Category Archives: Bicycle Advocacy

Anna Ford, says cars are ‘lethal’ and over 65s should take a driving test

Anna Ford, retired newsreader, lecturer, academic, feminist and social anthropologist was criticised by ex Big Brother celebrity and chat show host, Vanessa Feltz in the following article recently about the elderly and road safety:-

An excerpt from the Daily Express, Tuesday December 16,2008
By Vanessa Feltz.

“VETERAN newsreader Anna Ford, a sprightly, sophisticated and soignée 65-year-old, has come up with an idea: “I’d introduce regular driving tests after the age of 70.”

Ms Ford adds: “I would be tougher on people who drive dangerously in any way. Just ban them. Cars are lethal machines.”

Apart from being appalled at the prospect of herding hale and hearty 70-year-olds in for enforced testing, I’m not sure on which roads Anna Ford is driving. Surely they can’t be the same ones you and I circumnavigate?

On Ms Ford’s roads, vintage drivers are a veritable scourge, roaring off at traffic lights, whizzing over the speed limit and zooming, unbidden, out of side streets.

On Anna’s avenues grey-haired road-ragers rant as 70-plus joyriders execute life-threatening, show-off manoeuvres. On the roads you and I travel, the elderly are, for the most part, invisible, blending with the vast mass of unremarkable traffic.

Older drivers are not beset by that dangerous, sometimes tragic urgency which infects our youth.

Some OAP drivers are undeniably a mild irritant. They tend to hog the middle of the road and take rather a long time to make decisions about whether to park or turn right. They may gently afflict your nerves. They may play petty havoc with your personal patience button. What they are most emphatically not is dangerous.

Older drivers are experienced drivers. They’ve had decades to learn how to read the road. They know how to recognise trouble spots long before the trouble arises. What’s more, they are not beset by that dangerous, sometimes tragic urgency which infects our youth”

What planet is Vanessa Feltz on? Oh no, they can’t be dangerous.. no, not the ones that speed, ones that go up the wrong way on the motorway or crash several times at 102 years old (like my aunt was) and still be allowed to drive at that age. I am so sick of older drivers driving badly and I agree with Anna, that they should have a test, after all, ‘if they know it all’, it should be a problem then?!

However, I think we should have More tests, maybe at 40 too. Everyone gets into bad habits and laws change. People need to be kept up-to-date.

I think Vanessa should research facts more and even have a quick look at some Youtube clips or visit some hospitals where older people over 65 have gone into someone.

Here is a bit of background of Anna Ford (from Wikipedia):-

“Ford’s parents were both West End actors, with her father having declined an offer from Samuel Goldwyn to work in Hollywood. He later decided to become a priest, becoming the Rev. John Ford, and took Anna and her four brothers to live at Eskdale in the Lake District. She went to primary school at St. Ursula’s School, Wigton, then to Wigton Grammar School on High Street. Her father became the parish priest at St Martin’s church in Brampton, so she went to the White House Grammar School on Main Street, becoming head girl.

Ford received a BA Hons degree in Social Anthropology from the Victoria University of Manchester and was president of the students’ union in 1966, and was apparently nicknamed “Red Anna” at this time. She also received a Postgraduate Diploma in adult education whilst at Manchester.

She was a lecturer in Christie’s Fine Art department in Ballyclare, then an Open University social studies tutor in Belfast for two years from 1972. Anna Ford was thirty by the time she joined Granada Television as a researcher in 1974, being told she was too old to be a newsreader (similar to Selina Scott recently who received compensation). She joined the BBC in 1976, and worked on Tomorrow’s World in 1977″

and just for balance, here is an excerpt from Wikipedia on Vanessa Feltz’s career:-

“After graduating from Cambridge with a First Class Honours Degree, she moved from temping work to writing for The Jewish Chronicle, then the Daily Mirror. She often specialised in sex advice, even writing for top shelf magazine Men Only, and her sex tips for girls book called “What Are These Strawberries Doing on My Nipples? I Need Them For The Fruit Salad!”. She also presented a Jewish radio show on BBC GLR (now BBC London 94.9).

She replaced Paula Yates on Channel 4 morning TV show The Big Breakfast presenting a regular item where she interviewed celebrities while in a bed. She also presented a show called Value for Money similar to the BBC’s Watchdog.

and then of course, there is this video:-
Her career peaked when she presented the ITV daytime television chat show Vanessa made by independent TV company, Anglia Television. She moved to the BBC to host a similar show, The Vanessa Show, in 1998 in a reported £2 million deal, when demands for a doubling of her wages to £2.75m million fell on deaf ears. ITV replaced her show with Trisha.

In 1999, her BBC television show was cancelled when it was revealed that some guests were actors from an agency. BBC One controller Peter Salmon said the bad publicity had effectively killed the show”

and then of course, there is this video:- by a girl who lost her father due to an 88 year old driver recently or you can check it on on here:-

UK: Where are all the cycle lanes? say CTC

I saw this on the European Cyclist Federation website (

“CTC – the UK’s national cyclists’ organisation is disappointed that year on year fewer cycle lanes are being built in England. Last year local authorities painted a pitiful 2.8 millimetres of cycle lanes for each person! That’s the length of this dash -.

This week in an answer to a parliamentary question the Department for Transport finally admitted that local authorities are reducing their investment in cycle lanes – from 405 kms in 2001-2 to a mere 140 kms in 2006-7, a 65% fall over the last 5 years.

Cyclists often bitterly complain of poor cycle facilities that stop and start randomly. Sadly these figures show that not only are the number of lanes being installed falling but the average length of cycle lanes has also declined from 869m to 553m.

CTC’s Policy Co-ordinator Chris Peck said: “This isn’t a surprise in a country where we spend 70 times more on roads than on cycling. What is even worse is even the few cycle lanes that are installed are too short and narrow, and often end where they are most needed.”

