Thursday, July 19, 2012

Cycling–its all about Lycra and helmets–isn’t it

Friday, 13th July 2012: Yesterday I had to venture down to the Arctic M25 Circle, near the M4 for a meeting and dinner afterwards. The train would have been just about possible although I would not have gotten home until around 1.30am, so I drove. I was amazed at just how much rain was falling in that part of the world. Indeed the country restaurant where we went for dinner seemed to require a boat rather than a car to get to. I drove through several places where there was water right across the road. It does seem to be never-ending – Groundhog day like.

Coming home that night the rain was continuous and I was frankly appalled at how fast some vehicles were travelling on the M25. I was glad to get home and get some sleep as I had an early morning meeting in Cambridge followed by lunch over at Reach. It gave me an excuse to get out and cycle – although I must admit I was hoping the rain would hold off. (I had my trusty rain cape though.)

A few bits of news first – the Cambridge News has a slideshow of the Wadlow Wind Farm with 13 wind turbines, each 120m tall and now complete.

Yesterday there was concern about under-use of a police helicopter – well today it is gratuitous use – to catch two boys stealing plastic goalposts in Essex. if you have got it flaunt it!

I mentioned peak oil and how prices would go up – well poor-old drivers are now the “victims of speculators”. The trouble is it is all about supply and demand – we “demand” it but don’t have any stocks what what can we expect. (here is an example of supply and demand in action – “Drug dealers ‘laughing at the law’ say former Cambridgeshire police chief”.  Mind you it would appear the Cambridgeshire Police are doing well in the league tables. (What’s more the “crackdown on guided busway bike crime is being ramped up”. The message is to lock up you bike – what about also directing a camera onto the bicycle park areas as well?

The trouble is even when a bike thief is caught that doesn’t mean that the cyclist will get recompensed. Thieves steal to get money, not because they have loads, and the low end thieves probably aren’t choosy and spend what they get pretty quickly. Certainly this cyclist who had his £160 bike stolen, was not best pleased by the 23p her received (of £25 awarded). It must have cost a lot more than that just to process.

Apparently “Parking congestion near Addenbrooke’s Hospital turns streets into ‘health hazard’”. Apparently the “high” cost of parking at Addenbrooke’s leads staff to park in the street around and then walk to work (or cycle). One suggestion was to force the hospital to provide affordable parking within the curtilage of the hospital. The problem is that we have too many people in too many cars without reasonable alternatives to get to work. A hospital is one of the sorts of places where most people have to turn up – a significant amount of the activity needs people there.  Given that a “sedentary lifestyle can kill” rather than focus on making more and more room for cars shouldn’t we be addressing the elephant in the room – there are too many cars – but at the moment alternative means of transport are even worse.

I had arranged my first meeting over at the Michaelhouse Café on Trinity Street. It opens 8am to 5pm (Mon- Sat) and does an excellent bacon butty. The other bit of good news is that if you go quite early then you can generally park on the bike stands alongside Great St Mary’s Church on St Mary’s Passage. It is so much easier than cycle parking at the crappy Cambridge Railway Station.

In fact it was all so easy that I was early and had a few minutes to spare and did a bit of cyclist watching.  You know everyday people cycling to get around or to work or to whatever.

King’s Parade is for access only and just where that van is going is a short turning space. On a bike you have to be a bit wary of drivers reversing without paying attention.

Cycling on King’s Parade, Cambridge

I was a little close to the “road” and so some of my pictures are a little blurred – but they give a sense of what it means to cycle in Cambridge.

Cycling on King’s Parade, Cambridge

You also have to be careful as tourists will often wander across the street without looking – I guess the cobbles lull them into a false sense of security.

Cycling on King’s Parade, Cambridge

A cyclist “taking the road” not that the car has anywhere to go really.

Cycling on King’s Parade, Cambridge

Have you noticed how the cobbles through the spokes look brighter than elsewhere?

Cycling on King’s Parade, Cambridge

Cyclists are pretty laid back and you might have noticed that none were wearing Lycra, well as far as I could tell) and only one was wearing a helmet. I have nothing against cyclists choosing to wear cycling helmets, however I would contend that everyday cycling is not a dangerous activity and making it safer should be about dealing with the road and traffic issues and not making the cyclist take the blame.

Did you also notice that none of them were red-light jumpers either.


Cycling on King’s Parade, Cambridge

This is presumably where to park you bike if the stands next to the church are full.

Cycling parking on King’s Parade, Cambridge

It was a useful meeting and by the time we have finished the early lunch crowd seemed to have taken over the Café. What was even better, despite the rain the previous day and overnight it was still not raining and I had a rather pleasant ride ahead of me to Reach.

here are some pictures, not of Reach, but of caves in Australia (I used to go potholing in the Mendips as a lad, I wasn’t a potholer, but my friends were, so I went along sometimes.) And Northern Lights over Maldon in Essex.

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