Friday, 31st May 2013: Friday again and I have finally taken the plunge and replaced my mobile phone. It has done me good service. I got it to replace a lost phone just before I was flying to Bangkok to being a cycle from Bangkok to Saigon.
But first I was interested to to that Ben Goldacre and David Spiegelhalter have produced an editorial for the BMJ (British Medial Journal). I have heard them both speak and rather enjoy their take on matters of science, statistics and mortality. So I was interested to see that they were working together and on a subject I feel strongly about - Bicycle Helmets (and the law). It is an object lesson in how difficult it can be to get to the bottom of what might seem to be a simple question. That is the issue, it is not a simple question, there are many factors, including risk-compensation and politics and emotion tied up. What the article does point out though is that is an existence proof that cyclists can be safe without helmets.:
It is certainly true that in many countries, such as Denmark and the Netherlands, cyclists have low injury rates, even though rates of cycling are high and almost no cyclists wear helmets. This seems to be achieved through interventions such as good infrastructure; stronger legislation to protect cyclists; and a culture of cycling as a popular, routine, non-sporty, non-risky behaviour.
They don’t even touch on comparative risk-benefit analysis should pedestrians wear helmets, or car occupants?
One of the things that appeals to me about cycling for transport and leisure is the simplicity. Life has become more and more complex and I think that complexity is moving at a faster rate than the tools to make it easy to use. Computers are now easier to use by can also go wrong in myriad ways. I have recently evolved the WiFi network at home, partly because there are more WiFi points around our house than when I first set it up. The new box I have bought is pretty good for the money – TL-WA901N. It has good throughput, a strong signal with a flexible set up. However with phones, PCs and MACs (and a Wii) all connecting up I am still having niggling problems. I have even resorted to turning on a feature (watchdog) where it will ping my router every while and if it doesn’t receive an answer it will re-boot. I it a belt and braces approach, but I would rather have systems that used some of their “intelligence” to tell you what might be wrong.
I should know about this stuff so what it is like for people who don’t care – who knows.
That complexity creeps into the way our lives are nudged along. Apparently it can be cheaper to risk a fine than pay to park in Cambridge – which sounds stupid but comes about because parking charges are locally set and fines are set centrally. Mind you it doesn’t stop the article then quoting people saying how Cambridge is a nightmare for parking. (This is the slightly more sensationalist DM take on the same matter.)
The trouble is people just want parking that they don’t have to pay for although the DM article does say that the people of Cambridge say their streets are crowded. No mention of the much cheaper Park and Ride though or how so many people cycle… Apparently is is almost “decision time for the £1.5Bn A14 upgrade”. If that goes ahead then I think we can expect the streets of Cambridge to be even more crowded. I saw an article in the Times suggesting that instead of one or two major new road projects the money might be better spent on sorting out the bumpy existing roads and perhaps the sewers underneath them?
Talking about complexities the whole issue of local versus central rule has also created some anomalies with inconsistencies in the use of Speed Cameras for one. This reporter from the DM suggests “Highway robbery! How I probed that town hall traffic fines are nothing to do with bad driving – but just a grubby money making scam”. What he is referring to is the Local Authorities taking on traffic enforcement powers under the Traffic Management Act 2004.
Perhaps the Council’s are making money from them, perhaps the junctions could be better – however drivers could stop breaking the law instead. Don’t drive into a yellow box unless the exit is clear!
Completely off-topic however in Schools children are taught to respect each other and not to bully others. In the workplace bullying is taken very seriously and team work is encourage. The same rules don’t seem to apply in Parliament though. The CN reported that “Cambridge MP Julian Huppert accuses groaning rivals of bullying”. Whereas the DM reported “Is this the Commons’ dullest MP?”
What a pathetic example our MPs set the rest of us. They behave worse than kids. Small wonder they don’t always get the respect they might think they deserve – they seem to act worse than a bunch of kids.
So this was a quick spin around Lodes Way, well quick-ish for me. Also by the time I actually finish the post it this road – Lug Fen Droveway could well have been surface dressed.
Lug Fen Droveway – due for surface dressing
I guess the imprecision is because it will depend on the weather and all the other roads due for a coating of anti-cycling shrapnel. I wouldn’t worry about this road too much. However as a cyclist I dislike cycling on surface dressed roads for two reasons. The first is they make cycling that much harder and more prone to skidding. The second problem is tha5t quite a few vehicles seem to whizz along without slowing down and that kicks up the gravel – which stings if it gets you on a bare leg.
Lug Fen Droveway – due for surface dressing
This is the view of the Polo Grounds further along Lug Fen Droveway, it looks as if there is something on.
Polo along Lug Fen Droveway
When I got to Swaffham Bulbeck bridge along Lodes Way I tried out the camera on my new Galaxy S4. It will automatically take panorama pictures – you sweep the camera from one side to the other and it fills in the picture for you. It also has handy arrows on the screen if you are not pointing the camera in the right places.
If it weren’t for the high voltage cables it would be quite a convincing picture. Unfortunately the cables along the bottom have a bit of a strange sag to them.
Panorama Picture of Swaffham Bulbeck Lode (Galaxy S4)
If you look closely you might also see that this picture of the bridge is slightly odd. It is an almost 180o picture.
Wide-angle panorama of Swaffham Bulbeck Lode Bridge
Again the pylons cable give the game away – this time they “sag” upwards. They also have a break just over the top of the Lode.
More experimenting is needed I think.
Wide-angle panorama of Swaffham Bulbeck Lode
This is a 90o sweep taken look back along Lodes Way, just where it intersects with Newnham Drove. Although it is an impossible picture, it works quite well for me. Even the sign seems to be pointing in the right direction.
Also there aren’t any pesky cables giving the game away.
Lodes Way in widescreen
On the way back from Wicken Fen I cycled down from the Lodes Way bridge alongside Swaffham Bulbeck Lode.
It was quite hard work and it did make me wonder whether I should be on the look out for ticks since I was bare-legged and without socks. Reading about Lyme disease does not make for pleasant thoughts. Apparently Thetford Forest is a place where tick exposure is more likely.
Well having read the blurb I now know what the signs look like. I only mention it because the grass along the bridleway is quite long in places, which drags as you cycle along it.
I stopped here to admire the blue and yellow and ended up taking a few pictures. This picture is a panoramic picture taken using my Panasonic Lumix GH1 as two separate pictures and then stitched them together using Photoshop Elements. elements has various settings when you combine pictures. In general it works quite well, although it helps if the are points in the two (or more) images to fix them together.
When taking pictures I prefer to look through a viewfinder. Partly because it helps me to focus on the framing of the picture and partly because it is easier to see the image through a viewfinder than on a screen in the sunlight.
That is the downside of my Galaxy S4 camera – in bright sunlight the screen is quite hard to see. It will take pictures under voice command, although I have yet to try that.
Oil Seed Rape panoramic picture – Swaffham Bulbeck Lode
A common sight in these parts – a track to nowhere, with telegraph poles along the route – leaning precariously.
Oil Seed Rape – Swaffham Bulbeck Lode
Also the “world’s most dangerous bicycle” – cut up by white van man – just turn on the after-burner.
Finally – this is anti-social behaviour – this is what needs to be stopped (Mr PCC or should it be Sir PCC) – cycling on pavements pales in insignificance by comparison. – “Female cyclist suffers late-night attack in Cambridgeshire supermarket car park”.