Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Oh No! - Not cycle parking at the Cambridge Railway Station again

Friday, 24th February 2012: I will start this post with, to me some surprising news, a while back David Hembrow of the Blog A View from the Cycle Path announced that he was going to cease writing the blog, but had a few more articles up his sleeve. Well he has been as good as his word – he wrote a few more articles and it would appear that he has now ceased. He would also appear to have either deleted his blog or at least made it inaccessible so my apologise if any links in this Blog  referencing his writings now no longer work.

I suppose that the old adage “you get what you pay for” appears to be true in this case. he cites several factors in his decision, including the point that he spends significant time for little return, even when his work is used by professionals.  It is a shame and although I have never met him his Blog will be missed and more importantly his insight. Vole O’Speed perhaps puts it more eloquently in his post "A view from the cycle path”.

Perhaps when a passion becomes a job then it is the time to think again.

For me my Blog is a catalyst for both my cycling and my photography – it helps me do more of both. I deliberately haven’t run adverts and whilst I will link to other articles I hardly ever use other sources of pictures. (I can think of a handful of cases where I have used a Wikipedia picture or taken a picture of say the front page of a news paper.)

So why do I cycle, well it is good contemplative time, not necessarily usually on important issues. Why do I take pictures – because I like to, they help me pay attention to the world around me.

Speaking of which I had meetings in London on Friday, once again to a place I had never been to before. Otherwise I might have decided to take my Brompton and cycle through London.  I have used the Transport for London site to get cycling-friendly directions, but it becomes a faff to far for me. I have to get the directions, then either print them or program them into my GPS. I also have to heave my bike through the Cambridge Railway Station …  As you can see none of this is impossible it is just a step too far. Yet I am quite happy to cycle around more than most.

So it was with some trepidation when I thought about getting to the Station on Friday morning. My default plan is to cycle, but I have such problems finding a space that I now find it necessary to leave home earlier to avoid missing my train. In this case I was going to catch the 8.15 and was due home before 6pm so with fingers crossed I checked the website of Station Cycles – good news it was open from 8am to 6pm. So that was one less thing to worry about. I could plan on cycling there leaving my bike without having to worry about finding a space.

I did plan on getting there for 8am just in case there was a queue for their parking services. That then left 10minutes to catch the train.

I cycled to the station via Coldham’s Common – a pleasant cycle route from Newmarket Road to Coldham’s Lane, past the Cambridge United Football Ground. In the scheme of things it is a nice route, although why not make a proper cycle route – two lanes and pedestrian lanes. Silly me I forgot the goal is not create reasonable quality cycle facilities to attract non cyclists – just get those silly enough to cycle out of the way of the important motor traffic.

I saw an article on a £320,000 cycle path which passed through a muddy 1.8m tunnel which reminded me of this where the Coldham’s Common route passes under the Cambridge to Ipswich railway line. I suppose I prefer some path to no path, but frankly I do wonder quite how so much money can be spent on providing so little (in the case of the 1Km path alongside the River Yarty in Devon.)

Actually there are several routes that converge – this is the branch from the Abbey swimming pool direction.

I arrived at the Cambridge Railway station at a around 7.50am, oh look loads of car spaces, why is it that whenever I drive that doesn’t happen?  Not to worry I was going to be leaving my bike at Station Cycles

Although when I got there they weren’t open –just before panic set in I realised that was because I was early so I took some pictures. My goal was to take a picture of a bicycle passing through the Carter bridge framed by one of the triangles. I sort of managed it here – although to be honest that wasn’t the triangle I was aiming for.

This is the closest I got to the picture I wanted. I must have taken around 15 pictures, still it passed the time whilst waiting for the shop to open. Once I got to the shop it was quick, I just went in, handed over £1.50 got a ticket and left various bits of cycle gear I didn’t need with me in London on the bike. Regular readers will know that I believe cycling is (and most certainly should be) safe and helmets should not be necessary for day to day cycling. If I did wear one that would have stayed with the bike as well. (I do wear a cycling helmet when off-roading and cycling in dangerous countries.)

