Why Can’t we All Get Along?

Kitten Pair

Years ago, when I was still at school, the BBC showed a documentary about people applying for the Foreign Office. The successful candidates must have been somewhat dim bulbs because my father, who was head of the Information Section at the Foreign Office at the time , received a letter from an amused viewer applying to join on the grounds that they had been to Eton, Harrow, Oxford and Cambridge (but only on shopping trips) and that the solution to the problems of the Middle East was ‘um, er, people should be nice to each other’*

I am powerfully reminded of this by the launch of the this road safety campaign which the Scottish Government has been talking up recently as part of its plan to increase the safety of vulnerable road users. Set aside the fact that the launch photo shows a car which was clearly illegally overtaking a cyclist at a zebra crossing and has barely stopped in time to let the pedestrian cross. Set aside too the rather hastily put together website (top tip: change the boilerplate wordpress ‘about’ text to your own text before launching, guys) and its implication that there is some sort of equivalence between the risks and responsibilities of pedestrians and cyclists and those of drivers. It could be that the planned adverts will be brilliant, memorable and effective, you never know. It will still be waste of money and time. The thing is, most drivers aren’t callous murdering bastards who go out of their way to threaten and endanger cyclists and pedestrians. So there’s really no point telling them to be nice and we can all get along.

Kitten Call

Last week, I cycled past a dead kitten, the second cat I’ve seen killed even on our quiet roads. A kitten. What could be less threatening and more lovable than that? But somebody ran it over all the same. They probably ran it over because kittens have no road sense, and the speed limit on our narrow single track road is astoundingly 60mph, and the cottage where the kitten came from was right on the road, giving the kitten no space to be a kitten in safety. Perhaps they didn’t even see the kitten (the kitten wasn’t wearing hi vis after all). If you wanted to save kittens, I can guarantee that the least effective way to do so would be a campaign pointing out that kittens are adorable and nice and fluffy and please don’t kill them, any more than asking road users to be nice to each other is going to…

Intent
It would be awfully cute though. And probably a better use of £424,000 than the alternative

*If you’re reading this and you wrote the letter, you should have signed your real name – Dad was so amused by it he was ready to recruit you on the spot…

(All pictures courtesy of the talented Blackpudding on a Bike)

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5 Responses to Why Can’t we All Get Along?

  1. AndrewRH says:

    Bring along a kitten in your basket! Okay, maybe not the best idea. Anyway, turn anger about this ‘nice’ campaign into action: Join or organise a protest ride on 2 September…

    http://spaceforcycling.org/2013/07/25/monday-2nd-september-2013-ride-a-bicycle-and-demand-that-your-mp-takes-action/

  2. disgruntled says:

    I think there’s something planned in Scotland for the 2nd…

  3. Andy in Germany says:

    The response from the car lobby will be mandatory helmets for all Kittens.

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