Sunday, 28 April 2013

Cambridge Local Elections - 2nd May 2013

EDIT (6/5/13) - It gives me great pleasure to observe that the vice-chairman of Cambridge Conservatives, Timothy Haire (with whom I engage in a quite fiery confrontation in the comments section of this article) lost his seat in the 2013 Local Elections.

Timothy Haire was beaten by the Labour candidate, Sandra Crawford. It is heartening to note that when responding to the Cambridge Cycle Campaign's survey, Sandra Crawford had infinitely more intelligent things to say than Timothy Haire.

Here's the hoping that in the wake of extremely poor electoral results, the Cambridge Conservatives might re-think their currently idiotic policy on cycling...


Continuing with this blog's 'call-a-spade-a-spade' approach, I thought it might be constructive to take a cycling-related stance on the upcoming County Council elections. Should you...

Vote Conservative? ... NO! NO! NO! NO! NO! This blog is a massive supporter of what Boris Johnson is doing in London, but the sad reality is that local conservative candidates up here in Cambridge are complete cretins. To name just one such cretin (although they are virtually innumerable), Timothy Haire, vice-chairman of Cambridge Conservatives, wrote some absolutely ridiculous responses to the Cambridge Cycle Campaign's questionnaire, including a breathtakingly patronising: "you really are being silly now". [if you'd prefer an extended exploration of Timothy Haire's mendacity please see the comments section]

Hello, my name's Timothy Haire, but even being photographed in black and white can't stop me looking fatill-informed and idiotic. [disclaimer: I have no idea what Timothy Haire's weight is and it was unnecessarily inflammatory to call him fat. I am sorry about doing that. But his responses in the comments section (below)  unfortunately demonstrate that he is indeed ill-informed, idiotic and a liar when it comes to cycling issues. Pretty poor given he wants to be an elected official of the UK's cycling capital...]

Vote Labour? ... NO! NO! NO! While some of their manifesto promises look good, they're not backing up claims like "We will push for investment in high-quality strategic cycle routes across the county"with actual proposals. We need specifics. It's not enough to say you support cycle routes. Where are they going to go? Where's the money going to come from? How will you negotiate opposition from motor-idiotic local residents? Labour are all words, no substance.

Vote Liberal Democrats? ... YES! YES! YES! The Liberal Democrats are the only party to have laid actual specifics on the table about what they would do. These deserve quoting in full:

  • Build the Chisholm Trail, a strategic cycle route that would run from Addenbrooke’s to the Cambridge Science Park, alongside the railway
  • Provide more cycle parking in areas of greatest demand.
  • Invest in enhancing cycle links around the county.
  • Bring junctions that are dangerous for cyclists up to a safe standard.
  • Introduce 20mph zones in densely populated residential areas, not including A and B roads, in consultation with local communities, to make travelling safer for all road users.
  • Grit more of our cycle routes, among the busiest in the country.

Dr Belinda Brooks-Gordon (left) is one of many Lib Dem councillors that want to see the Chisholm Trail go ahead.

Moreover, the Liberal Democrat politicians are also happy to expand on these ideas using twitter, stating:

  • In our alt budget we proposed an extra £8m for cycle links (but £4m of that is earmarked for the Chisholm Trail in Cambridge)

If we want to see positive change on our roads, Lib Dem on a local level is clearly the way to go.

It is also the Liberal Democrat MP for Cambridge, Dr Julian Huppert, who has been relentlessly pushing the government's report 'Get Britain Cycling' in Parliament. Yet another reason to vote for a Lib Dem local government.

Julian Huppert MP (far right), sorting out cycling in the UK

Vote Green? ... NO! Like Labour, the Greens are saying the right things about cycling (isn't everyone nowadays?), but woefully lacking in specifics. We need specifics.

I'm not even going to dignify UKIP's "I would prefer more car parks" approach with a sarcastic putdown. This response to Cambridge Cycle Campaign's survey is hilarious though...


