Sunday, June 12, 2011

Clouds and Rain

The say every cloud has a silver lining and that is true here in the flatlands.  last week I had to do a little bit of commuting, just to the outskirts of Cambridge.  Not that far, ordinarily a distance I would not think twice about cycling but…

I got a little bit of teasing about my relaxed style of dress when I met the same group last month. Naturally I cycled and wore a short-sleeved shirt and trousers where you can unzip the lower legs and use them a shorts for cycling and long trousers for grown-up things. This time around we met in a different location, slightly out of town where there was ample parking.  despite this my plan was to cycle but when I was due to set off it rained.  Perhaps not much but enough just at the wrong time so I drove.  As a result I wore smarter clothes and yet I really missed the rides home.

The trouble is if I know where I am going I can compensate for issues such as rain. When commuting into London I kept spare clothes at the office in case I got wet. When I worked from an office in Cambridge I used to take a week’s supply of clothes and leave my car in the office car park and then cycle in each day. They also had showers and it was the best way to start a working day. I wasn’t sure what to expect for these meetings.

Perhaps it is a good job I don’t wear a dress though in what has to be one of the weirder “cyclists are to blame for everything” issues. Apparently a cyclist almost got a ticket for wearing a short skirt in New York.  That is one weird car-sick place, don’t blame motorists because they can’t drive, blame the cyclists for cycling.  What! Cycling is dangerous because motorists knock cyclists of their bikes. Well make the cyclists wear helmets then. Apparently the film I mentioned recently showing the cyclist in New York stick to the cycle lanes and crash into all the obstructions is now a hit.

Bike Lanes–New York style

Me I blame the Motorized Menace subsidised by the Socialist government. It was interesting to see what happened to one town when they “lost” their traffic wardens. Due to a change in responsibilities for parking in Aberystwyth the town has been in chaos as the law-abiding motorists realise they can get away with it.  Just below the surface of decent society is an wild-motorist just wanting to break free – and yes we cyclists share the road with these motorists.  Perhaps that is why there is a “perception” that cycling on the roads is not safe – ‘cos it is only just-safe and the thin blue line that keeps it safe is getting thinner. Here is an update on the Short skirts scandal – the scandal being the ridiculousness of the “crime” roll on the thought police – Police who think before they put their feet in their mouths that is…

Those motorists who also jump the signals at level crossings are the ones I worry about. People who make split-second stupid decisions about their own safety are not people I want around me when they are driving heavy metal boxes and I am on a bicycle.

Here is a rather worrying tale of how lack of infrastructure for cyclists threatens cyclists’ safety. “Lack of Infrastructure Threatens German Cyclists”. There is much bleating in the article about cyclists (“inconsiderate hooligans”) who “break the rules”. Yet seemingly little recognition that a cyclists is one less polluting motorist and even less recognition that the infrastructure is inadequate for those cyclists.

Mind you the situation seems to be just as bad in London – despite the talk about “Cycling super-highways” the Conservative Assembly members walked out of chambers prior to a discussion about cycle safety on Blackfriars bridge. Their walkout was not because of the issue of cycle safety or pollution, but because their is some sort of political squabble. Does this remind you of kids squabbling when one refuses to listen to the other by sticking her/his fingers in his ears and shouting “la-la-la”.  We here complaints that behaviour and discipline in Schools is getting worse – the politicians aren’t setting a good example are they.

Of course the problem is we cyclists are free-loaders, we don’t pay road tax, we don’t have registration or insurance. We jump red-lights are great risk of a scratch to a car (and er death to ourselves).  After all even the “Roads Minister says motorists pay for roads” so it must be true – politicians tell the truth all the time don’t they. Except for one or two who fiddle their expenses – allegedly.

So what that bikes don’t pollute, don’t damage the roads at anything like the rate that motor vehicles do, keep their owners healthy, take up less space, have owners that do pay for roads, where lots of them probably also have insurance, And I haven’t even mentioned climate change.  There has been a change of mind when it comes to the Department for Transport’s lack of a cycling representative on their red-tape challenge panel – there will now be one.

Where was I, oh yes, cycling to work issue. The furthest I have cycled to a meeting is about 60miles, I have a meeting in Norwich at the end of the day and so cycled up, was and changed in the hotel toilets, where I got a few funny looks and then attended the meeting and the working dinner and then let the train take the strain on the way home.

I am very pleased that we are getting rain though, as often happens just at the point where everyone has a Corporal Jones moment (don’t panic, don’t panic) and declares drought in the Flatlands we get rain. The rain is needed by the farmers (and our garden!).

I have been out on my bike since and will report on the ride, but I along with a whole bunch of other denizens of the web are having problems getting our pictures onto Picasaweb which is where the pictures for this blog actually get stored and appear from. Which is partly why I have not been posting so frequently (along with the lack of cycling.) Lest you think it is churlish of me to complain about such free services, well actually I am paying for the Google Picasaweb storage – my blog references around 21Gb of pictures.  The problem if you are interested is “Error 10 – Storage unavailable”.

Talking about unavailable things – what springs to mind but the Cambridge Guided Busway, where the high quality cycle path is also now no longer available. it must be time for a PR push then. “City residents given extra guided busway boost” – the bus will stop on routes on the city of Cambridge, well on of the operators will the other won’t. There is even talk of a Smartcard ticketing system. Although apparently the “Opening date fails to lift gloom over guided busway”, must be time for a smiling faces photo opportunity then. Quickly now before the Bus Companies ask the Council to “Pay us back the cost for guided busway delays”. fortunately for the tax-paying public they (the bus operators) signed up to an agreement not to if there were delays in getting the bus system ready – how presentient.

Still I’d better finish on a high-note. “Work starts on Cottenham to Histon Cycle link”, although work seems to have started a while ago – perhaps they forgot to announce it then, or maybe we all need to hear good news a few times. And for your edification “The Real reason Why Bicycles are they key to Better Cities” and if you don’t believe the author look around Dutch towns.

Oh yes, another meaning for “clouds and rain” – if you got this far.

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