Friday, June 22, 2007

All Good Things...

It has been a pleasure to share my cycling thoughts with you over the last 1.3 years, but sadly I will not be posting any updates here for the foreseeable future. This is because of changes to the demands on my time, which includes learning another language and intensive re-training for a new career.

As I mentioned on Cycling London's first birthday, I really appreciate the comments and the regular page views from everybody, so thank you!

During the period of writing, I feel I've witnessed a significant blossoming of cycling's exponential popularity, in to a more accepted usual and mainstream mode of transport: Lycra not required.

Whether it is the affectionately-titled "bomb dodgers" commuting by bike, or the Kensington shoppers en route pour café, or the Brompton train commuters, or the triathlete trainers, or just me & others going to work; the rise of cycling commuters is very noticeable. I'm happy to have experienced that social awakening.

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Sunday, June 03, 2007

Artistic Cyclists Required

In September, Brighton sees a performance of the National Theatre's Bicycle Ballet, which is described as a spectacular choreography on bicycles.

The organisers are looking for cyclists to join in the performances.

Take a look at their site

Looks kinda fun.

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Saturday, April 21, 2007

Cycling Image

Interesting video talking about the changed image of cycling, and its increased relevance in mainstream transport now.

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Saturday, April 07, 2007

Another Little Poem

Bank Holiday weekends seem to come with high expectations. If it is sunny like it has been so far in London, I feel tremendously guilty if I pass by the rare opportunity to get out on an entirely free day off.

So anyway I took a pleasant little mood-enhancing spin locally, and all was well.

Parts of the ride, although urban, reminded me of this I wrote;

Gaining momentum by friendly gradient,
Exciting the senses to smiling radiant,

Think not of whether or when it will end,
Relish the moment, enjoy the bend,

Committed angles which make Pisa blush,
Adrenaline engaged, experience a rush.

Conscious green as hedgerows passed,
An innocent thrill, sustained to last.

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Monday, April 02, 2007

Nike Abandons Cycling

The US company is to cut its relationship with Trek and may drop its whole cycling line.

Who cares.

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Sunday, April 01, 2007

Average Car Drivers Don't Intend To...

With increasing numbers of commuters cycling on our roads, what needs to change and why?

Stripped to its raw elements, motor vehicles and bicycles in any conceivable altercation, produces only one victim.

Logically, separate travel routes for each mode would, in theory be safer, by reducing relative speed, and inequalities of risk (i.e. if two cyclists crash head on, they both get injured, whereas a bicycle hit by a car, is not equal.)

But that is a highly academic argument, because it could be said that lorries are an unequal threat to cars, so separate them on the roads? It doesn’t stand, because Lories & cars mix fine on the roads. Why is this?

Introducing The Dominant Threat

Is it because the transport mode which poses the greater capacity to endanger others (The Lorry as the “Dominant Threat”) is legislated for and treated with, the additional responsibility which goes hand in hand with driving a vehicle capable of more damage and casualty if not driven correctly. I.e. Lorry driving is treated as a profession, and is regularly monitored (e.g. tachographs, working hours regulations, etc.)

Try a different example where the car is not the dominant threat; Level crossings. The car is the potential victim, and the train is the dominant threat. On which side are all the checks, monitoring, and fail-safes? - The barriers, the warning signs, overseen by the railway staff, are responsible policies on the train side, to expose the potential victims (car drivers) to as minimal risk as possible, from the dominant threat.

They Don't Mean To, But...

Now come back to cycling, and the issue becomes clear – Cyclists share the road with vehicles, primarily cars, which are in this comparison; the dominant threat. What is patently clear from on-road experience, is that drivers (specifically – average, non-advanced-drivers) do not have enough pressures exerted on them, encouraging them to exercise high driving skill (consistently safe driving) at all times.

Average car drivers don’t intend to endanger cyclists, but they do. Average drivers simply have too many options to commit unintentional, dangerous acts. Even a driver’s minor oversight is magnified in outcome, by the weight and speed of the car.

