A blog about cars in Aberdeen.

This is a blog about cars in Aberdeen because most people aspire to the convenience of personal motor transport, pay dearly for the privilege, provide much employment, contribute greatly in taxes, and then people expect them to ‘leave the car at home’, while their money is spent creating cycle lanes and the like for freeloading cyclists.

Tuesday, 30 August 2011

At first we were worried...

... but then we realised what was really going on.

We're talking about the local "joint project" - GetAbout - their stated aim is to create a "better transport system... in Aberdeen City and Shire."

News reaches us that GetAbout are floating the idea of a bike-sharing scheme for Aberdeen, similar to London's so-called 'Boris Bikes', or "Boris's Bikes" as GetAbout would have it. Well, of course we were worried. But then, on closer reading, we realised the subtlety of what was really going on here. From the GetAbout web-page:
Is Aberdeen ready for a scheme like Boris's?

What do you think? ... Perhaps you think it's just not safe to cycle, or as a driver you are worried by cyclists. Maybe Boris's Bikes sound great for use on old railway lines and in the parks, or may be they sound an ideal way to get around town. Would your staff use them for business trips or to get to work from the Union Square Transport interchange?
(Our emphasis)

It's subtle and very clever. What appears on the surface to be a pro-cycling bit of quango-work is actually framed very carefully in an anti-cycling context with anti-cycling language and imagery. We therefore congratulate GetAbout, for spending their greenwash budget on an intitiative which drives home the usual messages:
  • that cycling is not safe;
  • that cyclists worry drivers. Indeed, for the menace cyclists might scratch our nice cars as we roar past them, or - when we run into them after they've "just come out of no-where" - they jeopardise our no-claims bonuses. And we already pay quite enough for car insurance, thank-you very much;
  • and that cycling is not really a mode of transport at all, it's fine for the old railway line or in the park and that's about it.
Then, and only then, do GetAbout ask whether we should consider cycling for getting around town or business trips or commuting? GetAbout mention this only after first framing the question with the three previous anti-cycling points, thus ensuring that - when we consider getting about town by bike, or commuting by bike or doing a business trip by bike - we first consider that it is not safe, that it worries drivers, and that it is in fact, just a childish leisure activity for weekends or summer evenings. So GetAbout have ensured that the answer will be: "No, cycling does not sound like an ideal way to get around town, to commute, or to use for a business trip - are you mad?"

Just look at the  picture which GetAbout have chosen to illustrate their press-release.
She is not a high-powered business-person, unlike the people in Aberdeen who mostly are.
And she is wearing a  full-head crash helmet, thus demonstrating danger.
And the bikes, look at the bikes. They are not in use. Good. Let's keep it that way.

We think its brilliant that GetAbout have managed to propagate this pro-motorcar message while spending their budget appearing to promote cycling and maintaining plausible deniability.

In their press release they asked:
Is Aberdeen ready for a scheme like Boris's?
By framing their question the way they have, they have helped ensure that, in Aberdeen "City and Shire" the answer to that question will remain for the forseeable futue a resounding "NO!" and have helped to keep the dangerous menace of cycling off our roads. We congratulate GetAbout for their kung-fu skills. Brilliant!

1 comment:

  1. Thank you, Mr Skidmark, for another illuminating and thoughtful article.

    I was shocked to read that cyclists are worrying car drivers. Why oh why is nothing being done about this dangerous trend? After all, we don't put up with dogs worrying sheep.

    Keep up the good work.