Friday, January 13, 2012

Patch Tuesday

Thursday 12th January 2012: Patch Tuesday is a term used to refer to the regular Operating System and Application updates provided by Microsoft. It is a way for Microsoft to address issues or provide extra functionality in their software running on our PCs.

What has this got to do with cycling you may ask, especially as it is a Thursday. Well the Patch comes out Tuesday n the US but appears and gets downloaded Wednesday evening here in the Flatlands. (Cambridgeshire). I assume it is partly to do with time-zones and partly to do with when my computers are set to check for updates.

So this morning – Thursday I discovered several computers had already updated themselves and re-booted. I hate that, I always like to no what is being loaded onto my computer. One of the downsides of working from home is I do my own IT support. It does mean I tend to have quite a reasonable working knowledge of my PC, which is an upside, but I also probably spend more time than I would like fiddling around to make things work.

Because I do work from home I run a RAID disk system which maintains two copies of my computers disk information in real-time. So for ease my laptop and my wife’s laptop both update automatically. However my desktop computer doesn’t It downloads the patches but requires me to actually run them.

It was quite a nice days today and I had a gap in my afternoon so I though I really ought to go out for a ride on my bike. The timings all worked and after a Skype conference call at 1pm I had some time to myself.  Having prepared for my call around 11am I thought I’ve got plenty of time, I’ll run the patches and they’ll be out of the way  in plenty of time.

Of course SOD’s law came into play. The patching operation just seemed to stall and when that happens it is tricky working out whether  it is merely taking a long time or has gone wrong in some way. The Task Manager showed little activity, so after a long while I stopped the update and re-booted the machine, where it then showed the “Don’t unplug or switch off you machine warning” – oh joy.

After another long wait,  I ended up turning the machine off. Which means that when the computer boots up it has to spend time verifying that the two disks in the RAID system are error-free, it is still usable, it just runs like a drain. (Very, very, very slowly!) Fortunately it did boot up and not try to spend more time loading a patch. It also ran very slowly. In the end I resorted to loading each patch, one at a time. Two required the machine to be re-booted, a time-consuming activity whilst it is verifying the disks.

What do you know- this time it worked, But it took so long that I ended up using my Laptop for the Skype call and to review the documents we were looking at and it used up the spare time I had when I planned to go cycling – as I type this the disk verification is about 80% done. Ah well at least it is working.

Something I have been meaning to point out is Cambridge County Council’s recent press release – “Number of people killed on Cambridgeshire roads go down”. Although it excludes the Peterborough City Council area?

Year Deaths
2007 62
2008 47
2009 19
2010 34
2011 26

This got me wondering about how safe Cambridgeshire is for cyclists, relatively speaking.  The trouble is tracking such data down is tricky, at least getting like for like data.  What I did find is a paper citing Casualty trends in Cambridgeshire. Table 2.6 gives casualties per 100,000 population for 2009. This shows a high number for cyclists, but really only reflects the high level of cycling in Cambridgeshire. (Another paper breaks down the data for cyclists – in Cambs – or rather Cambs and Peterborough up to 2010, the data does not provide information on accidents per 100,000Km cycled and so is of limited interest (to me anyway).

As you might imagine the CGB (Cambridge Guided Busway) has finally reached its millionth passenger. I only say finally because there have been Press Releases flagging this event through December and now it has happened. What is interesting is that of the 50,000 passengers using the service per week they reckon that only 24,000 were using the old bus routes. So more people are using the bus, which sounds like there might have been a modal shift from cars to the bus. (Or people who hitherto never travelled between the two places have not started to do so – in large numbers!).

Apparently there may be further competition on the CGB with other operators interested in running services along with some changes to the stops in St Ives. The latter change means that fewer people would need to cross the A1096 which cause delays for poor motorists. (A tip of the hat to Tlatelet – who published Embedding a map which spurred me on to embedding OSM maps for your delectation rather the Google ones which I have been using.)