The great thing about the train is it is getting better at taking the stain, at least when travelling from Cambridge to London. It was an uneventful and on-time journey including the tube ride down to Waterloo. despite what we might think about how wonderful the provision for cycling in Cambridge is, we can still learn from other places. At Waterloo station they have orderly double-decker cycle parking. No mud to wade through, no bikes strewn all over the place – why – well there is decent provision that’s why.

The trouble is that it seems in Cambridge the cyclists are blamed for turning up on their bikes.

As I walked through the station I couldn’t resist taking a picture of this chap with his bike.

As I walked to my destination I couldn’t resist taking a few pictures of cycle related stuff – like this  row  of Boris bike stalls near the IMax cinema near Waterloo station. So is this a popular site with few bikes remaining or unpopular as a destination? The seat configuration is interesting.

As I walked down Stamford Street it became clearer that the existence of a local University provides some impetus for the provision of cycling faculties. As you can see – in this case King’s College London. A well used cycle parking facility on the pavement – but with some spare capacity, as it should be.

A bit further long was another row of Boris Bikes, with some officials, presumably performing the distribution and maintenance work to keep it all going. The IMAX cinema is in the background.

That’s what I like to see, more cycle parking near presumably a place people want to cycle to. It might sound obvious, but one way to get people using their bicycles more is to provide cycle parking at the destination. That then becomes an incentive to cycle rather than drive.

As you can see, London is a dense urban area without mountains. So in order to get some  practice in the mountaineers scale the buildings.

A bit further along was an oasis at the heart of the neighbourhood – Bernie Spain gardens. They also have a Sustrans rest area here with a drinking fountain.

On my way back at the end of the day this was the state of play on the Boris Bikes on Stamford Street.

And with the change in the light direction the IMAX glass frontage or maybe backage?) provided an interesting reflection of surrounding buildings.

Waterloo Station, where I became one of the 88million passengers to use it every year. (Nearly a quarter of a million every day). Although actually I didn’t become one of those 88m, the passenger data quoted on Wikipedia does not include the Underground of Waterloo East.

Once more into the bowels of the Earth. Normally at this point I start wishing I’d bought my Brompton, not because I suffer from claustrophobia, it is just more interesting to travel over ground than underground.

A quick play with the TfL journey planner remembering to turn off all the journey options except cycling suggests a route with a journey time of only 15 minutes! I hadn’t realised quite how close it was. I think I could have navigated the route without my GPS programmed. Strangely what it doesn’t show is how far it is?  You can see a little animated bike move along the route though. Using Google to check what the walking distance is it shows it as just over 2 miles / 3.5Km. I really didn’t have an excuse for not cycling did I?

Saturday, February 25, 2012

No excuses–a warm February Fens cycle - part 2

Thursday, 23rd February 2012: As a quick recap it after getting my hair cut over lunch and finding it incredibly warm and sunny I couldn’t resist getting out on my bike for a ride. So I bunked off for the afternoon.

The map is below and as you can see I did check out a track or two and yes they were pretty muddy. Here is the Bike Route Toaster link, the ride was 58Km/ 36 miles, flat and if you don’t like cycling through a layer of sticky mud I would give the muddy track loop a miss. I am looking forward to getting back onto the byways and bridleways again though.

There are times when I find this particular track terrible and other times when I hardly think about it. It is Newnham Drove and signed as an NCN 11-51 link route. One of the real pleasures of the Lodes Way is that although it is billed as a route from Bottisham to Wicken Fen it is much more than that. There are quite a few interconnecting tracks and roads in the area so it is easy to keep ringing the changes when cycling around.

I probably dislike this road most when cycling along it at night and it becomes much harder to avoid the ruts and bumps and mud and gravel that collects on it in various places. However on as bright afternoon with nary a soul around it really isn’t too bad. I would make sure that bolts are tight on your bike though. Lights and GPSs have a habit of making a break for freedom on this sort of road.

As I made my way along Newnham Drove there was a plane circling overhead. I think it was a Hercules in the sky. You can see four thin exhaust trails being left behind (after enhancing the contrast a bit!). It seemed to be doing large circuits around the edge of the area possible from Marshall's Airfield - presumably a test flight. There is a better picture in the link. Of course it might well have been flying from one of the nearby US airbases such as Mildenhall or Lakenheath.