.... Finally, if you haven't already signed the e-petition for the government to implement the proposals contained in the 'Get Britain Cycling' report, please please please do so now by clicking here! 35,000 signatures in 5 days!... But we need 100,000 to trigger a debate in Parliament!


  1. I believe it sheer naivety to think (or think that we think) that council elections midway through the Parliamentary term will, in reality, be used - both by the parties and the public - for any other than their usual purpose, i.e. to express displeasure at the ruling power(s).

    The Liberal Democrats really did not nothing 'in power' (if they were) that they made any noise about until around October last year :

    And, suddenly, all this bravado about cycling is to sweep aside the wholly expedient failure to stand up to the Tories for around 30 months... ?

    Not sure that the Cambridge electorate is so gullible !

  2. @TheAgentApsely

    Many thanks for your comment.

    As this is a cycling blog, I was just rating the parties on the basis of their plans for improving cycling in Cambridge.

    Regardless of one's opinion of the Lib Dems track record in government since 2010, you would surely agree that the local Cambridge Lib Dems have much better thought through and effective plans regarding cycling than any of the other parties?

  3. I am flattered to have my photograph featured so prominently on your illustrious, and to be described as "fat, ill-informed and idiotic" well that is a real treat. I can't help but notice you haven't engaged with the substance of my responses. As to the, very partial quotation, you provide I do think that was a very silly question. I am pleased you have linked to my full responses and your readers will I am sure make up there own minds, but again I couldn't fail to notice that the candidate standing for the party you urge your readers to vote for can't be bothered to reply. In all I feel the quotation you use is most apposite in this case to "you really are being silly now".

    1. Yes thanks. He did link to your comments and I have made up my own mind. I agree with him - except for the 'fat' bit - which may be true but isn't the point. Suggest however that getting out on your bike more would do you good.

  4. @TimothyHaire

    I'm equally flattered that you'd take the time to respond to this post. My issue with your replies to the Cambridge Cycling Campaign is that they are typical of the worst type of unsubstantiated rubbish that gets spewed out perennially by ill-informed politicians:

    You say Exhibition Road is "a fantastic space for everyone who uses it" when it is widely considered an extremely costly failure by both cyclists and pedestrians. It is also not something that your fellow Conservative Boris Johnson (Mayor of the city in which it was built) has *ever* mentioned trying to repeat. If you don't believe me please read the following (it might take awhile as the author is very thorough):

    You say of 20mph limits "without enforcement it means nothing", having said only a few questions earlier, "enforcing traffic laws whether it be bicycle or cars is very important. The Conservatives in Cambridge have for a long time supported this view." Which is it? You either support enforcement and therefore your argument against 20mph limits is hollow and vapid, or you don't actually support enforcing traffic laws and therefore can retain an non-sensical argument against implementing 20mph limits. (it's like a kid saying I'm not going to get an A so I won't bother taking the exam - no one will stick to 20mph limits so no point putting them in.)

    You say cycling in Cambridge is "the most sensible way to get about. But other public transport options must be available." This implies that the proposed improvements to cycling in Cambridge that you've been asked about - such as segregated routes or 20mph limits - necessitate the closure of "other public transport options". This is total rubbish and not what anyone is proposing. Neither 20mph limits nor segregated lanes impact on "public transport options" in any way. They represent a tiny percentage of the overall transport budget. No proposed cycling improvements prevent "public transport options" being "available". Twaddle.

    Finally when we turn to the Conservative Party manifesto we find "We are investing in cycling measures with the ambition of being the best cycling county in the country." What are these measures? None of them are listed. You appear to oppose the majority of measures which have been *proven* to work in Holland and Denmark. Instead you are proposing an extremely costly (and we're going through austerity at the moment) failure along the lines of Exhibition Road?!?

    You don't support improving conditions for cyclists in Cambridge but you are too scared to come out and say it. So instead we get flatulent and fraudulent claims in your manifesto. Then you try and pretend like you are hospitable to cycling with weasel words such as "in some areas 20mph is an appropriate limit and should be signed as such." Which areas? Oh right, you've closely consulted and actually 20mph wouldn't be 'appropriate' in any of them. Shucks!

