Harmony, balance, ying this, yang that...
Out on the bike over the christmas holiday, to stretch my legs, to keep the fitness up - and to avoid ending up lazing about, scoffing mince pies while watching endless film re-runs on TV.
Cycling away from urbania, traffic lights became infrequent and open stretches stretched for longer. The weather was not particularly inspiring - 8oC, dry, overcast grey sky.
But during this ride; longer and quieter than my normal commute, it became clear to me how harmonious cycling is. The revolutions of the pedals, a synchronously beating heart, clockwork inhaling and exhaling, all combining to power bike & rider for magnified progress, at speeds unattainable individually.
The conscience is refreshed to know, that the only immediate waste-products are the hum of passing tarmac, the satisfying clunk of the next gear, and the feel-good endorphins rewarded from effort.
I was going to use the word synergy, but since that word has been well and truly hijacked by the buzzword gypsies and systematically abused in "corporate visions" everywhere, I won't.
Tuesday, December 26, 2006
Harmony, balance, ying this, yang that...
Tuesday, December 12, 2006
Is it me, or are London's drivers warming to some seasonal goodwill?
Today I experienced zero incidents, no-one passed too closely, no one cut me up, no one knocked me off. Maybe I was riding defensively, maybe vehicles were all impotently knotted in traffic jams, or maybe the thought of Christmas presents and happy faces has relaxed everyone, as we all wind down before Christmas.
Compounding the success of this simple activity - Cycling to work, was a fine crisp December day. Again; enjoying visible breath. With optimistically bright daylight, made all the more valuable by its early disappearance this time of year. This will turn around in only 10 days, from the Shortest day of the year on Friday 22nd December 2006 and head back up towards to another pleasurable summer.
Wow - How quickly has this year gone by! Amazing.
Friday, December 08, 2006
Bob Breedlove, a champion endurance cyclist and respected orthopaedic surgeon from Des Moines, Iowa, USA, was killed when a pick up truck collided in to him.
The driver had no licence and was 15 years old.
He got probation, 24 hours of community service and paid $200, as the "consequence".
The family was unhappy with the "hometown favouritism" of the local authorities.
Why does the investigation sound like a cover-up?
There's no such thing as an accident - just human error mainly. So where are the deservedly harsh penalties for killing people?
Who decided killing a human one way results in a 20 year prison sentence, and killing a human another way results in a $200 inconvenience? Absolutely crazy!
Wednesday, December 06, 2006
Five items, so geekily luxurious that questions have to be asked of the buyer!
From worst to worst:
1.\ Personal Number Plate.
Buying a personal number plate registration for your car.
Nobody cares about your initials - who's ever asked?!?
We're not interested in your life story, that maybe you made your fortunes by retailing office stationary, hence the registration plate "P.CL1P" / "ST4PL4" / "B1R0 K1NG".
Even worse are plates failing disastrously to even resemble ANY name, let alone the unfortunate buyer's. E.g. "Sally" becomes "SA14YVZ". It's just: Euurgh!!
How to waste money - example here.
$500 to walk your dog. Or rather let your dog walk you.
I admire the twisted creativity of the inventor, but can muster only cackling ridicule for any consumer of this micro-slave device.
Link - Gizmodo.com
3.\ Hypnotised Kids
I miss playing eye-spy on long car journeys, for it's simplicity, that game entertained for surprisingly long durations! Much easier for parents to numb the kids by plugging them in to one-way DVD screens.
Now some Swedes are working on a backseat GPS device which makes a game of the journey somehow. At least it sounds more interactive than staring; hypnotised and dribbling, at a DVD screen!
Link - engadget.com
4.\ Defend What's Important
Yes that's right, defend the banana. Pff! no! Of course I'm not talking about 3rd world banana growers and meaningful campaigns of fair trade and social conscious.
Literally, defend your banana from bumps and inconveniences on its daily journey, by buying a purposely marketed plastic case for it!
Link - Bananaguards.co.uk
Link - Bananaguards.com - VERSION 2
I love the way version 1 can't have been up to scratch, for them to bring out a VERSION 2! - I've just got this picture of the Banana Boss with a Schwarzenegger voice going: "Ve neeed MORE pro-tek-shon!!!!
5.\ Rubber Ducks Suck.
Trying to topple the king-ding of rubber duckies - the classic yellow breed, here are a gang of pitiful PVC misfits.
