Friday, August 20, 2010

Cutting the grass - again, so a news roundup

"Life, don't talk to me about life" as Marvin would say in the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy - now how could I have forgotten to put that in my the favourite books part of my Blog Profile - well I have added it now. It actually started as a Radio 4 Comedy, so I have also added a couple of my favourite Radio Programmes to my Profile - in fact I think that RADIO needs to be added to the Profile information as its own category. Life got in the way of cycling in the form of mowing the lawn yesterday though.

We have had a long dry spell here in the Flatlands and it seems like ages since I have had to mow the lawn. At the peak I normally end up cutting the grass once a week - and because it is split into a bunch of different bits it takes around 3 hours. Now we have had some rain the grass has started growing again and I've been waiting for a dry spell long enough to cut it. That dry period was yesterday - so I had to make some time to cut the lawn and the cycling had to take a back seat (on a Tandem!). It amazes me how the grass can stop growing and then in the space of a few days become too long. I ended up cutting bits of it long and then re-mowing to tidy it up. (When I say long I mean that I raise the lawn mower to only cut a small amount and then lower it to cut it shorter.) Even then, because it was recently wet it tended to clog up the lawn mower so it took ages - it needed it though and looks much better as a result and I earned a few brownie points.

The closed road between Oakington and Longstanton was back in the news with "Resident clocks 'morons' doing 70 on no-go road". Interestingly Google Streetview pictures of the closed road are available - I wonder if they used a bicycle towered camera for this bit? In the Streetview picture I linked to there is a cyclist in the picture who gets left behind by whatever takes the pictures - so it was either a fast cyclist or a motor vehicle! Tut-tut. According to the article 970 vehicles were counted between 6.30am and 9.00am with 75% over the 30mph speed limit. That sounds like evidence that the police are not waging war on motorists to me. Check out the comments for a bit of amusement. For the avoidance of doubt the car in this picture was not doing 70mph when it passed me. In fact the pictures in this Post only have loose associations with the topics.

We hear that "lots of cyclists are red light jumpers" with hardly any motorists jumping red lights - er except in Leicestershire where more than 9,000 were caught doing it. (Actually nearly 10,000 at 9,700 - and that's just the ones that were caught.) Interestingly enough there is a website offering advice on what grounds red light running penalties may be contested. I also came upon some interesting food for thought concerning cyclists and red lights at City Cyclists (London Cycling campaign in the city). This article shows data for London and analyses that data. Apparently for the period from '01 to '05 2 cyclists died jumping red lights whilst 3 cyclists were killed by drivers jumping red lights and a further 21 pedestrians/motorcyclists/drivers or passengers were killed by red light jumping vehicles. Now I think that it is mad to jump a red light (car or bicycle) - but cyclists aren't the major problem it would seem.

Coton does not seem to get many red light jumpers, at least not in this picture.

I tend not to take pictures of accidents, partly because I hardly see any, fortunately, and also because the last one was when I got knocked off my bike by a car. I was in too much pain with a broken collar bone (the cyclists injury) to think about a photo-record. So this news item: "I got the distance wrong, says man in crash" is accompanied in this Post with a car following a bike at a reasonable distance and not a picture of an accident. A car pulled out of a junction and ran into a bike because the motorist had mis-judged the distance to the cyclist. I once had a car pull out in front of me from a driveway as I was cycling along at 25mph/40Km/h - the driver then froze and stopped across the road guaranteeing I would hit the car - except, fortunately I was half expecting it as the driver did not make eye contact and I just managed to stop in time. She did apologise though!

Stolen bikes make the news again with bikes being recovered in Cambridge. The bikes were spotted on an Internet site for sale! This is where I once had a bike stolen - the Cambridge Railway Station.

The report on the closed road between Longstanton and Oakington has some suggesting re-opening it and putting in speed bumps - if so that ought to use these "giant logs". Apparently the speed bumps were put in by the developers and are not to specification and as holding up the council's adoption of the road. These in the picture are not speed bumps that have been removed from the road (which leads to a Ford in Hildersham). They are a footbridge across the stream - clearly 'Elf and Safety weren't involved.

Talking about speeding, a slightly more worrying report in the Daily Mail "Speed guns don't work,' says police superintendent clocked driving at 79mph". Personally I like speed limits, I want more and I want them enforced, they make life safer and more pleasant whether I am walking, cycling or driving. Introducing average speed cameras for motorway road works has made for a much more law-abiding and smooth flow of traffic. It worries me that we have someone who was supposed to be upholding the law and using such equipment now claiming they don't work when on the other end of them!

In a slight departure from cycling and roads an "Anti-flood project is on stream to save homes" in the Ely area concrete is being used to line the banks of Lodes. It is easy to forget how much we rely on drainage schemes in the Flatlands - except when they don't work that is.

And finally the National Cycle Network will be 15 years old next month. Apparently it now extends to 12,600 miles and started with the Bath to Bristol Railway path - a route I have cycled along a couple of times. The Network has around 2,000 bridges, 10,000 seats and 50,000 signs and here is one such sign on Sustrans 51 between Burwell and Exning.

I for one like the Sustrans routes - generally I see them as more leisure routes than commuting routes as they tend to meander and take scenic paths - but they have definitely encouraged me to explore more and cycle more - well done Sustrans. Some straighter and flatter commuting routes with higher priority than other traffic would be good as well though. I know never satisfied us flippin' cyclists.


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