Reporter 402, 19 May 1997
Senior Anglican Chaplain
Many thanks to everybody who sponsored me in the London Marathon and allowed me to continue my mid-life crisis with good conscience. I finished well outside record time, but this year's effort raised over £1,000 for the children's health charity Sparks. If anyone hasn't paid me please get in touch.
Department of Linguistics and Phonetics
Why is it that our 'anonymous motorist' in Reporter 397 uses a purported reply to a letter about increased car parking charges to lambast cyclists? The original letter merely suggested that cyclists (or would-be cyclists) could be offered an interest-free loan to buy a bicycle after all, the University currently offers such a loan for an annual Metro card, which is an ongoing loan, not a one-off. Yet the author of last issue's letter decides this is sufficient reason to accuse cyclists of being careless and foolhardy.
Yes, there are inconsiderate and dangerous cyclists. There are also sensible road-aware ones. The same applies to motorists. As a cyclist, I get very tired of such gross generalisations. I can assure you that I am just as likely to criticise a bad cyclist as a bad driver. However, the bad cyclist is somewhat less likely to hospitalise me.
Our anonymous motorist suggests that in cyclist-motorist collisions, the motorist (or at least his car) comes off worst. Yes, a cyclist can seriously dent your car, but if they do, the odds are that they won't be cycling anywhere: either they will be injured, or at the very least, they will have a mangled bicycle. In a clash between metal and flesh, flesh will almost always come off worse.
Finally, may I make a weather-related plea: cyclists are affected far more by wind and rain than most other vehicles - we can easily be blown off course. Please give us more space when you overtake, and give us more braking room. In this particular case, I'd rather not have empirical evidence for my argument!
H. M. Tebb
Department of Biology.
Dr Bullock's letter of Reporter 399 seems to manage to miss several issues at once. We are not considering "providing solutions" but maintaining the privacy (and possibly security) of members of the University. "Lots of us" may be listed in local telephone directories, many of us, however, are not. The University, as my employer, holds considerable personal data, in confidence, concerning me. I would not expect this confidence to be abused by thoughtless divulging of it. Again, Dr Bullock misses the point. Anyone may pick up a telephone - the departmental holder of information cannot know that the caller is who he or she claims to be. In any emergency the department can telephone me and I would resent non-emergency calls disrupting my private time, just as I would resent a telephone call to sell me double glazing.
As for contacting absentee students, the students' own department would I am sure be happy to forward letters or arrange for a personal tutor to get in touch.
Dr Patricia McConnell
Centre for Human Biology
If the University operates an Equal Opportunities Policy, why is it assumed that the page to carry the train of the Chancellor's robe at degree ceremonies will be someone's son?
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