Surely aimed squarely at the emotionally-unstable consumer, this product just sums up the void between luxury and necessity, in a time when a lot of people seem to forget that no luxuries are a necessity.
Link - "Designer" Ducks
If you even considered that any of the above luxuries look like a good purchase, hmmm well firstly consider doing this: - Head-butt your stylish new computer a few times and see if it knocks any perspective in to you. Maybe if wasting money on this crap floats your boat, then wasting some money in the direction of a few needy charities might work too.
Thursday, November 30, 2006
Which road users have benefited from the most infrastructure development?
Consider the Roman roads, well engineered but built for only specific road users - soldiers.
With the technology available the Romans made their roads fit for purpose, meeting the needs of that road user.
Road Evolution To Now
It is easy to take for granted the evolution of Britain's roads, from foot, to horseback, to packhorse, to horse and cart, to stagecoach, and so on.
Fast-forward to now, and which road users have benefited from the most infrastructure development?
Number 1) Motorists.
Thousands and thousands of purpose built roads, tarmac almost everywhere. Fuel garages constructed in every conceivable direction. Plus all the expense to try and reduce the harm and danger inherent in these roads: For example traffic controls, road maintenance, speed reduction, traffic calming, etc, etc. Even ferries and trains re-sized to take cars across the sea. Quite an amazing faith put in only one aging technology.
Number 2) Pedestrians.
Peds have endless miles of purpose built footpaths, residentially at least - roads and pavements are built hand in hand. Expensive pedestrian crossings and traffic lights - trying to suppress the violent movement of metal, cutting hazardous scars though communities.
But not always to the pleasure of selfish motorists: http://seered.co.uk/esplanade.htm
Number 3) Cyclists.
Transport planners in my opinion have really only tossed cyclists a few token scraps of infrastructure - the odd bit of paint for a cycle "lane" (no legal status, and becomes a free car parking place anyway). Lots and lots of blue signs, with little cute bike logos, but nothing much of substance.
Note how these "investments" by local councils of paint and signs are the cheapest, least committing, easiest temporary excuse to say "we did SOMETHING for cycling" Pfff!
- Where are the efficient, wide, cycling equivalent motorways, separated from vehicular traffic?
- Why is there no organised maintenance, to repair surfaces and clear leaves and glass from cycle routes?
- Where are the 3,000 cycle parking facilities, like at Münster main train station?
Saturday, November 25, 2006
Guangzhou, Capital of Guangdong in Southern China has banned use of the electric bicycle, in favour of cars which are growing in number by 150,000 per year.
- Riders caught using an electric bicycle, are to be fined and bike confiscated.
- Authorities cite untrained riders and disposal of the battery as the reason for the ban.
- Ahem, don't cars have batteries too? What a lame argument!
- If the riders are so bad - then train them!
- Powerful car lobby, exerting its wishes.
Seems like this emerging stupor-power is dazed by economic growth, just oblivious to the irresponsible policy decisions being made.
Tuesday, November 21, 2006
Now is one of my favourite times of the year to cycle, specifically; in temperature.
Today was 5 Degrees Celsius. Passengers waiting outdoors on the train platforms are re-wrapping their scarves tightly, and clenching their gloves impatiently, searching heat.
Cycling the dry fresh mornings in this kind of temperature, are just the best!
Practically the benefit is having to answer the question "how best to keep heat in", rather than the summer's converse proposition.
Also, there is something wonderful about seeing your own physical efforts measured and rendered by healthy patterns of exhaled moist breath.
I don't know why I like that so much, but I do.
Perhaps it expands the visual character of the cyclist, with added messages:
- "I'm workin' like a factory here!"
- "Look! Look! I have exhaust too!"
- "I prefer to do my heavy breathing now, rather than be unfit and end up a wheezy old man on a hospital bed."
- "And you thought I was combination smoking and cycling... oh the irony. Fooled you! :-)"
Plus the layers of coat & trousers are a timely departure from the summer's sexy-skin catwalk show. A respite period for any body-conscious shy cyclists, perhaps.
Thursday, November 09, 2006
Britain is 'lagging behind Europe in cutting deaths on the road'
Salient points from this Times article:
- The last decade has seen a 16% drop in traffic police. (Effectively superseded by the "incompetently-non-multi-taskable" speed cameras)
- From 1998 to 2004, police roadside breath tests decreased from 816,000 to 578,000.