I once saw someone drive her car straight in to the back of a bus. A big-red-takes-up-all-the-road-how-on-earth-can-you-miss-it BUS!!!! Cyclists have car-doors flung in their path, cars overtake and two seconds later turn left across them, the inflicted hazards are daily. Every road-user can most likely recall examples of other’s human fallibility like this. Humans are rubbish.

In that context, could the analogy be made that a population obsessed by cars, is akin to a population obsessed by guns? – Both nouns perform a task, but somehow the fatal reality of the obsession is ignored. Is the veil of glamour, in both cases, enough to cover-up the large negative consequences?

Focus On Whom?

Previously when town planning and road design concerned itself with a) stopping cars hitting cars, and b) stopping cars killing pedestrians, cyclists received only some leftover white paint to tot-up the end of year council budgets. (OK ;-) but you know what I mean…)

With the rising population of bicycles on the road, it increases the role of the average car, as a widespread Dominant Threat to cyclists.

As discussed in the Lorry Vs. Car, and Train Vs. Car examples above, the best way to lower the number of (cyclist) casualties is go after the Dominant Threat, legislate for it and monitor it closely. There needs to be significant pressure constantly on the shoulder of average drivers, to forcefully remind them to drive to a high standard, and not accidentally create victims out of their drive to the shops / school / work.

There is no such thing as an accident – just human error.

For further reading on the last point:

Tony Carter: "In my opinion there is no such thing as an accident, there is 99% of the time; a cause."

Paolo Bacigalupi: "The myth that accidents happen. There are none. There are only gun consequences."

Accident Investigator, Graham Greatrix - Real life consequences - not pretty.

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Saturday, March 31, 2007

Going Green

Interesting list of opinions about going green.

Why going green is good for your health.

Air travel is the big one in my opinion.

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Monday, March 26, 2007

"Stop Before You Die" She Barks...

From the USA's in Florida, comes this tête à tête debate in the letters pages.

"Advice to cyclist: Stop before you die" barks some extremist - pessimist - alarmist...

If Joe Barnett really wants to live, I suggest he either relocate his residence closer to his periodontal practice or open an office in Killearn Lakes.

...She threatens.

I mean really, c'mon. She is probably also the proud broadcaster of similar doom-filled advice such as:
  • "Stop eating entirely - or you will get food poisoning!"
  • "Stay away from the sun - you might self-combust!"


The voice of common sense majority is articulated by Amy K. Mann:

Things can and eventually will change for the better concerning alternate forms of commuting, "better" being more alternate forms of transportation and fewer cars.

Borrow a bicycle and take a one-hour ride around town. See what it feels like to ride instead of drive. Put yourself in the other person's shoes.

Amy is spot-on when she talks of fewer cars, because everybody knows that the life-blood of vehicles as we endure them at present, is the expiring finite energy resource of Oil.


Amy's title: "
Put yourself in the bicyclist's seat" is such truly valuable advice.

Sometimes these kind of arguments; "well YOU try it then" appear rhetorical, because the challenger might be addressing someone they know to be too fat, lazy and small minded
to even walk to the bike shop to hire one, (they'd drive... but they can't be bothered! ;-) )

But really, for any road-user adept in open-mindedness, hiring, or borrowing a bicycle to gain a fresh new perspective, (which is true even of perennially familiar roads nearby), is a very worthwhile and commendable challenge to complete.

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Sunday, March 25, 2007

Good News Story

Amongst the avalanche of groaning daily news stories, it is refreshing to uncover a good news story. It is pleasant to hear examples of charitable humanity, no matter how basic. Simple? Yes. Insignificant? No.

One recent Saturday on the Chaires group ride, I had a flat tire about 4 miles from the end of the ride. With no spare tube, I started walking. A young man named Ryan stopped with his truck to give me a lift... Thank you, Ryan.

Do you know anyone else who has received some good will and assistance from passing drivers?

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Thursday, March 22, 2007

Bike Theft Tracked!

The recent snow in parts of the UK provided this little gem of a story from yesterday, which occured near Newcastle Upon Tyne:

Reports were received by police around 1.20am on Wednesday that a shed had been broken into, with two bicycles stolen.