At the intersection of Newnham drove and Lodes Way a view back towards Wicken Fen, well the general direction. This is one of the Ha-Has that was built to keep the humans and cattle apart. There is one each side of this section of Lodes Way. Unfortunately with the softness of the soil it was necessary to add a fence as it didn’t stop the humans cows.  Although we are being warned about drought it doesn’t seem to have stopped the ditch from filling with water.

A bund was built around part of Burwell Fen as part of the Wicken Vision plans for the are. In the process the clay was excavated from pits – the peat topsoil is quite thin in places. This was one of the pits and it does seem to be filling up.

For a change i didn’t take pictures from the Reach Lode bridge, although there were birders on the bridge and parked up on the Lode side. With the slightly improved access this place seems to be attracting more birders. Although that is just an impression, I haven’t counted them. Whilst many fields seem to be ploughed almost as soon as the crop is harvested the ploughing and preparation activity goes on through the Winter and into the Spring. This filed near the Reach lode Bridge has been recently ploughed.

Alright then, here is a picture of  Reach Lode bridge – looking back, having crossed it. The angle makes it hard to spot the birder on the bridge though.

As I headed back towards Cambridge I stopped just alongside Lord’s Ground Drove take a picture of the trees in silhouette, roll on Spring. Although I like to take pictures of bare trees I prefer to see them with leaves on. (Whilst looking on the web for some information about trees I came across this website – a walk around Cambridge looking at trees. (I’ve bookmarked it.)

A slightly different picture of the same scene, I did say I liked pictures of trees in silhouette.


As I headed back I stopped on the edge of White Fen on the Lode side – this path leads up to the wild camping shelters being built near Oily Hall.

The Lodes Way in sign. The distance between Wicken and Bottisham is 9miles according to the sign at Wicken.

Footpath, wot footpath. Occasionally you will see footprints indicating someone has tried to use this path, but it isn’t easy. Personally I would trade this footpath for a bridleway up through to Oily Hall and then back via the road.

It was glorious to be out on a warm and sunny day. I rather enjoy this cycling in the countryside lark.

No excuses–a warm February Fens’ cycle - part 1

Thursday, 23rd February 2012: As I mentioned after getting my hair cut over lunch and finding it incredibly warm and sunny I couldn’t resist getting out on my bike for a ride. So I bunked off for the afternoon. Well I have been stuck inside a bit too much this last month or so – that’s my excuse and I am sticking to it. In fact the weather was so warm I went out in shorts and a much lighter jacket.

I was also able to check out my new light-weight configuration.  I hate having my hair cut, it goes back to the days of being a young lad and having no control over the results when my mum used to take my brother and I for a back to school haircut. I am not sure whether my mum had any control either – it was more what my hairdresser was able to deliver – one size fits all.

The result is it put me off for life, although things have changed hugely. Nowadays the places are much nicer, the people are more pleasant and my stylist listens to me and does an excellent job. I always come out feeling good. But the early “trauma” means I tend to put off getting my hair cut for far too long –so I go from relatively short, easy to deal with hair to a straggly, wavy mess and end up looking like a mad professor. I am certainly no professor.

One of the reasons I go to Newmarket to get my haircut is that I trust the person who cuts my hair.  It does mean that I must be grams lighter though – although I am not a weight-weeny really. I carry quite a lot of stuff on my bike, including several spare inner tubes, patches, zip ties, multi-tool, pump, tyre levers, hand cleaner, loo roll (another multi-purpose tool) and various other odds and sods as well as a camera, mobile phone and GPS. Whilst my cycling is not extreme, over the course of a few months the bike does take a bit of a battering and bits do drop off or break unexpectedly and even with Schwalbe Marathon plus tyres I do get punctures.

For me punctures are my way of deciding when a tyre needs replacing. The tyres get pretty battered and so prone to punctures before the tread has completely worn away.  Although the weather was warm and spring-like the byways and bridleways are still a bit soggier than I would like so I stuck to an old faithful ride to Wicken Fen along and around the Lodes Way.