- From 1998 to 2004, drink-drive road deaths increased from 410 to 520.
When I was growing up, perhaps listing armed police, and dog handlers too; traffic police seemed like the coolest tranche of policing: - You get to drive the best cars, participate in car chases, and posses some of the most highly trained road craft in the world. So why cut back traffic cops?
Money. Police officers need salaries, speed cameras don't. Police officers require training investment, speed cameras don't. Police officers can apply descrescion, speed cameras are obedient money printers.
It is almost laughable how much faith has been put in video cameras (including CCTV, speed cameras, bus lane cameras, congestion charge cameras, etc), by law enforcement agencies. Laughable, because machines are notoriously easy, (for those who want / need to) to circumvent their attraction.
"Man" on the other hand, will always have facets, and qualities, and senses which even a googolplex of zeros & ones, could only dream on achieving. For example, it is the traffic cop whose instinct will spot something suspicious about a certain driver, and often prove to be very justified, when the car is pulled over for a friendly chat.
Even the presence of traffic police just "being there" cruising the roads, is enough to influence driver's decisions (e.g. no-one speeds outlandishly past a police car). A valuable presence reminding drivers to drive "properly".
For those who choose to ignore their responsibilities, e.g. drink drivers, how is a camera going to instil any kind of fear of consequence, when it can't pull drivers over, and can't do breathalizers!
Plus if you were a mugger or a burglar, which environment would you prefer -
The city where an occasional police car may cruise around the corner unexpectedly?
Or the city where patrolling police have been abandoned in exchange for an impotent yellow speed camera?
Tuesday, November 07, 2006
Why do mobility scooters have trolley wheels at the back?
I know electric motors can generate a lot of torque, but even with a Radical-Gran terrorising UK pavements; SURELY, this thing can't do wheelies?
Perhaps it's politically-correct equal-opportunity, so if Radical-Gran wants go and tear up the local skate park with the kidz. She can.
Rock it Gran! Show 'em how it's done.
My gran was never like that, I guess there can only ever be a few Radical-Grans per generation. Well also, I suppose her equally audacious peers may have perished after other exhillarating activities like; Base Jumping, Parkour, Ice Climbing, etc, in their younger years. (70-ish).
There must be clues, to help detirmine who will develop in to this mythical super-hero status OAP...
Perhaps it's the car she drives?
Friday, November 03, 2006
Some drivers seem to think cyclists hold them up.
Some drivers appear to maintain whatever illegal speed they are obliviously trundling along at, regardless that they also have to safely pass a cyclist somehow, within a tight & hazardous urban landscape.
It is then, by logic and self-preservation, that cyclists arrive at the conclusion the whole lane must be necessarily taken, to deny opportunity for such careless overtakes, trundling, and skimming.
So yes, the drivers have lost time, probably about 5 seconds or something. And the sensation of dropping to 2nd gear, reducing by 10 or 20mph I guess is where some "loss" is felt. But the occasional drivers' narcissistic misconception of their own importance, compounds this event, because they are forced to decelerate their status-symbol vehicle, but also decelerate their Mc-lifestyle ambitions of "life in the fast lane".
Well here's some news; what was the fast lane, is now backed up with traffic for the next 2 miles. Get with it! Traffic as congested as it is now, plus the proliferation & extent of traffic lights, it really is quite acceptable to pootle behind a cyclist and take it easy:- Because you KNOW what is 'round the corner...
For answer to the picture question, and an excellent demonstration of the cause & reason, this link is mandatory viewing! - Here: ChapmanCentral.co.uk.
Wednesday, November 01, 2006
Aaahahaha! You have got to see this new invention!
Make sure you watch the promotional video, and enjoy the painfully bubbly "Treadmill Bikers" extol all the WONDERFUL! OH MY GOD! AMAZING! benefits of possibly the worst idea ever.
The Full SP
- Start with two wheels and a handlebar.
- Fit embarrassing gangsta spinners, as wheels (like anyone is going to do a drive-by on this thing!).
- Turn the frame in to a giant scooter (it is at this point scepticism sets in).
- Implant a runner's treadmill from a gym (whaaa???).
- Gear the transmission, so that sprinting on the treadmill like a demented hamster, results in this Unidentified Failing Object, barely achieving walking speed!
To be fair, this Canadian site is all about whacky & creative designs, and my favourite is probably the "Couch Bike".
