Faced with budget cuts and the prospect of a resurgent Taliban with revenge attacks from Al-Qaeda, the British Army in Afghanistan has proposed an innovative and cheap way of protecting its soldiers – the immediate painting of green or blue cycle lanes across all strategic flashpoints in Helmand and Kandahar provinces. It is proposed that this simple mechanism will provide ‘almost certain’ protection for soldiers at a fraction of the cost of conventional armour.
‘One of my advisers, who previously worked for Transport For London, told me that all danger to cyclists had been eliminated by painting a strip of the road a different colour, and the idea came to us in a flash’ explained commander-in-chief Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart.
To this end, an aggressive programme of bicycle lane painting was immediately put into place. Soldiers more used to maintaining heavy artillery were set to work painting green lanes over the rocky terrain, while a more elite team of experts followed at a distance, painting little bicycles once the green paint had dried. ‘Yes, in this intial phase, casualites have been enormous,’ conceded the Brigadier. ‘Mainly due to enemy snipers and uneducated delivery van drivers. But once our propaganda campaign has promoted widespread understanding of the cycle lane concept, we expect things to improve.’
Using the invulnerability of cycle lanes is not a new military tactic. In WWII Germany’s Blitzkrieg was only slightly slowed by the overhead of painting green lanes through the streets of Belgium, and the invasion of Russia, ‘Operation Dulux’, was only thwarted by over-extension of paint supply lines and the fact that green lanes in the former soviet block were traditionally reserved for heavy-goods vehicles.