Monday, January 7, 2013

2012–almost there – And two wrongs don’t make a right

Friday, 21st December 2012: What with our local Police and Crime Commissioner calling for a “crackdown” on cyclists, in what I feel was a self-righteous way and then the BBC picking up on the story along with the Cambridge News – Backlash to call for crackdown on ‘danger cyclists’. It is easy to wonder quite what position the Media take about any given subject. Indeed sometimes the headline writers seem to want to pour more fuel on the fire. (Although I believe that the headlines are not always written by the sane person as wrote the news piece.) The Cambridge Cyclist’s also suggests that with an online presence then articles that attract comments will attract repeat views of an article.

It reminds me of what my Mum used to say when my brother and I argued – something along the lines of “I don’t care who started it you are both in trouble” and when one of us used the defence that “He hit me first” to justify hitting the other one back – she would respond: “Two wrongs don’t make a right”. As young lads we felt this was grossly unfair and having brought up kids of my own I can understand why she did that and I now agree with it.

So we have two problems, the first is that the media needs to interest its readers enough to get them to pay for their news. (Either in a newspaper or on a screen.) The second is that the playground justice of tit-for-tat seems to rule too often when it comes to different categories of road users. Playground justice is never one of calm discourse about the facts but you hit me first or called me a name first. Rarely does the bigger picture get aired or the data analysed or even a discussion of what is the goal.

Take this item on the Green dragon bridge – ‘End clash of bikes and pedestrians on bridge’ look at the number of comments. The reality is a somewhat muddy story, about whether cyclists should or do dismount devolving down into a comment'-rant about selfish cyclists. Follow the link and you will see that the bridge, whilst not that wide is wider then some of the shared-use pavements that exist. 

What gets ignored is that this is a key city route which helps to alleviate rush hour traffic. A cyclist pushing a bicycle takes up far more space than cycling the bicycle in question. There is no data on the bridge usage or how many incidents/accidents occur or why cars are allowed to park adjacent to the entrance/exit. I mention this because parked cars obstruct the view for pedestrians and cyclists alike, which would I imagine represent a hazard for those crossing the river by the bridge and intending to go to the pub. Basically the article seems to have generated way more heat than light.

The good thing is that the Cambridge Cycle Campaign and the Cambridgeshire County Council and City Council seem to be in dialogue.

The Green Dragon Bridge from below

The River Cam seen from the Green Dragon Bridge

Whilst on the subject of bridges – here is the Carter Bridge – a welcome cycle/pedestrian route to the Cambridge Railway Station. This has been built with implicit segregation between cyclists and pedestrians. Although quite often pedestrians do walk on the left had side.

Apparently a Jaguar driver tried to drive over the bridge.I wonder how that happened – GPS, drink, tired, confusion, wrong directions.

Carter Bridge

I do feel that the “punishment” should fit the crime and that perhaps we could be more creative. I also feel that the potential for harm, opposed to the actual harm should be considered. 

I am taking fewer pictures on my rides at the moment, partly because it is gloomier and partly because I am cycling along the same route (more or less). However in Lode here is an example of inconsiderate parking. Alright it is not that busy a road and pedestrians could easily walk out into the road – but of course why didn’t the driver park in the road in the first place.  Personally I reckon that this sort of thing should lead to an awareness course.

Car parked over the pavement Lode

Bottisham Lode is quite full at the moment – although I have seen worse.

Bottisham Lode – along Lodes way

The path through White Fen was was also flooded – that is not something I have seen before. Mind you this reflects the saturation of the ground.

Lodes Way – large puddles in White Fen

As usual Lodes Way where it switches from Headlake drove to Split Drove was flooded. This is deep enough that I slow down – just in case there is a rock hidden and to avoid throwing up too much water.

Headlake drove – a mini lake

A while back I mentioned that I was going to buy a Knog light for emergencies. Here it is in place. I leave it on the bike at all times, except when say parking at the Railway Station, when I take it with me and pop it back on when I return to the bike.

It is pretty good – I wouldn’t like to have to cycle a long distance along a dark road that I didn’t know at night. However for emergencies it is good. What’s more it is also useful when I pop out to the local shop in the dark – it gets me noticed. I don’t know how long the batteries will last – but on my current usage I am not too worried. The Exposure Maxx-D is my usual light for cycling afar in the dark. it has a great charge time, three levels of brightness along with a flashing mode . I have used it for cycling along unexplored (by me) byways at night – great fun. For normal shared-use paths I tend to use it at the lowest power setting.

The other thing is that bicycle lights can be a substantial proportion of the total cost of the bike.  My Maxx-D was a couple of hundred quid, the who bike around £700. So the bike is nearly 30% of the cost of the bike. If I were to cycle to the railway station every day then I would buy myself a clunker – that is not a place I would want to lock up a decent bike every day. So a clunker might cost say £50, a lock and lights adds quite a lot on top. If you are a student it isn’t surprising that perhaps you don’t prioritise your expensive educational loan on something that might get stolen.