I found the Treadmill Bike funniest when I surfed after coming home from a long day at work, and approaching it with a literal view. For a moment I thought the video was serious! Haha!
Monday, October 30, 2006
First proper commute back on the bike today. Although both AM & PM rush hours seemed, well, not very rushed, and pretty quiet - traffic wise. I was under the impression the big-mac-through-railings brigade were going back to school today, after half term? Maybe I'm mis-informed.
I have to admit the knock on 09.10.06 has influenced my riding outlook a bit, in the sense that all the big scary cars, are viewed as big scary cars. Where previously they were viewed just as fellow road-users, mainly co-operative, but bumbling their way to work.
I recalled insignificant examples in the past where I might be waiting at a traffic light and a driver for example might poke their front bumper in a gap next to me, quite blatantly not suitable for the two of us (too narrow), it's just uncivilised. But the moral is you can't trust some drivers to wait patiently behind you, so I try not to offer them such a gap to even consider.
What I mean is my attitude has stepped up from "hmm, I'll just mind my own business & hope everyone else is a good driver". To: "My Lane! My Lane! It's All Mine!!!!!" i.e. Returning to the pretty assertive riding style, taking the whole lane - conspicuously, especially whenever 2 in to 1 won't go (safely).
PM ride was my first night time ride this winter, and actually it was very enjoyable. With several flashing LED's all set to "provoke epilepsy" mode, I had no incidents, was given adequate room when overtaken by vehicles, and generally felt very noticed. Perhaps more so than in daylight?
Friday, October 27, 2006
My Scabs on ebay! Hahaha!
People have flogged worse.
Are you frickin serious!?!?!
Anyway this is frickin living-ART baby!
(Attentionseeking, & Ridiculously Tasteless)
I currently have baby-scabs underneath the friction burns (grazes) I received on 09.10.06. But the big protective scabs have finally just dropped off.
So naturally, rather than binning them like a sane human, I'm putting them on eBay, to let one lucky person, experience the dream, share the trials, feel the torment, and, err, chuck it in THEIR bin instead!
Things to do with your ebay scab!
- Glue the scab to your own limbs, and invent your own imaginary anecdote to impress all your friends.
- Steal my DNA, and get to work in your basement, creating a super-cycling Frankenstein.
- Stick it in formaldehyde and sell it to Damian Hirst for £1million pounds.
- Tossing a coin is SO last-year! Step out-of-the-box people, and flip THIS for heads or tails! Great for all those important yes / no decisions.
- Go 'round the house of the woman who ran me over, and put it in her cornflakes.
- Breed them, create scabettes, enough to pepper your driveway for that shingle effect.
Bids start (as they will probably end at) a bargain 1 penny!
Wednesday, October 25, 2006
Lunch time yesterday, I jumped on Ken's finest red and took a trip to collect my bike.
It actually looked better than I left it; visually obvious that it had received £100 of professional loving.
Got a bonus tip as well - apparently elastic bands tied on the brake levers, slowly bleeds the hydraulic system for air, when left for a few days. (This could also double as an elementary security device, for a really, REALLY dumb thief!)
I mounted the steed, and done some vigorous bouncing around, to convince myself it wasn't going to immediately fall apart - circus style.
I tentatively joined a busy main road, with cars passing by me. The first 10 seconds were spent thinking "please don't crash in to me, please don't crash in to me" and they didn't, so that was nice.
The ride felt a bit different to how I remember it; more squidgy and a bit wobbly, although that was probably more me than the bike.
Soon thought "this ain't so bad" as I rolled along, with the refreshing breeze caressing my face.
Further justification appeared ahead of me, and I rode straight past it. It was the first of many queuing traffic jams.
Monday, October 23, 2006
Should be getting my bike back tomorrow. I've not been riding at all since 09.10.06 because the parts of my body affected were all mainly on moving joints - knee, hip, elbow.
The limping leg straight after the crash has faded away now, but I haven't given my legs a thorough physical grilling workout yet. I expect everything should be fine. Although I guess my fitness will be off-peak when I start cycling again. Bit pissed-off that I missed the last few weeks of daylight commutes home though!
Saturday, October 21, 2006
The clocks go back an hour this year on 29th October confirming the end of British Summer Time.
The weather has already begun signalling its intention to steal away daylight from some of our commuting journeys.
But you wouldn't have imagined it's getting darker earlier, judging by some of the idiot cyclists and their choice of attire.
