“To promote the idea of sharing the streets more safely, we’ve made a fun film here in the City of London Corporation.”
No, you haven’t.
Hot on the heels of the Nice Way Code’s video campaign, the folk at the City of London Corporation (who clearly don’t pay attention to social media and didn’t see the wall-to-wall kicking that the Nice Way Code received – or, perhaps, who have decide to amuse themselves with some pretty audacious trolling) have decided to make “a fun film”.
(They don’t say for whom it’s fun. I think it’s them.)
Obviously, you’re going to love it. Ready?
Now, I’m not going to have a rant about the way in which the narrative is written and delivered, as if the video is aimed at primary school children. I’m not going to say much about the sickly way in which we’re repeatedly told that the video is fun. Nor the idea that things are simply “put right, after their collision” at the roadside. (Nor the patronising way in which the details of this utterly bizarre exchange are explained.) Not even the fact that it’s neutrally described as “their collision” even though the driver was on the phone, stopped at an illegal point, failed to indicate, and drove into the cyclist. I won’t even mention the use of Comic Sans. Promise.
It’s all been done. Every “share the road” campaign signally fails to recognise that errant behaviour in cars tends to be socially normalised whilst that on bicycles tend to be less so, and – rather more importantly – they fail to acknowledge the absolutely crucial difference between matters of annoyance and matters of safety.
But this one is a bit special.
Give a man a fish and he’ll eat for a day, just don’t berate him for eating fish
Let’s grab a few frames from this film.
I’m going to start near the end.
Note that this shows the egg (really? do I have to talk in terms of eggs, for crying out loud? can we not discuss road safety without anthropomorphising stuff?) riding her bike outside of the cycle lane.
This advice says do not use the cycle lane that we have painted on the road.
Which, to be fair, I agree with. The cycle lane is crap: it pushes cyclists into the gutter ghetto in order to allow drivers to pass closely, safe in the knowledge that the thin strip of paint will, whilst not preventing an accident, prevent any nasty legal challenges coming their way should the unwary cyclist need to swerve for any reason.
In this shot, our irresponsible egg has actually used the painted-on cycle lane. What a stupid egg! She’s in a blind spot!
(Can I just point out: blind spots generally aren’t. Humans have necks, and necks are useful for looking around. Cars also generally have windows in the rear. It’s only a blind spot if you choose to blind yourself to it.)
No mention in the video of the fact that the egg in the car has blocked the advanced stop line and isn’t indicating for his turn. Nope, it’s the egg on the bike who’s being a pillock, by using the infrastructure given to her by OH WAIT, BY THE CITY OF LONDON.
Still, again, I agree. The infrastructure is rotten. Don’t use it.
But the real punch in the face, kick in the bollocks and tweak of the nipples comes early on, when you’re not expecting it. When Greg begins his patronising monologue for this video that’s resolutely focused on Cheapside, he points out that the City of London is “a global financial centre packed into a medieval street pattern“.
Packed in, it is.
Those buildings on Cheapside are like sardines in a tin, I tell you.
You can barely walk between the buildings, which were originally designed with barely sufficient gap to empty a chamberpot out of the window.
Cheapside was quite recently reconfigured as above (work began near the end of 2010) having previously had more space given over to road. Cyclists in The City have one article from 2011 and another from 2013 which discuss the conversion.
So, this is a recent and conscious redesign, to take that massively wide street space and make zero dedicated space for cycling. You could march a North Korean military parade down a pavement that wide, but there is no space for cycling whatsoever.
Here, have a fish. DON’T EAT FISH, YOU IDIOT!
It’s bewildering that a staggeringly wide street space can be converted in such a way as to force motor vehicles and bicycles into as small an area as physically possible, with paint daubed on the ground to further constrain each of them. But it’s infuriating for the people responsible for doing it to very shortly afterwards produce a patronising video asking everyone to share safely and saying that safe sharing is “a real priority for the City of London Corporation“.
Why is that a priority? Why wouldn’t you prioritise not having to share? It’s a “global financial centre” for crying out loud. If anywhere should understand the concept of not sharing it’s a global financial centre.
It’s utterly insane. It’s unfathomable how this was arrived at.
Either there are some indescribably stupid people building our cities and deciding to force cyclists right into the path of buses (check the video – there really is no space for the two to be alongside each other) and then wondering why it’s not working, or there’s some frankly bizarre conspiracy going on where the phoney “war on the roads” is being deliberately fomented.
Either way, what’s basically happening here is kettling.
Everyone with wheels is being kettled into a space where the pressure is raised, and raised, and sooner or later it kicks off.
And there’s no need.
Just don’t kettle people in the first place. Build a segregated cycle lane. Stop talking drivel about medieval streets: Cheapside is of a width that small towns would barely know what to do with.
Why do it this way? I’m baffled.
Anyway, I’m always inclined to trust Hanlon’s Razor, so unless anyone wants to dispute it then I’m forced to conclude that it is in fact the work of some indescribably stupid people.
Stop with the bad fish, ok?
There is a pattern here. Authorities build woefully inadequate infrastructure, it causes conflict, they blame the users, the users get angry at being blamed, and the users take it out on everyone. Same old same old.
And then it’s salt in the wound when the very people who give you the infrastructure then – whilst patronising and berating the users of it – point out that their infrastructure shouldn’t be used because to do so is irresponsible and unsafe.
No-one seems to be able to figure out what to do with bicycles. They’re generally either shoved into the gutter, with some crappy ASLs haphazardly thrown in, or they’re brushed onto the pavement to scare the pedestrians and take their chances near the roads.
No-one seems to realise that making a video like this is a howling indicator that you’ve fucked it up again.
Just build proper infrastructure!
If nothing else, think of the money you’ll save on however much coke it takes someone to come up with an anthropomorphic egg smashing its own head in with a hammer.