Monday, January 25, 2010

What's it all about - momentum

In a previous post I have commented on the importance of maintaining momentum for cyclists. Today I had to pop into the centre of Cambridge to give a lecture at 4pm. I mostly stick to the cycle-paths but had to venture out onto Regent Street and turn down into Downing Street (not the London one). Here is a view from Google Maps - I was turning into the road the picture is taken from from the right and heading in the direction of the cycle and arrow on the right. I stopped, I had left plenty of time for my journey so that I did not arrive to hot and bothered and stopped at the junction as the light was red. However the person in front of me carried on - almost hitting a cyclist coming out, who had the right of way. Clearly momentum was more important than safety!

As I carried on down Downing Street and was approaching Tennis Court Road two cyclists popped out right in front of me and a third managed to stop otherwise we would probably have had an accident. Why - well I can sympathise, they had momentum and the snap decision was more about conserving that momentum than the risks of cycling in front of another cyclist.

I think that motorists park on pavements because they have spent a large amount of money on the car and want to minimise the risk of it getting clipped. In the case of both the motorist and the cyclist the perceived value is greater than the anti-social (and danger aspect for the cyclist).

On my way home cycling along one of the paths on Midsummer Common the same problem of conservation of momentum raised its ugly head again. The path are fairly narrow - although ok for two cyclists to pass - providing they each cycle close to the edge. There are people walking along those paths as well. I was hugging the left hand side when a cyclist coming the other way found his side "blocked" by a pedestrian so he swerved onto my side and back, conserving his momentum. Unfortunately there was not quite enough room. Of course I did not slow down I wanted to conserve my momentum - fortunately we only clipped handlebars in passing and no cyclists or pedestrians were hurt - but it made me think. Actually I suppose I was also defending, what I saw as my territory as well - even at the risk of a collision. That is something that I feel motorists do - they perceive the road more as theirs than a cyclists. They, rightly feel indignant at red-light-jumper cyclists, but also resent cyclists getting in their way, because they feel that it is their way. Even when it is not!

On the outskirts of Cambridge I did get into conversation with a fellow cyclist - the subject lights - he admired the brightness of my Joysticks. He had a light that could charge from a USB plug. Mind you his only needed charging once a week whereas mine gets charged every time I use it. He did have to optimise his to last the week by turning it off occasionally though! I also learnt he was off to Iceland for three weeks of cycling in the summer - sounds wonderful.

Here is a road-sign we saw in India (my son took the photograph and I have only just gotten it from him). I do not really know what it says - it does make you take care though - perhaps we should have a few randomly spread around our roads.

India skull cross.JPG

One last note - my pothole report yesterday was acknowledged by an email from the Cambridge County Council - that's reassuring.

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