I can understand the argument for cycling in ordinary clothes; it's not a sport, you don't have to push hard & sweat, the bicycle can be used as a convenient utility, riding short trips in normal clothes, and the Dutch give a great demonstration of this.
But come on; dark black sky, tarmac road (AKA "the black stuff"), and I've witnessed a cyclist, with no lights, (inherently disadvantaged by only having 20% of a car's width (mostly the rider's body), as a canvas to be visible), wearing... black trousers, and a black top! WTF!
Isn't the connection between lack of daylight and cyclist's visibility absolutely obvious?! No wonder we have labels on our coffee warning: "contents may be hot", and on packets of walnuts "not suitable for those with nut allergies". Has everybody turned sto0o0opiiiid?!?
but who will see him on his return journey this evening?
Tuesday, October 17, 2006
This stuff just writes itself!
I had to whip the camera-phone out when I saw this battered old car parked up.
I was first drawn to the dents, scratches and parking scrapes...
Then the bumper-sticker just cracked me up!...
Who needs driving skill, when you've got PRAYER POWER!!!
Monday, October 16, 2006
Well, bike is in the shop, I should go & get it soon. About £100 worth of damage. Hopefully that should all be reimburesd through the driver's insurance in time.
I'm at work ok, but it's such a bore not cycling in! I'm driving in to work, which is just dull 1st-gear 1 mph traffic jam queuing, surrounded by equally bored drivers in our little isolated cages, breathing each others exhausts.
As soon as I try to connect with the outside world, and listen to the human voice of radio, I'm tormented by mind-bendingly cheesy and irritating adverts, for crappy products I'm never going to buy - especially not after hearing some smart-arse tagline which is void of the "still-funny-on the-15th-listen" factor.
Friday, October 13, 2006
I'm keen to get cycling again, but currently am having a contemplative period while I wait for my bike to be fixed, and my body to repair itself.
There are questions hovering around my brain, about what, if anything, might be different post-crash.
I mean this is my first ever road traffic accident I've been involved in. So if there will be any paradigm shift in outlook, now is when it's likely to occur I guess.
Abusing the dreaded "what if" thought process, I could go wild with dramatic-license and call it a "near-death-experience", which really; it wasn't.
But if the driver is dumb enough to hit a bright yellow cyclist from behind, who's to say she couldn't have rolled forward a few more meters, over my body?
- How will it feel riding the same monstrous roundabout again?
- Will I over-react to any little driver errors I witness?
- Will I start smashing windscreens and hauling drivers out of their cars, when confronted in future with dangerous driving which threatens my safety?
- Will I still have my rider confidence and assertiveness as it was, before the crash on Monday?
- Will I now pessimistically "expect" cars to crash in to me?
- Could it affect issues of trust with strangers generally?
- How low shall my expectations sink to, for drivers with foreign registration plates?
I realise this is a really moody and pessimistic post, so I'm sorry for that.
Wednesday, October 11, 2006
Still very stiff today, hobbling about as my right hip seemed take a solid knock when I was sent down on Monday. Compounded by the zip on the pocket of my shorts, which dug in to the hip leaving a noticeable gash. It was probably the point-load of the zip which caused the bruising around the hip area, making my walking speed now akin to a 90 year old man who just downed a bottle of whisky.
Bits of my body which seemed fine when checked over on adrenaline, are now deciding they want attention too. For example neck, ribs, abdomen, and both shoulders are all pretty achy, sensitive and stiff.
Slowly making my way to work yesterday on foot, I could not believe it as I was OVERTAKEN by a pedestrian who looked genuinely disabled, with his legs pointing in random directions, kind of dragging them inelegantly but effectively past me at speed. I'm not competitive - it's not like I was desperate for some impromptu Special-Olympics race or something. It just put in to perspective my current temporary situation.
On the positive side, it is exactly because of my regular cycling exercise that my immune system and general health is pretty strong, meaning that friction grazes from the tarmac are already starting to scab over, and heal.
Making sure I continue to eat healthily, take multivitamins, cod liver oil, giving my body the building blocks to work its clever stuff and get me back on my bike ASAP. Particularly, I’m taking in lots and lots of citrusy vitamin C, which is crucial for the collagen-related wound-healing process.
Tuesday, October 10, 2006
Monday, October 09, 2006
Like this. ^
Statistics, don't you just love 'em. I read somewhere that on average a regular cyclist only has an accident once in 20 years. So in fairness I was overdue my statistical obligation for a while now.
