Saturday, July 14, 2012

Manchester–and a bit of moaning (but not about Manchester)

Tuesday, 3rd July 2012: One of these days I really will take my bicycle up to Manchester on my yearly visit. All I need to do is plan my luggage load a bit more carefully. I will have to take my laptop and jacket and tie for business and Brompton (Bridget) and some leisure gear for cycling (and my GPS). Whilst I think it is perfectly right and proper to cycle a few miles to a meeting in normal clothes when exploring I prefer to be more casually dressed.

I travelled up to the Oxford Road Station and was staying a short distance away at the Days Hotel so it would have been no hassle navigating to and from the station.  If you follow the link you will see that NCN6 passes nearby nearby Cambridge Street. I am not sure which way I would have explored though – a little bit of research is required for next time.

There had been a fire in the building just up and to the right on the Sunday before and so the road was closed to motor traffic. Pedestrians and cyclists were able to get through though. Mind you the Road Narrows sign wasn’t that helpful stuck in the cycle lane.

A few news snippets – apparently “parts of the UK are ‘worse than the U.S.’ for car crash personal injury claims”.  Manchester is one of the worst places as well. You don’t see the Daily mail talking about this aspect of the War on Motorists though.

It would also appear that US motorists are in a war as well. The Police in New Jersey have released a video of a “spectacular car crash at an intersection” to show why they need cameras at traffic lights.

Although one Cambridge Councillor seems to think that the solution is to “Remove traffic lights from Cambridge Junction” to see if it helps traffic flow more freely”.  I am not sure where the junction is – but of course the issue is not just about allowing traffic to flow more freely. Traffic lights arbitrate between minor and major roads, they allow time for pedestrians and cyclists to cross. They are particularly important for even more vulnerable road users such as the old, or visually impaired or have impaired mobility AND safety. Why is it that we seem to have such a myopic view that we need to increase the traffic flow. No we need to reduce traffic flow and make the streets quieter and safer and “greener”.

In the legal jargon so beloved nowadays a Women traffic warden was allegedly knocked over by a van in Southport – perhaps using emotive language like “war on motorists” isn’t really that helpful.

In Cambridge an elderly female pedestrian was taken to hospital after being hit by a car in a Tesco express car park – allegedly.  (Highway Code rules 204, 205, 206 and 207.)

I was pleased to see that Speed limits on rural roads could be cut from 60 to 40mph and more 20mph zones to be added in towns.  “The aim is to achieve local speed limits ‘that better reflect the needs of all road users, not just motorised vehicles.’” Let’s hope this ethos remains and doesn’t get dropped because the National Speed Up Our Roads – get rid of Cyclists campaign complains.

Mind you in the “war on the motorist” some of the weapons are duff – “Speed guns ‘don’t work properly on as bend’”. There are problems with cars speeding on Church End, Cherry Hinton, with up to one in four motorists exceeding the limit (in one direction, 8% in  the other). The Police consequently don’t want it to be a priority – the locals do – it sounds like we need some new technology. Interestingly more people seem to be concerned about speeding in suburban areas and villages. Many villages have volunteers who man “Speedwatch” monitors.  (Speedwatch – the org)  Which suggests that there is a groundswell of opinion against speeding and noisy motor vehicles.

None of these issues were affecting Charles Street in Manchester though. I can recommend the Lass O’ Gowrie in this picture. They have a range of beers and one of the things I most notice is that beer is cheaper up here.  The pub is also busy – which I suppose reflects its location near to students? Cambridge has lost more than 20 pubs in the last five years – however the Carpenters Arms in Victoria Road seems to have won a reprieve.

Charles Street, Manchester

I took a few pictures of the River Medlock, which according to the map, only briefly surfaces here. I didn’t actually set out to take pictures I could stitch together  - but did combine them in a 2-picture collage. The bridge is a railway bridge  not made out of Lego like this bridge in Germany appears to be.

And talking about railways it would seem that the re-opening of the ‘Varsity line’ is a step closer.

And finally – I am going to have to go on record and say that I am sick of the Olympics – well not the actual games so much as all the hoo-ha. what with ticket allocation issues, security issues and special Olympic lanes on the roads. It did seem that we were once told that cycling would be an excellent way to get to the games, although bike lanes are being closed and bikes are being banned from trains.  Olympic sports are about elite sportsmen and women and it would seem that the elitist fever has boiled over into all aspects (IMHO).

Now I have been to Cambodia and cycled through the country and was amazed by the warm welcome and friendly people despite the levels of poverty and deprivation that exist. So I was appalled to see that, allegedly, Cambodian garment workers are being paid below the minimum wage to produce official merchandise for the London Games.

The ends do not justify the means… IMHO.

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