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My thoughts on things that happened this week

November 14, 2013

Five cyclists die in nine days in London

Cyclists are vulnerable road users but there is something needlessly senseless about every accident involving a cyclist and a vehicle. It’s more distressing for me as a cyclist constantly begged by her mother to stop cycling on the road. Well, where else am I going to cycle?

Ever since the office of Mayor of London started implementing its Cycle Superhighways, the Cycle Hire Scheme and cycling marketing campaign I’ve been worried about the impact of increased cycle traffic on London’s roads. Not because an increase in cyclists is a bad thing. More cyclists equate to a higher profile for cyclists in the capital and eventually, infrastructure provision. My concern is about the skills of new cyclists encouraged by the various campaigns, and the persistent stubbornness of some motorists who continue to put cyclists’ lives at risk.

The desire to cycle more often is a great thing. There are loads of benefits which I went into at the end of a previous post. However there is a lot to learn and the Mayor of London, for all his good intentions, is overlooking this. Promotional campaigns with people with  no helmets, wearing flowery dresses scooting around in Hyde Park do nothing to place cycling on London’s roads within an honest setting: roads are busy, drivers generally don’t like you and safety requires full and uncompromising alertness.

London Cyclist


Kids in my area ride around with no lights. People on crusty, squeaking piles of trash lovingly sold to them as ‘vintage’ hold up traffic with shopping bags hanging off their handlebars and increasingly, I see older people riding in the channels with achingly slow pace, making the roads vulnerable for themselves and the cyclists behind them. It wouldn’t surprise me these individuals, tempted to follow blue lines to central London like asphalt canals, thought to themselves ‘I’ll have a go at that – now that the roads are safe’.

Perhaps the roads are safe.  It’s really the people you need to watch out for.

A lot of work has been done to make cyclists aware of undertaking large vehicles at traffic lights. More needs to be done  to make new cyclists aware of their right of way, the importance of eye contact, the essential art of good road positioning and also, how to sense danger.

Other road users are still hostile to cyclists and we would all do well to remember that.

Lily Allen’s new video

A Facebook post alerted me to this hot mess of a ‘feminist’ statement. White privilege in all its glory, Lilly Allen, (who makes pop-indie music and apart from dalliances with Common and T-Pain, has participated rarely in black music), has decided to save the black female from the clutches of misogyny.

I almost spat out my coffee when I saw this unintellectual take on the music industry.

The problem with people who interpret black culture through the eyes of MTV Base is that they think black culture is MTV Base. Lady Gaga has a song called ‘Do What You Want With My Body’. But I don’t think she is the ‘victim’ Lily Allen wants to liberate.  Lady Gaga is white and we can watch Gaga writhe around in clothes with more air than material and see her as empowered.

We must view a brown skinned video ‘ho’, shaking her cakes with abandon, through a different lens. Her very being is derogatory to (white) women, a representation of powerlessness and objectification that we were supposed to have been rescued from fifty years ago or whenever it was white people gave us our freedom.

Lily Allen’s message is clearly one for black people – the video is laden with iconography typical of popular black musical discourse:  rims, gold, ass, shiny shit. It is this which is galling for me.

Firstly because Lily Allen, to the best of my knowledge, was never made to do such things for her promos. I’m not sure what her complaint is. She has escaped such dreadfulness, but instead of being grateful and asking why no one ever wanted to see her ass, she has rubbed our noses in it.

Secondly, because there is no black female voice in this video whatsoever. She decorates herself with us in exactly the same way as the male artists she is clearly having a go out. Maybe she is being ironic. Or maybe she is taking the piss. I’m not sure.

Thirdly, because it denies the existence of oppression in white creative industries.  It places black women firmly in the role of ‘victim’ and a white woman in the role of ‘liberator’.  Just like the Evangelicals who sought to rescue us during the Enlightenment, or the kind Europeans who taught us to be civil and eat with knives and forks, we are going to be told how to behave until we behave in a way that’s acceptable, whether we like it or not.

Yes –  materialism is rife in popular music.  But so is hypocrisy. Lily Allen’s intervention in my ‘struggle’ is unnecessary, inappropriate and unwanted.

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