Saturday, October 6, 2012

Another trip to London–and some news (not mine–just news)

Thursday, 13th September 2012: Regular readers will have probably latched onto the fact that I am interested in cycling, photography and matters relating to the countryside. The latter is probably related to the fact that I grew up in Somerset and went to a Primary School with 60 kids total in to classes – one Infant the other Junior. We used to have flower tests, in which a whole load of different wild flowers would be stuck in jars around the room and we had to identify them. We also used to go on nature walks around the area and check out the pools and streams. We also had the three Rs as well mind.

Now I often moan about the number of times I struggle to find cycle parking at the Cambridge Railway Station, well I had meetings in London and cycled to the station and found a space in the double decker cycle parking that was empty. There was a catch though – the bicycle underneath had a large wicker basket which fouled the cycle ramp. So I lifted my bike up – I was so pleased that I took my Sony DSC W 200 camera (small pocket camera) out to take a picture and the something happened but then it reported the battery was flat and the lens returned to the casing.

So I took out and replaced the battery with a spare. this had only just enough charge to extend the lens before it stopped working. At this point I decided to catch the train and sort if out on the train. The trick was to use the first battery which had a smidgen more charge and was able to retract the lens.

Before going on though I will dwell on the Cambridge Station area -  I came across a CB1 Update (pdf). It talks about “detailed designs are being worked up for a c3,000 space cycle park next to the station”. Let’s hope it is enough Cambridge Cycle Campaign reports that back in March 2010 “1,2000 cycles through the barriers and 1,000 cycles parked”. Which goes to show that a bicycle + train makes for a good transport solution – but surprise surprise, quite a lot for the time you need a bike at both ends.

It is probably also worth noting that larger capacity trains now run between Cambridge and London so I would expect the numbers to grow and I would imagine that during the Summer months the numbers of people cycling will rise substantially. Mind you the new station at Chesterton (Cambridge Science Park) will take away some of the cyclists. The work is due to start in 2014.

To be honest I am not quite sure which way the Cambridge to King’s Cross train runs, after all someone else is doing the driving. I think it passes through Foxton – I just hope this driver has learnt her lesson. Apparently it was mentioned that the driver lives in a rural area and has to take an aging mother for medical appointments. That seems a bit weak. If she knew what she was doing then it was wilfully putting lives in danger and if she didn’t know what she was doing then does she had the requisite skill to drive on the roads?

I also hoped the driver of my train wasn’t asleep. A train driver was caught with his eyes closed – he was either blinking or feeling tired? It must be awful to feel tired when driving a train – you can hardly stop at the next service station for a cup of coffee after all. Whilst on the subject of trains I will round of with this website – Railways to Cambridge: A History which details some of the history of our railway lines past and present. Along with thus website with some rather nice pictures  of railways in the area – including this set of pictures of what is now the Cambridge Guided Busway route, but was the Cambridge - St Ives route.

Which leads into a bit of Cambridge Guided Busway news – including this “Guided bus takes 600,000 car journeys off the roads, says council.” (in the first year). I would like to see a better rail system in the UK having travelled around Japan quite a lot on business and pleasure I have come to appreciate the benefits of a fast and punctual rail system. If there had been a vote for whether to have a Busway or a railway then I would have voted with my heart and gone for railway.

However, as a cyclist I really do appreciate having a decent route out of Cambridge for cyclists and I reckon that one of the reasons the Busway was built was that it was easier for it to remain under local control. Railways seemed to be tied up in all sorts of bureaucracy. You only have to look at the hoo-ha with the Government’s mistakes over the handling of the West Coast Rail Contract.  Which is perhaps why despite the cost the Busway went ahead. Here is one website with an estimate of the costs of re-opening the line versus the building busway – Castiron (about halfway down - £50m versus £181m.) Try The Shallot’s take – Guided bus “had some flaws” as well.

Bus stops cost £50,000 – well to link Houghton with Wyton. A cyclist was knocked unconscious after falling onto the Guided Busway (Sept 29) although there are no mention of quite what the circumstances were. The Magpas Helimedix team were called out and there was a problem with the Ambulance driver not having the bollard lock codes to get onto the cycleway part.

As I had been late recently due to delays on the  train into London I set of an hour early and of course the train was on time. So I walked part of my journey on London and then sat and did a bit of people watching.

Although my camera battery was flat I used my phone to take a few blurry pictures.  Here is Great Smith Street – nice to see a few cycle parking stands sneaked in there. Not that many though and not enough since one bike has parked against the railings. Interesting – one cyclist is wearing a helmet and the other a luminous jacket – cycling in London is not that dangerous!

Cycle Parking  - Great Smith Street – London

Now that is how to get noticed – no helmet and colour co-ordinate with the bike. I can’t tell whether it is a fixie though.

Colour Co-ordinated Cycling – Great Smith Street London

I was surprised to see this sign – Public Baths just down the road. A quick Google check and  - no sorry, they were demolished in the 1990s. The Free Library – now an Indian restaurant.

A sign of things bygone – Great Smith Street -  London

I can’t help but mention some bicycle developments – including this “Bike of the future”, so much so you can’t buy one. For me the issue is not so much leaning forward to reduce wind resistance but being comfortable when doing so. (On the other hand ‘bents seem too low in the other direction.)

Here is a cardboard bicycle – perhaps it becomes its own transportation box if you take it on a plane? This more modern take on the Penny Farthing is definitely not on my wish list though.

I do like the idea of this Glow-worm friendly cycle path though. It turns off after 11pm so the glow-worms are not confused.

Although these links to various pictures and stars on their bikes come at the end I do find myself putting them in the Post first sometimes. It seems as if I have a 100 Chrome Browser windows open – all clogging my computer up. They take up memory space – around 88% of physical memory and counting, so it is good to deal with them in one go.

Mind you I should point out that I don’t actually know all of them – but there you are. It does reinforce the idea that cycling is cool. So here they are – Liev Schreiber (X-men) and son, Christine Brinkley (I have heard of her), Trinny Woodall showing that cycling keeps you  young (I hope), Gerard Butler? and Taylor Swift showing how to cycle elegantly (pictures near the bottom).

And finally some pictures; another of the Space Shuttle (on a 747), this time over LA, lightning storms over Croatia and Detroit and is 25-year decline and Britain’s canals in the 40s and 50s. Quite a few years ago I was visiting Detroit and got slightly lost in my rental car as I tried to find the hotel I was booked into – even then it looked down at heel.

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