Wednesday, January 18, 2012

A Tales of two cities–no cycling, but bicycle pictures

Tuesday, 18th January 2012:It was a day of meetings in London and foolishly I decided that it was so cold that that the sorts of clothing I required to keep me warm whilst cycling were not compatible with sorts of clothing I would need in London.  More fool me. In hindsight I was stupid not to have just set off to the Railway Station on my bicycle since I know that I will warm up pretty quickly and that when it is really cold I modify my speed (work rate) to balance the heat I generate with the heat I lose to maintain a pretty comfortable temperature. (Perhaps I should get one of these – a suitpack, although I would have to change in the Railway Station toilets – not a pleasant though.

What’s more we had blue skies and sunshine which would have made it a very pleasant ride to the Railway Station. Regular readers will know how much I hate the Station facilities – whether I cycle and park my bike there, or drive there and park my car or take my Brompton folding bike and take it to London.  The principle problems are if you are not a commuter then very often the available spaces have been taken  - whether car or bicycle.

The weird thing is that they have built and additional platform to increase the Stations passenger capacity. The new platform means longer trains and so more customers. Cambridge is increasing in size, which is bound to increase the number of commuters –especially if they can now catch the train and not have to stand all the way there and all the way back.

So in this era of joined-up thinking you might imagine that they would have thought about getting to and from the station. Despite us living in capitalist times even the trains run faster than the solutions to the access problems. For me the problem might have been resolved if the CGB (Cambridgeshire Guided Busway) have been able to work its way through the town centre. For others I would imagine that if the CGB route between the Trumpington Park and Ride site had been a more frequent service. 

Mind you it is only open from 7am to 8pm during the week – which if that means you can’t access the car park then it is a bit of a problem. it bills the time from the Park and Ride to the station as 13 minutes. The current charging system is non to clear to me though. Buses appear to run every 20 minutes from 6.39am to 19.39pm. The pricing is not set up for acting as a shuttle between the P&R and the Railway station but appears to be £3.50 for a dayrider. Whilst the current car park chares at the Railway Station are £7.70 (peak).

Of course regular users would presumably go for season tickets – annual car-parking at the railway station is £1300.50 (very important that 50p). Whilst a seven day ticket for the CGB is £12. So Assuming you go to work 48 weeks of the then using the Trumpington P&R would cost £576 , a saving of £724.50 and a wasting of 288 hours. I have assumed 13 minutes on the CGB and an average wait of 10 minutes for the bus. I can see that if you are commuting into London then that is too much time to “waste” for that level of return.

Of course, you say for a capitalist country like the UK surely the price is set by supply and demand, well maybe it is, but frequently when I drive to the station the car park is full. As for the cycle parking – you’d think that there would be some appetite for paying for decent cycle parking. Well maybe, but land space is also at a premium. If the car park is full every week day with say an 80% occupancy and everyone pays for season tickets that represents 435 * 0.8 * £1300 per annum. (£450,000).

It would appear that the P&R sites are being opened up to encourage competition though, so a bit of thought about making them even more useful might be worthwhile.

Enough moaning. We had another serious cycle accident in Cambridge. As is the way accidents that result in court proceedings take some time. One has recently been reported where a Driver struck a cyclist after losing control when overtaking. The comments make for perplexing reading as the injured cyclist has commented on the circumstances.

I am an advocate of further driver training as one of the ways in which such offences can be dealt with. I think such driver training makes sense in addition to the other penalties. I also wonder whether another penalty would be to restrict the maximum power of car that could be driven for some reasonable period. It sounds as if this Overtaking driver who hit a cyclist might benefit from further training.

One aspect that confuses me is that the serious of the accident is measured by the level of casualty. Yet the seriousness can sometimes be rather random.  Here is a case of a lorry driver who was jailed for six years for killing two people changing a tyre by the side of a motorway. I presume that driving a lorry requires a higher duty of care (I would like to presume that). However it does seem that we punish the result and not the actual transgression itself.

Enough – I actually had a pleasant day once I was on my way to the station, walking through the new apartment blocks being built around the area.  It is interesting how popular apartments around the Railway Station are – there is clearly a demand for  convenient London commuting with minimal hassle getting to the station. Here is one such apartment block a few hundred metres from the ration.

There is a lot of construction still taking pace in the area – that crane is on the other side of Station Road.

The same picture but with a bit of manipulation to correct the distortion – there wasn’t enough correction by the looks of things though. You also lose bits of the picture when you crop it back to a rectangular shape.

