On Monday I spoke at the Transport Select Committee; Newcycling transcribes the detail here. It was an interesting experience, albeit not exactly an entirely enlightening one.
That day was a rocky road on many levels.
Coming out of the committee room I was desperately trying to collect my thoughts and make sense of what just happened. I heard dark clouds were forming and a (twitter) storm had started to rain down the usual fire and brimstone. I heard, much later, that one MP's ears had been pricking. That was an excellent outcome I'd have thought... and when I heard that Chris Boardman's call of professional negligence had been heard too, I knew the debate had notched along another gear. He's invited to give oral evidence whilst the call for further written evidence has also been extended to 17 January.
If anything, the point I did not make strongly enough at the Committee hearing was that of the importance of leadership in assessing risk and hazards. Sounds boring? It's not. Laying firm foundations by getting the things right that have a big impact (policy, strategy, plans and engineering road design and layouts) is vital, because only then should we wonder about the small stuff (and that's where the current debate is stuck in a vicious victim-blaming circle). The culture at the top-tier decision-making level has to change. Last year my 'professional self' rambled on about it here.
I am certain Chris Boardman will give MPs that very message of total overhaul to avoid collapse of the transport system, and much more. There is a bigger picture to consider and a much wider debate to be had. On the every-so-slightest off chance that he wanted any help, my cycle campaigning aside:
As a civil engineer, Chartered Engineer and certified nebosh trained concerned professional individual, I'd be fantastically delighted to assist in any way I possibly could. The professional institutions, too, really have to smell the coffee and seriously get involved in, and shape, the debate. Chris, get in touch - you, Adrian and I can do it!
On an entirely smaller matter altogether, whilst giving evidence, my bike got nicked from outside House of Commons, Victoria Embankment. Babs was
adequately locked. She was a brand-new Trek Lexi [whose price I had
callously haggled down to £630 in KB Cycles, an independent Newcastle
lbs, after they were flooded out in Newcastle last year in the Newburn
disaster]. Thanks to Dave Holladay who walked me up to the Brompton Junction to check out a Brompton trial bike for 24 hrs (and food at Look Mum No Hands) - Dave returned the trial Brompton to the Brompton shop by using his Brompton.
Class! Bike folks really are independent, resilient and resourceful. When sitting on the train back to Newcastle, I felt lovingly
immersed in cycle culture (minus one bicycle).
Sometimes things are black and white, just like Babs' colours were.