Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Welcome to the age of the bike

Tuesday, 6th November: Well I have really nearly caught up with my Posts – there is one more pre-holiday ride in October and then a selected set of pictures from Scotland followed by a couple of rides post-holiday.

However I have been having a few computer problems. Having batch processed my holiday pictures I was selecting some to send to friends when they stopped displaying Thumbnails in Picasa. I tried re-starting Picasa and it reported problems with my picture database. I tried re-booting my computer and it refused and I had to power it off.

When I force a shutdown it then complains that the RAID disk needs verifying, which makes the computer run like treacle. Rather worryingly it reported a bunch of problems and has rerun a few times – each time slowly whittling the number of problems down.

Once it has sorted the disk out I will make a Ghost copy of the disk and then rebuild the Picasa database – most of it is OK as it is directory organised,  the only hassle is that all the face labelling will have been lost.

To cap it all my my telephone line that I used for work related stuff has lost its dial tone and the Central Heating system has developed a fault where the boiler keeps re-starting even when the thermostat doesn’t need it to.

So I have booked a British Gas engineer (who cover our system), the good news is that their Internet booking system works, the bad news is that they won’t come to fix it for 2 weeks. I am beginning to wonder why I bother with the Maintenance contract – I am now having to turn off the power to the heating system manually – otherwise I will have a gigantic gas bill as it runs on and off non-stop for two weeks (24-7) if I don’t.

On to the phone line – a neighbour rang me on her mobile her line had failed so I tried mine to discover the same problem. It was after what seemed like non-stop rain on Sunday. I was able to log on to the BT fault reporting part of their website and run and automatic check.  Which reported no fault – so I tried to use their Internet reporting system – it reported that it was not available for a while – then it worked – sort of. I was able to go through some palaver reporting the issue and it running a check and being warned that if the problem is to do with my end the call out will cost me £90 or £99 I can’t remember which.

When I tried to book a visit – their system required me to ring a phone number. There was then the inevitable “press button one if you are bored” Q&A and finally I got through to their call centre – which sounded remote and scripted. Once again there was the palaver of have you checked it yourself then the person ran a check remotely and finally I was about to book a date when I had to have a script read out to me ending with the “it will cost you if it is you problem”. I began to wonder whether they thought the best option was to abandon the phone line and just ignore it.

The good news is that they were able to schedule and engineer for Friday. It is a good job we have mobile phones nowadays.

So onto the news it is just over a year since the devastating  crash with a lorry on her way to work that put the Times reporter (Mary Bowers)  into a coma from which she is still minimally conscious.  A tragic event that led to the Times “Cities for Cycling” campaign. The Times is now reporting “Welcome to the age of the bike: cyclists ‘must be first’ as car use passes its peak”. The article reports that DfT figures indicate that the distance travelled by car peaked in 2006 and has fallen by 8% in a decade.  It suggests that there are multiple factors but Society needs to build on the “virtuous circle”.

Perhaps one reason there are fewer cars is that millions of motorists are illegally lending cars to their friends and family. The survey said 2 million, the law has caught 22,000 in the past six months – some lessons there.

Cars to be allowed to share shared-use pavements with pedestrians and cyclists

I agree, they have also run a survey and the initial view is that “Use existing taxes to invest in safer cycling say readers”. Given the way taxation works the suggestion is also that 2% of the Highways budget should be dedicated to provide better facilities for cyclists, who currently represent about 2% of the traffic on the roads.

The trouble is there is inertia in the way  things happen and beliefs about the road systems and their “importance”. In my view this is not about making life easier for people who currently cycle – although it will. It is about making  life better for society in general, by making cycling a more attractive choice as a means of transport. I recently blogged about the death rates of pedestrians on our roads – “A figure of 8 around Lodes Way”.

Mind you given how long it takes you do wonder sometimes. Here in Cambridge “City-wide 20mph limit ‘will come in during 2014’” at a cost of £460,000 one of the problems was recruiting someone to head it up. (One of the reasons it costs so much?). Just read the comments to so how wedded to the idea that we ought to be able to drive our cars at speed and how difficult it is to drive slowly and, and, and.  The challenge will be the enforcement – GPS trackers in all cars perhaps!

Or perhaps more fords! They can’t be accused of wasting money on the cycleway.

Flooding along the Guided Busway Cycleway

An example of the entrenched  mindset – “A14 upgrade could start ‘sooner than expected’ apparently the A14 improvements were ’top of our priority list for removing banners to economic growth’.  Forgive me for not believing that “£1.5billion” spent on making a bigger road so more people can spend just as long getting to and from work is a good thing for society. (Just think 2% of £1.5Bn - £30m on cycling facilities.)

A road near Bristol – spied from the Bristol Bath cycle Route

At least here in this county other approaches are being considered – love it or hate it the Busway is a new corridor for those wishing to get to work. The St Ives Busway Park and Ride is to double in size as part of a £2 million project which will also pay for electronic signs on roads leading to the A14 warning of delays.

£2m upgrade St Ives Park and Ride car park – more kissing?


  1. Cars to be allowed to share shared-use pavements with pedestrians and cyclists

    Looks like Newmarket Road in Fordham to me. There are always cars on the pavement there. I'm riding on the road of course, but....

    The "cycle bypass" for the traffic calming chicane a hundred metres behind the camera position is a joke too. Could we put put Fordham forward as a prime example of farcility tokenism?


    1. Hi Mike, you are right. At the time I took the picture I seem to remember there was building work taking place at the house and assumed they were builders cars.