Friday, August 17, 2012

A pinch and a punch

Wednesday, 1st August 2012: I still seem to be slipping as far as posting my rides goes – so this will have to be a quick one.

First the Road Casualties Quarterly Provisional Estimates – Q1 2012 – if you just read the key findings then doesn’t it look wonderful, all the numbers are down. read the second page and it looks a little less rosy. The number of killed or seriously injured (KSI): pedestrians has increased by 6%, pedal cyclists by 11%, children by 8% and motor cycles by 6% compared with the same quarter last year. Did I mention that the KSI numbers for car users fell by 6%. So roads are getting safer for cars users, at the expense of all other road users?

Now there are various reasons why this might be an anomaly, however that is not how the general public will necessarily see it or the press report it. The CTC – “CTC says latest road safety figures are a wake-up call to Government”, the Daily Mail “Olympic effect ‘will add to toll of cyclists’ as injuries and deaths rise at ‘alarming’ rate”.

If the data can be taken at face value then all vulnerable road users seem to be in danger. However that is not how it is reported. It isn’t helped by reports that suggest “nearly one million crashes are caused by ogling drivers”. Or reports like this of an 18-year old driver found guilty after knocking down and killing an 85-year old crossing the road. It seems to me that the behaviour of many motorists on the roads has changed to the point no allowance is made for vulnerable road users in driving behaviour.

yesterday on my way to fetch my morning newspaper on a normal stretch of road there was a car parked on the opposite side of the road as I cycled along my side of the road a car driver coming the other way either failed to see me, assess my speed or tried to intimidate me by forcing me to yield and hop onto the pavement. I didn’t, I “pedalled” my ground. It doesn’t that often to put you off. (This time it was young lads, but I had have an old woman driver do the same thing – probably different motives.)

This is why cyclists, and presumably pedestrians, want 20mph limits on roads. Although the naysayers tell you it can’t be done without speed cushions and traffic calming. It is also why we need decent cycle routes and we need to raise our standards – proper cycle lanes of decent with, directness and segregated.  many people think of Cambridge as a wondrous place to cycle, well maybe it is compared to some places – but it is still pretty crap compared to some places.  We haven’t really got any proper through cycle-routes in the City – let’s hope we get the “second superhighway”.  We need to get more non-cyclists feeling it is safe. In fact one demographic to get out of their cars would be the school runners. One a city gets congested it doesn’t actually take a big modal shift to get things flowing again. (Cf. Cambridge during the School holidays!).

Only yesterday I was talking out petrol and the inevitability in prices rising – we are importing a scarce resource what do we expect? Well the AA is warning that there could be a 6p-a-litre surge. You know I am not unhappy about that.

One of the issues we face is that of “global warming” again we have naysayers, well even the Daily Mail  is reporting that “Arctic sea ice could disappear within 10 years as global warming increases speed of melting”.

I reckon that we are also facing a shortage in wild places to visit with the pressure on housing and roads and stuff.  Well apparently the “Green Belt is at risk” – to boost the economy – greed before good. We complain that our kids don’t have the freedom we used to have so what do we do? Yet what is it that kids want to do – “build dens, play in the garden and have water fights”. There is real pressure on our wild spaces and when they are gone they are gone – a bit like North Sea Oil. Why else is there so much “pressure to grow wild flowers in council parkers, fields and suburban gardens”.

One compromise that we do have to take seriously is that of meeting our energy needs sustainably – but I am not yet  totally for building wind farms all over the place. The trouble is when I read stories such as this one – a Tory MP backing wind farms in Britain – but getting paid by the firms (£140,000) what’s worse he supports not building them in his constituency. With hypocrisy at that level who do you believe.

Where is pressure on our “wilder spaces” even more evident? In Cambridge various places have ancient grazing rights – yet we have calls to ban them because of the excrement. Now because of their diet cow pats are really not that bad. Personally I find dog excrement far more objectionable (and of  more potential harm to humans). However exercising dogs requires space and having recently been chased by a dog whilst cycling was dismayed to see that there is a rise in the number of children needing hospital treatment for dog attacks.As we end up with less and less green space then will parents no longer feel able to take their kids to the park for a run around?

And finally on to lighter matters – Alexa Chung on a bicycle (warning may include Ms Chung’s knickers being flashed!) Some stunning picture form the National Geographic's 2012 Photo Contest.  If you are so inclined then you can enter the River Ouse photographic contest.

Here is reference to a picture in the press – a Thai commuter train “picking” its way between fruit and veg stalls.  Below is my version – a train in Peru dodging between the shops in Aguas Calientes. it is near Macchu Picchu.

Although first here is Machu Picchu

Machu Picchu in the evening sun

The road from Aguas Calientes up to Machu Picchu

And the picture of the train.

Train pulling up at Aguas Calientes, Peru

So it was quite a long post considering I didn’t take any picture. I took my camera along – unfortunately I had forgotten to put a new memory card in.  Normally I swap cards and then down load the pictures from the swapped card. This time I didn’t I just took the card out and…

It was a pleasant ride here is the Bike Route Toaster Link, it is a shade under 50Km/30 miles. Although we have had some rain recently the unmarked byway was pretty easy as there had been farm traffic along it which had nicely flattened the mud. It did look as if a load of sugar beet or parsnip had been dumped in the hedgerow though?

The byways between Exning and Burwell were also fairly overgrown and I got stung by stingles a few times – but the route was easier to cycle along than I had expected.  

And finally, there are quite a few farmers out and about combining at the moment – although not quite like the 13 Combines in this picture of a farm in Brazil.

Also the Fen Tiger has been seen out and about!


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