The map is below and as you can see I did check out a track or two and yes they were pretty muddy. Here is the Bike Route Toaster link, the ride was 58Km/ 36 miles, flat and if you don’t like cycling through a layer of sticky mud I would give the muddy track loop a miss. I am looking forward to getting back onto the byways and bridleways again though.

Although I set off thinking I wouldn’t be taking many pictures in the end there were enough that I have split the post into two lots and I didn’t start taking pictures until I got to Lode. and that was on  the other side. This patch of Snowdrops caught my eye although judging by the mass of car in the Anglesey Abbey car park the Snowdrops there must be pretty spectacular. This is near where the Cambridge to Mildenhall railway line used to cross Bottisham Lode.

The trouble is once I take a picture then I can’t stop the fine weather must have gotten a few farmers out ploughing. This is the view of the fields across Bottisham Lode from Fen Road. Look at that bright shiny object in the sky – even with HDR it was so bright that reflections were cast all over the place and so end up as splodges over the picture.

I then cycled through White Fen where just across from the balancing pond where a flock of seagulls. I though at first they were following a tractor ploughing. I stood on one of the picnic bench seats to getter a better view and as soon as I got my camera out they stopped flying and settled down.

Mind you as I stood there a cyclist went past. That is what cycling is all about – no Lycra, no helmet – a jacket and cap and enjoyment.  Just get out and cycle – that’s what I say. Whether it is fresh air, exercise, time for reflection, countryside, camaraderie  or myriad other reasons. Cycling just is.

This is the tractor I mentioned earlier -  drilling the field, the seeds must be what was attracting the birds.  Although I didn’t take a picture I did come across some seed that had been spilled over the road on my travels, it was orange. Reading that last link it mentions that the seed is treated with a “seed dressing” to prevent soil borne diseases form infecting the plants.

A close-up of the drainage ditch alongside the field – despite the drought the ditches still run with water.

I then detoured from the Lodes Way and took the byway alongside the Swaffham Bulbeck Lode up to Lythel’s Farm and then round back along Lord’s Ground Drove. At this time of year with the rain and the activity in the fields you can expect a but more mud around, as you can see from the ruts. This leads onto the tarmac road past Lythel’s Farm.

That is the byway alongside Swaffham Bulbeck Lode, looking back towards the Lodes Way bridge.

This is Lord’s Ground Drove it reminds me a little of the Brecks – with the pine trees leaning. It suggests that the prevailing winds blow west to east, or perhaps the work in the fields to the right loosens the roots on one side of the trees as the trees on the right-hand-side of the road don’t seem to lean as much.

As you can see apart from a few small spaceships clouds in the sky the weather was glorious – the contrast between the black peat soil and the light sky was quite marked.  The funny lines are stalks in the very near foreground that I didn’t really pay attention to when I took the picture.

On the other side of Great Drove (heading towards River Bank) there were more busy farmers – in this case ploughing and drilling. 

As I cycled up Great Drove I stopped for some passing traffic, this is a single lane country road with passing places and when I am on my bike I do tend to stop in passing places. It is more pleasant than having a car whizz by at high speed centimetres from my handlebar whilst I am centimetres from the edge of the road.

One of the vehicles was another tractor towing some equipment. I seem to remember it being some sort of wide harrow and the sides were raised and folded. even when folded they extended over each side of the road – I had to move off the road a reasonable distance.

This is a view looking towards Swaffham Bulbeck Lode – which is behind the raised banking – it shows how much higher the drainage ditches are than the land which has shrunk over time. I presume the shrinkage is both from the soil being blown away and through the cropping. Quite a lot of turf is grown around here which must also take away a couple of centimetres each time turf is lifted.

On my way through Upware there were some new road markings – your starter for ten is what do these lines mean? According to the Highway Code pdf on road markings it is an edge line and marks the edge of the road. I don’t know quite what the legal significance is – in fact there appears to be none, unless they are part of an MCL and these aren’t.

