Ripwell Reports. What’s In The Jiffy Bag?

It has been almost three months since the Fancy Bears international hack team leaked the medical documents which showed Bradley Wiggins had received three highly questionable medical treatments during his days as a Grand Tour contender. It has been two months since the revelation of a potentially sinister package being transported across Europe by Team Sky employees. It seemed for a while that Wiggins and Sky’s worlds could come crashing down. The one man who could have helped the situation, David Brailsford, has remained fairly quiet, possibly wanting the whole thing to blow over. After a period of relative respite that tactic may have been working but things will start hotting up again as on Monday the 19th of December Brailsford will need to appear in front of the Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee in Parliament.

With the story being quite a mess and so many unanswered questions I sent my undercover reporter, the well known historian and cyclist, Giles Ripwell on the case to summarise what has been going on and try to answer the what everyone wants to know.

Ripwell Reports. What’s In The Jiffy Bag?

It has been over a year since I last rubbed shoulders with the fellow going by the name of Mr Bradley Wiggins-Sir. I was riding for his side TEAM wiggins in the Tour de of Britain and remember having jolly good chats with him during the stages. Since then I hadn’t heard much from him. Apparently the British weather had finally got to much for him in his old age and he would only cycle on the indoors roads doing Olympic Pursuits. I thought he had forgotten his old pal Giles until he called me in July. He was very emotional and explained to me through sobs that the dastardly Mr Chris Froomes had won another yellow jersey. A couple of months later I heard from him again but this time he was in much better spirits. Jingos! He had won another Olympic gold medal and told me it was now Wiggo-Sir 5 FroomesDog 0. Since then, as you might have heard, he has been involved in a touch of controversy and I was sent on the case to find out was has been happening. I tried contacting him to see if he could give me any information but I was told that he’s only talking to his new best friend, some fellow going by the name of Mr Andrew Marr. So with Mr Wiggins-Sir gone quiet I had to figure out what has been happening myself.

The whole situation started in September when some Russian computer buffs started a fancy new website where you can go and look at medical files of athletes that have been in the Olympics. It caused quite a stir to begin with until everyone realised that most of the athletes medical information was stuff we already knew or contained information on drugs and medical practices which everyone has agreed for a while should be more tightly monitored. Unfortunately for Mr Bradley Wiggins-Sir his information was among that of a small group of people who’s information raised some alarm bells. Three of Wiggins-Sir’s courses of drugs looked highly suspicious and one of those was just before the Tour de France which he won against Mr Chris Froomes. I have complete faith in my good friend though and firmly believe that those drugs were taken for genuine medical reasons and not to enhance his performance. There would be no need for him to dishonestly take any drugs to win the race as I’ve been told of an unsavoury character calling himself Mr Sean Yaytes who would have brought harm to anyone trying to beat Mr Wiggins-Sir, including his team mate the scoundrel Mr Froomes.

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Ripwell Reports. Roseburn to Leith Walk Cycle Route.

Over the last few months I have been following the final stages of Edinburgh City Councils planning process to build a new cycle route from the west of the city, near Murrayfield stadium, through the centre of the capital to the east in Leith.

The bold scheme which includes plenty of segregated cycle lanes will provide a safe and direct route for those wanting to commute to the city by bike (as well as making improvements to pedestrian safety) and the desired outcome is more people on bikes, less in cars which leads to less pollution and a clearer, healthier, happier Edinburgh.

However, being bold and ambitious the planned route has inevitably been met with scepticism and objection. The reasons people give when they say they are against the route are the same ones which are echoed across the country every time new or improved cycling infrastructure is put on the agenda and they are born out of prejudices and misinformation either personal or fed by the media. Perhaps the biggest thing holding back progress though is the human follies of fear of change and comfort in the status quo.

I sent my investigator, the well known historian and cyclist Giles Ripwell, to report on the project. He found out about the various campaigns who are for and against the scheme and revealed the concerns people have which make them wary of something which may be of a benefit to them in the future. He also reports from a highly charged public meeting which showed the type of miss-information and stubbornness which campaigners for safer cycling constantly have to battle against.

Myself and Giles are not involved in any of the campaigns and our thoughts are purely personal. The comments made in the meeting are not satire.

Ripwell Reports. Roseburn to Leith Walk Cycle Route.