The old Spiller’s building which was hit by a fire in March 2010. Here is a picture, pre-fire in 2000 and here is a painting.

As I walked along Station Road the usual sight. Now most people probably think flipping cyclists, what do they think they are doing leaving their bicycles where they shouldn’t. Me, I think why on earth can’t this problems be sorted out – if this Station is carrying loads of passengers then it ought to be making enough money to improve its provision for those using its services.

The challenge is that if you cycle to the station then what do you do if you can’t find a space to park – not go to work, miss the train? Given the work pressures on many people the thing that gets compromised first is the security of the bicycle. Let’s face it given the problems of bike theft here in Cambridge you wouldn’t choose to park your bike like this.

And this isn’t just the odd bike, any place a bike can be locked up to is used. After all that is what cyclists are advised to do to help prevent bike theft.

There are bikes on the roundabout at the top of Station Road as well. Although in this picture (as I’ve just viewed it – 18th January, 2012.) there aren’t any bicycles. So things must be getting worse.

View Larger Map

As you can see down the route of the CGB towards Trumpington P&R every spare lamp post seems to have bicycles locked to them.  This is clearly not because the cyclists prefer their own personal lamp post rather than park in the bike parks. This is because of the crap provision for all travellers using the railway station. It surprises me how such a state of affairs exists in a place like Cambridge.

The other reason I took this picture is that, as you can see there is bollard control to prevent the wrong vehicles getting down the CGB – although more for show as it looks as if it would be quite easy to circumvent them.

I am pleased to report that the journey into London was fine and on time and there were seats, although the train was busy. There is still a load of work taking place at King’s Cross Station, but it must be getting close as they were handing out leaflets about it. I resist the temptation to accept  stuff as you then struggle to find places to throw it away.

It does surprise me just how far the the tube platforms are – they can’t have moved, but seemed a lot closer before all of the works took places. As it happens the tube also ran smoothly and I had a bit of time to spare before my first meeting. When I travel by car/bike, train and tube I tend to allow at least 30minutes extra and this time around because of timings it turned into 45 minutes. So it gave me time to wander along the Thames a little bit. (I used the Embankment tube station.)

I walked up onto the Golden Jubilee Bridge (there are workarounds to the Wikipedia protest).

View Larger Map

And from that bridge I took a picture down the Thames of the Waterloo Bridge and beyond. large rivers do help to open out cities and I am thinking wider than the River Cam, not that it is too bad. Mind you the London skyline is iconic.

This is the pedestrian bridge – aka The Golden Jubilee Bridge – or at least one half of it as the map shows another on the other side of the rail bridge (Hungerford Bridge). it did bounce a little as I was taking pictures and people walked by.

On the other side is the Royal Festival Hall.

And on my side Cleopatra’s Needle and the building with the clock seems to be Shell Mex House.

A close-up of Waterloo Bridge with St Paul’s Cathedral behind.

What is it they say about buses – well here are four on the bridge at the same time.

I also had a stroll through the Victoria Embankment Gardens, stopping to take this picture of some spiky leaves.

There was also this pond with the aforementioned needle behind. It is in memory of Major General Lord Cheylesmore.  According to the management plan he was Sir Hubert Francis Heaton and a Mayor of London.

A bit further along in front the Institution of Engineering and Technology was a statue of Faraday, well known to students of Physics.

As this point I had to nip along and start work, which I did. The second of my meetings finished around 6.30pm and on my way out of the building I thought I would take some twilight pictures. At this point I remembered that my camera was in my coat pocket and that I had left my coat and scarf behind. I nipped back in although I had handed in my pass – but no-one seemed to mind.

On the way back to the tube station here is the London Eye with a grey-blue sky behind.

And as I promised bikes, here are some bike – “Boris bikes”. What a fine array, ready and waiting for some willing cyclists. It made me think that I ought to join up and then use them to get around London. The main problems are that I don’t know my way around London very well and I certainly don’t know where the Boris Bike parks are. Actually they are the Barclays Cycle Hire bikes.  Using the planning facility on the website the route is almost directly north and only 4.0Km. As I sit here I wonder why I didn’t ride.

And to finish, here are some rivers, taken when I used to have a job involving travelling around..

A frozen river in Seoul, but not the main one

The River Cam – and some punters

A River in Tokyo

A River through the middle of Bangkok

And that’s it for rivers.

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