    You are correct in pointing out that your Lib Dem opponent did not reply to the questionnaire, but if you turn to the Lib Dem manifesto you can find a detailed plan of what the party propose to do to improve cycling. *Nothing* of the sort in the Conservative one. Yet still we get these ridiculously bold claims... but no substance.

    Frankly, I would have preferred no response to your ill-informed, vacillating answers. At least UKIP were honest.

    The Conservatives in Cambridge clearly increasingly care about the cycling vote or you wouldn't be commenting on this page. What I don't understand is why you don't follow the example of an extremely successful Conservative working 50 miles away and come up with some proper policies that will actually improve things for cyclists? Then you'll get the cycling vote.

    If you try and say one thing while doing the opposite, then you'll get picked up on it.

  5. That's better, at least we are now talking about substance.

    Well let us start slowly. I am very pleased you have started to engage with the issues now. It must be a joy to your readers. You describe me as mendacious. Interesting, I think that is probably libelous ( hint here you might want to change or delete that bit).

    As to 20mph limits I stand by my comments that if they are not enforced they mean nothing. It is not just my party that says this but others to. Getting the police to enforce such limits seems to be non trivial. The conservatives in the city have long campaigned for enforcement of the traffic laws. There is no point spending thousands of pounds on signage and then the police refusing to enforce it. We have run campaigns, particularly on Mill Road, about speeding and cyclists being well lit. There is no contradiction here.

    As to public transport options, yes, many people like you seem to think that if only everyone will get on a bike the problem will be solved. Well not everyone wants to do so or is capable of doing so. My point here is that many people like you seem to think it is the only way to get about.

    And once again in your in your third paragraph from the end you accuse me of being dishonest. This really is pathetic. And no, I comment on this page because I am a cyclist and for no other reason, than you have attempted to misrepresent me and my party horribly.

    And as a quick aside, your description of me as “fat, ill-informed and idiotic “ is fine. But I know at least one woman who would make a fantastic councilor (and it wouldn't be for my party) who steers clear of running just because of the personal abuse she might be subjected to.

    1. Really? Thats your solution to robust criticism? Veiled threats of legal action, hinting that the criticism may contain libellous content so should be deleted?

      Even when you do respond to criticism, your response merely displays an innate anti-cyclist dogma. Equating speeding on Mill Road (which is insanely narrow but very well lit) with cyclists without lights? The former are responsible for countless deaths in the UK, the latter are only responsible for around 2% of cyclist KSI. You're not basing policy on who gets hurt and how to prevent it, you're basing it on your own dogma. The strange idea that an even handed approach must ignore harm differentials... No, no, no.

  6. @Timothy Haire

    Unimpressed. You're not engaging with the "issues" at all.

    1) You completely fail to respond over Exhibition Road? Just ignored that one... (we'e you "ill-informed" about it?)

    2) You've *continued* to imply (mendaciously?) that installing better cycle infrastructure means getting rid of public transport options. Or that any cycle campaigner has ever suggested this. Absolute baloney. Please stop implying this and I'll stop laying into you.

    "My point here is that many people like you seem to think [cycling] is the only way to get about". *Where* have I said that? Please give me a quote. I'm arguing that a *small portion* of road space should be re-allocated to make cycling safer. You're simply *lying* about what cycling campaigners are proposing.

    3) You have at least been honest about your stance on 20mph limits; but surely if a road (let's say there's a school on it) is safer at 20mph, then with signage but without enforcement is better than having neither signage nor enforcement? Many motorists are responsible drivers who will stick to a 20mph limit whether it is enforced or not! Not everyone's a speeding looney! I said this in my post above (perhaps you missed it?), but your attitude strikes me as similar to a kid saying, "I'm not going to get an A, so 'there's no point' taking the exam". (This attitude strikes me as "idiotic").

  7. 4) How can the Conservatives claim to be, as you say in your manifesto, "investing in cycling measures with the ambition of being the best cycling county in the country", when the *only* specific cycle related policy you mention in your manifesto is "repair more roads, footpaths and cycleways than ever before"?! It's comical...

