people have slightly more considered views than those presented to us on the website.
I can understand and agree with much of what they are saying — many comments about sensible road planning, increasing road safety, and so forth
I do not agree with all of their statements and sometimes find the logic they apply to be rather convoluted and flawed. Much of what I disagree with on their site relates to the conceptions they have relating to the car — that it is invaluable, irreplacable and the world would be a better place if we lived in them (OK the last one is paraphrasing rather, but that was the impression I felt the website was trying to create ).
I had to disagree with some of the statements about road safety , the concept that reducing speed is not going to reduce the number of accidents () and casualties () on the roads. I believe excess speed to be a factor in many road accidents, often through driving at an inappropriate speed for the conditions. Too many drivers on our roads do not seem competent enough to assess these factors for themselves. As the only way to moderate speeds is to impose speed limits and enforce these, I feel that this has to lead to an increase in road safety.
I disagree with the website's implications that speed limits should be increased to allow cars to arrive at their destinations quicker as lower speed limits are not going to contribute to reducing the number of accidents (justification for speed limits). This will only become true if drivers are able to assess a suitable speed to drive, embracing factors such as the weather, visability, reaction time... and reduce their speed accordingly.
As it stands drivers will often only slow down if they are exceeding the speed limit and feel that ill may come to them — either through culpability in an accident or being caught by a speed camera or other form of speed trap . Too many people drive at 40mph because that is what the signs tell them they should be doing — and the sign is even ringed in red to make it easier to spot these recommended speeds . If the speed limit were increased to 50mph then people would do 50mph rather than reducing their speed on blind corners/near schools where a slower speed would be advisable.
Hmm this is starting to go on far too long. I'll stop here and see what someone else adds before I continue.
Extra smileys to make this less serious and more appealing to read:
It is certainly true that we believe the car is a good thing and that it makes a hugely positive overall contribution to our society. So it is not surprising that our website gives this impression, or that we demand a high level of justification for any restrictions on car use.
We are especially suspicious of measures that are proposed by people who think the car is a bad thing, and it is perhaps inevitable that both sides in such a debate will accuse the other of allowing their predispositions to colour their arguments. Tim Pike makes some good points here that we would agree with. Driving too fast for the prevailing road conditions is indeed a major cause of accidents, and the ability of drivers to moderate their speed according to these conditions is absolutely critical to road safety. He also recognises that drivers need to get better at this, and that blindly driving at a speed limit is not good for road safety. This is pretty close to the ABD view.
Speed limits that are sensibly and consistently set, which begin and end in the right place, and which are enforced with common sense and discretion by trained police officers are all part of what is needed to help drivers get better at judging a safe speed for the conditions and so prevent them from having accidents. Warning signs for individual hazards and driver training and education, together with good road engineering, are equally critical parts of the equation.
Badly set, blanket limits that are inconsistent in how they relate to road conditions, enforced by machines (or by those with the attitude of a machine) and marked by huge, intimidating, ugly signs actually work against road safety. They undermine public respect for all speed limits, distract drivers from the job of spotting and responding to hazards and, in the final analysis, render drivers incapable of judging safe speeds correctly.
The authorities responsible for road safety policy have no idea what driving safely is all about. They actually think that it is a bad thing for a driver to be able to judge for himself what is a safe speed to driver at. As a result they seem hellbent on making it impossible for responsible citizens to drive to the best of their ability.
I do disagree on one point in particular.
I hate ANY driven car!
Punishment before rehab'!
I know. It is extreme and I don't mean it literally.
I used to do over 1200 miles a week just to get to work and back!
I couldn't get from the bedroom to the kitchen without a motorbike but I have a good excuse.... I banged my head.
Not against cars at all but HATE the car culture and the "Right to drive " brigade.
|Fat bloke wrote|
I would love to live in a society where cars were unnecessary and everyone could cycle everywhere. And it never rained except at night. And bad things didn't happen.
But sometimes I need to leave work and get home within an hour and drive my daughter to riding lessons, or her tutor etc. and it just isn't possible without a car!
Could change the times?
Could she (Heaven forbid!) get on a bus like the common people?