The Roseburn to Leith Walk cycle route has been a project which The City Of Edinburgh Council has been putting together since the initial feasibility study in early 2014. They are keen to fulfill their promise to “make Edinburgh’s transport system one of the most environmentally friendly, healthiest and most accessible in Northern Europe by 2030” and the route they have been planing would help them achieve that. Original public consultation was promising with 72% of respondents strongly supporting and only 15% strongly against it. There were some residents and businesses along the route who rightly had concerns about some aspects of the plan, it was going to impact their day to day lives after all, and most contentions centred around the Roseburn Terrace and West Coates parts of the plan. A local residents group going by the name of Roseburn Cycle Route was set up and started spending plenty of time gathering facts about this and other schemes to provide evidence based answers to peoples worries. They broadly support the councils plan and believe it will be a benefit to the area.

Everything seemed to be going along smashingly but as the saying goes “Turning roads into cycle paths turns people into psychopaths”. Along came a fellow calling himself campaigning force Mr Peter Greggsons and his organisation Suits Not Kids. He was very much against the proposed infrastructure. Rather than encouraging safe, pollution free transport which would benefit future generations he would rather be a thorn in the councils side so no money gets wasted on bureaucracy. Being “a cyclist himself” though he formulated an alternative route for the council to consider and called it the “Roseburn Vision” or the “NCN1”. The vision must have been something special because a petition in favour of it gained 3500 signatures before it was even released. It may be possible that the signatures were from folk who read alarmist posters titled ‘Save Our Shops’ which ignored evidence which Roseburn Cycle Route had already gathered and suggested businesses could lose customers and close down because of the route. One real fear that businesses had was the loss of loading bays. This was addressed by the council and their plans were revised. Roseburn Cycle Route were happy with these challenges to the council, and the changes, as it gave businesses a better deal than the original plan while keeping the scheme on track. Suits Not Kids weren’t finished however and pressed ahead with the vision. Loading bays weren’t their only gripe with segregated cycling.

Another group which had concerns about aspects of the project are Living Streets Edinburgh. They are a local group of a national charity which campaigns for everyday walking. In principle they support new cycling infrastructure as long as it doesn’t take space away from existing pedestrianised areas. They also want pedestrian safety to be a consideration in any new cycle schemes and had highlighted a few areas in the councils plans where cyclists and walkers could come into conflict. They seem to have been working with the council in a calm and constructive way to try and provide a better deal for those they serve. A few of their concerns have been addressed but they are still very unhappy with the part of the route which will cut through a heavily used pavement on Princes Street.

After further consultation the council drew up an alternative plan which would go before the transport committee as well as the original. The decision on whether Option A (the original) or Option B would get the go ahead would be made by the committee on the 30th of August. A further decision to delay the decision or reject both proposals could also be made but with plenty of research and fact gathering already done this was unlikely. However,

The Meeting

A public meeting was set up by those opposing the cycle route and was held on August 2nd. Some of Edinburgh’s councillors who are on the transport committee, and therefore responsible on deciding the outcome of the matter, were present. So the anti-routers were anxious to put their views across and were probably ready to listen to the other sides arguments too as they must have wanted what was best for Roseburn. With the final decision less than two months away this would be their final opportunity to have their say so they would have had plenty of information to share with their guests to try and bring them round to their way of thinking.

Here is a not so brief summary of a long and heated meeting (my notes are in brackets):

Phil Noble the senior cycling officer on the council kicked things off. He explained that the project was part of the councils plan to make Edinburgh a people friendly city. He said surveys showed that large numbers of people in the city wanted to cycle but they wanted safer and more direct routes so the plan was there to make that happen. He added that cycling routes converged at Roseburn hence the importance that it is designed properly to ensure it is a safe through route. He went on to say workshops were held with locals, cycle groups and businesses to help the design and there was a need for an alternative to the NCN1 as it was less direct and came into contact with trams. He finished by saying he had spoken to every business in the last two months and after listening to concerns changes were made to the plans so now loading bays were to be on both sides of the road at Roseburn Terrace.

Questions were then taken from the floor. There were some worries raised about businesses having to change delivery times and whether the design of a junction was right. When someone asked why a segregated lane was causing so much hostility when it would reduce risk things started getting animated then the anti-routers fired their first shot. “It’s not safe to load from the other side of the road” one of them cried. But, there’s loading on both sides he was told.

