Saturday 4 May 2013

What's in a name?

Over the last few months I have been indulging in a  bit of a twitter exchange with another tweep, over a local car parking battle and the personalities engaged in it, including two current (Tory) councillors and one newly elected (non-Tory) one.  This tweep is evidently a Tory, but has quite acidic views on one of those councillors and rather dewy-eyed views about the other – in my view entirely misconceived in both cases.  (Personally, I have a problem with both of them in that they are Tories, but one is an open, straight and plain dealing individual, whatever your feelings about his politics.  The other is not.)

The newly elected councillor is an independent.  She narrowly beat the Tory (the latter of the two I refer to above) which around here is an achievement in itself – a donkey with a blue rosette would expect to be elected here.  It attests to her personal qualities and her drive and determination, and also to her openness – what you see is what you get, even if you don’t like all of it.  I certainly don’t like all of it, but I liked enough to give her my vote.  The bit I don’t like is a campaign to prevent local residents obtaining relief from parking problems, visited on them by outsiders, by resident-only parking schemes.  The rest is a progressive view on transport policy, especially cycling and 20mph, and the civil realm generally.

My tweep thinks that her victory is a victory for the parking objectors.  I doubt it.  If the parking lobbyists had stood full square behind her, what happened to the 4,000 people who apparently signed a petition on the matter last year?  She got 1,208 votes.

From the general tenor of his tweets, I have to assume that his position on the parking issue is that he wants to be able to drive to the station and park in one of the neighbouring streets**, without charge, and possibly at some inconvenience to the residents of that street, and he resents attempts by those residents to escape from this blight – through no fault of their own, these people live in a car-dependent area so have few other transport choices and they think it would be nice if they could park their cars somewhere near where they live, and could exit from their own off-street parking, for example to collect their children from school* without finding the way obstructed by someone else’s parked car.

Anyway, to the point:  this individual styles himself on his twitter page as a cyclist.  Not just by-the-way – cyclist is the first word he uses.  I gather he is heavily into cycle road events, like sportives.  From reading his Twitter home page and his tweets, I learn that he lives in my town, and like me he (apparently) commutes from the local railway station, he lives about the same distance from the station as I do but in a different direction.  I can manage it on a bicycle despite getting perilously close to pensionable age, he appears to be much younger and is clearly fitter, so why can’t he?

It takes me back to AlternativeDfT’s post, “Cyclists, you have an image problem”.  The term clearly means rather different things to different people, and public policy, if the recently published Westminster cycle strategy is anything to go by, hasn’t caught up with that yet.
*  It’s a rural area, many schools are several miles from the communities they serve
** Indeed he has now confirmed this, in a subsequent tweet

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