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BREXIT, a year on

It’s been a year and so we have had time for the winners of the referendum to put forward their well thought out plans and allay the fears of those of us who voted to remain. Time for them to show that the vote was not just a xenophobic leap in the dark but a well thought through strategy with wide and clear economic benefits. Time for them to show their plan would take back control and not hand it to others via our much weakened negotiating position. Time to show our concerns about the status of the Good Friday agreement and peace in Ireland were ill founded.

They have had time to do all this and in doing so have had time to reduce the anger and replace it with an acceptance that while we may still not be happy about the result, the country is in safe hands, EU citizens have nothing to fear and their plans show that the economic consequences will at least be minimally negative or even as they promised positive.

Having done that there is a chance, all be it a small one, that I would have come round to accepting the referendum result means the best thing for us is to leave the EU.

However none of those things have happened.

They had no plan and a year later they still have no plan.

They have treated our non British EU citizens living in Britain in a way that is beyond contempt.

They appear to have given no thought to the Nortern Ireland peace process.

Despite saying there was no chance of leaving the single market during the campaign they seriously suggest this as a possibility, with it seems zero understanding of the economic consequences.

And now we have a minority government attempting the most complex negotiations ever, without a plan and without a mandate, having wasted months of the 2 year Article 50 negotiating time on an election.

There is no chance of the negotiations resulting in a workable agreement while both Labour and Conservatives insist on ending Freedom of movement.

We are going to face crashing out of the EU or not leaving.

Given that choice we will stay. It is just a question of time before the politicians face the facts that the electorate did not vote for economic suicide. The sooner they get there the better but the consequences of them not are to dire to contemplate.

Meanwhile we have to keep the pressure up. Leave’s arguments have all been shown to be nonsense and they are left with:

  1. We won the referendum.
  2. Be patriotic 

To which I say

  1. So where is your plan?
  2. I am. I’m defending my country from lunacy.

So I’m still as angry today as I was a year ago, only now….

…. I own an EU flag that flies in front of the house.



After the surprise result of the BREXIT referendum I’ve seen lots of calls from people that the remainers should just get on board and move on. Well I won’t.

I accept that the leavers got more votes, I don’t accept that they won. Here is why.

This is a major constitutional change from which there is realistically no way back. It will strip from every citizen of the United Kingdom their European Citizenship with huge economic implications for everyone in the UK. Parliament  set this referendum up to be advisory, not binding, I assume they did this for a reason.

Now look at what is required for a strike ballot for core services in the UK under the new rules brought in by this government:

  • At least 50% of members entitled to vote must do so for ballots on industrial action to be valid. Currently balloting rules do not require any specific level of participation by union members.

  • 40% of those eligible to vote must back action for strikes in core public services (Health, Education, Transport & Fire Services). Ballots currently require a simple majority to back action.

So for a strike you need to have 40% of the electorate vote for the action. How can a major constitutional change to the country be less important than a strike?

Then there are the leavers themselves. Farage has been quoted as saying a 52/48 victory for remain would be “unfinished business”. Given the one way nature of leaving this margin is not remotely conclusive. What is sauce for the goose.

Now neither side showered themselves in glory during the campaign but the leavers’ promises started unravelling even before the markets made it clear that the savings they claimed would never be realised . They claimed we could get access to the European market without paying in and without accepting free movement of people. It was clear to many before that this was nonsense but it is even clearer now. Our service economy would be destroyed outside of the market so it is simply inconceivable that any deal without access to the market would be acceptable. The EU know this. Even Germany who export a lot to us won’t let us do a deal. They have all the cards.

Leaving would put the Northern Ireland peace progress in jeopardy and certainly result in Scotland leaving the Union.

It’s now becoming clear that the right wing press were playing games. The EU was a convenient whipping boy about which they could tell lies and use to stir up fear to boost their circulation while they were confident that we would never leave.

You can see this from the utterances of Kelvin Mackenzie . Even he is having second thoughts after voting to leave:

When I put my cross against Leave I felt a surge as though for the first time in my life my vote did count. I had the power.

Four days later I don’t feel quite the same. I have buyer’s remorse. A sense of being careful what you wish for. To be truthful, I am fearful of what lies ahead.

This is after years of spreading fear and bile poisoning any well of good will to the EU.

It’s not just Kelvin.  The Telegraph, Mail, Express and even the Sun are suddenly getting cold feet about leaving.

As for the leaders of the leave campaign themselves, they have been shown up for the chancers they are. Johnson and Gove have gone AWOL at a time that should have been their greatest victory. They have no stomach for the insanity that they have inflicted on the country.