No Offence but that is a weak argument.
People rode and had tutors before everybody had a car.
I think not. There is no bus and she's only 9.
I wouldn't even let her cycle along the road she would need go on as it is quite narrow with no footpath and is a 60mph limit.
I already have one friend who was almost killed on that road (on a motorcycle) and is now permanently disabled. I wouldn't like to add my daughter to that
None of us want to commute 1200 miles a week — that's not what motoring is all about. Some people spend 6 hours a day commuting by train and that isn't much fun either. However a lot of us seem to end up doing it, and the government needs to ask why and then look at ways of making this less necessary rather than penalising those who find their lives take them in this direction.
It's important to teach children the road sense to ride bicycles safely and to give them responsibility, but we agree that nine is a little young for cycling on the open road. However, speed limits are a bit of a red herring. It is lethal if a car hits a child on a bicycle at 30mph and all that stops it is the drivers observation and the child's road sense.
The ABD believes that drivers should pay attention and drive at a speed from which they can stop in the distance they can see. On narrow country lanes, they also have to allow for the stopping distance of a car coming the other way, and to give cyclists adequate room and not pass them too close too quickly.
We also support the British Horse Society's guidelines for interactions between horseriders and motor vehicles.
We accept that drivers do not always comply with such behaviour — though we would expect ABD members to. However, reducing speed limits and enforcing them in places where it is safe to break them is not the answer. We need to tell drivers how to behave safely and courteously and then enforce the careless driving law against those who do not.
Jeremy Clarkson — Aug 2002 just after EU suggested that burden of proof in car/cycle accidents should shift to the motorist:
"....... (cyclists) have already taken over a third of the roads with their green tarmac cycle lanes. Now the Lycra Nazis want to take over the whole lot! And they still don't pay a penny for going on the roads which the poor old motorists pay through the nose for. Traffic congestion is the fault of the Government — the very people who now want to penalise motorists more for being stuck in traffic. When will people understand that roads are for cars and that there is no danger at all from speeding motorists if walkers and cyclists steer clear?"
Is he a member of ABD?
Kathy Pike wrote:|
Originally posted by Pringle
Jeremy Clarkson — Aug 2002 just after EU suggested that burden of proof in car/cycle accidents should shift to the motorist:
That was at the time when there was the suggestion that cars should be made responsible for any accident involving bikes, when every tabloid dragged out the most anti-cyclist twit they could find, to defend the poor motorist. Much worse things were said — eg one guy (Tony Parsons) in The Mirror said:
"...if we truly cared about safety on our roads, then we would make a bonfire of all those stupid hats, all that hideous Lycra and every bicycle in the land.
They are all an affront to civilised society, whether you move around on four wheels or foot. Bicycles are for children. They are for little boys doing their paper round. They are for little girls going round their friend's house to play with their Barbie dolls. Bikes teach kids the joy of mobility, speed and freedom. They are not for men who think they are somehow better than everybody else because they don't have to stop for a tank of unleaded. Bicycles are like masturbation — something you should grow out of."
Intrigingly, I was Googling to see if Jeremy Clarkson has ever said anything positive about bikes. I haven't been able to find anything.
Jeremy Clarkson is not a member of the ABD, although like other journalists he is well aware of our views and arguments.
The ABD believes that everyone has a right to use the roads responsibly. ABD members are also pedestrians and many of us cycle as well.
We also believe very firmly that the blame for individual accidents should be apportioned fairly and impartially amongst all those whose actions have contributed to them, whatever their mode of transport.
To seek to skew blame towards one group of road users is both unjust and highly irresponsible as it prevents the true causes of road accidents being understood and undermines efforts to prevent them happening.
The ABD notes that Kathy Pike admits that apportioning blame to the motorist in all accidents with cyclists has been suggested by some cycling campaigners, and we are pleased that she doesn't appear to support this idea herself.
However, it is not surprising that such an outrageous suggestion should draw strong criticism — and whilst we don't agree with the rhetoric of the pro-car journalists quoted here, we share their sense of outrage at a clear attempt to create discrimination in the legal system to support a socio-political agenda.
