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.

Saturday, 26 November 2011

Ultrafast Broadband to Arrive by Road.

Top business development quango ACSEF (Aberdeen City and Shire Economic Future), have, in a stroke of what can only be possibly described as political hostage-taking kung-fu genius, managed to link the installation of broadband internet for Aberdeen to the building of the proposed orbital motorway project - the "Aberdeen Western Peripheral Road" (AWPR).

Yes, those admirably entrepreneurial guardians of economic growth in all our days to come here in Aberdeen "City and Shire" have demonstrated that they will do all it takes to deliver the AWPR, including this form of hostage taking. Latest estimates for the installation of next-generation broadband connectivity in this region are in the area of about £15 million, so we can see the perfect business logic of linking this project to the £700 million motorway bid. A sprat to catch a mackerel, as the traditional fish-industry idiom would put it!

ACSEF's submission to the Scottish Parliament's Infrastructure and Capital Investment Committee is here in PDF form:
Rita Steven, ACSEF's "Development Manager" gave oral evidence to the Committee on Thursday, but the minutes haven't been published yet. When they are, we'll bring them to you.

Broadband Backbone Router
Now, here at Aberdeen Cars, we don't use the internet and we don't really know what that worldwide web's for. As far as we can see, it's mostly just filth. Either that or political sedition. The fact that our Prime Minister Mister David Cameron so wisely threatened to shut down so-called social-networking sites (whatever they are) whenever there's a bit of civil unrest speaks volumes. Yes, you see, it's the seditionist cyclists and pestestrians - radical commie hippy-vegan-types the lot of them - who tend to like the internet. And - surprise surprise! - these are just exactly the sort of folk who usually oppose major road-building projects like our super new motorway. So we are breathless in our admiration for ACSEF in linking the future of internet infrastructure here to the motorway project, for that's one sure way to get all those stinking hippies on our side! Yes they can have their information superhighway toy, but only if we get our super motorway first, for grown up important people in cars! Naturally, for the clever, important and moneyed people like us, roads and cars are much more important than blogs and tweets - we leave that sort of thing to the little people; the poor, disenfranchised cycling klutzes and pestestrian plebs who can't afford nice cars like ours.

But of course, there are risks. The fact that it's a completely spurious link to make - that high-speed broadband infrastructure does not, in fact, require any sort of new road to be built at all - might be pointed out. Also running that same risk - the risk of being pointed out by the NIMBY naysayers - is the fact that one of the whole big-thing points of the new-economy information and communication technology is that it is a cheap and simple substitution: "instead of", rather than "in addition to" big ticket motor transport projects. And, biggest risk of all, is the fact that the motorway may not ever be built (sad, but true in these austerity times). So to critically link high-speed broadband (cheap and easy) to a roadbuilding project (expensive and difficult) that may be cancelled before any soil is broken risks indefinite delay in installing high-speed broadband for Aberdeen. These ACSEF guys must play a lot of poker! They show that they are prepared to bet the lot - the entire future of modern communication (already so common elsewhere in the world and the UK) in return for our precious Aberdeen Western Peripheral Road. There's not much else left to bet! Let's hope that the so-called active and sustainable transport advocates are too stupid to notice. Surely they are, because if they were clever, they'd have nice cars and want to show them off on a lovely new road, wouldn't they?!

So we admire the people at ACSEF, in particular Rita Steven their development manager, for these are important people who are willing to demonstrate their belief in the gullibility and stupidity of the little people of Aberdeen "City and Shire". Yes, so splendid are ACSEF, and so secure are they in their pomp and power in our city and it's hinterland, that they know that they can show their contempt for the plebs unchallenged. Just like we do.

We just love these people and the way they behave. They show chutzpa, they show boldness. It's just the sort of high-handed clever risk-taking buccaneering capitalistic free-market spirit which has made the business community in Aberdeen "City and Shire" the talk of Scotland!