Fresh evidence lay under police noses when they noticed a trail of footprints, captured by the heavy snow, leading to a property only a few hundred yards away.

The footprints paved the way to the hapless thief's door and a 16-year-old was subsequently arrested.

Both bikes were recovered and the teenager is in custody on suspicion of burglary.

Source Story:

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Monday, March 19, 2007

Cycling London Updates

"1st on your right, and down a bit more guv!"

If you haven't yet noticed, consider this a custard pie to the face infomercial - Cycling-London now features some "don't call us, we'll call you" ability, where the random unpredictability of new posts are now thankfully in your control, not mine, because you can have them delivered in to your Atom or RSS reader.

Or, if like me, you assume "RSS Reader" to be some kind of American warship, then have the post delivered to you instantly by email! Be Lazy - Do it now!

Cycling-London: RSS feed

Cycling -London: Email Updates

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Sunday, March 18, 2007

Read Between The Lines

It's not like it was an emergency stop, the eejot coasted up to the lights, then drove a bit further for our benefit - just to confirm any suspicions that yes; "I drive a 4x4 on urban roads and I AM a complete twat, thankyouandgoodnight!"

I give up on humans sometimes...

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Free Cycle Training

A not highly publicised bit of information, is the free (and practically free) cycle coaching available in London. Certain London Boroughs have subsidised cycle training to help anyone who wants some expert advice or confidence building tips for the urban riding environment.

Anyone who lives, works or studies in the borough is entitled to 2 hours of subsidised training at the cost of £5 per hour.

City of London
Anyone over the age of 16 who lives, works or studies in the City of London is entitled to 2 hours of subsidised training at a one-off cost of £8.

Anyone who lives, works or studies in the borough is entitled to 2 hours of subsidised training at a one-off cost of £5.

Anyone aged 11 or over who lives, works or studies in the borough is entitled to 2 hours of free training.

Hammersmith and Fulham
Anyone aged 8 or over who lives, works or studies in the borough is entitled to 2 hours of subsidised training at a one-off cost of £5.

Anyone aged 12 or over who lives, works or studies in the borough is entitled to 2 hours of subsidised training at a one-off cost of £5.

Anyone who lives, works or studies in the borough is entitled to 2 hours of subsidised training at a one-off cost of £8.

Anyone aged 14 or over who lives, works or studies in the borough is entitled to 2 hours of free training.

Southwark PCT
Men aged 18 or over who live or work in the borough are entitled to 2 hours of subsidised training at a one-off cost of £5.

More information from;

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Monday, March 12, 2007

Global Warning

This photo comes from the BBC Weather photo of the day. Aside from the intense energy it displays, I absolutely love the parallels it can represent regarding global warming: Here is a ferocious sea, wildly rampaging the coast; and the drivers attitudes are probably something like: "Oh just ignore that, I'm not seeing the waves spray my car, cover my ears; la la la, keep driving."

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Sunday, March 11, 2007

Chocolate Slave

Watching the BBC's Heaven & Earth TV program today, raised the topic of slavery and people trafficking. Amongst the interesting issues was the buying and selling of children to work in one of the world's main locations of cocoa production. Full background and campaign here - Stop The

What has this got to do with cycling? Pass. The most tenuous links I can find, are that chocolate can fuel cycling, and they both make you feel good!

I view this cause is very worthwhile supporting because it is SO straightforward to action! - A consumer just buys ethically sourced chocolate. With Easter approaching, and taste buds salivating, now is a great time to focus on consumer decisions and buying power.

The above campaign is collating a list of Good Chocolates, which guarantee the cocoa beans have not been harvested by human trafficked labour.

I noticed the chocolate big guns like Nestlé and Cadbury are loudly absent from the Good Chocolate list. So reading between the lines then, is it a case that Nestlé & Cadbury's Chocolates use slave labour? And will I have to consider which label my next choco-indulgence will support, for it still to taste as sweet?

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The Powerful Urge...

A great little piece lifted from the Telegraph Magazine: Click to enlarge.