There is a monstrous roundabout on my way to work, it is challenging enough in a car, so needs rider confidence and road presence to ride it well on a bike. I've ridden the same roundabout nearly every day, worked out what to do and what not to do, and seen a lot of things occur on it. Never anything like this though...
So as usual I'm in the correct lane for my exit, about 8:20am today, when I see a silver Mercedes Viano people carrier pull out on to the roundabout, when me and a bunch of cars are baring down on the Mercedes, all fairly shifting, on this large roundabout at about 20mph.
That was her first mistake, flouting rule 161 of the Highway Code:
Give priority to traffic approaching from your right, unless directed otherwise by signs, road markings or traffic lights.
Which is scarily basic stuff not to know...
So with priority and a turn of speed I bank right around the curve of the roundabout, and I sense the silver Mercedes getting closer and closer from behind.
This part happened in slow motion, as she steadily gained on me, I began to get concerned. She closed in from behind, although only a few meters were shared with this vehicle, each foot she gained took minutes in my mind, until things changed dramatically, unfolding very quickly and harshly.
Blam! She's rammed the rear of my bike from the left side, with the front right of her 2+ tonne people carrier. This wriggle was totally un-saveable, as I was basically knocked from behind with a lot of force straight down in to the abrasive tarmac.
More later... I gotta have my salt-bath now. Yay :-(
Sunday, October 08, 2006
Where have you been!?!?
Well, unfortunately, I've been having a bit of trouble with some spyware / malware / trojan / general baddies infecting my PC.
After a week of scanning, and techie advice, I think the threat is now gone, which is a relief because like most people I rely on internet services quite a lot, e.g. banking, shopping, etc.
So I can't recommend highly enough investing some time to install some free protection against these threats, if not already done so.
Vulnerabilities I learnt about were :
- Older Java versions are exposed, and the latest version needs to be downloaded at http://www.java.com/en/
- AND once the latest version of Java is installed, REMOVE the older versions in control panel - Add / Remove.
- Internet Explorer seems more susceptible to browser hijacks, its firefox competitor appears much more secure.
- Any baddies dealt with, still may be backed up in the windows restore facility. This requires System Restore to be turned off, and back on again, in order to clear the old files.
So anyway, nothing to do with cycling, but that's why I haven't been able to post lately.
Tuesday, September 26, 2006
Not everyone owns a bike. Fortunately a number of
I can think of a range of scenarios for bike rental:
- Tourists in the capital on holiday, for some bike riding recreation.
- Commuters wanting to trial their route by bike, before committing to buy a bike.
- Owner rider's normal bike is in for servicing or repairs, and a rental could fill a few days in place of the normal bike.
- People travelling from far outside London, not wanting to bring their own bike all the way in to the city centre.
- Curious people who are just interested to experience riding around London on two wheels.
Where To Rent A Bike In London
Here is a selection of bicycle hire companies with their rates, in alphabetical order:
Go Pedal - Bike Hire
Bike Type: "classic city cruiser"
Cost: £18 to £24 per day
London Bicycle - Bike Hire
Bike Types: Mountain bikes & Hybrids
Cost: £3.00 per hour,
or £16 per day,
or £48 per week
OY Bike - London Bike Rental
Bike Type: "yellow rental bikes"
Cost: £2 per hour,
with a sliding scale;
£0.30 for 15 mins,
up to £8 per day.
Velorution - Folding Bike Hire
Bike Type: Folding bikes
(Brompton / Dahon, etc)
Cost: £20 for 1 day,
£15 per day after that.
Friday, September 22, 2006
What is already known on this topic:
Using a hand held mobile telephone while driving is associated with a fourfold increase in the risk of having a road crash.
It is now illegal to use a hand held mobile telephone while driving in the UK
What this study adds:
Drivers of four wheel drive vehicles in London were four times more likely than drivers of other cars to use hand held mobile phones and slightly more likely not to comply with the law on seat belts
Levels of non-compliance with both laws were slightly higher in the second phase of observation, when the law on mobile telephones was fully enforced.
An Under-Rated Problem
What's daunting for me on my bike, is the idea that anyone might not be paying 100% attention, while trying to control a tonnage of rolling metal.
Using a mobile phone while driving - hands free or illegally hand held, does steal the brain's attention. In the same way running many programs on a PC simultaneously, slows the computer's performance for any additional tasks.
