11th February 2005 at 00:00
East Renfrewshire Council's press chief Hugh Dougherty learned the true value of education on a recent Friday evening while out on his regular cycle run round the policies of Scotland's top leafy education authority.

Dougherty quickly came a cropper when he was rammed by a car coming out of a side road. As he flew through the air and bounced off the car's bonnet, wondering whether he had a future, his head hit the ground but he emerged, miraculously, with nothing broken, a wrenched neck and severe bruising on his legs and back - testimony to the life-saving wisdom of wearing a safety helmet.

He soon received two clear signals that he was still in the land of the living. The first was a road sign proclaiming: "East Renfrewshire welcomes careful drivers". The second was the mob of local youths, burger suppers in hand, who ran across from the local chippy, or friterie, as they're known in East Renfrewshire, to investigate.

As a battered Dougherty staggered to his feet, one lad known to the doyen of council press chiefs spotted that the driver was in a rather posh car and shouted through his chips: "Aw, sur it's you. Ah'll batter that b . . .

. . . for knoacking you down."

The kind offer was refused as Dougherty called in his police chums who duly treated the crowd to a further lesson in citizenship as they booked the driver and carted off Dougherty and what was left of his bike for treatment.

Dougherty now plans to use the remains of his helmet as centrepiece of a road safety education campaign promoting skidlids to cyclists and, especially, to East Ren's schoolkids.

Now that's what we call best value in action.

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