Monday, August 4, 2014

Another Thought for the day and A Ride to Ely and back–Lodes Way and NCN11

Tuesday, 13th May 2014: Cycling is a good thing. It is good for your health, wealth and the World. You can’t say better than that. You can cycle to work, cycle for pleasure, cycle for sport, cycle for sociability, cycle for mobility even cycle to shop. Your can cycle fast, you can cycle slow, you can have expensive gear, you can have cheap gear. Although I have found that what really influences my cycling speed tends to be my fitness and/or fatness.

So why is it that some motorists get so het up about cyclists?  (Never mind the buzzcocks!) Do a search on Twitter to check out the response to “hate cyclists”.  Who are all these people with so much hate in their lives and why?  I quick search on-line for a clue and there is a  “ihavebicyclists” blog and what seem like pop psychology – “The psychology of why cyclists enrage car drivers” on Apparently cyclists “break the moral order of the road”. (There might be a moral order of the road – but it doesn’t seem to follow the law.)

I reckon that it is motorists’ insecurity that triggers the “rage”.  They are afraid they might find themselves “condemned to cycle”. Why, well, myriad reasons; loss of driving licence, lack of money, loss of job, loss of status even loss of pride.  In essence they consider that the right to drive is a privilege they have earned (through passing a test and hard cash) and they can’t get their heads around the idea that people willingly choose to cycle. So therefore cyclists must belong to an underclass. Even worse, years of advertising have somehow established that the bigger/faster your car the better your status.  Here in the UK we have unwittingly established a transport caste system.

Even worse cyclists can fall into this trap. Cycling magazines focus on the bling and not the passion around cycling.

The insecurity of the motorists can then lead to victim-blaming. In a report of a recent accident (Billie Piper/ Kings Cross)  the report details the fact that the cyclist was not wearing a helmet. Now there is no law requiring that cyclists wear helmets in the UK. The BMJ carries an editorial by Ben Goldacre and Sir David Spiegelhalter - Bicycle helmets and the law which points out that the complexities are such that there is no clear case for or against compulsory wearing of cycle helmets. Which suggests that we might be looking in the wrong place?

It seems to me that if you can’t get a clear answer then you can waste lots of time on experimenting to no avail. Which made me wonder just where in the pecking order of causes of head injuries is cycling?  All I can say is that whenever you do a search the idiosyncrasies of Google and SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) seem to come to the fore. It was quite difficult to get a view. Headway – the brain injury association has some key facts and statistics. It features the numbers of injuries per year,hospital admissions and the effects. There is nothing on the causes of the brain injury, what comes next is “Key cycle helmet facts”. Wow – it kind of implies you need look now further for the causes of brain injury – cycling must be incredibly dangerous.

Except a deeper dig shows that in the US Auto accidents account for 17.3% of all traumatic brain injuries, second only to falls.  More helpfully, I found a table in the Archives of Disease in Childhood – Epidemiology of Head Injury – Table 4 – Causes for accident and emergency department attenders in Scotland.

Accident Causes Head InjuryWhich in summary indicates that for children that head injuries are more likely to be caused by falls (57%), assaults (6%) or RTA as a pedestrian (3.8%)  than RTAs as a Cyclists (2.9%). For adults the picture is a little different. With Falls (33%), Assaults (29%), RTA - passenger (9.3%), RTA - Pedestrian (3.7%) and finally  RTA- Bicycle (1.4%). Now the totals don’t add up to 100%. so some data is missing.

The data doesn’t take into account the time/distance/numbers of people undertaking these activities. So it isn’t a measure of the dangerousness of the activity, just the number of casualties. However if head injuries are bad (which I believe is true) and we get so many in cars why do charities such as Headway seem to paint them out of the picture? Or perhaps seem to omit them from the picture.

Another thing you can’t glean from the data is what caused the RTA that led to the head injury.  A study by the Transport Research Laboratory showed that for adult cyclists involved in accidents the police found the driver solely responsible in about 60%-75% of all cases and riders solely at fault 17% – 25%.

Apparently the biggest cause of non-collision cycling accidents is slipping on ice. Why am I not surprised. It seems that cyclists get ignored when it comes to treating cycling surfaces for ice.

Oh and by the way, the Government has announced a rise in the speed limit for lorries on single-carriageway rural roads.  The Department for Transport reckons that will lead to two or three additional fatal accidents per year and four to nine serious ones. What a caring Government – not.  An odd approach to evidence-based policies – or perhaps the country gets richer from faster haulage than it loses from costs of the accidents and the cost of the loss of life!

That’s enough of that. Here are some pictures of my ride from Cambridge to Ely and back. The route more or less follows NCN51/NCN11/Lodes Way there and back.  Although I do detour a bit. One detour is along the east bank of Swaffham Bulbeck Lode.

Byway – Swaffham Bulbeck Lode

There are several options for turning off – the first takes you near Highbridge Farm the other take you via Lords Ground Farm. The Cow Parsley is well out. You have to be a bit careful there are one or two potholes along the track. The mud can also be very slippery when wet.

Byway – Swaffham Bulbeck Lode

I sometimes cycle up to the lock, where the Lode meets the River Cam and then back. It is pretty flat – despite what you might think from looking at this picture.

Byway – Swaffham Bulbeck Lode

I generally cycle “out” via Upware. All the farm traffic and the NT 4x4 are very courteous to cyclists. You do get the odd boy-racer who seems to think that they can whizz past with a few centimetres to spare. These pictures were taken near Dimmock’s Cote Road.

Oil Seed Rape  - the new verge weed

The “internal” edge of the same field in the last picture. There has been more attempt made to control the weed – oil seed rape.

Oil Seed Rape  - the new verge weed – not in my field says the farmer

I wasn’t sure if the tree at the far edge of the field was dead or late – late I think.

I joined NCN11 via Docking’s Lane – best avoided when wet – unless you like that sort of thing. After cycling through Padney and Barway there is a farm track alongside the River Great Ouse. On the other side is some good peaty soil.

You get some specialised equipment – I think this was plonking lettuce in.

Planting Lettuce? Near Ely

It seems to require both specialist equipment and quite a lot of labour. I assume that this chap was putting soil on the top to keep the covering weighed down.

Planting Lettuce? Near Ely

Across from the track you get a good view of Ely Railway Station. It is quite a busy place.

Ely Railway Station

Ely Railway Station has pretty reasonable cycle parking provision (216 spaces) and cycle hire. Now I reckon on platform provision is good – but not from a revenue protection view apparently (Ely Station Interchange - Page 5)

On Platform Cycle Parking – Ely

NCN11 – Just before Padney

Headlake Drove – Tossers operate in this area
(It has been cleared since the picture was taken)

A Fire in the Distance – seen from Swaffham Bulbeck Lode Cycle Bridge

A CityJet Fokker50, which seems to fly between Cambridge, Amsterdam and Dublin. This plane took its first flight in 1988.

CityJet Plane landing in Cambridge

CityJet Plane seen through a Pylon (White Fen)

A Heron Landing alongside Bottisham Lode

Harvey’s Droveway – to wet for me to take a short-cut

No comments:

Post a Comment