Driving is a full-time demanding task, and each phone call received usually has a motive attached. So not only is the driver thinking up answers and formulating sentences, the motive of the phone call also has to be dealt with.
This motive could be a question, important decision to be made, complex advice being requested, recalling details from the person's memory, absolutely anything! All of that takes brain resource, and it steals that resource away from the 100% concentration needed to drive safely.
I don't care about 4x4 drivers not wearing seatbelts. That's their choice, and I have no issue with them going flying through their windscreen at 70mph.
But I do care about 2.1% of normal car drivers using a handheld mobile phone, and an intolerable 8.1% of 4x4 drivers using a handheld mobile phone.
It has been established that:
Using a hand held mobile telephone while driving is associated with a fourfold increase in the risk of having a road crash.
So not only are 4x4's more polluting, more deadly to pedestrians in a collision, less fuel efficient, over-sized space wasting, and dent-prone in car parks, but they breed driver arrogance resulting in increased use of handheld mobile phones (which is illegal anyway).
Or perhaps the drivers were always arrogant tossers originally, hence the reason they bought a 4x4 in the first place!
Thursday, September 21, 2006
You can't speed, illegally park, or kill people by crashing in to them, so your scope for disorder is pretty minimal, but you do a hell of a job at messing up!
You only have one main task - cross the road if it's safe. This sounds patronising, because it is SUCH a simple concept and it was taught to you at primary school!!!! The green cross code - remember?
You are the SLOWEST road user of all, bar none. You are the MOST VUNERABLE road user of all, bar none. So how on earth do you conclude that "I might make it across" is a sane decision, when the red man shines down on you, and the cars are straining to leave their grid at the traffic light grand prix!
If I can manage to wait at a red light while cycling, then YOU can manage to wait at a red man!
Pedestrians' lack of attention could perhaps begin to be explained, because a lot of a pedestrians' "road-use" requires NO thought whatsoever. I.e. walk out your house and along the pavement.
Compare this to drivers of vehicles, who have to be concentrating 100% because the situations are constantly changing as they drive along. And arguably a cyclist's alertness is further engaged, due to the energising physical exercise of riding the bike.
Isolated from vehicular traffic most of the time, pedestrians don't NEED to think, and can happily daydream as they wish on the pavements. However, a large problem seems to be pedestrians failing to engage their thinking switch, which IS needed, for example to navigate busy junctions.
There are obligations pedestrians have to be aware of, under the Highway Code. But most probably don't notice this until studying for their driving theory test. Too late in my opinion.
Often an independently thinking, alert pedestrian (Ped A) will assess a risk, and briskly make it across a road, regardless of red man or green man. Fine, no problem with that, well done, gold star.
But a lot of people are lazy, and assume that "if someone else just did it, it must be ok right?" and will copy first bloke (Ped A) and follow him across the road without evaluating the situation themselves (Ped B).
This is flawed, because the decision Ped A made was only relevant to him (he was not planning for a large group to cross slowly, only himself, and quickly.)
Every second in time, the situation is changing, making Ped A's action irrelevant & potentially unsafe, if carried out by Ped B seconds later with even a slightly different traffic scenario.
This can also spark a chain reaction of similarly mind-less copiers, who result in an unsafe, selfish "conga" of pedestrians, meandering across the road without right-of-way, and staring down the headlights of fast moving entitled vehicles.
Where do I start. I'm sure everyone can reel off a never-ending list of pedestrian errors, misjudgements and incidents they've witnessed or perhaps partook in?
Even just today, I saw a girl, nay; grown woman, happily glance across a road, take three steps forward, while looking left, directly in to the path of a bus, travelling from her right. The only reason she didn't spend the next 6 weeks in hospital, was thanks to the bus driver's quick reaction & emergency stop.
On the way home today, a "dumble" of pedestrians (plural word for a group of dozy peds) were wandering across a busy junction under the cautionary glare of the red man, and seemed surprised and shocked when I came steaming through legitimately. A friendly toot sparked to life dusty nerve connections, firing up the ped's under-used recollection of the green cross code. Oh how I love airzound!
Another example are peds who take a couple of steps in to the road as a "warm up", stop, THEN look left & right for cars. Trouble is the ped's little run up, is usually traversing a cycle lane, and they didn't even contemplate a 25mph bicycle being there.
Is this really what goes through a pedestrian's mind when they cross a road?