What now?

The sooner parliament take control and backs away from the advisory result the better. This has inflicted huge damage to the United Kingdom some of which is already irreversible but that does not mean we have to continue down this path.

That said the outcome can not just be ignored. The fact that so many people felt unrepresented in this democracy is a scandal and this needs to lead to real electoral and political reform. It has put paid to the idea that the first past the post system leads to stable and secure government. It needs to go. Then the major parties will not be able to ignore large parts of the country that are not considered marginal seats. Yes we would end up with UKIP or even the BNP in parliament but better there where their misinformation and lies can be held to account.

Also those of us who want to stay in the EU need to stop accepting the jibes of the right wing press and politicians of all colours who would use the EU as an excuse for their failings. We have to stand up and say we are proud to be Europeans and proud of what the EU has achieved. It’s not perfect, nothing ever is, but the EU is the best we have and I’m proud to call myself a Citizen of the European Union.

Flag of Europe.svg

Canondale Synapse 105 disk, a year on

After a full year of riding my Canondale Synapse 105 disk, here is a quick review.

Does not get cleaned enough.

I bought to bike on the Bike to Work scheme, to replace the one I bought the year before which was stolen. Both were bought for just one purpose, commuting during the winter. My commute is slightly odd, being a 92km round trip that essentially follows the Thames from Walton on Thames to Reading. No hills a bit of suburban riding and quite a lot on unlit “B” roads in the country.
So I added mudguards, rack and hub Dynamo, which meant a new front wheel.

Speaking of wheels. The only really bad thing about the bike is the rear wheel ( the front wheel may also be crap but I never used it). On my stolen bike the wheel broke spokes and then had to be completely rebuilt. The new bike has “only” broken one spoke but the free hub is not true. Even the QR skewers are nasty, though were not subject to the recent safety recall but have visible signs of rust on them. If I was getting another one I would really try and get the wheels upgraded from day one.

Now despite buying this just for commuting I have used it for a few longer rides, a weekend to Paris and back, a three day trip to Leeds, a 360km Audax and some weekend rides. In total it’s done 9420km.

I’ve found the bike comfortable and the handling ok. Not outstanding like a carbon racing bike but adequate for slogging to work or getting the miles in on a longer ride. If you want a real racing bike this is not it.

The disk brakes are good, very good in the wet but they are not perfect. You have to regularly adjust them as the pads wear, something hydrolic brakes would solve. For commuting in winter though I would not go back to long reach rim brakes needed with mudguards or, God forbid cantilever brakes.

Would I buy one again?

Probably not but only because things have moved on. You can now get hydrolic disk equipped bikes at the same price point and even if they also have shockingly bad wheels I would still be better off.

Do I regret this bike? Well the fact I replaced the stolen one with another gives a clue, not in the slightest.

Charging on the go

Riding long distances with a GPS or a phone and you quickly run into problems of charge. How to keep the things charged up. Since my bike has a dynamo the obvious answer is to charge. Here there are a number of options. I chose the cycle2charge as it looked neat and was not outrageously expensive.

I ordered directly from via google translate and within a week it turned up.

Fitting was simple except routing the cable as my forks did not allow the cable to route out of the bottom of the fork crown as they are carbon. Fortunately it was simple to file a small notch in the top of the steerer through which the cable then routes.


Yesterday I got to try it out. It works but with one problem. Since it has no internal battery as you slow the charging stops. Not a problem when charging a phone but a significant one when charging a Garmin 810. Every time to looses USB power, even with auto shutdown turned off, the Garmin starts to shutdown giving 15 seconds warning. When we were cycling along a disused railway track, which being a standard UK cycle path was not tarmaced so muddy and not really suitable for a road bike slowing due to mud the Garmin would shutdown just when I was concentrating on controlling my bike I also had 15 seconds to prevent shutdown.

Using the cycle2power to charge a phone, battery or lights (I have a backup battery light for when the Dynamo can’t be used which charges over USB) works perfectly. It looks reasonably neat but only time will tell how it copes with the British weather. So far I would recommend.

Walton Bridge Cycle links

Today I was interviewed by BBC Surrey about the new Cycle facilities that are being built leading to Walton Bridge.

My objections to the scheme have not really changed from the time of the consultation and I hope I articulated them clearly.

Surrey has planned a series of shared use pavement cycle facilities, shared with pedestrians, that are narrow, stop at every junction and require cyclists to cross the main road multiple times to follow them. Surrey claim these are high quality following best practice from the Dutch. On the Surrey website you can see some pictures, mostly of how they new facilities will make things worse for people on bikes and see Surrey gloss over that they are not building cycle paths at all but letting cyclists share the pavements.