CTC is calling on the local authorities to dedicate at least 10% of their transport budget to walking and cycling. Where they do install a cycle lane, they need to ensure that it is designed correctly and that they consult local cyclists.

Good Ideas from Abroad Again – The Road Safety Jersey

I’ve often thought that cycling jerseys don’t want others to be more aware of us, other than us wearing fluorescent clothing.

When I was out horse riding, we used to get Slow Horse etc. Cyclists don’t seem to get anything like that. However, I was pleased to see a really useful cycling jersey from the US – 3 ft please. Easy to see and it makes sure everyone sees it! They have no excuse. A nice pressie for Christmas I think.

Saying that I hope it comes in a warm jacket too! I have added a link to it as I am so impressed by it.

In London again.. on with the Pollution Mask then!

London Bridge station’s ‘Insecure Bike Parking’.  Some weeks back I spotted Jonathan Ross in his Sports car, here.

A picturesque scene from Aldgate. They claim they are making ‘improvements’.

Bow Flyover. The cycle path just disappears before a difficult junction.


A young cyclist navigates the roundabout with no cycle paths.


Stratford Station.. this was surrounded by road works. It is pretty grey and grim.  But it has a good cycle hire scheme. I think that’s the only thing good about it.

Picked a local paper up. Another killing. This guy was shot in the street about 3am.

A great find… Some people from Leyton getting ready for the Notting Hill Carnival. Yes, there is culture in Leyton.

Today’s statistics:-

Cyclists – Bad Cycling: 4

4 cyclists went through red traffic lights (in half an hour)

Cyclists – Number of them Wearing Pollution Masks 6

(men 5, women 1)

Motorists – 10+ (lost count)

– one lorry went wrong way round mini roundabout at Leyton

– 10+ not leaving me any space

– 3 vehicles in a bicycle lane

– 4×4 nearly hit me, despite me wearing fluorescent and being near the kerb, giving them room. It was quite scary. They didn’t even bother to slow down as other vehicle was coming in opposite direction. I cycled up to them and said ‘Mind Where You Go!’.

– Bus nearly hit me as it didn’t give me enough room

I wore my pollution mask for the first time. It wasn’t as bad as I thought.I could actually breathe better and my throat wasn’t so bad. My chest felt a lot better. I will definitely use it again considering how much I commute. They make a statement to everyone that London has Cr*p Air and we should all be wearing one. I wonder why Boris doesn’t wear one? I did see a cyclist, without a mask tailgating a London Bus, and using its draught. God knows why he picked a bus with all that exhaust?!

I’ve filled in the LCC survey

According to their website, if you fill it in, you could win  £200 to spend in a bicycle shop (though no point going to Evans as they will say they haven’t got it!). I think it is good that the mag has a survey as it helps stop magazines from going stale and often readers have some good ideas.

Here are few ideas I have chucked in for the hell of it:-

1) LCC could do a podcast to tie in with their mag perhaps, with cycling news snippets etc

2) More info on personal safety for cyclists and how to deal with Road Rage

3) Bicycle goodies on membership perhaps (UV pen, stickers, key ring with address book on it etc)

4) Bicycle art/photography gallery, and readers can send in their own stuff for fun

5) More links and links on cycling blogs

6) For London Cyclist to come out more often to ward off withdrawal symptoms

Cycling to Leyton

This a pic on the way to Leyton Tube Station. Leyton is north of Stratford. I hope it will, one day, be more exciting that it looks.

Cycling round Stratford, the station before, is a bit hairy particularly with the road works all over the place. I wanted to get a London Transport Cycling map for this area but good old Evans, naturally, as per usual, didn’t have any! I ended up going to a great bike shop further down Tooley Street. They absolutely have stacks.

I noticed that some of this area was on the National Cycling Network, which was great news and the roads were very quiet (well, some of them) and I noticed how many places here even allowed 20mph traffic. The difference in pace was extrordinary and I actually enjoyed cycling there, even if the scenery was a bit gray and dull.

Girls talk Sport…

It’s good to see a website just for ‘girls’ and it’s good that these sportswomen are discussing politics and the Olympic boycott. I will add this to my links here too.

I see from the website that Rebecca Romero is still going and Richard Gere will boycott it.. he is particularly involved with people in Tibet and has fundraised for them.

I’ve written on the website that as woman endurance cyclist, I won’t be watching our British  Cyclists at  the Olympic Games in Beijing. So if you have an opinion, please add it to the forum. It’s a free country, so you can even agree with her but I won’t. I think it is important to disagree with our British Sports Industry. It’s one big marketing ploy that all of us cyclists ‘are for it’.

I am really looking forward to April 6 when the Olympic Flame dares to come into town. Bring some good placards!

Volunteers wanted for cycle event in London, 9 April 2008

First Great Western Trains and Network Rail will be hosting a cycle
event on 9 April 2008 at Paddington Station.  The London Cycling Campaign is supporting this event. Volunteers will be needed to help out for a few hours.  Activities include short surveys with cyclists, information provision, Dr.
Bike & Police bike marking.

The event takes place between 3.30pm and 7pm, with free tea/coffee for
all.  It will be under cover by the bike parking.

Come and meet LCC staff, who will help brief you and provide you with a
free LCC t-shirt.

If you are interested in this exciting venture to build relationships
with national train operators and improve service for cyclists at a
major train station, please contact Andy Saunders on


The bike demo for Aldermaston is on today from 10am at Parliament Square but unfortunately I can’t make it.  It was also good to see on TV this evening when I got back from work that loads of Free Tibet supporters were at Downing Street too.

However, the Olympic Flame will be coming on April 6 and if I can make it I will be there protesting! (peacefully, in case anyone bothers to read this!)