What amazes me more than the 4x4 owner's decision to buy one, is the unbelievable restraint shown by the rest of society, to resist the powerful urge to graffiti insulting reflections of the driver, on various 4x4 body panels! But there are always the "accidental" car-parking dents, I suppose...

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Saturday, March 03, 2007

Spring Cycling Poem

Somewhat of a diversion, a few poetic lines to welcome the Spring.

(The great thing about the internet is you can post this stuff and nobody can ACTUALLY throw eggs at you for being a geek :-) hehehe! )

Spring is dawning, the globe is warming,
Flowers confused, with random blooming,

Snow has gone, hopefully that’s it
Our one-day cold snap has been and hit,

What is next, we can only guess,
Something only the clouds know best,

Cherish the bright cool journey today,
More arid warmth is on the way...,

Meanwhile a cyclist ponders some thoughts;
Ditch the leggings and get the shorts!

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Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Cycling-London Blog Is ONE!

On 28th February 2006 I decided to wheelie in to the blogging world and start writing. Today celebrates Cycling-London’s 1st birthday!

Despite having increasingly less time to contribute to Cycling-London, I really enjoy creating new blog posts and sharing the thoughts of the moment.

It is also an appropriate time to give a big thank you to the regular visitors who read Cycling-London! Thank you also for expanding and colouring the content further, with your comments and views.

A retrospective of some choice entries from this year:

Technorati Tags:

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Sunday, February 25, 2007

What A Plonker!

Standing at a crossroads (not metaphorically), I observed a highly populated cycling commuter route at 6pm on a Tuesday evening.

Firstly what struck me was the immense frequency of cyclists passing through this junction, and I was impressed by the scale of allegiance to pedal power. Good to see that us Brits have adopted a hardy weatherproof attitude, facing whatever the climate-changed winter can throw at us. (Mini Hurricane, anyone?)

On this occasion vehicles were well behaved, for example; stopping at traffic lights BEFORE the cyclist’s Advance Stop Line, (not IN the cycles green ASL box). Taxis were patiently queuing in traffic, leaving space for cyclists to pass. All was well, good karma prevailed.

Disappointingly it was the rare cyclist who stood out as the naive, disregarding chancer. Most other responsible riders shared the road and practiced the amnesia-friendly; green for go, red to stop format:

The chancer in question, was noticeable for a few reasons which set him apart from competent cyclists.

His riding style was akin to a dazed hippy drifting through a field of rainbow coloured flowers: No apparent assertiveness or decision making, just total reliance on undiluted hope.

Financially he seemed only prepared to invest as far as the bike starting point – lights & visible clothing not viewed as a necessity. (!)

Finally, he stood out for a pathetic attempt to disguise a red light jump (RLJ), by rolling “cunningly” passed all the civilised stationary traffic, then “sneakily” through the actively crossing pedestrians, in a feeble effort not to be noticed RLJ’ing.

Feeble, because people did notice. No horns blasted, no abuse shouted, but observant road-users unconsciously notch another mark in the “against” column. Perhaps to be totted up in the future? Perhaps very subtly influencing how the drivers view and interact with cyclists in future? Or perhaps to be criticised in a blog here or there...

What struck me as stupid was the fact this drifter ambled passed the ASL, continued passed the traffic light Stop line, and on to the middle of the cross roads – and had to stop there anyway! (To avoid being hit by legitimate cross traffic.) In this position the traffic lights are not visible, so he has no idea who has the green light and right of way. He looked lost, and could only guess at his next unimpressive move.

The mass of competent cyclists waiting with traffic at the red reminded me of the Critical Mass slogan: “we ARE traffic” (is it the case that cyclists demonstrating the behaviour of legitimate traffic, slowly gain respect to be treated as legitimate traffic?) These riders, me and other onlookers of the dazed hippy, collectively and silently remarked; “what a plonker!”

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Friday, February 16, 2007

Do You Value Life?

What a big question that is. What criteria to use? In who’s opinion? How is it demonstrated?

