Thursday, June 23, 2011

A bit more random rambling of the non-cycling kind

Thursday 23rd 2011: I seem to have been stuck at my computer for ever, although really it has only been for a few days. Occasionally as my will to carry on with the stuff I have to do falters the weather comes to my rescue and throws down a load of rain.  I have some deadlines and so a little bit of discouragement from cycling is probably a good thing.

A good indicator is to compare the rainfall graphs for April, May and June. There is barely anything for the first couple of months except for a suspicious spike towards the end of May and then June has rain every two or three days. (There is currently a message on the main page indicating that the spike in May could have resulted from a dodgy sensor.)

So no new pictures I’m afraid although I have used the Web  as a form of vicarious cycling – trust me it isn’t anywhere near as pleasant as cycling for real.

I was interested to read “A snapshot of biking Britain” in the Independent. A link I arrived at from “Bike Week Blues” (on the Crap Cycling & Walking in Waltham Forest blog). To cut a long story short apparently we don’t cycle because we can’t fix our brakes or we don’t feel safe.  The fix to this problem; we cyclists should wear helmets, get trained and eschew earphones (and presumably the MP3 players as well). I know let’s make cycling a punishment for getting in the way of all those virtuous motorists.

Why do I have a problem with this – well the message it gives is that the roads are dangerous, but it is the cyclists fault for not being wrapped up. A year of so ago I attended one of the hearings into the Congestion Charging here in Cambridge. A common thread from many of the necklace villages was that cycling into Cambridge would be great – but people wouldn’t do it because it was dangerous.

Here are some “training videos” – Silly cyclists which both amused me and made me think, mind you my normal response is to use cycle paths wherever possible nowadays.

It just so happened that the next blog post  I looked at was this one “Barcelona Bloggers”. Not a lot of cyclists wearing helmets in those pictures – zero in fact. A bit like that chap in this picture.

I think the bottom line is that cycling has a fairly high degree of perceived risk nowadays and telling us that we need to get more protection and training does not lessen one jot that perceived risk. In fact it confirms our fears and the helmet we are told to wear, well whilst it might have some benefit if we bang our head on an overhanging mango, what good it is if we get run over by a car or a lorry? (I also found myself reading some of the crash stories – they don’t make for pleasant reading.

Part of the problem is that it is difficult for us to assess risk. Look at mobile phones and the way that possible dangers are represented.

The problem is that when a car hits a cyclist, regardless of the blame the consequences are worse for the cyclist and when you read stories about “car crashes into house” it makes you wonder who you share the road with.  The good news, well maybe, is that there is a suggestion that “20mph zones ‘should be extended across city’” although I fear it will founder because there is a tacit acceptance that the speed limit is more of a guideline.

If as a cyclist you do fall foul of a car and end up with the common cyclists’ injury of a broken collar bone then the CTC Cycleclips has some useful advice.

It is now “official” scientists have confirmed it so – “a rural life is better”. Although it doesn’t say whether it factors in the high cost of fuel, lack of public transport and lack of local facilities. Having said all that I do enjoy cycling out to Lodes Way for my dose of rural. Although rural isn’t quite the same as it was – there has been a survey by the People's trust for Endangered Species of the dormouse population, numbers have dropped by 50% in the 20th century. The churches are also in need of repair.

Mind you Coton will benefit from new Funding for an orchard - £10,000 from the Big Lottery Fund to Cambridge Past, Present & Future which looks after the Coton Countryside Reserve.


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