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People on bikes – again

After the local press asked about my ‘person on a bike‘ experiences last week, they put a piece in the paper.
I put a blog post together for the record – see ‘Simply Riding a Bike

Now the local BBC TV have (again) asked me, and some local campaign groups, about our experiences of ‘riding a bike’ in and around Leicester.

As mentioned last week: People on bikes are simply asking for drivers to look out for and have a little due care and attention for, that person on their bike.

The TV article focused on the ‘close pass’ items:

  • The vulnerability of people on bikes mixing with motor vehicles needs to be recognised by authorities and drivers.
  • people on bikes’ mixed with motor vehicles are in a vulnerability position – this needs to be publicised, and where appropriate, people driving without due care and attention need to be prosecuted.
  • West Mids. Police have been doing this and I would hope other forces will see that it’s necessary if we are to encourage more bike use.
  • Almost every day I encounter at least one driver who does not give due care and attention when passing cyclists – hence a lot of my route is now off main roads.

BUT the rest of my TV interview and in my view a more important issue was along the lines of the below:

  • There is a healthy, cheap, invigorating alternative to the car.
  • Riding a bike is do-able –  I do it every weekday.
  • There are cyclable routes, but they are not ideal – inevitably, there are places where you’ll have to mix with motor vehicles traveling at speed. But for example, over my 9-mile commute, 8 miles of this are off roads!
  • Routes off the main roads are there, but design and creation of these routes need better consultation, planning, and investment. Bike routes need improvement and maintenance. Options for bikes; the value of encouraging and providing for people on bikes; needs to be embraced by authorities if we’re to encourage a broader section of people to ride bikes.

Who needs to exercise more?
Who would like to save money?
Who could do with space to clear their head?

There is a healthy, cheap, invigorating alternative to the car.

Riding a bike is do-able! I do it every weekday.

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“simply riding a bike”

I’ve wittered about this before I know, but after this recent encounter below, when the local press asked me about my experience of ‘riding a bike’, I had to respond.

Please look out for, and have a little due care and attention for, that person, simply riding their bike.

I like many other mums, fathers, daughters, and sons ride a bike to work.

The people you see on pedal bikes are just like you and me – people with hopes, cares, worries and ambitions. A person on a bike might be Mrs Miggins, Mr Chopra, cousin Johnny or little Veena. They have simply opted to ride a bike today*.

I’m privileged, as many are, to be able to bike daily to work rather than drive a car: It’s cheaper, it’s vastly healthier, and it has given me a new outlook on ‘stuff’ – an experience that I find priceless. After more than five years riding a bike daily, I’ve found myself having been through many ‘cyclist’ stages. Yes, the cycling ‘sport’, for fit adrenalin-fueled contenders is another matter – it’s not what I do. What I’m talking about is simply everyday people getting on a bike to pop to work, or town or wherever.

People on bikes find themselves in vulnerable positions and face frequent hazards when having to share road space with motor vehicles. One of the biggest discomforts is ‘the close pass’. When the driver of a motor vehicle, drives past a person on a bike without due care and attention; drivers travelling without monitoring and adjusting their speed and distance when faced with other more vulnerable road users. Motor vehicles travel at speed and they have bumpers, fenders, seat belts, airbags, impact absorption cells and safety devices. People on bikes do not. A collision between motor vehicle and a cyclist is speeding metal on mortal flesh – need I say more?

So why ride a bike when you can drive?

It’s taken me considered time to move from a driverly route and attitude to a more pedestrian one. My 9 mile cycle commute now takes me about 40 mins, while at rush hour in the car it’ll take perhaps 30mins. There is provision for people on bikes that is maintained, cleaned and signposted. Yes, it does need better management, upkeep and improvement in places, but it’s there if you look for it. For 90% of my journey I travel on shared pedestrian/cycle paths, designated Cycle Routes, and quiet back streets. But, of course I also have to share the unavoidable main roads.

Only about one mile of my nine mile commute is via main roads, sharing space with motor vehicle drivers. This main road space is where the cyclist can find themselves in potentially dangerous vulnerable positions.

All the law and common sense asks drivers is;

  • make sure the road is sufficiently clear ahead
  • make sure there is a suitable gap in front of the road user you plan to overtake
  • overtake only when it is safe and legal to do so.
  • don’t get too close to the vehicle you intend to overtake
  • pass quickly past the vehicle you are overtaking, once you have started to overtake. Allow plenty of room. Move back to the left as soon as you can but do not cut in.
  • give cyclists at least as much room as you would when overtaking a car
  • look out for cyclists before you emerge from a junction, turning, changing direction or lane
  • when passing cyclists, give them plenty of room. If they look over their shoulder it could mean that they intend to pull out, turn right or change direction. Give them time and space to do so.
  • cyclists may suddenly need to avoid uneven road surfaces and obstacles such as drain covers or oily, wet or icy patches on the road – give them plenty of room and pay particular attention to any sudden change of direction they may have to make.