    Surely it is disingenuous to claim to want to be "the best cycling county in the country" and then to make the ill-informed mistakes (such as proposing more schemes like Exhibition Road) listed in my earlier points above?

  8. 5) You also failed to respond to my question as to why you are not following the lead of your fellow Conservative, Boris Johnson, Mayor of London?

    He has recently released a document saying that he strongly supports segregation on major routes. I suggest you read it before your next disastrous attempt to come up with cycling policies.

    And please don't say that Cambridge doesn't have the space to implement segregated routes because cycle campaigners have *only* proposed segregated routes *outside* of central Cambridge, where there is plenty of space (e.g. The Chisholm Trail). Central London, where Boris is implementing segregation, is far more crowded than outer Cambridge.

    Or perhaps you know something that Boris Johnson and his team at TfL doesn't? ... If so please enlighten us (and them).

  9. Cab,

    Well I could have guessed you were never going to agree with me. As to the fat bit it was probably the one thing in the article that I can't disagree with. You're right getting on my bike more would do me good, and nothing would give me greater pleasure. Your comment about robust criticism; I have no problem with that. But the author of this blog has called me a liar. This has no basis in fact whatsoever. So yes I am likely to be slightly tetchy about that.

    Moving on to you're more substantive point. Please read what I wrote. Nowhere do I compare speeding on Mill Road to cycling without lights. That is a list of some of the local Conservative campaigns that I have been involved in. Again tricky I know but try to read it as opposed to just picking out some words and filling in the rest of the gaps with your imagination. In fact (and I am sure it is on twitter somewhere) I took exception to our Conservative police and crime commissioner's recent 'crack down on cyclists' as there are more important things road safety wise for the police to be doing. But I still support general traffic policing as a way to make the roads safer, as the police can use their judgment and talk to both motorists, cyclists and in some cases pedestrians about safe behavior.

    1. Ahh, yes, I would disagree wouldn't I so you can essentially be really rather dismissive. As I said, I did what you suggested I based my response on your comments - and what your suggestions actually mean are that you do not support evidence based policing. You say you do, but thats not what the rest of your content (here as well) actually means.

      Further, your false portrayal of the author of this blog and others of a similar mindset as believing that everything would be good if only everyone would cycle is insulting and incorrect; you're setting up a straw man to knock down, and to do so in that fashion is childish. You're cheapening the debate by falsely portraying the views of those you're arguing against as somehow extreme, a result of the simple fact that you are, fundamentally, opposed to cycling.

      Hop over to the Cambridge Cyclist blog. You'll find I've been rather less scathing of tories, in general, over there than I have been of you, personally, here. Your comments here mark a new low.

    2. "You say you do, but thats not what the rest of your content (here as well) actually means"

      This is the most offensive part of your dialogue. The bit where you decide what the other person 'really' means based on your own prejudice about their motives. I've seen this done countless times by you and others. It's pretty low and I hope I never do it to people with home I disagree.

    3. No, I decide what he really means based on what the contents of his statements lead us towards, not the bland platitude of what he wants us to believe. Thats not my prejudice, its just not being a sucker.

  10. George

    1)I like exhibition road you don't. So there we are. No I don't think I am ill-informed about it as I am there about once a month. I have walked down it and cycled down it. But I must confess I have never driven down it.

    2)No I have never implied that and I am sorry if that is the impression you have got. This comment was made I think in relation to the question on the cycling survey about 50% of people being denied more sustainable modes of transport. Which I maintain is a pretty stupid question. I merely mean to point out that no matter how good the cycle infrastructure is, there are some people who can't or won't cycle and this is fine too. It is up to people to make their own choices.

    3)I don't think festooning roads with 20mph signs at great expense does reduce speeds. One sign of a bad law is one that is not enforced. I would prefer a more selective approach to 20mph zones, and when they are in place I believe they should be enforced. This means bringing the police on board. You can't have been at some of the area committees that I have attended and seen the reluctance in some case to enforce these limits.

