The Blog


23 Mar 2009

Here's Westminster's public report on the experimental Motorcycle Parking charge scheme for the Policy and Scrutiny meeting on Mar 31st.

Original Word Doc

PDF

HTML

This needs some detailed analysis.

Mar 31 Demo
Ace Cafe 3pm for 4:15pm leave
Trafalgar Square 5pm for 6:15pm leave
Victoria St WCC offices 7pm till late

ps. It appears that WCC may have removed the above doc and the page it was on is now empty (Committee & Cabinet - Papers & Decisions Committee and Cabinet Documents
Built Environment/31 March 2009). There's a copy here (for the moment).

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20 Mar 2009

Tonight (Friday 20 Mar) at about 5:30pm GMT we will be taking search down for 10 minutes or so. The rest of the site will be unaffected.

Overnight our upstream Internet link is undergoing maintenance between 3am and 5am GMT Sat 21 Mar. This should not affect Ecademy but there may be short periods of outage during this time. [from: JB Ecademy]

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So if you see one on your motorcycle in London, don't panic.

Now appearing on motorcycles all over London.


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19 Mar 2009

We're going to try to stream the London event tonight. The URL is here
http://www.ustream.tv/channel/ecademy-tv

Video streaming by Ustream

[from: JB Ecademy]

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17 Mar 2009

A document has come into my possession that expresses Danny "Chalky" Chalkley's worst fears of what the "Rogue Motorcycle Protesters" intend to do to Westminster Council's offices on March 31st.


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15 Mar 2009

So I swapped the ZX6R B1 for a very low mileage, 11 month old GSXR750K8. The ZX6 was wonderfully manic but sprung way too hard. The GSXR is more like a BMW M3. Except an M3 wouldn't need modifying!

Rode it stock a couple of times and noted all the irritations that weren't right. Like the levers being mounted much too high. Now I've spent the money and spent the garage time and it's mine instead of somebody else's. Here's the list,

- Skidmarx double bubble screen
- LSL Match raised clip ons - swapped from the Kawa.
- Footrests on lowest position
- Adjust the gear lever
- Scottoiler
- R&G Tail Tidy with extra bungee hooks
- Adjust the headlight beam. It was way too high.
As usual, doing a neat installation of the clip ons and Scottoiler was a mission and seemed to take way longer than it should have done.

I did manage to fit in a couple of hours riding this morning. My god, it's good. It's both faster steering and more stable than the Kawa. The suspension let's you feel the road without jarring over every cats eye. It doesn't float the way a recent Blade I rode did, but it doesn't leap about the way the Kawa did. And it's much less unwieldy at very low speeds. Oh, and It's proper quick. How did they do all that?

Planned but for later:-
- Black Stomp Grips
- One tooth smaller front sprocket - Speedo healer so it's then accurate again
- Laser stubby twin exhausts
- R&G case protectors
- Pazzo levers
- Renntec Pillion Grab Rail
- Louder Horn
- Heated Grips

And just maybe http://www.streetfighterstore.com/ Fat Bar kit. For the moment the raised clipons and lowered footrests is probably enough of an old git's kit. The back, shoulders and wrists really weren't a problem this morning.

Oh and the wacky touring detail. Wire in a USB 5V socket for charging all the stuff. Using a 12v to 5v convertor from here. http://www.dogcamsport.co.uk/power_for_bullet_cam.htm#car

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11 Mar 2009

Oh noes! I've been named in an email from Westminster Council's legal department to the No To Bike Parking Fees campaign. Here's a snippet.

Secondly you have published on the website a post (from "jbond") concerning defaced signage, and
the fact that a number of parking bays have had signs defaced with a black spray can. The posting
comments that your campaign cannot condone destruction or damage to Westminster council
property and deplores this potentially criminal behaviour. However it also suggests that the individual
responsible ought to consider ways of obliterating the sign more effectively.
Deliberately damaging
property is indeed criminal behaviour and the person responsible risks serious consequences.