After  surviving the very bumpy first bit of the NCN11 route as it goes past Wicken Fen the track becomes much more reasonable. Although after the snow and flooding there is quite a bit of sludgy mud so take care, especially when cycling with children. After Norman’s Bridge which takes you over Monk’s Lode the path returns to a decent cycle-able path – although it is a pity it is a bit thin. It s fine in when there is nothing else about but can be tricky to negotiate when there are people walking dogs not on leads.

Having said that I passed a chap with an unleaded dog – he stepped onto the grass and brought the dog to a sitting position well in advance of my getting there. I slowed down just in case – said thank you and we were both happy.

As you can see the sky was a glorious blue and with the sunsets getting later and later – yahaay, it looked like I was going to be way to early to get some sunset shots even with a detour or two.

Part 2 to follow.

The golden days of cycling–yes please–it takes investment

Thursday, 23rd February 2012: It is rather good to see so much positive attention being paid to cycling. As a cyclist it warms the cockles of my heart. Debates in the Houses of Commons with 70 plus MPs including thee ministers. The debate was led by the Cambridge MP Julian Huppert and indeed the Cambridge City Council voted to support the “Cities fit for Cycling” campaign run by the Time. Although fine words butter no parsnips as I tell my wife each time we have parsnips with a meal. This is the same council that reduced the role of a cycling officer from a 1.2 people to a half-time role in 2011. I would hate to think they are just jumping on the bandwagon and consider themselves to have created a City fit for Cycling. Cambridge has a lot of crap cycling with the Railway Station cycle parking leading the way as far as crapness goes in my view.

Apparently even The Guardian supports the Times’ Campaign. Although to be fair to the Guardian it has has always supported cycling and discussed cycling and cycling issues. They have an interesting and thoughtful piece on the Times’ safety campaign which even suggests that perhaps cycling is becoming cool. Mind you I don’t always agree with the Guardian “What makes Cambridge a model cycling city?” paints a romantic picture of considerate car drivers and bus drivers.  Believe me we do have inconsiderate motorists try cycling through Cherry Hinton’s traffic calming and so how often cars routinely squeeze you to the kerb when the cycle lanes idiosyncratically disappear. What’s worse they do it without even thinking about it.

Well lets hope that all these fine words turn into buttered parsnips – CTC urges the Transport Secretary to turn debate into action. Perhaps the Bus funding cuts are the Cambridge County Council’s way of encouraging more people to cycle.

So are we heading for another golden days of cycling? Check out the third picture of this Daily Mail piece on the Amish – bare-foot on a scooter ( and I don’t mean motor scooter) that is a bit to retro for me I think. Whilst looking for references to the recent MP activity I also found this article – “MP stopped by police on suspicion of being a terrorist – for taking photos of a cycle path” in 2009 – those certainly aren’t the golden days.

No the golden days, for me mean a time when cycling was part of life. You got to work by bike, you went out in the evening by bike. You certainly went out with a few friends for a jaunt in the countryside when weather turned fine – stopping at a cafe for an energy re-fill, bikes piled up outside the window. Like this picture – which I took This week, on Thursday.  I used Picasa to alter it a little bit – but there really were a bunch of bikes outside of the Greggs shop in Newmarket.

It was a warm day, Spring-like reaching 16C when a young man’s head turns to fancy and an older bloke decides he needs a hair cut. I was off for a hair cut and because my hairdresser is not too keen on a sweaty bloke turning up I drove and as I walked past this lot – I wished I hadn’t   When I got home I bunked off work for the afternoon and went cycling

The good news is that even if you do get involved in an accident as this article suggests we are blessed to live in a Country with excellent emergency care (compared to the US). Those halcyon days really might not be as far away as we think. Although if it turns colder again then we might do well to copy these Japanese baby monkeys and have a hot bath (after cycling natch.)

And finally, as I do seem to link to quite a few Cambridge News articles on their website I should let you know that they have won a “best website in region” award.