Next up was Peter Greggsons from Suits Not Kids. The leader of the anti-routers was bound to have some good points to make. He admited to being  a cyclist and doesn’t think the proposal is right. He confessed that if he cycles 2 miles he gets sweaty so it’s unlikely that other people would cycle further. He then claimed that tram tracks weren’t as dangerous as made out before suggesting that better paint on cycle lanes was the way forward. He then explained that there’s 28 shops on Roseburn Terrace and loading would be cut by half, (or in real life, 22%).He said shoppers won’t be able to (illegally) use loading bays if lorries are there, (presumably the cycle lanes kerb also means they won’t be able to drive onto the pavement to park too). Mr Greggsons added that the NCN1 just needs better sign posting and suggested that more should be done to encourage the use of buses. Some might have thought he had completely missed the point of the council trying to improve conditions for cycling but he had one more trick up his sleeve to get them on side, the petitions. He pointed out that the petition in favour of the scheme had people living in areas away from the proposed route and therefore they shouldn’t carry as much weight. (For clarity from henseforth I will refer to these people as commuters). He then proudly mentioned the survey which showed 90% support for the vision.

Peter Greggsons then took some questions. Firstly he was asked: “Do you think it’s alright to fill in petitions with false addresses?” He said “yes” and “because it was for an anti-gun petition”. Next someone told him the point of scheme was to increase cycling and reduce car use which the vision wouldn’t do. Ah but “commuting cyclists would have different view from council and may not use their scheme.” (Presumably the commuters who agreed with the scheme in the original petition). He claimed the council didn’t use an economic case but improved health benefits as justification for the scheme. (Improved health is a benefit to economics) A respiratory physician, siding with Greggsons, said option A would be a disaster as it will increase congestion and pollution which is a cause of respiratory disease. (Apart from the fact that when recent roadworks which reduced some of the stretch down to two lanes showed there was no increase in congestion he may have a point).

A Gentleman from Donaldson’s Amenity Association was next to speak.

He said he was also a cyclist and sees the proposal as dangerous so current commuters won’t use the scheme. In his opinion filling in pot holes and better signage would be a better solution. In fairness to him he said he wants safer cycle routes. But still opposes the scheme. The fellow then mentioned Holland where good cycling infrastructure is common and explained it works there because it doesn’t get as dark so cyclists don’t need to worry about lights from oncoming traffic. He finished by saying the project would aggravate drivers because they will have space taken away from them and aggravating drivers doesn’t help cyclists and pedestrians. While he was talking someone in the audience asked hiw many people are killed along the stretch. “Typically one a year” was the answer. Someone was heard saying “All this for one cyclist  a year?”

Next up was a trader from Roseburn Terrace, a chap called George Rendall. He would be the final member of the opposition to speak.

He was adamant that shops will close if the plans go ahead. He said that he had asked every commuting cyclist if they would use it and no one had said yes. Furthermore, in his opinion, pedestrians will be terrified to use the pavement. (Though I assume they’ll be able to get down the pavement without cars parked on it). He explained that 50% of customers come by car but cyclists wouldn’t use his service because they can’t collect shopping by bike. “It’s illegal to carry large objects by bike” he added. A point was raised from the floor that other bike lanes show trade goes up. “Roseburn is different” was his reponse.

Next up was Roseburn Cycle Route who would be putting the case for the project to the concerned public.

As soon as he started people began walking out. “We need to act on air pollution.” The reply from the floor was “I don’t want to hear this waffle” as more people got ready to leave. Roseburn Cycle Route were putting across the reasons for a safe cycle route into the city. Here are some of them: A healthier mode of transport was needed as increasing obesity costs NHS ¬£600m pa. There is a need to tackle congestion as there’s not space for everyone to drive into the city. 43% of hoseholds don’t have cars but cars have on average only 1.2 people in them. (More walk out). Population is growing in Edinburgh and they can’t keep using cars. They stated that 50% of people live within a 15 min cycle to work but what’s stopping them? The answer is dangerous tram tracks, unsafe and busy roads meaning no safe route into city. So, they pointed out, the plan is for people who don’t currently cycle but want to because,after all, why should you be brave to take a mode of transport? To answer questions on design it was pointed out that the plan uses best practice from elsewhere. And as for the cost? Forcasts show that the route will deliver ¬£13m in benefits. Throughout Roseburn Cycle Routes slot people had been trickling out.

There were then more questions and points raised from the floor.

There was a complaint about cyclists speeding in Roseburn park, at 30mph. (It’s not know whether the complaint came from one of the many drivers that nonchalantly speed through Roseburn Terrace).There was then a complaint about pavement cycling. (It’s not know whether the complaint came from one of the many drivers that illegally park on the pavement on Roseburn Terrace). Another concerned resident pointed out that London and Europe have different climates and people won’t cycle in Edinburgh. He certainly has a point as Amsterdam, with a similar annual temperature, has slightly more rainfall over a typical year. Another point was made that pollution was not going to fall. (An opinion, not fact).