My highlight. So apparently talking about the widespread damage to the signs detailing how to pay the tax and asking how this affects you if you happen to park in a bay with defaced signs is now enough to get you mentioned in dispatches. Although jokingly talking about how to obliterate the signs more effectively (with smiley) probably didn't help.

This then got turned into "Calling for the vandalising and removal of motorcycle parking signs that provide vital information for 
motorcyclists wishing to park in Westminster." in the press release.

The side effect of this and other issues is a fairly bizarre press release from Westminster followed by a detailed rebuttal from the campaign.

As somebody pointed out. "First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, then you win." -- Mahatma Gandhi

More disturbing is that the campaign felt that the escalation of this legal back and forth left them with no option than to close down the forum.

So make sure you make it to the demo on Mar 31st.

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22 Feb 2009

DEMO: Saturday, 28th February 2009, 10am Meet Golden Square.

The next demonstration ride will start from Golden Square (off Regent Street), meet 10am leave 10:30am for ride to Ace Cafe for 11:30am stop for lunch leave Ace at 12:30pm then on to Alexandra Palace for Motorcycle Show arrive 1:15pm, to garner yet more support for our upcoming MEGA demo (31st March 2009, 5pm Trafalgar Square, details to be published soon), the idea here is to cause major disruption to Central London, Oxford St, Regent St etc…

http://www.notobikeparkingfees.com/events/

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13 Jan 2009

We had an outage for about an hour this afternoon. This was caused by a small software problem on a critical server.

Please accept our apologies for any inconvenience caused. [from: JB Ecademy]

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22 Dec 2008


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01 Dec 2008

Here's a shell of a PHP program for accessing the Skype API.

http://voidstar.com/skypephp/


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30 Nov 2008


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11 Nov 2008

Inspired by http://pleasefixtheiphone.com

I'm mad as hell and and I want this fixed now.

- We only need 3 USB plugs/sockets. Large, Small and Tiny. Medium is redundant. And we don't really need Tiny

- Every battery powered device should have an onboard charger so it can be charged from USB via one of the standard USB plugs/sockets. There should not be any need for a separate camera battery charger any more. Just as there is no need for a separate iPod charger unless you need a combined travel plug, USB supply in which case you can buy a generic one. And there should not be any need for yet another 5V charger with yet another socket/plug size/shape for my next phone.

- We do not need any more Headphone/Mic socket designs. 3.5mm and 2.5mm are enough. Actually 3.5mm is enough. And the same socket should be able to cope with plain stereo headphones or stereo headphones with mic, or just mic, or just lineout.

- We do not need any more memory card sizes. SD, XD and XD-mini are enough

- We do not need any more phone/music player/camera battery shapes and sizes. And Apple, please use a standard replaceable battery rather than a soldered in custom battery. I'll accept the 1mm extra thickness.

- We do not need any more inkjet cartridge designs just because the manufacturer wants to differentiate their product.

- We do not need another video out socket design

- We do not need any more docking socket designs on music players and phones. Isn't a single USB actually enough? What does your device need to do that can't be done over USB?

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Oh joy. Somebody's done a big spam run using one of my email addresses as the from address. 600 "Undelivered Mail Returned to Sender" and counting.

Do we actually need "Undelivered Mail Returned to Sender" any more than "your email appeared to contain a virus"


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10 Nov 2008

I don't like iTunes 4 Windows. OK?! Not only is it a bloated heap of crap. Not only does it keep demanding to be upgraded. Not only does it want to upgrade/install Safari and Quicktime. Not only does the upgrade invariably require a restart. But it's got a new behaviour.

Go to a web page by accident about an iPhone application and you can find iTunes being kicked in to life without you doing anything. Go to close it down and it gives you warnings about how its syncing your iPod. But I specifically told it NOT to sync my ipod, what's happening? Will I lose all my music? WiIl it crash Winamp which is also running and also has control of the iPod? Luckily none of these things but it's still unnecessarily scary.

