Friday, 29 February 2008

Crap cycle lanes and Critical Mass

Today is a day for bad cycle lanes and good cycling actions.

Greater Manchester Cycle Campaign invitied me to attend a crap cycle lane which I am sad to say is the Hulme Ward. By the Princess Parkway on the junction of Radnor Street is a 3 metre cycle lane that is more of a liability than of any use.
It is useless, unnecessary and puts cyclists and pedestrians in direct conflict.

Vincent Walsh from GMCC presented me with the Crap Cycle Lanes book, which I have been asked to pass on to Manchester City Council's Cycling Officer.

We had a brief discussion about the transport plans for Manchester and agreed that I should ask for a joint meeting with Council Officers to scrutinise the crap cycle lanes and look forward at the TIF (Transport Innovation Fund) bid to ensure that cycling is placed at the heart of the future transport plans for the city.

The event was covered by both the Manchester Evening News and Channel M, so look out for their coverage too.

And this evening at 6pm it will be time to get on your bike again for the monthly Critical Mass, meeting from 6-630pm for a cycle round the city centre to celebrate the bike and all things cycling.
See the Facebook group for more info, pics etc:

Is it in the bag with Brown?

I read today the laudable words of Gordon Brown on the subject of plastic bags.

Gordon Brown has warned retailers he will force them to cut down on plastic bag use if they do not act voluntarily.

Great Gordon, but why wait? Why does Brtain so often seen as the Dirty Manc of Europe continue to lag behind when countries like Ireland lead the way with their recent ban on plastic bags.
It is inly when legisaltion comes in that a level playing field is created to ensure that all retailers can charge for bags without smaller businesses losing out.
The big chains will benefit from the publicity as they cash in on their Greenwash, only legislation to cover all shops is a fair way to deal with the problem of single-use plastic bags.

And what next for the nations shopping? Paper bags as we see in America?
Let's hop not because recent studies have shown that the production and transportation of paper bags causes more climate change emissions that the single-use plastic bag they seek to replace.
This is one of several environmental conundrums where our elders truly know better, re-usable shopping bags like Granny used to use.

Monday, 25 February 2008

End Manchester to London flights now!

Well done to Greenpeace for their action today highlighting the link between unnecessary domestic flights and dangerous climate change:

Climate campaigners bring peaceful protest to Heathrow

This morning, four of our volunteers have climbed on top of a plane at Heathrow and are wrapping a banner around the tailfin. The plane - one of 32 flights every day between London and Manchester - had just arrived in Heathrow and the passengers had disembarked when four volunteers walked through the double doors at Heathrow Terminal One, crossing an area of tarmac and climbing onto the fuselage of the British Airways flight.

All the panel at the Great Aviation Debate in Manchester last November agreed that we should not fly between Manchester and London. That included the Manchester Airport paid "Professor of Sustainable Aviation", MA's Director of Planning, and the Chair of Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce.

The end of Manchester to London flights is inevitable, and the sooner the better.

Friday, 22 February 2008

The Manchester Evening News is a quality newspaper - myth or reality?

Just when you think they couldn't get any worse, the MEN do something that looks good, but just can't be...and it wasn't.
Before I go on, I must say that I am convinced that there are many good journalists at the MEN, however somewhere in the process of reporting the news, something seems to go badly wrong.

I would love to say "Well done" to the MEN for their piece on Climate Change - lovely picture of the earth of the front cover, but when they asked the question in their Climate Change debate - myth or reality, is Climate Change caused by human activity they set the debate back a good few years.
So, well done Evening News objective acheived. Because of course you don't want to tell the truth, to represent the consensus of Scientists, the IPCC, Kyoto, David King, Bali...etc etc

The question now is how bad will it be, how much of the human population of the planet will be wiped out and how many of our sister species will we take with us.

And the second question is what are we going to do about it?

The answer to the first question, based on current predictions is too scary to publish here - I would rather you read the next bit, than get switched off because of the fear.

In the debate the panel were asked for policy ideas for legislation to help. Kevin Anderson from Manchester Uni's Tyndall Centre said:
  • Ban all sports cars and 4x4's that do less than 50mpg
  • Ban all fridges that are less then A++ rated
  • Ban all power stations that do not use combined heat and power to use the heat that currently goes up the chimney
  • Emissions caps - either individual or per country.
From a Green Party Perspective I'd add:
  • the Climate Change Bill should have a target of 90% reductions by 2030, with 8% year on year cuts.
  • No airport expansion, phase out domestic flights.
  • Renationalise and invest in the rail network.
  • Real integrated transport in all towns and cities.
  • Ban patio heaters.
  • No big business biofuels - the emissions are worse than what they seek to replace.
In this debate progress means insulated houses, community CHP plants, wind turbines and yes, energy effiecient lighbulbs.

Anything else is just human-induced mass suicide.

Tuesday, 5 February 2008

From grot to grandeur

Today I visited the Gorton Monastery for the first time since 1996. It is now a conference and banqueting venue which has been restored by the Gorton Monastery Trust. Their website describes how they saved the building from rack and ruin:

Whilst a in a BBC news report the visionary behind the Trust is quoted:
Elaine, 51, from Lower Peover near Knutsford, said: "I can remember the first time I visited the monastery. I was amazed when I came through the doors and thought someone must do something to save it.

What she fails to say is how she came to be walking through those doors. A section of the Monastery's history has been airbrushed from the news reports.

The reality is that a community activist called Cae Guest saw that the Monastery was falling down and set up "The Monastery Campiagn". He squatted the building, started to clean it up, organised open days for the public and acheived extensive media coverage. It was on one of those open days that Mrs Griffiths and her husband who used to be a choirboy at the Monastery
walked through the doors. And I know all this because I was there.
See Moastery Madness article:

Congratulations to them for their years of hard work and fundraising in restoring the building, but don't ignore one of the reasons why it happened: squatting!

Although it was very nice to sit in posh chairs at a posh table with posh vases and posh lunch, I can't help wonder what it would have been like if Cae and the community had access to funding in the way that Elaine Griffiths from Lower Peover, Knutsford did.
The initial plans were for an internet cafe (would have been the first in Gorton), youth club, climbing wall, training space for the unemployed, etc - you get the picture - a community resource in a splendid building...