It is a given that most people value their own life – there are inbuilt human mechanisms for survival. For example getting nervous when climbing high ladders is the body’s message to be careful or face DEATH!

Or alternatively why babies give a cringing expression of bitter taste and spit out food which spooks their taste buds, is precautionary to guard against accidently ingesting anything poisonous or harmful.


So the question really is how much do people value OTHER people’s lives. Because with strangers, there is no connection or commitment to that unknown individual directly.

A relevant demonstration of how much a person values a stranger’s life, can be witnessed everyday cycling on London roads. The decision (for the vehicle driver) is how to overtake a cyclist. There is much more depth to this decision than the rhetorical; “well you just go past ‘im, innit!

Most of the time however, with an adequate road layout, space between cycles and overtaking vehicles is roomy enough not to even invoke this question. And drivers can rumble on their way without the “stress” of decision making.


But often circumstances present a situation, where the driver has to choose between their own perceived gains (time, making progress), and what risks their actions might pass on to the cyclist being overtaken.

Typically this dilemma arises in locations such as road narrowings, pedestrian refuge islands, limited space from parked cars, and the like.

My theory is, a driver who does not value life (of other people), will overtake regardless, blasting past the vulnerable cyclist in a questionably tight gap, with little adjustment to their speed and road position. The driver willingly CHOOSES to take a risk on behalf of the cyclist.

Therefore the driver doesn’t value (a strangers) life very highly. Often it could be a deluded arrogance towards their own driving skills which clouds this decision. But the fact remains that wherever there is human judgement, there is human error.

Competent Raw Belief

The noticeably competent driver however, deals with the same situation differently, and more positively:
This driver trades off the 3 seconds time advantage which would be “gained” by blasting past the cyclist at a narrowing, (with traffic lights, such negligible time becomes irrelevant anyway).

The driver slows down, follows the cyclist through the narrowing, leaving enough distance from the cyclist’s rear wheel, not to spook or intimidate the rider – why? Because this driver cares about other people, they have the personal quality of being able to empathise with how a stranger would feel, on receipt of their driving decisions.

The driver asks internal questions to put themself in the stranger’s shoes, such as; “would I like 1,500Kg’s of unforgiving metal being thrust towards my pedalling legs? No, no I wouldn’t” and “would I appreciate wing mirrors practically striking my handlebars if I were the cyclist? Again; I’ll decide against thanks”

After navigating the narrowing, the driver executes a safe overtaking of the cyclist, leaving plenty of respectful space side by side.

Everything about this competent drivers’ decisions, trace back to the raw belief that they value OTHER people’s lives.

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Thursday, February 15, 2007

Road Pricing A Good Idea?

There's been lots of fuss about pay-as-you-drive proposals recently. Is this because drivers are being bullied by the tax man? Or is there a justifiable reason to put a price on motoring?

Road Pricing sounded like a welcome mechanism to abate the increasing sprawl of traffic and traffic jams, when it was suggested a while back.
With the emergence of proposals in the national road pricing scheme, this now raises some concerns.

Primarily, unadulterated surveillance appears as a most frightening motivator of reaction. Add in the increased cost deterrent of pay-as-you-go driving, and it is unsurprising that the car-owning British majority don't fancy paying more to drive, or change their vehicular habits in any way, given the choice.

This is reflected by the 1.5 million people (and growing) who have signed this petition against road pricing, assisted by momentum of email circulars and media exposure.

Personal privacy is a contentious issue, nobody wants to be surreptitiously watched, especially not criminals. The wide-scale deployment of Electronic Vehicle Identification (EVI), and Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) technologies is understandably likely to evoke a hair-raising Orwellian fear, because the future capabilities are comprehensive: Knowing exactly where a driver is, could be use to "catch out" a typical driver in various ways. People don't like change anyway, and road pricing is clearly going to be a Weapon of Mass Taxation, but as a trade-off for being watched all the time, could there be benefits to such a system?

