Tuesday, November 29, 2011

To Blog or not to Blog

Although it doesn’t pay to be introspective all the time one of the many pleasant aspects of cycling is that it provides good thinking time. There have been two topics on my mind recently.  One is why is there so much passion about cycling and cyclists? You only need to see a news article about some cycling incident to see loads of heated comments from cyclists, anti-cyclists and those that both drive and cycle or claim to anyway. An example of this is a recent report on the BBC website – “Cyclists ‘urged to get insurance’. There are 525 comments and it is now closed. But that is something I’ll come to in another post.

The other thing I’ve been thinking about just recently is Blogging and the reason for that was on reading this Post by the Grumpy Cyclist he mentions being referenced by a blog called Cycling Info or rather a website also including a Blog. One of the pages on the website is a list of UK Cycling Blogs (and websites), hence the reference. Now of course I had a look to see if my Blog was listed, it wasn’t although several Cambridge-related ones were such as Cambridge Cycling Campaign and Cottenham Cyclist.

So I thought should I use the Contact form and get my blog listed and if I did, well what sort of Blog was it. This got me thinking, I like to think of it providing gentle encouragement to cycle and so would consider it Cycling Advocacy, but it is also personal and it is an outlet for my photography as well as being a bit of a diary. One thing I don’t do is racing though. I also like to think that whilst I am not anti-car I do think that given the population density in the UK and the Global Warming issues, obesity issues and the fact that oil is a limited resource we could do with reducing our dependence on the car as a gratuitous means of transport.

So in the spirit of experimentation I thought I’d see what effect my listing had on on the popularity of my Blog, I’ll report back later. There is also a growing list of cycling related blogs on the CTC forum here.

As you can see I have a list of Blogs I read, they tend to favour the Advocacy type of blog, but I like Blogs that celebrate cycling and ones with interesting imagery.  What is also interesting is that the frequency of publishing. As time has gone by I have added more Blogs to my list, partially because the frequency of some has dropped off and so I can cope with more. If every one started publishing thousands of words a day I would have to ration myself though. That doesn’t mean I would stop listing them, I just might have to skim read them or just look at the pictures.

It also seems that some of the Blogs have stopped some for months and two for a year or more. So I do wonder why other people blog and why they stop. Real Cycling announced a break but has re-started, whilst Crap cycling & Walking in Waltham Forest just seems to have stopped on the fourth anniversary.

Now my Blog is in its fourth year, there are times when I find it tricky finding the time to post, although they also seem to coincide with periods when I am also finding it tricky finding the time to cycle. There are times when I despair of the short-sightedness of the powers that be when it comes to cycling provision. For me cycling is not about Lycra, or racing or whatever it is about making life more pleasant from health to wealth to leisure. What is more by getting more people to cycle we’d all benefit and to get more people to cycle we badly need to improve cycling facilities. If we did so then those that still need to drive cars and lorries and buses would also benefit.

Mind you I live in Cambridgeshire so shouldn’t I be grateful for the “fantastic provision for cycling we get here” – well frankly no, could do a lot better would be my simple summary. If you don’t believe me then here is David Hembrow’s assessment – “The truth about Cambridge”.  Or this Biking Brits blog post “Build it And They WILL Come” with a rather nice video.

An interesting measure of how serious Cambridge is will be whether it adopts a city-wide 20mph speed limit. Although I think that a change of attitudes will also be necessary as discussed by the BBC’s Transport correspondent in London Tom Edwards – “Will a borough-wide 20mph speed limit work”. Such speed limits are for those marginalised by the existence of motor vehicles – not just cyclists, children, the elderly and the infirm – “Avoidable Tragedy with 30Mk/h zone

Whilst I am at it – I mentioned that there are health benefits – well not just health but wealth as well – “How Biking Can Save Cities Billions of Dollars in Health Expenses” with an American perspective. Or from an education perspective – how a cycling project in India helps stop the number of girls dropping out of school - “How cycling set deprived Indian Girls on a life-long journey”. Or from a mental health perspective – “Can you Afford NOT to Use Your Bicycle for Commuting?”.

Indian School Children

Coming back to the Blog that started all this introspection – Cycling Info – there is an interesting post – “Cycling Stats in UK”. Apparently whilst there has been an increase of 12% over the last 10 years in road cycling it has been fuelled by more off the road cycling. If I read the data correctly it suggests that cycle ways and shared-use paths (perhaps) are what has driven more people to cycle. (yep I am aware of the pun there.)

Off-road cycling anyone?

Whilst I am thinking of it a quick pothole update.  I reported some cracks in the road on the Lodes Way Cycle route, firstly through the Cambridgeshire County Council reporting system, I reported it on the 17th of October 2011 and it was closed on the 18th of October 2011.  The status was given as closed, but there was no feedback, was the problem not considered to be serious enough, or did it not have sufficient priority or perhaps the road is scheduled to get some work done some time in the future.  It seemed to me that if you are going to put in place a reporting system then it would also seem appropriate to provide feedback beyond that of “Closed”.

The cracks in the road on Lodes Way (Headlake Drove)

So I reported it again, this time through the CTC system. Here is the post – “Boats, cracks and dogs!”. Their system also has not delivered much in the way of feedback although I guess the issue is really one of the Council not delivering feedback.

And finally – Global warming – what global warming – “Daffs that got their season in a muddle as world enjoys 11th warmest year”. I can afford not to cycle – but can our kids afford it for us all not to cycle?

Upware Daffodils (April 2006)


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