It was now down to the final speaker, David Spaven from Living Streets Edinburgh

More people were leaving. He Welcomed the scheme as it would improve walking safety as well as that for cyclists. He had concerns about floating bus stop and speeding cyclists. His view was that they need to turn Roseburn into people friendly not vehicle friendly place. Option B was his preference as both pavements are widened in that plan. He said he was impressed with the councils willingness to listen to his concerns. He was not keen on the vision, which has segments which both cyclists have to use together. He believes shared use is no good and does nothing for pedestrians and infact makes things worse for them. Greggsons defended the vision by saying he hasn’t seen conflict on one of the shared use paths in Edinburgh.

And with that the meeting drew to a close.

I would like to thank Mr Ripwell for his report.

The decision on which option (A or B), if any, will get the go ahead is being made by the Transport Committee of the City of Edinburgh Council on Tuesday the 30th of August. I hope they honour their promise to “make Edinburgh’s transport system one of the most environmentally friendly, healthiest and most accessible in Northern Europe by 2030” and ignore the baseless reasons behind opposition to the scheme.

I have to thank @PidginPosting for providing me with most of the information I used in this post and I would encourage you to visit Roseburn Cycle Routes website as well as CyclingFallacies.com.

Ripwell Reports. The Menace on the Roads. And Pavements.

 

 

Welcome to the first instalment of ‘Ripwell Reports’ where the well known news personality, Giles Ripwell, carries out investigation into a subject which is bothering an increasing number of people in a piece called “The Menace on the Roads. And Pavements”.

Ripwell Reports. The Menace on the Roads. And Pavements.

There are many subjects these days which the general public have an interest in but know absolutely nothing about. Luckily, the media pick up on pick up on these interests, investigate the topic, provide a fair and balanced report of the topic and them decree whether it is a problem or not. In turn, citizens pick up the information provided and use it to have healthy and friendly debates about the subject on social media. At the moment though there is a certain topic vexing the nation which seems to be sending everyone into a ruddy rage. The media is telling us that the nation should be at breaking point because of it. You will have heard of the problem. It has only been on every form of media. Radio phone ins, newspapers and internet websites are choked full of angry but well balanced debate and stories concerning certain red light jumping, uninsured pavement hogs. So what is the story with these braggarts? What makes them tick? What is been done to stem their growing numbers? But most importantly will we ever be able to share the road safely with these characters in their four wheeled steel boxes.

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Giles Ripwell from the final stage.

Stage 8. London to London.

My recap of the final stage of the Tour de of Britain comes a day late. TEAM wiggins had cause to celebrate after the end as our rider, a certain Mr Owen Doull finished third overall and ended up on, what they call in cycling competitions, ‘The Podium’. And by by jingos! Mr Wiggins-Sir can party! He introduced me to a concoction called a ‘Yager Bomber’ and after 2 of them I was quite worse for wear!
The route went round and round and round London taking in many of the tourist structures of the town. As well as piccadilly circus, now closed after revelations of cruelty to some of its performing animals, we went passed Whitehall, The Strand and The Trafalgar Square. The Trafalgar Square commemorates a decisive battle in the Boer War won by the British army lead by a sea-faring fellow called Mr Horatio Nelsan. A nearby statue, called Nelsans column, was built to honour him and it is one of the biggest erections in London.
Mr Bradley Wiggins-Sir told me that he won an Olympic gold medal in London and made sure I was aware that Mr Chris Froom had never won a medal of any description.
Eli Viviani won the stage after my good friend Andrew Greipel was disqualified and Eddie Bosan-Haggen won the competition overall.

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Tour of Britain report from Giles Ripwell.

Stage 7. Fakenham to Ipswich.

Today saw us ride through Suffolk and Norfolk known as the farming capital of England. The area produced the food for the Pharaoh’s of the country in the olden age. The gradual undulations in the terrain had quite a calming effect on me and I was about to dirft off as we passed near Banham Zoo when, ?!What the blinking jingos are those furry things looking this way and that?! I decided to ask the animal expert of the peleton, a German chap going by the name of Herr Andrew ‘the gorilla’ Greipel what they were. He told me that they’re called mere cats. When I enquired after their unsettling neck movements¬† he told me, in his best English I’m sure, “They are pray to other animals”. They should probably dispense with such superstitious nonsense and remain stiff necked like the rest of us! Mr Wiggins-Sir told me that Mr Froom used to feed cute little mere cats to his pet snake when he was younger.
The finish town of Ipswich is the birthplace of one Mr Geoffrey Chaucer said to be the inspiration of modern day novelist and nobel prize for literature winner Mr E.L.James.
The man I mentioned before, Herr Greipel, won the stage and Mr Hagen still leads overall.