So here is a link to the latest on the Cambridge News Cycling Blog – 33 – about the A14 and 32: Have things changed?.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Even Safer-cycling–yes please

Tuesday, 21st February 2012: There are all sorts of reasons for cycling, one size does not fit all which is a weak link to the fact the on Monday I had to go shopping for clothes and was amazed how jackets, allegedly of the same size seemed to be a completely different fit. Or perhaps I have some sort of shape-shifting problem that I am just not aware of. (Although “losing weight is twice as hard as you may think”. Now I am not sure how hard I think it is to lose weight in the first place- there is a picture of a cyclist overlapping her saddle in the piece though.)

Surprised smile

These were work type clothes I was buying, although unlike most people, when I am buying work-clothing I tend to assess it on the basis on suitability for cycling as well as how it looks and fits.  There are some obvious things to think about like is it washable. You’d be surprised how many flecks of mud you pick up when cycling around, even with decent mudguards. I also like the waist to have a bit of flex, useful when jumping on and off the bike.  When buying jackets I tend to think in terms of layering and like my jackets to be able to accommodate a thin jumper underneath if required. That way I can more easily suit the clothing to the temperature conditions.

Mind you despite approaching 100,000 miles (160,000Km) of lifetime cycling I still get it badly wrong when setting off, especially when the weather is changeable. That is why layers are so important as it then becomes easier to tune my “operating” temperature. It also means that I look for clothing that is quite light, that way it is easier when I take it off and have to fold it up and tuck it away in a bag. I don’t think of myself as a fanatical cyclist – it just adds up over time, especially if you try to use the bike as the main form of transport rather than the car. Just look at the way your car mileage mounts up over a year, even if you think you only do small journeys and to and fro to work.

I have a linen jacket which has the advantage of looking crumpled all the time and the expectation of linen jackets is that a crumpled look is normal.  That also means I can crumple it up and stuff it into a bag without worrying that it will get any scruffier.

The good news is I did find some suitable clothing although shopping for new clothes has to rate as one of my least favourite activities.

Funnily enough safety doesn’t really feature that highly in my thoughts. Which just goes to show that I must feel pretty safe when cycling around (Cambridge anyway).  I do tend to tuck my trousers into my socks as well as wear fluorescent yellow bands around my ankles – also to keep my trousers out of the chain. In my experience it is only too easy to rub your ankle against the chain wheel immediately smearing oil all over. I also find that despite the power of modern washing powders oil stains  do not always readily disappear. 

Talking about oil here is another cyclist’s take on the inexorable rise to be expected for petrol prices. We don’t have much, India and China are rapidly growing economies – hadn’t we better think about alternatives. Otherwise I won’t be able to keep my chain oiled. (Although I use synthetic oil on my bike – does that count?)

It also turns out that us cyclists might struggle to keep ourselves clean here in the Flatlands (of East Anglia) as we don’t have much water, in the South they are suggesting not spending more than 4 minutes in the shower. Don't you just love it when you are held responsible for someone else’s lack of investment – not. Why are we building even more houses when we don’t have enough water for the houses we already have?

We humans do tend to think in the present, especially when the future. So it pains me that the concern about the effects man might be having on the planet seem to have devolved to the level of a political argument squabble. Now you might have guessed that the Daily Mail’s politics are not my own – but they do have some good pictures, “interesting” headlines and don’t hide behind a paywall. So whatever side of the divide you stand on – the following headline does not endear me. “How green zealots are destroying the planet”. A more rational view can be found from Professor David Mackay of Cambridge University- Sustainable Energy – without the hot air.

One of the statements to be found in the book (page 258 - here) “If you would like a vehicle whose fuel efficiency is 30 times better than a car’s, it’s simple: ride a bike”.

So somewhere in that lot you have it – I feel safe enough on my bicycle that I don’t feel the need for too much special clothing, including a helmet. There are some who would froth at the mouth at that statement. However I am able to pick my routes, I do wear a helmet for certain types of cycling – MTB-ing, on foreign roads and I don’t cycle that fast. I also feel that I am making a statement – cycling is not inherently dangerous – look how many Dutch people do it safely without helmets that is what we need to strive for here in the UK.

Mind you a picture tells a thousand words, we have the Times “Save our Cyclists Campaign” which is creating a conversation where perhaps it didn’t exist before. What we have to remember is that we are trying to encourage more people to cycle, some claim that “all they need is a bit of training”. I wonder though that the message that those people not yet cycling here is either one of “yep you’ve got us bang to rights – cycling is dangerous” or “yep more cyclists would be good – but we think so little of cycling that there is now way to expect any investment in safe facilities”.