The police have recently started promoting and hopefully enforcing the rules of the road – see here; closepass

“The most effective tool to curtail adverse driver behaviour is the threat of prosecution” West Midlands Police WMP Traffic

Worryingly, there are drivers who do not seem to realise the potential danger of driving without due care and attention.
There are also drivers who seemingly do not seem to care about the potential danger of driving without due care and attention.

*Yes, I agree, people on bikes equally need to ride with due care and attention, and abide by similar common sense rules of the road.

All people on bikes ask, is for drivers to please look out for, and have a little due care and attention for, that person, simply riding their bike.

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AJ & PT demonstrate…

AJ and PT demonstrate – as featured by the Bookmark People

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last ‘bike’ post for a while…

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I’m a tad tired of banging on about ‘riding my bike’ – and I expect u r too.
And so, last ‘bike’ post for a while (perhaps).

I use the phrase ‘riding my bike’ because the term ‘cycling’ has accumulated so much baggage over the last year.  I do not see myself as a cyclist any more than you consider yourself a driver. I simply ride my bike to work and back. And go for the occasional spin round the block.

As mentioned before, I have made the transition from a road-based cycle commute to a person-based cycle commute.  It’s an ongoing work-in-progress, it’s taken a year so far, to reform my mindset from a driver’s road-based travel to a more contented alternative.

Driving habits are too dangerous for most roads to accommodate pedal bikes.
The drivers’ mindset/habit is not healthy (indeed often unhealthy), whether driving, riding, walking or just waiting in a queue.
It’s hard to remove oneself from the ingrained mentality of gotta be, gotta have, gotta be in front, gotta move on, I wanna, I wanna, I wanna, I wanna, I wanna really really, really wanna zigazig, I need to be somewhere else, I need other… It’s linked with the ‘idea’ of success, achievement and ambition. But is it wholesome, necessary or truly successful?

There is an alternative which requires two things:
(i) to realise a renewed perspective on the act of travelling and being.
(ii) implementation of travel facilities (new ways) that accommodate modes other than motor vehicles.

I ended a previous post: I’ll have to risk the possible prang at 10mph on an estate road rather than the potential ‘prang’ at 30mph on the best road. This is misjudged and perhaps should be: I now seek to travel in a more amiable way.

I also ended a previous post: A new route with many low speed hazards and manoeuvres. Old route occasional high-speed potential killers. This is misjudged also and perhaps should be:  While there are hazards to be aware of one now seeks to negotiate rather than manoeuvre.

I ended a previous post with 4 questions:
Should cyclists freely share space on the road?
Current answer: yes, but equality is currently rarely achievable.
Should cyclists be given road-quality cycling space elsewhere?
Current answer: I think it’s possibly a workable healthy alternative.
Should cyclists be happy with 3rd rate white-lined gutters?
Current answer: no, where possible they should be implemented, but note; road users frequently don’t observe ‘white lines’.
Should cyclists just shut up and get on or off their bike?
Current answer: perhaps cyclists might pipe down, but that’s a subjective anti-lycra opinion – More importantly people who are so inclined should where possible get on and off their bikes and discover new ways.

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Kill cyclist’s enthusiasm? First weekend round of year…

Out for the first round trip of the year. (last weekend was just a trolly ride to the leisure Centre)

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Such a different ride to the daily commute – out in the country, on roads (actual roads!), letting your body drive the bike and ride!

In comparison, “the daily commute” is a dodge-fest, a series of trolly rides between and around numerous obstacles, detritus, and  incompatible structures and traditions.

It’s been a while since I rode out on the ‘open’ roads. I used to ride them on the commute but considered them too dangerous and so in September switched to the ‘cycle-path’ jungle.

Riding today brought me to entertain the old road again.

