Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Cycling three days in a row–I’m on a roll

Monday, 24th October: Alright it wasn’t quite a blast into the countryside today- but it was a welcome ride around Cambridge. I even had a chance to take a few pictures as well. I did also have meetings to go to.  It was supposed to be a fairly slow ride as I was wearing relatively smart clothes, unfortunately I over-dressed. As we reach the end of October the early mornings can be quite cool. It was around 10C at 8am, but rose to about 16C through the day and was surprisingly sunny from about 11am onwards. So I was surprisingly hot and sweaty – my apologies to the first people I met with.

(A complete aside if you like blogs about cycling here is a useful and impressive list – mine’s pretty much last – but not least and chapeau to the person that produced it)

This cycling business certainly beats driving, or the train as a way of getting to work. Mind you working from home most of the time also helps as well. It reduces stress and “Happiness CAN help you live longer” which is the flip side to stress. Although perhaps that means I ought to rant less about the iniquities of cycling provision. (or lack of).

Still at least I am doing my little bit towards reducing Global warming – which has now been confirmed by independent study. I know there are doubters – but I can’t help feeling that having 7 billion people on the planet is bound to have an effect.

As I cycle around the streets of Cambridge I generally just tut when I see an example of bad driving (or cycling) or jay-walking pedestrians. It is disturbing though when accidents happen and there have been a few reported recently. It always surprises me how long the gap is between the “accident” and the court case. A trial was reported of a Lorry Driver, a fridge fell off the back of his lorry killing a woman in Hull last year. The case was adjourned until November.

Essex Police are seeking a cyclist after a pedestrian suffered a broken neck in an incident which tragically has left the person paralysed and unable to walk. There is no mention of whether the path was shared use of not. Looking at the maps it does not seem to marked as a footpath/right of way but is a track across some green space.

Also a Woman's handbag was snatched by cycling thieves in Cambridge recently. Of course we have to remember that not all cyclists (or indeed motorists) are anti-social law-breakers.

Rather surprisingly I also read an item which suggests the “Extinction of the zebra” crossing! Apparently as it comes to the 60th anniversary it is being replaced by hi-tech crossings. More than 1,000 have been replaced in the last 5 years. The article goes on to mention that in 2010 144 people were injured and 5 killed on zebra crossings whilst just three people died in 2006. Mind you 24 people were killed on pelican crossings. A zebra crossing costs £10,000 and Pelican and Puffin crossings cost £35,000.  Mind you some of the change might also be to accommodate far more shared cycle paths.

In another safety related news item – apparently the Top ten speed traps rake in in £3m a year. That is a lot of law-breaking motorists. The top one caught 789 motorists in a month.

Here in Cambridge there is an attempt to introduce a new disciplinary code for Taxi drivers. The system would have a penalty points which would be accrued for complaints about conduct of misdemeanours. As you might imagine the taxi drivers aren’t having it and many residents want it sooner than later (see the comments). Personally I think that it is a tough way to earn a living and like any walk of life there are good and there are the not so good.

In a good “food for thought” article – “Will the Police stop its War on the Cyclist” comments on the use of undercover police to disrupt the Reclaim the Streets movement in the 90s.  I bet they wish they’d had this new system of monitoring mobiles in those days, not that we all had mobiles in those days. The same Blog also has an article on “Steel better for commuting”. The cyclist in the picture looks pretty silly and does the cycling cause no good really. Talking about reclaim the streets – a rogues gallery of transgressing cars at Pedestrian Liberation. Parking anywhere is institutionalised.

The problem is the system being institutionally against cyclists seems to crop up in London with many feeling that TfL is more concerned about safe smooth streets for motorists rather than for pedestrians and cyclists.

And for something completely different – a former mayor of Cambridge has suggested that day-trippers should be turned away. Not the most astute thing to say I feel. Although he does have some (IMHO) interesting ideas about a “Cambridge Pass” to attract visitors to stay longer and visit more of the city.

So here am in the cycling City of Cambridge – with quite a lot of good provision for cyclists and quite a lot of mediocrity. Look at these wonderful cycle stands. The trouble is they are not quite far enough apart for working cycles. They also don’t seem to provide decent support for the bike.

Mind you I parked my bike the other way around – two cycles side by side do not make for easy bedfellows even then. (Mine is facing us with green saddle, although it looks dark in the picture.

A good work horse bike is one with a large wicker basket , ideal for students cycling around needing to carry books laptops. They don’t easily fit these stands though do they.

The autumnal trees were a beautiful sight though. Not such a nice sight for the person who has to pick up the leaves though.

I did take a great circle route home and took the Tins route.  Whilst I would hate to see loads and loads and graffiti, I don’t actually mind the more artistic stuff. Lets face it pylons and wind turbines are really just another form of graffiti – I’d just prefer not to see the scribble at the top.

And finally a cyclist was injured in a collision with a car in Cottenham. The first comment is rather odd, but relates to a rise in allowances our County Councillors seem to be blagging for themselves. (There was also an accident near Primrose Road, Little Wilbraham – it is quite a nasty crossroads, cars speed along the road to Six Mile bottom pretty quickly.)

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