Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Winter - time for those repairs you've been putting off

The weather was a little warmer today - so no reason for what seemed like a lot of local incidents reported in the local newspaper - Cambridge Evening News. Sometimes it is easy to mis-attribute motives when stories appear in the paper. For instance when you get a story about "a boy on a bicycle tried to rob a pensioner" it is easy to blame yet another cyclist! When it is really just a bad person happening to use a bicycle whilst committing a crime. That does not then stop the idea that maybe bikes should be licensed and have "number plates" - of course that just adds bureaucracy to the lives of the majority of innocent cyclists whilst the criminals will just break the law. There was also this story: "Cyclist Seriously Injured in Hit and Run", which reinforces the view that cycling is dangerous. Then this one: "Motorist Injured as Car Rolls into Ditch" - perhaps cars are dangerous as well. On a more positive note: "Bike facilities move up a gear with £80K gift" - which will be used to improve cycling facilities between two adjacent villages in Cambridge and provide more cycle parking at various schools (as well as other places). What does it all mean - well its "News" - pure and simple - no doubt it will evoke some disgruntled comments. At the end of the day I think that we have to wean ourselves off the "car culture"

When I popped out on my bike - the country roads were remarkably quiet - during the afternoon people waved at me from their cars and gave way and gave me room. It was not until the rush hour did I start to feel the danger levels increasing as several cars whizzed past me with inches to spare at 40+MPH. (Yes I had lights on at the time, it was quite dark and raining - maybe the car drivers should try cycling occasionally and see what it feels like!

It was light when I set off though - I got to see a local heron that nests by one of the local Lodes. Here it is - after flying off and settling down further away. One of these days I will sneak up and get a picture of it on the Lode.


For some reason I am on the email list of the CPRE - Campaign for Rural England - I think that I signed up to supporting a campaign for great safety on rural roads. This plea caught my eye. Here in the flatlands we have what seem to be a lot of pylons roaming the countryside - a pity that they did not start the campaign earlier. Although it really just comes down to cost - burying cables is expensive - so do we want to pay more for electricity - and lets face it if you live in a city then the pylons aren't something you see all the time anyway so why care. One snag with "majority" rule is that minorities can get the short straw.

cpre pylons.JPG

At the same spot I took the picture of the heron here is a pylon "marching along".


Now that winter is here it seems that it is the time to get those chores you put off all year long done. One of the challenges of the flatlands is keeping them drained - which is the job of the lodes. The trouble is that the lodes can be higher than the surrounding land and need banks which need repair. This is how they do it - they run a digger along the top of the bank mashing more soil down - this is Bottisham Lode.


And this is Swaffham Bulbeck Lode. The only problem with doing this work at this time of year is that it gets dark early and so the work has to stop by 4pm. To be fair there has been work on the banks of this Lode for most of the year I think.


The Sustrans 11 route through Wicken Fen looks like it will finally be finished. Work started and then stopped on this path during the summer. For a while the path surface was really unpleasant to cycle on - although after enough cycle and pedestrian traffic it has become tolerable. Apparently there were weather/materials problems. It looks as if they are now sweeping it? Those piles you can see are piles of loose grit.


The work had not started yesterday so this is what they have achieved in a day - quite a day's sweeping. If you look closely you can see my cycle track in both pictures. Which implies that only one person has cycled along since they started their sweeping (me!).


By the end of the ride I had hit my goal for the year of completing 12,000Km/7,500miles. Time to start planning on a destination for next years cycle tour/holiday - you've got to have some motivation for setting a target!

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