Thursday, 24 November 2011

Good News for the Drivers of Aberdeen Cars: Climate change = "good"

We probably don't have to tell you what a strain it's been, denying the existence of man-made climate change all these years as we drive around the place on Her Majesty's pot-holed highways of Aberdeen 'City and Shire' supporting the local economy by using lots of petrol, providing much employment and contributing greatly in taxes to the exchequer. We don't have to tell you, because, if you are the driver of an Aberdeen Car, you'll have been doing about the same amount of denial as we have.

Yes, we've had to adopt a willfully anti-science stance, which has lumped us in with all sorts of weirdos like creationists, flat-earthers, UKIP and the Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party. Quite difficult, enjoying all the benefits of the technological advances delivered by scientific progress, all the while trying to gainsay everything that scientists discover. We've had to assert that 2+2=3, that up is down, that warming is cooling. It's been like waking up every morning and making an effort to insist that black is white. It's just as well that we're not the sort of poor person pestestrian who has to use zebra crossings!

It's now OK to admit that this is "actually happening".

So, can you imagine our relief when we read in today's Scotsman Newspaper that Global Warming will actually be a really good thing for Scotland! Amazing, isn't it, to read this sort of thing in the press. Heartening, comforting. So much in the media recently, when it comes to the climate issue, has been worrying for motorists. When media outlets worry us by saying that exhaust-pipe emissions contribute to harmful climate effects, causing crop failures, flooding, droughts, mass-migrations, social dislocation, poverty, political instability and on and on - that is, in itself, harmful. Making us motorists worry about our lifestyles, is wrong, because - yes, worry is harmful. No-one likes to feel worried.

But, that's all in the past now, we have no need to feel worried, and no need to mask that worry in anti-science bluster and bravado, for our National Newspaper of Record says that Climate Change is good for Scotland. Amongst the benefits they trumpet in today's article are:
  • Fewer winter deaths
  • Lower heating bills
  • Tourism boost
  • Global trade opportunities for Scottish businesses as Arctic shipping routes open
  • Viniculture and maize production
So, at last we can put the anti-science anti-enlightenment values of the climate-change denialists behind us and embrace climate change as being a Good Thing. And we here at Aberdeen Cars, and you, the drivers of Aberdeen Cars can look forward to climate change becoming the 'hot topic' (see what we did there?) of conversation around the dinner-party tables of Bridge of Don and Westhill, Portlethen and Kintore, for contributing to a warmer Scotland is obviously a good thing. We can now say it loudly:
We are proud, yes very proud, to drive about a lot and contribute to Global Warming. It's good for business, good for society, good for Aberdeen, good for Scotland. Fact.

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

We call on the quislings to consolidate progress.

On your behalf; on behalf of the hard-pressed tax-farmed motorists of the car-driven economic powerhouse that is Aberdeen "City and Shire"; on behalf of progress towards more cars on more roads; and on behalf of the quest to deliver ever more wealth and riches into the hands of we Tycoons of Aberdeen, as you probably know we undertake sometimes distasteful work researching the output of the outer lunatic fringe of the so-called "active and sustainable transport" lobby in Scotland. Their newsletters, handouts, nasty little blogs and poorly-designed and coded web-pages are where we must practice our filthy duplicity.

Undertaking this distasteful work, once or twice, we have had to report back from our trips to those outer limits with bad news for the drivers of Aberdeen Cars. So, you can imagine our exultant delight when we notice that vegetarian tree-hugging tax-dogers at Spokes (the Edinburgh and Lothian Cycling Campaign) have got their lycra bib-tight thingiess in a twist at the forthcoming slashing of the budget for "Cycling, Walking and Safer Streets".
 They say:
CYCLING AND WALKING : a Scottish Government 2012-13 disaster
The Scottish Government draft 2012-13 budget, now being consulted on, is a disaster for walking and cycling. Total transport spending rises from £1804m in 11-12 to £1884m in 12-13, thanks to a near £100m boost for trunk roads and motorways from £558m to £655m. In contrast to that huge and growing total, the meagre sums devoted to active travel are being slashed.
Naturally, we are delighted that this is what is coming to pass, what with that big boost in the budget for the trunk roads and motorways which we love.  So far, so good.

