Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Duty of Care and Poppies on Poet’s Day

Friday, June 14th 2013: I had a curry with a friend recently and we were talking about the two cyclists tragically killed on on the A30 in Cornwall as they started on LEJOG. Now he is from near those parts and described how the road was a busy arterial road and that lorries often didn’t have anywhere go when overtaking slow moving cyclists. Indeed the Road.cc article I linked to quotes the Police advice

“It is advisable for cyclists not to use this route and we would recommend people to look for an alternative.”

it also indicates that the consensus of advice on cycling Forums is to avoid it wherever possible. I would imagine that it is similar to the A14 here in Cambridge in being a road best avoided by cyclists.

Two strands of thought led on from this – is there an implicit alteration in how we view the duty of care? Now the Police did arrest the lorry driver involved, however there is a message that the roads are dangerous – best keep away and if you do use them Ms or Mr Cyclist then take extra care.

Other examples of the transference of the duty of care – this headline from the DM – “Ramblers warned to beware of ‘aggressive foreign cows’ after spate of attacks on walkers”. Whilst the countryside is a working environment – public rights of way are what they say on the tin.

Sometimes that duty of care seems to be used as an excuse – “Gardener, 66 turned away from recycling site for ‘elf ‘n safety reasons because he was towing his grass cuttings on a BICYCLE”. The implication is that cyclists are second-class citizens who can be deprived of their civic rights.

So where should we stand on mobile phone use?  “The dangers of walking and talking: Pedestrian mobile phones injuries DOUBLE in five years”. I guess personally I tend to feel that we make too many excuses for motorists. We need bigger roads so that motoring can be faster and cyclists need to wear helmets because motoring wants to get even faster and pedestrians shouldn’t talk on there phones. Well I reckon that is wrong. There seems to be a presumption that more motoring is good for the economy. How can burning money in such an inefficient way be good for the economy?

Stuff that – we need better ways for non-motorists to get around – whether on foot, cycle or mobility scooter. So I am pleases that there has been a “Call for Cambridge to get £200 cycle network”. We might actually end up with a better and happier society.

Small wonder I cycle around the Fens so much – there is still and old-fashioned level of courtesy on the roads – although I reckon we seen more than our fair  share of drivers using phones while driving.

So this ride took up the byway along the west side of Reach Lode and then back down by Burwell Lode. With as much off-road as plausible. Now I know this as a Moon Daisy – Leucanthemum vulgare, or oxeye daisy.

Moon Daisy

The spuds have definitely come on just recently. There seem to be quite a lot growing round these part this year.

Neat Rows of Potatoes

This is also the time of year for poppies, although their flowering season seems quite short.

Wild Poppy

This tractor seemed to be banking up the spuds, which I guess also helps to remove any errant weeds.

Working on the Potato Field

The last few pictures were on Straight Drove. This is the view into Wicken Fen across Wicken Lode. It was the yellow iris that caught my eye – Iris pseudacorus.

Yellow Iris – Wicken Fen

Harrison’s Drove has gotten even more exciting – I avoid it when very wet but it is navigable on a hybrid bike when dry. I pretty much cycle it without dabbing a foot down nowadays. Someone at the NT must have noticed – so the difficulty level has been increased with the addition of barriers across most of the width.

I ended up walking my bike after getting snagged by something sharp in the hedgerow.

Harrison’s Drove – with extra barriers.

Rather worryingly the sign says they are going to wait for some hard frosts and drivers days before starting again. So either that means we are soon in for some wintry weather – or they aren’t going to fix it for ages.

Harrison’s Drove – Wait for the Sharp Frosts

Just for a change I cycled through Burwell and back along the Swaffham Road. The flowers on the Oil Seed Rape seem a little later in places than the rest of the county.  There is also a fair sprinkling of poppies.

Poppies in the oil seed rape

There are some fields which are visible from the train from Cambridge to King’s Cross near Royston which seem to be Poppy Fields with a sprinkling of something.

Poppies in the oil seed rape

It is usual to see more poppies in the headland the in the body of the field – this is the headland alongside the road. Apparently when the seed is harvested and if the foreign bodies are greater than a certain percentage then the farmer gets paid less.

More Poppies in the headland

I though this was Hedgerow Cranesbill at first – but the leaves are all wrong. So I think it must be a relative – Geranium dissectum or  Cut-leaved Cranesbill.

Cut-leaved Crane’s-bill

Here it is again from the side.

Cut-leaved Crane’s-bill

And finally some nature – a rare bird was killed flying into a wind turbine whilst being watched by a crowd of birdwatchers. (Natural selection at its worst.) The decline of the Nightingale is being investag5ted by tagging. There has been a huge drop in the number of birds observed in the UK.

And finally – ever wondered how to carry a baguette on a bicycle – well here is the answer.

Oh and before  I forget – Busway Botany. (On the Travelling the Guided Busway Blog.)

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