Regaring the ABD, they seem to support the 'persecuted motorist' theory. They seem to have issue a number (albeit limited number) of items with which I agree (1) that speed limits are more effective when set in line with the inherent risks on a road and not as a blanket policy and (2) that speed cameras should be used as an accident prevention technique supported by other signage and not purely for detection purposes (ie stopping the majority of drivers from breaking the speedlimit and not fining the 'few' that do). However, I think that in the main the ABD are at best misguided and, at worste, supporting dangerous driving.
We do indeed believe that speed limits should be set correctly and that speed cameras, where they are used, should be a deterrent rather than a source of revenue, and we are glad that Bob agrees with us here.
The ABD supports safe driving — and a vital part of that is the ability of drivers to judge what is a safe speed for the conditions. Limits, signage and enforcement should all be designed to help drivers do this.
Instead they are increasingly designed to prevent drivers from judging what is a safe speed. Correct speed setting — safe driving — is even seen by many in authority as an undesirable trait that needs to be stamped out.
It is this view that is misguided and supportive of dangerous driving — no wonder lower limits, more enforcement and millions spent on traffic calming is failing to cut road deaths despite much safer cars populating our roads.
|Flying monkey wrote:
Being a Town and Country Planning lecturer, I am far from ignorant about the state of transport in this country and in Europe. This is it exactly.
I'd agree that there are some sensible suggestions hidden amongst the paranoia. But basically the ABD's website completely fails to understand that in terms of planning, transport, and even culture, our society is entirely set up to favour the car. The fact that the state has to then restrain the beast it has created is of no surprise (indeed in terms of actually dealing withe the nultitude of socail and environmental probalme that cars are involved in it hardly goes far enough). But some groups don't accept that social life is a compromise, and that they have to give up 'power' and the things they have come to expect for the benefit of others (and not just for people but other living things too). This lack of recognition leads to the perception of being a victim and almost inevitably that there is unwarranted 'persecution' involved. What you often get then is an attempt to undermine the basis on which the social judgements are made in the first place — the denial that the dominance of the car leads to any problems at all — which again reinforces the the feeling of injustice.
Considering how many real injustices there are in the world which lead to death and destruction, I find this attitude childish, selfish and self-indulgent.
I a in a really pissed-off and intolerant mood today, as y'all have probably noticed!
I`m with you Flying Monkey.Car Culture stinks.People go to work ,miles away in their cars,to earn the cash to pay for the cars to get to work!
I would guess that most people can`t afford the cars they drive.A landlord in the pub I drink in said "2 cars in the drive ,nowt in the fridge".
I do drive,but we co-share a vehicle.My bike and trailer do most of my hauling.And I never travel to work other than by bike.Haven`t for 6 yrs.My work mate travels by car EVERYDAY -300yards!!!!!!!! I ride 16 miles.
Generally speaking ,cars make people lazy and selfish.
Flying Monkey is absolutely right. For years, the planning system and government policy has conspired to make the car indispensable in the lives of the people who work hard to generate the wealth of our nation and provide taxes to pay for health, education and government departments.
Far from "failing to accept" this position, it is in fact at the heart of the ABDs campaigning. And at the heart of what makes us so angry.
Instead of trying to manage policy and planning differently, so that people can go about their lives with less driving, the approach has been to demonise ordinary people going about their business.
Its worth noting that people who work in health, local government and education — including Town and Country Planning Lecturers like Flying Monkey — have much more choice about where they work than those who work in the private sector. Every town has a council, a hospital, schools and colleges. And these places are usually readily accessible by public transport.
For those who work in industry and commerce, the situation is very different. They have specialist jobs in varied locations. They have to move around at the whim of their employer, and their places of work are wholly dependant on the road network — so public transport is not an option.
So when Flying Monkey talks about "restraining the beast" he actually means that he wishes to blame, penalise and obstruct the people who indirectly pay his wages in a clumsy attempt to assuage for a problem that his own profession has created.
There are indeed more important things to do with our lives than to be active in the ABD. But we only do it because others are active from the opposite standpoint.