One of the goals of the facilities is to reduce injuries amongst people on bikes. However when I spoke to the officers at the consultation they admitted they did not expect existing people on bikes to use them because Surrey conceded they were not of a high enough standard for existing cyclists. Given this it is hard to see how they will result in a casualty reduction.

Of course those people on bikes who do choose to use them will be put into conflict with pedestrians, putting both pedestrians and people on bikes in danger.

Those people on bikes who Surrey don’t expect to use the facilities and continue to use the road can look forward to even more animosity from a small, but significant minority of motorists who will use their vehicles to attempt to intimidate people on bikes off the road.

All in all Surrey are going to spend a large amount of a small cycling budget on a scheme that will make cycling, slower,  more dangerous and less pleasant.

A Helmet saved his life?

Since Ben Goldacre has blogged on the thorny subject of bicycle helmets  I am  going to tell my Helmet saved his life story.

Many years ago when cycling through the Alps we were descending the Foscagno Pass when one of my travelling companions had the misfortune to hit a hole in the road or some gravel, loose control of his bike and crash. Since we were young and foolish this happened at speed probably somewhere between 35 and 40 mph possibly more. Not having speed computers back then it’s hard to tell for sure.

They were carried off the mountain by some locals in a white Fiat, at great speed waving a white handkerchief out of the window, while their bikes were taken away by a man in a van and delivered later to the hospital where the white Fiat was taking them. The kindness of strangers is a wonderful thing.

The result of this crash was my friend ended up in Hospital in Bormio with 10 stitches in his head and a very snazzy net covering his head. He was lucky.

His bike was not.

Dead Bike

The remains of a Falcon.

Dead Bike

Before the crash the bike had four panniers.


The force of the crash had destroyed the front wheel, forks and frame along with other more minor damage.

Since I was in front when the crash happened I missed all of this and so got to ride to Bormio.

The good news was that he was able to continue the trip after one day out and get over the mighty  Stelvio Pass the next day, once we found a bike and converted it from being an Italian racing bike into a going to ride around Europe Touring bike. He took it much slower on the descent.

Me on my own at the top of Stelvio 10th August 1985

Me  at the top of Stelvio 10th August 1985

Did his helmet save his life?  No. He was not wearing one. This was 1985 when helmets really did not exist for most cyclists. However if he had been wearing one and survived I would, to this day, be telling everyone that it had saved his life. I would believe it.

Could a helmet have prevented his head injuries? May be. Could it have broken his neck again may be. We will never know but I know it would not have saved his life.

This is my first hand anecdote that makes me distrust helmet saved his/her/my life anecdotes more than anything else.

I realise this post is close to trolling, since any post on bicycle helmets is close to trolling, so if you are going to comment please keep it civil.

Walton on Thames cycle path consultation

Surrey are consulting on what they describe as “continuous, safe, high quality cycle paths”.

Given this description I was hoping for something that would benefit all cyclists. However the reality is that most of the scheme is really permission to cycle on the pavement.
You then have to give way at every junction, where on the road you would have priority. Due to the sight lines this means coming to a complete halt looking behind you for motorists turning left into the road and ahead for those turning right and to your left for motorists in the side road. All for a junction where you have priority if you stay on the road.
For most of the path it is 2.5m wide, some as narrow as 2m, which cyclists share with pedestrians. Now pedestrians perfectly rightly don’t always stay to one side this will reduce cycling speed to walking speed while at the same time intimidating pedestrians. Even if you can cope with all of that if you wish to travel though Walton the towards the bridge you have to cross the main road onto a path on the wrong side, then cross back at or after the Bridge. This makes these parts of the path not only shared use but two way!
There is a reason that Dutch no longer use shared use facilities. They are dangerous and disliked by cyclists and pedestrians.

The people at the consultation were polite but seemed confused about the purpose of the scheme. The stated reason it casualty reduction on what is a high casualty section of road. However they also say the paths are not intended for existing cyclists. So unless the existing cyclist go away the casualty reduction will not materialise.
There are parts of the scheme that are not complete terrible. The cycle path north of the river on Gaston Road from Shepperton to the roundabout would be nice. Though again why it is shared use when there is no pavement there now is beyond me. Even this though does nothing for experienced cyclists at the junction. Rather than just giving way to people on the roundabout cyclists have to give way to everyone.
Like the shared cycle path over the New Walton Bridge this looks like a huge missed opportunity. On balance I hope it does not happen.