But then, Citizen Contributer "Ali" emailed aberdeencars@gmail.com and wrote to us to tell of a potential threat to this enlightented policy of getting shot of this useless contribution of our hard-earned road-and-fuel-tax contributions to freeloading cyclists and pestestrains. "Ali" says:
Dear Mr Skidmark,

It seems budgets are all the rage this week - King Alex and his Merry Men have recently issued the draft one for the Scottish Executive (err sorry I mean Government). Excellent news for the motorist with vastly increased spending on roads and a significant reduction in cycling on "active travel". Yes thats right, less and less for those freeloading walkers and cyclists, AMAZING!

Unfortunately that well known subversive group the "Aberdeen Cycle Forum" seems to be plotting against the government:
If we are not carefull this could lead to an overthrow of the car owning democracy that we are, and indeed of King Alex himself. Please publicise this risk through your most excellent publication.

Firstly, thanks "Ali" for your contribution, we appreciate it. But please don't worry! The subversive group you mention: the self-styled "Aberdeen Cycle Forum" (ACF) are a nest of quisling pro-motorcar activists and are actually on our side!  

You just have to think about it...

Firstly, their website abounds with the word "challenge": Aberdeen Cycle Forum Challenge, Chief Executive Cycle Challenge, Annual Commuter Challenge. Brilliant! The message is clear - cycling is a challenge, something hard, something difficult and unusual - like mountaineering or world-record attempts.

Secondly, we notice a little bit of friction between ACF and CTC Grampian (another "cycling advocacy" group) over the issue of bike lanes at pedestrian refuge pinch points. We do not propose to examine the esoterica of this arcane dispute, it is enough for us to note that the two groups are at each other's throats over this inconsequential piece of nothing. Divide and conquer; as long as these two groups are busy knocking lumps out of each other over this and other issues, they will not impinge upon the activities of the drivers of Aberdeen Cars. Good.

Sling up a sign. That's all that's needed to keep
the cyclists quiet, and more importantly -
out of our goddam way!
Thirdly, and probably the most clever piece of tradecraft exhibited by the ACF double agents, is that they do everything they can to promote the 'shared use' pedestrian and cyclist infrastructure which we see popping up all over the place in Aberdeen "City and Shire" these days. Everywhere we look there are "Dual Use" paths and "Toucan" crossings. Brilliant. These serve our aims in four ways.
  • One - they encourage cyclists to get off our road and out of our way. 
  • Two - they make the authorities appear to be doing something green, something for the cyclists, all the while spending the very minimum and not actually doing very much at all in the way of creating suitable new infrastructure for cycling. 
  • Three - these dual-use facilities do not reduce the amount of roadspace allocated to cars, while in effect reducing the amount of space available for walking (by forcing cyclists onto the pavement) and marginalising cycling (by treating cyclists as equivalent to pedestrians). 
  • And four - they put pedestrians and cyclists into direct conflict, making the cycling experience difficult and making the walking experience unpleasant and dangerous. 
All of this couldn't suit us better! The more the disincentives to walking and cycling which groups like ACF manage to put into place,  the lower the uptake of cycling and walking as transport modes around Aberdeen "City and Shire" and the higher the modal share for cars = good.

Finally, in their newsletter material, ACF are usually keen to picture themselves. In contrast to the trendy aspirational look promoted by successful cycle advocacy groups worldwide (like the infamous Copenhagen Cycle Chic), ACF rock a quite different look.

But which...
...is which?
As everyone in Aberdeen "City and Shire" knows, more cars on more roads is the one and only way to ensure that the necessary economic growth is created to enable Aberdeen to pull the rest of UK plc out of recession. We therefore applaud and thank Aberdeen Cycle Forum for working so hard to put barriers in the way of the uptake of cycling as a mass transportation mode, for their craven kowtowing on behalf of all Aberdeen cyclists to the needs of motor-transport, and for their enviable success in making cyclists look like total out-group arseholes. Thank you very much. The predominance of nice cars on our roads is down to people like you. The abject failure of cycling as a mode of mass transport in Britain is down to people like you. That cycling is marginalised and regarded as, at best, a pastime for children is down to you. That cycling is perceived as a dangerous, difficult, special activity requiring special permission, equipment, planning and a reckless disregard for one's personal safety is down to you. The removal of funds for Cycling, Walking and Safer Streets is down to you. We think you're amazing...