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Tour de of Britain. Stage 6.

Stage 6. Stoke-on-Trent to Nottingham.

Today we started in Stoke-on-Trent which was built on the burial site of the first King of the Britons, a gentleman called Trent. We went through the Peak District so went over many climbs. The Peak District is often called ‘The heart of Britain’. Mr Bradley Wiggins-Sir told me that his heart is always in Britain and his blood runs red, white and blue unlike Chris Frooms. He told me Mr Froom comes from an African area called Kenya. When I asked him which part this splendid country he comes from he just stroked his beard and looked longingly into the distance.
Nottingham has seen three stage finishes, the last in 1964 was won by one Mr Robin Hood of Team Raleigh before failing a doping test.
Marty Trentin won today and Eddie Bosan-Haggen retained the lead.

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Giles Ripwell from the Tour de of Britain.

Stage 5. Prudhoe to Hartside Fell.

Today’s stage was the toughest so far as it had a summit finish atop Hartside Fell in Cumbria. The inclusion of this difficult finish and the absence of a time trial may scupper Mr Wiggins-Sir’s chances of winning the competition this year. He seems sure that Mr Froom and a fellow going by the name of Mr Davey Brailsford-Sir are behind these aspects of the route. Before we got to the finish we passed the site of the Ullswater Steamers, a prehistoric tribe who’s diet consists purely if alcohol. After this we passed through Penrith. Originally located in Wales, Penrith was moved to the Lake District in the 60’s so its townsfolk would be closer to the Keswick pencil museum, the best museum of its type in Britain.
Walter Poels won on the final climb. Eddie Bosan-Haggen was second and took over the race lead. But crikey! What a wizard ride from my teammate Owen Doull who stays 5th overall.

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Tour of Britain stage 4 report

Stage 4. Edinburgh to Blyth.

Today saw us start in Edinburgh, the location of the final of the recent Tour de of the Scotland won by the magnificent Raymondo Barr. The start up the royal mile had to be neutralised as cycling is done in kilometres and nobody would have known how far we would have gone. Then …. blimey! What a corker of a structure! Edinburgh Castle! Carved out of a volcano 5000 yesrs ago but still looking spectacular. I asked Mr Bradley Wiggins-Sir if he had ever been in a castle and he said no. Later on in the day he rode up to me and said “Listen here Giles Ripwell. I may not have been in a castle but I’ve been to the London structure Buckingham Palace to see the Queen. I got a knighthood from the old lady. Chris Froom doesn’t have a knighthood, not one not two, none!”.
The route went through Midlothian and the Scottish Borders and we ambled through Amble. Seriously though, it was a tough day and the longest of the race competition. It was an emotional day for myself and fellow Scots Andrew Fen and Tao Gagenhart as we don’t get to see our homeland much but we were happy to see the finish line in Blyth, North East England, the area most famous for being the birthplace of Jimy Nail.
Ferdinand Gaviria won todays stage and Lobato stays in the race lead.

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Stage 3. Cockermouth to Kelso.

Stage 3. Cockermouth to Kelso.

Today we went from Cockermouth to Kelso. The less said about the start town the better don’t you think? It sounds like some of the words Mr Wiggins-Sir has been calling Mr Froome! Soon after leaving that place we passed the house of famous new romantic lyricist William Wordsworth and headed for Carlisle. Before going into Scotland the route roughly followed the path of a wall built by a roman gentleman going by the name of Adrian in the late 20’s. With concerns about the local salmon population, and some knowledge of walls, I asked fellow rider and fish expert, a certain Mr Taylor Finney, whether there was a fish ladder on Adrian’s Wall. He said, wuite abruptly “That’s a damn wall you’re thinking of”. “Well this is a ruddy well wall!” was my reply. Honesty, the language in the peleton is straight from the gutter at times. After a few small climbs late on the stage finished at Floors Castle which was originally built as a Quick Step showroom by one Mr Patrick Lefevre when he took some time off from blaming other people from his teams woes.
Eli Viviani won the stage, his second, and John Lobato took the overall lead after Pete Vucak crashed late on.

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