Here is a video of the new cycle park planned for Cambridge Railway station – the UK’s biggest (when it is built.) Strangely it seems to have stairs.

Knog light on my handlebars

It also got me thinking – as a motorist I check my lights from time to time, probably not as much as recommended , but probably more than most. What motorists don’t realise is that lights are not an integral part of a bicycle as they are for a car. Also you need a battery, or several batteries. Depending upon where the light is it can easily get knocked and damaged. Also when you park in a public place you have to remove your lights – otherwise they get stolen.

Whilst a bicycle might be insured in case of theft I doubt the lights are. So there are a whole bunch of things to deal with when cycling at night that I don’t have to deal with when driving a car. So if I pop out in the afternoon I have to ensure I have remembered my lights, that they have a reasonable battery level and that they work. (Bicycle lights get battered and the connections gradually get worse – particularly rear lights.)

In my case I have a light fixed to the rear of the bike, but my front light(s) are removable (recharge-ability and theft avoidance). I do find myself sometimes without decent lighting when it gets dark in the evening. Despite taking precautions. Now I am not claiming that it is therefore sensible to cycle after dark without lights – but I bet if more motorists realised that cycle lighting isn’t as straightforward as motor vehicle lighting they might be a bit more sympathetic.

Cycle Security Advice – take your saddle, lights, wheels and helmets!

I stopped on the Reach Lode Bridge – when the bridge was built borrow pits were created, which were expected to fill with water and provide variations on wildlife habitat.  For the first time they all seem to have filled with water.

Looking South-West from Reach Lode Bridge

Looking South-East from Reach Lode Bridge (towards Burwell)

This is a drain rather than a pit.

Looking North-East from Reach Lode Bridge (towards Wicken)

This is Reach Lode – full but not brimming.

Reach Lode

This is the bit of scrub in which the Portrait bench is situated.

Looking North-West from Reach Lode Bridge

A bit further out, again towards the south-west the fields are also partially flooded. This sort of thing has a significant impact on the farming as it will hit the crop yields. One of the reasons that vegetables are going to cost more this year.

Flooding in the fields near Reach Lode Bridge

And no, this is not another picture from the bridge, but rather from the Burwell Fen around which the NT have created a bund. It was supposed to get water from Pout Hall Corner – but that had a few challenges – however water is collecting.

I also rather liked the clouds in the sky.

Burwell Fen – Lodes Way

Even further along – the Ha Ha that was created to keep the Lodes Way from the cattle (or vice-versa)  has also filled up with water.

Lodes Way Ha Ha – full of water

Even the Lodes Way path by the new Burwell Bridge ground works has a pretty large puddle across it.

Lodes Way – near Burwell Lode

Once I was up on the footbridge there was time for a picture of the  Environment Agency electric bridge, or rather what is left of it, the rest has been taken away for repair?  The fencing surrounding it has been extended – although I have yet to actually see anyone working on it.

Burwell Lode – Electric Bridge – bring renovated

And here is the new improved path from the Burwell Lode footbridge to Priory drove – a welcome improvement.

Burwell Lode Footbridge – a new path

And finally some pictures – some interesting multiple images of New York – to think I used to spend my time trying to avoid taking picture like that with my old 35mm camera and last but not least a celeb on his bike


  1. Hi Jamie,

    your floods have an interesting aspect -- White Fen and Headlake Drove in this post, plus Bottisham Lode field and the turf crop in last-ride-of-last-year are all on the same old stream bed.

    This is one of the old courses of the River Cam at a time when it went to the east of the slight rise in the land at Clayhythe and was joined by the stream that used to be the Little Wilbraham River, now diverted into a much straighter course and called Quy Water. It shows up very clearly in the British Geological Survey's maps as river gravels and peat.

    The easy, but expensive, way to see it to buy the paper copy of Sheet 188 of the geological survey, but I believe they're over £20 pounds now. Cheaper but much more frustrating is to work through the BGS's website which has the same data somewhere in there. Al the navigation is via Javascript so I cannot give you a simple URL to find it. From the BGS navigate to somewhere nearby and make sure you have the 50,000 scale selected. It's possible to zoom in further but the data then disappears... Update: Today I found a different set of maps, the question is can I find them again?


    1. Hi Mike,

      It would be interesting to see it from the air. I do fly kites, but I have never tried aerial photography from a kite. The BGS site worked though. It is interesting to see how the old geological features "surface" at odd times.

      Have you found the new maps?


    2. Yes, from the link I gave it works every time (fingers X'd). But the basemap isn't the O.S. one in the part of the site I was using earlier, and not as useful. Hey ho. I'll just grab my old copy of the dead-tree version off the bookshelf for the Lodes Way area and use the online for other areas.

      It's seeing glimpses of the history from a few cm depth of water that makes this area so interesting to me.


    3. Water is a great leveller ;-)