Keep up the good work!

Monday, 14 November 2011

No Congestion Charge For Aberdeen

We're delighted to note that our Aberdonian right to drive as much as we damned well please in the city-centre is to continue unimpeded, at least for the next 5 years - Hooray! And quite bloody right too!

Our council, as you may know, is in financial dire straits and is seeking efficiency improvements, service cuts and new revenue-generation streams to stave off looming bankruptcy. So it was with great trepidation that we clicked open the final draft report on the council's budgeting priorities, for we knew that the implementation of a congestion charge for Aberdeen was in the mix.

The budget document PDF is here.

Imagine our relief when we read that the implementation of a congestion charge for Aberdeen is expressly ruled out! Yes indeed, rather than place a greater burden on the (albeit broad) shoulders of the hard-pressed tax-farmed family motorist going about his lawful business on the streets and pavements of Aberdeen, our council have shown that they know how to prioritise for growth and have instead chosen to recommend the following sources of saving:
  • Increasing primary schools class sizes by up to 45% (recommended maximum number of pupils in p3 to be increased from 18 to 33)
  • Sacking pupil support assistants
  • Shutting five primary and two secondary schools
  • Reducing services for the homeless
  • Stopping day care for mentally ill people
  • Closing re-cycling centres
  • Closure of parks and gardens throughout the city, selling the land.
Measures also considered, but down the list of priorities are the closure of all 16 community libraries and the closure of all museums and art galleries for one year. We say that these measures should be implemented immediately. Who needs to read books when you've got Sky Movies3D? And Aberdeen simply does not need the arts. What are "the arts" for, anyway? Sponging subsidies, as far as we can see. All these measures are in addition to those previously implemented which have already had a severe impact upon the provision of services to physically and mentally handicapped people, including children.

But - best of all - is the council's stated aspiration to "Reduce then Stop School Crossing Patrols". Thank goodness for that! Because these so-called "Lollipop Ladies" are nothing but an impediment to traffic flow as we important motorists speed about our business creating economic growth for Aberdeen "City and Shire". It is vital that we are allowed to drive about as much as we damned-well please unimpeded by these busybodies, because Aberdeen's vitality is the engine which will pull UK plc out of recession and lots of motorists driving around Aberdeen is the main contributor to and signifier of that vitality. Lollipop Ladies must not stand in our way! They must be swept into the dustbin of history!

Not only that, but the removal of Lollipop Ladies will also teach our schoolchildren a vital lesson. That lesson being that walking is a dangerous activity for losers only, and makes you look as if you are a member of the underclass. When the Lollipop Ladies are gone, no parent will dare allow their child to walk to school, because it will be seen as being tantamount to child abuse to expose them to such danger! What a relief that all this nonsense about so-called active and sustainable travel and walking to school has been put to bed once and for all!

As a final treat for the deserving motorist, the council has also signalled its extreme reluctance to follow Scottish Government recommendations that Parking Charge Notices (tickets) be increased to £80 - £100.

We commend our council for their pro-motoring anti-everything else stance in these troubled economic times. They are sending out all the right messages; by getting rid of impediments to traffic flow, by ruling out extra charges for blameless family motorists, and by severely punishing the non-motoring underclass they demonstrate that they know a thing or to about getting out of the way of business - particularly when that business involves increasing the demand for petrol - this town's only possible priority. It is perfectly right that our council should seek to victimise the marginalised, the poor, the young, the sick, the homeless, the mentally ill, the handicapped and the elderly - for these people don't usually have cars, and so tend not to be as important as people who drive a lot.

Economic Vitality