    4)I don't know about you, but one of the biggest bugbears I have when cycling around Cambridge is the state of some of the roads. Pot holes and roads in poor states of repair have a much greater impact on cyclists than they do on motorists.

    5)Well Boris is great as I am sure you agree but he isn't Mayor of Cambridge. More to the point, again if you read my answers, you will see that I believe segregated routes are appropriate in some cases. As to the Chisholm trail. I am broadly supportive of it. My only real issue is the effect it will have on Stourbridge common one of my favorite areas of the city.

    And my final point is that I am very distressed that you call me a liar. I would like you to point out to me a lie that you think I have told, or withdraw that comment.

  11. 1) Did you bother to read the relevant material I suggested on Exhibition Road? No. I guess not. A pity. I would think before recommending a scheme that cost £35,000 *per metre* you would want to know all you could about... The fact you've been there yourself doesn't stop you being ill-informed.

    2) You have implied it. It's in what I quote. Please re-read my previous statement.

    3) You've failed to accept that the fact that most motorists will stick to a 20mph limit *without* enforcement. Therefore your statement 'I don't think festooning roads with 20mph signs does reduce speeds' is a lie. It does. Granted, it would reduce speeds *by more* if the police were keener to enforce. But it does, nevertheless, reduce speeds. (also pretty hypocritical to play the 'great expense' card when you've just recommended a scheme that cost £29 million for 820 metres.)

    4) You need to do more than improve potholes if you want to make Cambridge the "best cycling country in the country". That's just a fact. Of course potholes are important. But they're not enough to substantiate your manifesto claim. Did you see the recent Dutch infrastructure on BBC news? That's "ambitious" planning for cycling.

    5) I strongly dislike phrases like, 'I believe segregated routes are appropriate in some cases'. Which cases? Clearly not the Chisholm Trail as it will effect your favourite common. Any cases at all? Any specifics from a party with the grandiose claims I quoted earlier?

    As to lying I would refer you back to points 2) and 3). I also feel that point 4) is duplicitous as it demonstrates the party claiming one thing while doing another.

    1. Leaving aside your disgraceful conduct in this discussion, continued here with another accusation of lying, a small observation re your 20mph comments:

      "You've failed to accept that the fact that most motorists will stick to a 20mph limit *without* enforcement. Therefore your statement 'I don't think festooning roads with 20mph signs does reduce speeds' is a lie. It does. Granted, it would reduce speeds *by more* if the police were keener to enforce. But it does, nevertheless, reduce speeds."

      A fair contribution to the debate but I don't think you are taking into account the fact that in roads where lower speeds are appropriate (a large proportion of urban roads), many or most drivers will already be driving at such speeds. Take a look at the speed stats for Mill Road or Newmarket Road, which if I recall correctly, record approximately similar average speeds before and after the limit change - something around 24mph I think.

    2. @Andrew Bower

      Unconvinced by this.

      Speed limits are about bringing down *top speeds* rather than average speeds.

      It's the top speeds that kill people.

      Average speeds might have actually *increased* with the imposition of a 20mph limit due to less unnecessary accelerating-breaking slowing traffic. Sounds counter-intuitive I know, but it is grounded in science. Read about how new 'driver-less' technology will avoid traffic jams on motorways by maintaining a constant speed.

      Crucial: Do you have figures to show that the % of time for which drivers were travelling at or over 30mph (a speed which is usually fatal) was *the same* both before and after the imposition of 20mph limits?

      I find it very hard to believe that this % would not have fallen after the imposition of 20mph limits. This fall makes both pedestrians and cyclists in the area safer since they're at less risk of being hit by some going at or over 30mph.

    3. You are right about the precise kind of stats needed. I don't know what the answer is, I'm afraid. However, if the 20 campaign is really about keeping people under 30 then it should be about enforcement not lowering the limit.

    4. It should be about lowering the limit... *then* engaging in any debates that may ensue about (a lack of) enforcement.

  12. Also on the subject of your lying, I would refer you to the 'false portrayal' Cab Davidson explains in detail in the second paragraph of his most recent post.