Winking smile

A new CGB stop on Station Road, St Ives?
View Larger Map

It does seem a practical solution and might even reduce the number of people who drive to the other side to park in the CGB Park & Ride. However it does show how easy it is to fall into the trap of considering motor vehicles to have a greater priority than walkers. If we feel we want to get more people out of the cars and using alternate methods of transport (for all sorts of reasons) then we will have to recognise that we have to make the alternate methods of transport more attractive, despite their short-comings.

St Ives CGB P&R – Kiss and Ride

After my recent accident in the Newmarket Road P&R when I fell off my bike because of black ice I was horrified to read this headline – “Pedestrian fights for life after park and ride site crash”.  There has been quite a lot of bush clearance a the Newmarket Road P&R, however I have long felt that the sight-lines were somewhat compromised. There are places where the shared-use path crosses the road. It does so as a raised section and most cars will stop for pedestrians and cyclists – however not all do. Which makes me wonder quite how the the law of the road applies in a car park.

Newmarket Road, Cambridge Park and Ride – shared-used path through the middle

As a cyclist I tend to notice reports of cyclist accidents – so I noticed this one where a cyclist fell of his bike on Station Road, Ely. I have cycled along that bit of road quite a few times, it is not the most cycle-friendly stretch around. I do wonder what causes such accidents.

Cyclist Accident – Station Road, Ely
View Larger Map

Whilst on the subject of “transport” it amazes me how often large trunk roads cut across public rights of way – footpaths, without any provision for crossing those very busy roads. If you drive along the A14, a dual carriageway,  you will occasionally see signs warning of pedestrians, which look right out of place, well it is because there is a footpath that crosses the road. There are gaps in the barriers and it is technically possible to cross the road, but few in there right minds would do so. As you might imagine there are groups that concern themselves with this problem – here is a Ramblers Organisation report on the matter in April 2003. It implies a survey was due out, but I can’t find it. Although the Highways Agency does maintain various documents including this – “Geometric Design of Pedestrian, Cycle and Equestrian Routes”. As you might expect in bureaucracies I can find the documents telling you how to do an audit for NMUs “Provision for Non-Motorised Users” and how to do “Non-Motorised User Audits” but no audit results.

Here is a crossing point on the A11 from a ride to the Kings Forest.

On another ride I came across this one on the Cambridge to Ipswich Sustrans route. This has better provision with a wider Island in the middle, but still not that safe (IMHO).

Another tricky busy road crossing: A140 – part of the Sustrans route, near Ipswich

And finally as I think you get the picture – here is another one, the public path through the Girton Interchange.

The public right of way through the Girton Interchange

As you might expect, you can cross them and indeed I did. However what I think happens is that they put people off using the routes which the road planners can then use to justify their decision not to put in better provision. The bottom line is that NMUs (non-motorised users – pedestrians, equestrians and cycle-estrians) are just not worth bothering about. I wonder if that is why this group of walkers ended up on the A14 near Milton.

Almost finally, the river (Cam) gets a bit of press associated with the price rises for Narrowboat owners and other boat users.  A 50ft boat currently costs more than £1,000 in mooring fees to the council and £660 to the environmental Agency according to the report. The latter fee will rise to £773.The Rowers in Cambridge have also complained.

Rowers and Narrowboats – River Cam, Riverside

And finally, some links to pictures – all from the Daily mail.  The unseasonably warm weather has brought out the flowers early. We have snowdrops, mini-daffodils and a crocus out in our garden. A set of aerial photographs showing the geometric patterns of  homes in various parts of the world. And finally some glorious red sunsets and here in the Cambridge News.

Sunset over the Lakes near the CGB St Ives

And really this is finally – the latest Cycling Blog in the Cambridge News – Blog 27: Chesterton Station paints a cynical picture of just how much cyclists are taken into account- Let’s hope it is wrong, but I won’t hold my breath.

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