Wednesday, February 2, 2011

My Inner Cycling Geek - denied

Every now and then I find myself thinking about getting a helmet cam, generally after some near miss when I am out cycling. Every now and then I also find myself looking at the footage of other cycling helmet cam users empathising with them as yet another near miss occurs because some driver "did not see them".

What stops me, well it would be yet another gadget to remember before I get out cycling, yet another gadget to remember to keep charged, yet another gadget to connect to my computer and yet I do like the idea. Whenever some cycling news is reported in the press and there is the facility to comment you inevitably get some pretty polarised views, neither of which is necessarily helpful. So it was a little surprising to see Cyclists wearing Helmet cameras being reported on the main BBC news programs and on the BBC Website - "Helmet cameras capture bad driving". Indeed one such camera user was successful in getting an abusive van driver prosecuted. (Also at the time of writing this Post that BBC link had 586 comments.)

What stops me, well as I get older I have noticed a tendency to becoming a GOM (Grumpy Old Man). I can't help but feel that having a Helmet Cam would encourage that tendency even further and besides my kids also feel that it is way to geeky - bad enough that I have a Cycling Blog let alone start showing clips of my close encounters.

The problem is that the roads have become a bit of a "free for all". We all regularly see examples of poor driving/walking/cycling and tend to ascribe the problems to the "opposition" - if we are driving it's those flipping red-light jumping cyclists, if we are cycling it's those vans that pass at high speed with inches to spare (or centimetres if you prefer). The real issue is that it is the vulnerable who get hurt - the pedestrians and cyclists (and quite often the young cyclists and pedestrians are in the majority).

I was dismayed to see that Speed cameras are being reported as at risk in Cambridge. My daughter is learning to drive and only yesterday as we were driving along a road at the speed limit of 60MPH some grumpy old Audi driver flashed and beeped as she did not get out of his way quick enough. Two issues here, leaner drivers have L plates on their car for a reason - to indicate to other road users to give them space, the second is what an example to set - barge your way around the road. I can only feel that the lack of such cameras will once again allow more discourteous and dangerous driving to take place on our roads - to the detriment of all road users. Personally I feel I have a right to see the laws on speeding enforced - for safety and to limit pollution (noise and gases).

Unfortunately this lack of empathy is not surprising, indeed Teenage bike thieves are told 'Think about your victims' here in Cambridge to encourage that empathy. There is an old Salesman's joke - "what is the difference between a buyer and a seller?", the answer - "three foot". Basically the width of the desk between you. Good sales people can put themselves in the shoes of the other person. Lest you think that I feel it is all doom and gloom a driver was rescued form his car in a water filled ditch by two good Samaritans on the Prickwillow Road, near Isleham who noticed the car when driving past.

Apparently we are also going to get "Super lorries" weighing 60tonnes on our roads - can our roads take it. I am amazed at how roads like the A14 here in Cambridge quickly develop "tram lines", ruts where lorry wheels seem to sink into the tarmac. It seems to happen more often than I remember. (Of course that could be my age causing me problems!). What about trains taking the strain?

And finally, I saw that there is to be a Cambridge to Southend cycle ride on the 26th of March (around 65miles), now that is both tempting and a good target to aim to build mileage for.

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