The problem with the cycle-path v mechanical-pedestrian v automobile route is that it seems a series of compromises:

  • It seems to say as a cyclist you  should be on the road not the pavement but you are not a motor so you need your own painted-line cycle-path to be in.
  • Then they advise to “claim your road” you are a road user, and you should ride in the road like the other traffic.
  • Some ‘authorities’ even advise caution about cycle-paths: “If there’s a cycle lane on the left, Owen advises caution: make sure before using it that the lane is sufficiently separate from the traffic?” 
  • Most routes are a combination of shared pedestrian path, cycle path, road and other. If it’s an unfamiliar route it’s near impossible!
  • When you ride the pedestrian path you pass numerous people cycling on the road.
  • On the Shared path you get daily comments and gestures to “get on the road!”.
  • When on the road you get regular comments to “get out of the way”.
  • When on the road you have to decide, am I compatible with the traffic or should I cut my losses and not risk death.
  • Two or more driver’s vehicles in collision = insurance claim.
  • Cyclist and driver’s vehicle in collision = serious injury or death.

As I say sometimes it’s near impossible – other road users do not have to constantly decide where do/should i fit in here?

#keepcycling ?

Anyway the ride on the relatively open country roads of Leicestershire was again a joy.

#keepcycling !

 

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Well done, Leicester City Council…

Well done Leicester City Council: Close [thanks!]… but no cigar!

On 17 April 2012, I reported to Leicester City Council [via FixMyStreet.com] a seriously dangerous pothole, a serious danger to commuting cyclists.

By the 15 May the hole had been neatly filled with tarmac.

Well done Leicester City Council!

But…


Also on 17 April 2012 I reported some eroded road surface around manhole cover LE4 9LG. Another nearby manhole was tidied-up [thanks LCC], but the worst culprit within 50 yards was left untouched.
I reported this again on the 23rd May, eroding road around a manhole which is causing danger to cyclists. It’s getting worse by the week, now [21st June] a hole 2 inch deep is a seriously dangerous hazard to cyclists.

Also 17 April 2012 I reported to Leicester City Council a serious multiple pothole situation.
There were half a dozen potholes and crumbling road surface. It was [and still is] a hazard to cyclists. It’s likely to either bring a bike down or cause a swerve into traffic. On the 15th May, these dangerous holes and broken road surface had not been fixed and is still a hazard to cyclists.
On the 23rd May I again reported to Leicester City Council, this Eroding Road surface on junction. This eroded road surface is just getting worse. It’s a danger to cyclists. To avoid this you need to swerve into overtaking traffic.

As of 21st June 2012, both of the above situations continue to get worse. I will approach them again.

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30th July 2012: Cyclists take care, 3 months it’s still there:

*************************************************
30th August 2012: yeah! Eh? Think it’s being fixed.

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A True Story…

The cycling kettle and the meandering pot…

(a true story, however the names of the individuals have been changed to avoid conflict)

A kettle was cycling along the other day and approached an inattentive pot crossing the road with her two little pottlettes.
The pot was unaware of the peddling kettle as her gaze was remote and her two pottletts wandered aimlessly.
The kettle hollered – “oi!”… “Oi!”… “OI!”, three calls, with increasing vigour, the kettle boomed alarm as he approached her on a collision course to certain strife.
At the last minute, disaster was avoided as the pot turned to face a recoiling kettle, cycling afore her nose!
With exasperation the kettle passed, bewildered by the disregard of the pot for the busy road and the misdirection of her attention, especially with her little pottletts in tow!
Such incidents alarm the kettle and alas frustration got the better of him as he left the scene and in annoyance he uttered “for f***’s sake”. Perhaps he knew better of it but, the adrenalin of a cycling kettle is hard to contain.
I guess the pot was thankful for being alerted to potential fate of her and her offspring but the language of the kettle was too much to entertain as the pot shouted with gusto “watch your language you TW*T!”.

Happy daze.

“then you show us how”…
replied the crablets to daddy crab
as he told them to
“walk straight my children”… 

In Arabic “The camel cannot see the crookedness of its own neck”
In Basque “The blackbird to the crow: Black tail!”
In Bengal “The Sieve tells the needle to mind the hole in its back!”
In Bulgaria “The starving are laughing at the toothless!”
In Burma “The Son is one month older than the father”
In Croatia “The owl mocked the tit for having large eyes”
In France “The hospital that laughs at charity” and “The shovel mocks the poker”
In Hungary “The owl says the sparrow has a large head”
In Indonesia “The thief shouting robber”
In Italy “The ox calling the donkey horned” or a “A rag speaking ill of a cloth”
In Japan “Eye wax laughing at snot”
In Spain “The donkey talking about ears”
In Venezuela “An armadillo tells a turtle it is too hard shelled”
In Sweden “Sweep clean in front of your own door first”
In Vietnam “Dog ridicules cat for being hairy”
Thanks Wikipedia for these similar idioms.