So what's going on here? Web pages that auto-launch desktop applications should be treated as potential trojan/virus pages and avoided like the plague, shouldn't they? Doesn't it strike anyone as strange that whole sections of the Apple world can't be accessed by a simple web browser? Why can't I browse the iPhone App store from the web?

BTW. See Sharepod. If you have an iPod/iPhone, and you don't live in an exclusively Apple world, you absolutely need this Application. It's a Windows iPod sync/copy utility that is zero install and can run from the iPod's disk area. It lets you copy tracks to and from the ipod to any PC without having to register iTunes. There is an open source equivalent called Floola that will do the same thing with Windows, Mac and Linux but for the moment Sharepod works a bit better.

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20 Oct 2008

You'll need a passport to buy a mobile phone in the UK - Boing Boing. Original article in The Times

Somebody really hasn't thought this through. Will Bruce Schneier please step up and put them right.

There are 40m phones unregistered PAYG phones out there already in the UK. I look forward to all the Telcos disabling these until the owner registers. I also look forward to Tescos requiring photo ID when purchasing a new one or buying minutes at the checkout counter. And to the Telcos building the systems to capture, store and pass to the gummint, the registration. At the end of all that there will be 5M unaccounted for and another 5m where the owner faked the details and/or passed their SIM to someone else and/or their phone and SIM were stolen by some pikey scum in Camden Market.

So we have 30m law abiding citizens who are not a problem anyway and 10m false positives. Oh, yes. That will really help the War on T'rah!

I try and picture a time somewhere in the future where privacy is seen as a basic human right and the racheted-up command and control, surveillance machine has been dismantled. But short of a complete breakdown in Western society I can't see it. I also can't picture any civil political process whereby the population can force it to be dismantled. Which leaves you with some choices. Just go along with it. Play the invisible ninja game and actively subvert it. Just quietly screw it up whenever you get the chance. Wear a hoody 24/7.

It used to be that whatever happened in California was 5 years ahead of what happened on the East Coast and the UK. I guess I should be proud that the UK is leading the way and what happens here will happen in California in 5 years.

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15 Oct 2008

A series of arguments against the Westminster Parking charges for motorcycles

1) The existing payment scheme is discriminatory against some Motorcycle users who don't have a credit card or easy access to a phone, cellphone or internet.

There are people who choose not to own a mobile phone and/or don't have a credit or debit card. Equally, there are people who object to giving address and credit card information to the council, particularly given the recent track record for losing personal information. So how do they pay? In addition it may be unlawful for them to require methods of payment that may not be an option for everyone who wants to use their facility. It appears that prepaid scratch cards may be available. It may also be possible to pay at Westminster car parks. But the story from Westminster keeps changing. The consultation document states "As part of the tender specification, all tenderers have been asked to provide and are being evaluated against robust strategies on how to address the social exclusion issue. " but this has not been done.

2) Motorcycles produce less pollution and congestion than cars

The use of motorcycles is one of the only ways to reduce congestion and pollution in Central London and this is why it is highly supported by the Mayor and Government. The introduction of motorcycle parking charges discourages the use of bikes in Central London, which goes against the Mayor and Government policy to reduce congestion and pollution.

3) Lack of security devices when that's the main justification for the money raised by the scheme.

Westminster trialled security devices prior to the introduction of the scheme that were obviously never going to work unless every biker carried round several metres of chain. They've since given up on this and are trialling an alternative in a small number of bays in residential areas in Westbourne grove. However, Westminster cannot tell us where this new trial is happening and nobody has seen it. So if they're not spending the money on rolling out security, what's the justification for the payment scheme?

4) Payment with no guarantee of being able to find a space.

The scheme encourages you to pay in the morning before leaving for a daily pass. Or for a long term payment such as weekly, monthly or yearly. But there's no guarantee of being able to find a space. This must be a first in that they've created a product that you have pay for regardless of whether that product can be delivered. It's really more like an insurance scheme. Buying the product protects you from the danger of getting a fine, providing you park legally. In fact its even more like a Protection racket. Pay us or we'll ticket and ultimately remove your bike.