In The Times there is a piece “Edinburgh sets the pace for a cycle-friendly city”. yet the picture shows anything but, with a bunch of MAMILS helmeted and jacketed being crowded by buses. That is not to knock Edinburgh’s decision though. If I were yet to cycle then the news, widely reported of  “Shocking moment jailed bus driver ‘used vehicle as a weapon’ to ram cyclist off road”, with the bus driver subsequently jailed isn’t really going to help encourage me. Bus drivers have a job to do, public transport is important however I don’t feel that the road layouts do any favours in the way that cyclists and buses are forced to interact. I have seen bus drivers get quite aggressive though.

The other aspect of cycling that worries me also highlighted by the Bus driver case – road rage. Here in the Flatlands a PCSO was “nudged” by an angry motorist in Newmarket. Motor vehicles under the control of people susceptible to road rage does not inspire confidence in wound-be cyclists. Given the damage a motor vehicle can do versus that of a cyclists one might argue as does Colin Nugent in The Times that “Penalty for cyclists breaking law is unjust”.

Indeed the trial of a van driver who killed a cyclist as he cycled home reports the van driver as suggesting that the “sun was low, my sight was pretty bad but before I knew it, I had hit the cyclist”. The trouble is that I can easily imagine this happening to me and so I would imagine can many would-be cyclists. I have had too many motor vehicles pass me with inches to spare, at speed, to feel comfortable about the skills of my fellow road users.

So let’s hope that the debate in Parliament on the importance of cycling will effect a big step-change in the treatment of cyclists and provision for cycling. We want more people cycling. According to this Post in As Easy As Riding A Bike, David Cameron, known for cycling is quoted as saying:

“Anyone who’s got on a bicycle – particularly in one of our busier cities – knows that you are taking your life into your hands every time you do so.”

Cyclists in the City reports that a Department of Transport survey found that 60% of people who can ride a bike think the roads are too dangerous.

It does worry me that the people debating this are capable of wastingspending £400,000 of taxpayers’ money on just TWELVE fig trees for their rented offices” it doesn’t give me warm feelings that they really care about the common man (or woman) let along us cyclists.

Lots of people do cycle though and not just in Cambridge – check out Bristol bike parking for instance. we do have 20mph limits appearing and they certainly make Mill Road feel more pleasant and safer to cycle down in Cambridge. Apart from the idiot who as I approached the traffic lights pulled alongside me and then squeezed me against the kerb. When the lights went green he I took the primary position and he then had to follow me. (Just a car, not a white van or taxi driver, in fact it looked like a mum on her way back from the school run.)

On the Cambridge Blog (Cycling Cultures)  there are some rather nice videos showing some of the pleasant routes through Cambridge. They are what make cycling fun and practical for me.

Phew all that to get to mention that Tuesday was a meetings in Cambridge day – I was layered up in my new clothes. I also had a yellow fluorescent cycling hat and scarf on. So surprise, surprise I got a bit too warm by the time I got to my meeting, via a great circle route. That was despite the fact it was still cool that morning although it warmed up to 10C by lunchtime.  I even slowed down a bit on my way in  trying to cool down a bit – loads of cyclists passed me I was going so slowly. It also meant I didn’t really have time to take pictures.

As I cycled back I did stop a couple of times though. There is still building going on in Cambridge – here overlooking Midsummer Common near Elizabeth Way.  To avoid problems with congestion they have helicopter pads on the roof.

As you can see just by the Green dragon Bridge it was gloriously sunny . It almost started to feel Spring-like.

This is Ditton Meadows – made from three pictures stitched together – it will be great when we get some leaves on the trees.

On the way back I put my scarf and hat in my bag – I think that was about right temperature-wise.

Oops I nearly forgot, what must be one of the best pictures I’ve seen for a while – a village amongst the clouds. For good measure a couple more: a rocket passing through he Northern Lights and a Bicycle snowplough.