Saturday, November 10, 2012

A bit of the past and a bit of the present

Friday, 5th October 2012:  This represents the last of my pre-holiday rides and I will not dwell upon it. However in the meantime, like the last couple of days there has been some news worth thinking about.

On the same day both Bradley Wiggins and British Cycling Coach Shane Sutton were injured in separate cycling accidents. I also picked up this reference to how RAF pilots are taught to be observant. It is the sort of reading that makes you wonder why there aren’t more SMIDSY accidents.

The reality is that whilst we might think we see everything around us our brains actually do a lot of filling in of the gaps, which makes us think we see what there is to see – well we don’t.

Lots of motorcyclists and cyclists will have experienced the situation where there has been a SMIDSY (most don’t end up with an accident). Indeed cyclists are taught to catch the driver’s eye. Motorists also feel entitled to complain when cyclists don’t wear helmets or wear high-vis clothing – yet in an accident it is the mass of the vehicle that does the damage.

I have already mentioned in a previous post that almost twice as many pedestrians are killed in accidents with motor vehicles than cyclists, yet where are the calls for pedestrians to wear high-viz and helmets?  I know that the Highway Code bright clothing commends when walking along dark roads at night, but it is never raised as an issue.

Tragically a pedestrian was killed in  collision with a car on the A505 today (10/11/2012).  There is no mention of whether he was wearing bright clothing and obviously not whether he was wearing a helmet.  That is because as pedestrians we reasonably feel entitled to be safe – yet we aren’t really that much safer than cyclists really.

When I was knocked of my bike (broken collar bone) it was a sunny afternoon and I had a fluorescent jacket and fluorescent hat on.  Note the Cambridge Cycling Campaign has agreed to reserve the right not to promote cycling events where helmets and high-viz are mandated. (This doesn’t mean they won’t just that they won’t be forced into it.)

We want safer roads please, roads for all users, not roads which intimidate vulnerable road users. The more I think about it the more I want to see more electronics in cars to make them safer for the occupants and the rest of us. That means GPS and data logging and 20mph limits.  I also want to see proper cycle routes, segregated and with priority over the motor vehicles please.

Let’s face it there is going to come a time when the UK will want to discourage importing petrol just to burn it unnecessarily. Whilst that might mean more tolls in the short-term I reckon that there will come a time when burning of imported fuels will become politically and economically problematic. 

Onto more pleasant matter – cycling in the Fens.

This was a ride around Quy and Wicken Fen and for a change I took my long lens with me. ("100-300mm which equates to 200-600mm in 35mm SLR terms).

The old Cambridge to Mildenhall Railway Line – behind Anglesey Abbey

As luck would have it some “interest” walked into the shot.

The old Cambridge to Mildenhall Railway Line – behind Anglesey Abbey

Along Lodes Way where Split Drove meets Headlake Drove you almost cross Commissioners’ Drain. I often stop there and take pictures up and down the drain – in this case down the drain.

Commissioners’ Drain

A little further along some evidence of potato harvesting in one of the fields – an escaped potato.

An escaped potato on Headlake Drove

In the near ground is the field that used to have potatoes (I think) in the background another of those massive haystacks (or straw stack).

Haystack near Rand Drove and Headlake Drove

Another favourite stopping spot is the footbridge over Burwell Lode. Oh dear is that a car where it shouldn’t be – although normally abandoned cars get burnt out.

Abandoned Car along Burwell lode?

No – there is work taking place to cut the grass and it is either one of the workers or someone sent out to watch them?

Grass cutting along Burwell Lode

On my way back after passing through White Fen I saw another bit of trimming taking place on a track that is not marked as a right of way.

Tidying up the fens for winter

It is the track on which a burnt out car was abandoned. I guess the car is still there because it would cost the farmer money to dispose of it – both in transport and environmental costs. Which seems a little unfair since it is nothing to do with the farm and the result of a crime.

Old burnt out car – near White Fen

As I was heading into Lode I almost managed to get a picture of a heron – they seem to sense me just as I take my camera out. This was the best picture – the rest were much more blurry.

Heron – near White Fen Drove

One of the reasons I come this way is that I don’t have to “mix it” with car drivers intent on rushing around and less concerned about the vulnerable road users out there. It is also much, much quieter.

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