5) The scheme is a trial. However there is no information on the signs about how to comment.

The initial notices advising of the comming trial provided information on how to provide comments about the trial. When the full signs went up these were removed. So while the council says there will be a consultation period they have not advertised exactly how the general public can make their views known.

6) What are the actual running costs and what is profit spent on?

The meeting that approved the scheme ear-marked approx £985K for the scheme. Their website now says this. What is the cost breakdown for introducing the new bays? As of 18th August 2008, Westminster has spent £242,234. £16,352 has been spent on the Traffic Management Orders, £6,714 in the car parks and £219,168 has been spent on street. What are the overall projections on income that the council believes it will receive from the new scheme? It is anticipated to generate £675K gross and £261K net once operating costs are taken out. The traffic management orders under which this scheme run say that profit must be spent on traffic and not simply added to the coffers. So. How do Westminster intend to spend the remaining £700K? How do they intend to spend the £261k per year profit?

7) Misleading information about available space.

The usage of parking bays varies widely across the borough. It appears that usage of bays has dropped as people choose not to ride their motorcycle into Westminster. Any occupancy survey during the trial is now likely to be held during the winter when motorcycle use drops anyway. So it's highly likely that the survey will show that there are now sufficient spaces. This is hugely deceptive. Areas such as St James Square were overloaded before and still are. There are also question marks about how Westminster measure available space since they and we probably don't agree on how many bikes can be forced into X metres of bay.

8) Fines are disproportionate

The typical cost of parking a car is £1 to £4 per hour. The fine for parking a car illegally is £40/£80. The typical cost of parking a motorcycle is £0.50 per day to £1.50 per day. And yet the fines are the same £40/£80. This exposes that the real revenue from the scheme is not from the parking charge but from the increased fines.

9) Residents permits are unworkable

It is possible to obtain a residents permit for a motorcycle which allows unlimited parking in residents car bays (not solo motorcycle bays) within a single zone. However although you can register a car and a motorcycle, you can only park one of them in a residents bay at a time. There have been promises of a reduced yearly charge for a normal parking permit for residents but this has not materialised.

10) Saturday parking charges

The report on the scheme said "The parking charge will be required for controlled hours only (08:30 - 18:30 Monday to Friday)." And yet when the scheme was introduced it was 08:30 - 18:30 Monday to Saturday. This affects business in Westminster since it discourages coming into Westminster on a shopping day rather than a work day. It should be pointed out that this scheme is a disincentive to travel into Westminster for whatever reason for motorcyclists. This will then have a knock on effect on business and work in the area.

11) The council has failed to follow its own decision on a robust communications policy

There are several references to a recognition that this scheme is contentious and will require a "robust communcations policy" to explain the scheme to motorcyclists. This has manifestly failed. There is much anecdotal evidence of people receiving multiple tickets because they simply didn't know about the scheme.

12) The spread of motorcycle parking charge schemes to other boroughs and cities.

If Westminster's scheme goes ahead, then it is very likely that other boroughs will follow suit. Since there is no overall strategy or control over London in this area this will lead to each council developing its own scheme and methods of payment. This then will make attempting to pay a complete nightmare for the genral public. Particularly if you have to stop in multiple boroughs during the day.

See Also two documents from the council.
http://forum.notobikeparkingfees.com/discussions/?PostBackAction=Download&AttachmentID=46

http://forum.notobikeparkingfees.com/discussions/?PostBackAction=Download&AttachmentID=45


Westminster Parking

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The next demo against Westminster parking charges is Friday Oct 24, 1pm. Meet Park Lane car park. Let's bring London to a halt...

Westminster Parking

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01 Oct 2008

The campaign against Westminster Parking charges gathers pace. Now with banners

Westminster Parking

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29 Sep 2008

So we had the demo against Westminster Parking charges for Motorcycles. And a fun day was had by all. Maybe 200 bikes turned up and we brought Oxford St and Regent st to a halt for 20 minutes or so.

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