  • Deterrent for stolen cars / joy riders to avoid surveyed areas?
  • Evidence & facts of vehicle movement data to use in court?
  • Speed limits actually enforced? Making for less intimidating cycling conditions.
  • Theoretically, stolen cars easier to identify and locate.
  • Challenges the mobility of criminals (e.g. stolen car used in bank robbery has its route tracked, and occupants observed by CCTV?)
  • Expense of driving making drivers begin to consider which journeys NECESSARY to drive, not just EASY to drive.
  • Potentially less vehicular congestion, as car use is positively affected by increased cost.
  • Knock on impact of less carbon emissions, from some reduced vehicle use.

ANPR cameras already in use in the UK e.g. in key routes around Birmingham, London's congestion charge zone, and on fuel forecourts.ANPR already in use.


Why do we need road pricing anyway? The well documented answers include the intolerable inefficient traffic congestion on the roads, and the collective decision to ignore the fact that vehicles output pollution, willingly overlooking that inconvenient truth.

Let's face it, personal vehicles are comfortable, air-conditioned, personalised, isolation pods, which GO quickly, but don't necessarily get to places quickly.

Cars are shiny, attractive, desirable; everything the driver is not - after years spent flopped at the steering-wheel nibbling travel sweets!

My alternative viewpoint to the question Why do we need road pricing anyway? Is this; There needs to be some kind of consequence to the effects of driving, which currently are not taken in to account in any significant way. For example

Human Error - the 3,000+ deaths and 270,000+ casualties each year (over 5,000 every week!) are a direct result of driving, and there is no REAL sense of punishment or consequence because UK courts are notoriously too lenient on British drivers as a trend.

Environmental - Yes the road tax (Vehicle Excise Duty) has a scale based on CO2 emissions g/km, but as argued in this Proposed Road Tax post, there is currently nowhere near enough disincentive. At present Vehicle Excise Duty is completely impotent at pushing its CO2 message.

Health - Childhood asthma caused by traffic - How does each driver face the responsibility of their contribution to these health problems?

The above are sometimes indirect products of vehicle use, and thus hard to pin down, locate, and make the originating driver accountable.

At least with road pricing there is SOME kind of consequence to the chosen quantity of individual vehicle use.

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Monday, February 12, 2007

Still Here...

Although my appalling lack of posts suggest otherwise, I am still here. Bike & rider are doing just fine!

Managed to scrape 5 minutes to scribble this, because I am swamped with some large activities which are dominating my free time, to the displeasure of this blog!

I hope to post some stuff in the near future.

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Thursday, January 04, 2007

Do They Really Believe It?

Company cars are often a financially valuable part of a benefits package, but something is very wrong with they way they are handed out...

Importantly, where I work the scale is DEFINED by CO2 emissions.

Say there are 5 levels of company car grades, A, B, C, D, E.
"A" is for the CEO & directors cars, and "E" is for the trainees and new starter's cars.

Entry level grade "E" is restricted to company cars up to 130 g/km and are typically the smaller, lighter cars such as Vauxhall Corsa, Toyota Yaris, etc.

But what strikes a disharmonic chord, is that as each level increases, the emissions permitted increases too. So;
E = Up to 130g/km,
D = Up to170 g/km,
and so on, until
A = Over 240g/km

Effectively this is categorising career path success as an entitlement to pollute more.

What!?! Surely as business people become promoted in to the ranks of directorship and above, they are seen as embodying the company values?

And since it’s this hierarchical level from which much of the sustainable / corporate responsiblity policies come from, isn't it MASSIVELY hypocritical for a some top dog CEO to be signing commitment to the latest green initiative one minute, then hauling their lard-arse in to a 4 Litre 240g/km mobile power station for the journey home!

This poses a further question – Do corporate leaders actually believe in the green policies they create? Do they live according to the same demands they expect of their staff? E.g. recycling, using renewable energies, using sustainable transport, cutting their personal carbon footprint, not wasting water and electricity, etc. I wonder.

Anyway, many big-wig / top-dogs / (CEO's etc) are knocking on a bit. One assumes any offspring would have left the family home by now, so they don't need a people carrier. Perhaps CEO's only need a small car to transport their partner, their golf clubs and their shopping. A Vauxhall Corsa works... ;-)

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