Wednesday 16th, February: Today was yet another day that seemed to start of bright and sunny with blue skies only for it to get darker and gloomier by the time I was ready to cycle out. There were meeting-reasons today for getting out and about and mid-day meetings at that so at least I got out in the day and for once didn't have to take my lights with me. I did have my standard issue commuting gear - Knog bag along with aerosol tyre inflater and small digital camera (DSC-W200) as well as some work stuff of course.
Unfortunately with news - more bad gets reported than good, well I guess good news isn't news. I heard on the radio that people were killed when a boat sank at Halong Bay - Vietnam. When I cycled from Bangkok to Vietnam and stayed with my brother, who used to live in Hanoi we have a great couple of days on Halong Bay. The food, company and scenery were all fantastic. My thoughts go out those affected by this tragedy.
Safety issues raise their head here in Cambridgeshire with a female cyclist mugged on Jesus Green, it happened around 7.30pm, not late but the thief was relying on the dark to commit the crime. In Soham a 6-year old girl was injured in a hit-and-run one can only imagine that the driver had other issues, no insurance of driving licence perhaps. Although we have the Daily Mail to thank for the suggestion that "Motorists who talk on the phone .. 'could be safer' drivers". All I can say is that whenever I am cycling and I see motorists on the phone I avoid them - they sure look distracted to me. I wonder if this chap was on the phone or bored when he got his van stuck under the Ickleton Bridge.
Whilst rounding up the News there is a report that Soham might get its station back again "70 years after getting levelled in a bomb blast". It lies on the Ely/Ipswich line but is only one stop from Ely. We might also see an increase in fly-tipping as "Seven household waste sites to shut" . The fact I find rather odd is that we are encouraged to re-cycle and I suppose I assume that re-cycling is also economically valuable but these sites actually cost £800,000 to keep open, the messages seem a bit mixed or is the hope that more people drive longer distances with their recycling rubbish.
So as a back of the envelope calculation if each site was used on average by 100 motorists per day and they now need to drive an additional 20 miles to
dump recycle their rubbish. Then that represents 100 x 20 * 365 extra car miles per year, per site. Which is a total of just over 5 million miles. If petrol is £1.25 per litre, which equates to £1.25 x 4.54 (no. litres in an imperial gallon). So the assuming the average car does 30mpg the cost per mile for a car in just petrol costs is 19p. Which means that the extra 5million miles will cost around £1m. Now this is all a guesstimate and does not take into account savings from fewer lorries driving to each site to pick up the rubbish valuable recycling material (or the workers driving to work there). It does make you think though. It also adds up to a whole load more cars on the road and pollution and accidents. Mind you according to a Wikipedia article the UK sees around 6.7 fatal accidents per billion Km travelled, which works out as about one death per 20 years.
Whilst on the subject of roads, Grange Road will be closed to through traffic soon for sewer repair work - the article does not make it clear whether it will also be closed to cyclists and pedestrians, I suspect not, but who knows. This Yehuda Moon cartoon amused me, there are some huge potholes at the side of the road between Fulbourn and Great Wilbraham, I really ought to take some pictures and report them - they are really nasty traps for unwary cyclists.
Generally I only take a few pictures when on a meeting-cycle ride. I also always try to allow extra cycling time to avoid over-heating en route. Generally I reckon on leaving twice as much time for a given distance when wearing normal clothes versus cycling clothes. What actually happens though is I rarely leave when I am supposed to and then end up having to cycle faster than planned. My Garmin GPS is useful though as it shows the time as well as the distance travelled and does help me pace myself. I guess I could get it to show the distance remaining, but that would take extra time before setting off.
My meetings were at the St John's Innovation centre on Cowley Road. I have not been there recently on my way in cycling up the Milton Road on the shared-used path on the right hand side you find yourself coming to several crossings. I don't jump red lights when on the road, but in the interests of science I did cross the cycle pedestrian crossings when not showing green on the way to ST John's IC and on the way back I stopped at each crossing and waited.
Whoever designed them clearly did not care that cyclists and pedestrians would appear to be delayed significantly for the benefit of the occasional motor vehicle taking a side road. The signs indicating whether it was safe to cross were also not that clear - well not to me as an occasional user. And yet I presume that this was all designed for the rush hour traffic each morning and evening and I suppose the CGB buses as well. So despite the route having quite wide, by UK standards, cycling paths that are not shared but alongside the pedestrian paths the junctions just seem designed to waste time for those second class cyclists and pedestrians..
Yet just up the road is that rather splendid cycling and pedestrian bridge over the A14 to Milton - the Jane Coston Bridge. As you can see the cycle path and pedestrian path are side by side. it is also quite a hill for us flatlanders. It was opened on the 18th May 2004. Here is a Cambridge Cycling Campaign report on the bridge in action.
St John's Innovation Centre looks pretty different from the last time I visited. All the hedging around the car-park obscuring the view of the building has been cut down and what look like new car parkings spaces are being added. When I turned up there were cars parked all up Cowley Road so parking is clear an issue. Good news for cyclists - I had no problems finding a covered cycle space for my bike and it was there when I returned.
On my way back into Cambridge I
cycled passed over the Green Dragon Bridge after suffering major delays leaving Cowley Road and crossing the junction complex there. The bridge gets its name from the nearby Green Dragon Pub, which also had a beer garden alongside the bridge. Now at this point I have to be honest and admit I didn't actually see any dragons, green or otherwise there.
This is the view down the Cam towards Cambridge with the chimney belonging to the Cambridge Museum of Technology. (Also where they hold bicycle auctions.)
The same view but taken in "portrait" format. Which I prefer but I had so few photographs they both made it into the Post.
The view of the bridge, it is not wide and so cyclists are requested to dismount, although not that many do so it would appear. This is a busy bridge during the morning and evening rush hours.
The view of the river in the other direction. As you can see there are quite a few boats moored along the river.
If you want a few more photographs then the BBC has some old London Street photography at the moment. The Cyclestreets website also has loads of pictures including this one of a motorist in the cycle lane on Gilbert Road getting a flea in their ear.
And finally there is a 20-mile fun ride over at St Neots, although I am not sure when.