Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Mid-week Thought for the day and Ride :-)

Wednesday, 14th May 2014: When I write a Post there are generally one of two themes that will influence what I write. A ride and the accompanying pictures or some cycling “issue” that I have been pondering, either because of some incident or something I have read.

Sometimes both happen in one post. So lets start with Thought For The Day

Thought for the Day

This news item from the BBC caught my eye; “On your bike: Will cycling ever work in our cities?”. More particularly the comment from one of the people interviewed in it:  “My wife won’t cycle in the UK,” said Mr Adams. “She’s too scared to go on the roads.” At the same time there are reports that the Government is raising the Lorry speed limit on single carriageway roads from 40 to 50mph. Also we mustn’t forget “More than half ‘too scared’ to cycle on local roads, poll shows”.  (Or on the Cycling Front blog it is more eloquently referred to as the “Cyclist-killer bill”.

What is even worse we hear that same message from some of the people who you might think should be doing something about it. For instance Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe was quoted as saying he would not cycle in London over safety fears.  Our own Cambs PCC Sir Graham Bright responded to the CCyC questions ahead of the PCC elections with the quote:

The only cycling I do in Cambridgeshire is in my village to go to the local shop. I used to be a keen cyclist but am not happy in traffic.

Just as insidious, I reckon, is the idea that more women might cycle if there were fast and slow cycle lanes as the perceived danger is from men in Lycra. For a start you really don’t see that many people cycling around in Lycra in Cambridge and motor vehicles are a lot more frightening than a pair of stretchy shorts.

In primary schools it is usual to separate infants from juniors in the playground. Why, well juniors are bigger and faster than infants and can unintentionally terrorise them.  Yet it seems that allowing motor vehicles and cycles to “mingle” is perfectly acceptable, the weight and speed difference is far worse.  Also just like the playground you also get the “bullies”. They are the motorists on the road who intimidate with; close passes, abuse or forcing their way through against the cyclists right of way.

The trouble is just like bullying in other walks of life it is very difficult to eradicate. Just as in other walks of life you get victim blaming – cycle assertively, get trained to cycle, wear a helmet to protect yourself, wear high-viz to be seen. Pay “road-tax”, get insurance, “use the bl**dy cycle lane”.

It might not all be about bullying some if it is about selfishness I reckon – “Parents warned over illegal parking outside Cambridge school after children’s plea falls on deaf ears”.  Although there is but a short step from selfishness to bullying.

It is small wonder that so many people don’t cycle – they might want to, they just don’t dare. Oh and by the way  lorries will be even faster on rural roads – the bullies are winning. I can only feel that the current Government doesn’t really want cyclists, they are threatening to the very notions of capitalism. They overturn the need for the economic drivers of consumerism, where status is the size of your house or car rather than your legs. Winking smile Personally I’d prefer a society to an economy.

Whilst I might be critical of the standard of much of the cycle infrastructure here in Cambridgeshire at least it exists and there are attempts to make it better.  (£6.4m plan for cycling ‘superhighway’ between Cambridge and Royston.) Much of it is second-class though and I reckon that in itself can encourage the bullies of the road. We have got to start realising that the motor transport has much wider costs and implications that we can’t sweep under the carpet.

But all of us who drive have also got to accept our own part of the responsibility. We can’t just blame all the other drivers – like this tale of congestion in Histon with “drivers incandescent with rage”.

Apparently Islington Council has begun issuing on-the-spot £20 penalties for drivers who leave the engines idling when stationary.  Although some reports suggest it will only be drivers of diesel power vehicles who are targeted. Whilst it is easy to feel that perhaps this is a “so-called stealth tax”. What Islington is trying to do is reduce noise and air pollution – which seems pretty reasonable for those who walk cycle and live in the area. As it happens there are plans to increase the Congestion charges for diesel powered vehicles, because they pollute more. We can whinge, but in our society our actions have consequences and this is a reflection of the consequences of our transport policies. (I have a diesel engine in my car – so more incentive for me to cycle.)  Apparently the “Police waste up to £100,000 in fuel by leaving patrol cars running even when there is no one at the wheel”.

 

Mid-Week Ride – Cambridge to St Neots and back

Now I can’t complain, working from home gives me a lot of freedom to my schedule. After all it was Wednesday afternoon and I was able to go out for a ride. In this case my plan was to cycle up the CGB (Cambridge Guided Busway) Cycleway (NCN51) to St Neots and back to Cambridge by RR24.  It makes for a decent cycle ride, but away from traffic on the out route. The return route is along country lanes, so not quite so traffic free – but the route is a little more varied.

Mind you these guys have a pretty good job – patrolling the Fen Waterways. The boat is actually a catamaran and is called “Ouse II Know” and is used by the Environment Agency.

Fen Waterways River Patrol – Ouse II Know

The worst bit of the CGB cycle route is getting onto it along Milton Road. Once on it is a joy to cycle. Perfect no, but it certainly provides a smooth route out of Cambridge.  As I cycled though Histon there was the smell of Jelly in the air.

Cycling along the CGB though Histon

Off in the distance is a Telecoms tower, which is alongside the CGB Cycleway. I took this picture because there was loads of May Blossom in the hedgerows.

May Blossom along the CGB

Is bio-fuel less polluting that diesel? It all depends upon the quality of the bio-fuel.

Bus on the CGB

I don’t find the bus noise to be that bad compared with road noise. What I find most unpleasant is the high-pitched tyre noise from road vehicles.

It would also seem that the CGB doesn’t cover as much of the surface area as a road (or cycle track for that matter.

CGB Track

More Hedgerows in flower along the CGB

A Mirage in the Distance on the CGB

Actually it was a Cyclist – the track might look wet – but it is a trick of the light

Hemingford Meadow – St Ives (New Bridge)

Hemingford Meadow – St Ives (New Bridge)

The Telecoms Tower (Gravel Bridge Road)

Windmill – Gravel Bridge Road

Windmill and Over Water Tower

This road is not open to all motor vehicles, occasionally there is a clampdown. Whenever I cycle along it all sorts of cars and vans use the road, so I don’t think the clampdowns have much effect.

Longstanton Road – Around Oakington Airfield (dis)

A legal user of the road.

Longstanton Road – Around Oakington Airfield (dis)

A little further along Regional Route 24 there is a shared-use pavement. Alongside the Cambridge Road. There don’t appear to be parking restrictions – so why is thi scar parked across the pavement? Selfishness, ignorance and trying not to impede his fellow drivers.

Shared-use Cycle path between Oakington and Girton
(shared being the operative word)

I am somewhat sceptical about the solar-powered lights that have been placed along some cycle routes.  I think the one on the left is the Mk 1 and the one on the right is the Mk 2. In some places (NCN51 Newmarket Road) quite a few seem to be hidden by plants and fail to charge.

Solar-power Cycle Route Lights

One of the reasons I try not to drive – especially around rush hour. The A14 is being widened between Histon and the Girton Interchange  although it gets pretty busy even when there aren’t road works.

Mind you all three of those red cars only have a single occupant, in fact those three and the two behind them only have single occupants. Then the silver one behind that has two occupants. It is not really a very efficient use of space/petrol! Six cars for seven people.

A14 – Congestion

That’s one way of beating the congestion – although cycling is cheaper. This is s Tiger Moth, part of the Cambridge Flying Group Fleet. It was built by the Morris Group in 1944.

Tiger Moth in the Skies above Cambridge

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