Option 1 - Don’t look & cross anyway.
Option 2 - Look, but don’t see, and cross anyway.
Option 3 - Look, see, and chance it anyway, assuming that staring down at the road hard enough, will supply immunity from any imminent threats.
It is totally achievable to cross a road safely without instruction from red & green LED's, I'm embarrassed to even type it. But for every 1 person sat at their PC scoffing derisively at the insult to their intelligence, there are another two people this instant, looking left (or not at all!) and stepping in to the path of moving traffic.
Wake up pedestrians!
You are road-users too!
Wednesday, September 20, 2006
I used to commute by train up to London everyday, god I don't miss it at all!
I had a course today in North London, so experienced the extensive London underground and overland train "experience" as a rare one-off, because most other days I'm cycling in to work elsewhere.
Being overused and under-cleaned, I recall that train smells were dominated by mild aromas of piss and stale body odour. Confirmed today!
At London Bridge station I was held in a temporary sheep-pen when station staff closed barriers to let over-crowding on the platform subside. Fair enough, but doesn't make for a smooth reliable journey.
Bundled on to tube train compressed in with about 5 or 6 people per square meter of floor space. I.e. Unpleasant. My primary hope was that the travellers surrounding my north, east, south & west, were not pickpockets.
Had my foot stepped on twice.
On the way back, had to wait 20 mins for next overland train. Which was delayed by 8 mins on top of that. Oh joy.
Luckily GOT a seat! but that turned out to be disadvantageous, because a HUUUGE fat man chose to squish besides me, his sweaty armpit resting on my shoulder. *Shudders*
With a warm sun penetrating the train's window directly to me, I felt AS perspired, as having cycled to work, but without any of the endorphin feel-good rewards.
Oh, it cost me the best part of ten quid as well! Pah!
Sod doing that everyday! I can't wait to get back on my bike tomorrow, and enjoy the unconstrained personal freedom of cycling.
Monday, September 18, 2006
Saturday, September 16, 2006
In my experience I’ve found most bus drivers to be considerate, patient, and sensible on the roads. Which is to be expected, considering they are piloting a 10 or 20 tonne death-wagon if it were involved in even the smallest of accidents with a cyclist.
What I admire about bus drivers, is even though every day they face the constant flow of ignorant, thoughtless, and un-co-operative traffic. PLUS equally unpredictable customers inside the bus, (kids not paying their fare, unruly passengers, window scratchers & graffiti-chavs, etc). Bus drivers still drive professionally throughout their long shift.
How many times do you see busses indicating to pull out from bus-stops, while a belligerent stream of vehicles indifferently continue to overtake the bus?
All that hassle & skill for around £18,000 a year. Underpaid in my opinion. It's such a crucial public service. Considering tube drivers get £30,000+ for "driving" a highly automated tube train, on rails (reading the paper at the same time!), it is outrageous that bus driving which requires so much more skill and attention, does not currently receive the rewards this responsibility deserves.
Of course there are rare but memorable cases of bad driving. I recall an irate bus driver thrusting 20 tonnes of double-decker towards my rear wheel, attempting to intimidate me to go faster. What he forgot is that I don't have a 7.3 Litre turbocharged power-plant like him!
Bad bus drivers don't last too long in the job either, because the driver's employer has a brand image to maintain, and is in competition with other bus companies for future route franchises.
So any bad press, complaints, or reportable incidents should be taken very seriously by the bus company's HR department. And with many people owning camera-phones, a quick snap of the registration-plate / running number, and a letter to the bus company, will go against the bad driver under scrutiny.
Although there are a handful of bad bus drivers, over the thousands of urban miles I've ridden, 99.9% of all interactions I've had around buses have been fine, and despite their looming size, and sinister hiss of the air-brakes when they pull up behind me at the lights, I never feel intimidated by busses.
Bus & Bicycle, Vs Car
The routes I ride have many bus lanes, and since bikes are allowed in bus lanes, they provide a shared benefit. Making either the bus or bicycle more attractive than driving a car in these locations.
The other important benefit of course is environmental. This site cites greenhouse gases emissions per passenger km travelled: 25g for busses, 100g for an urban car.
So despite the larger, increased weight, and bigger engine of a bus which appears less-green than a car, the greater passenger occupancy means each bus user individually generates only 25% emissions of what a car-user will generate. Cycling of course ranks number 1 above all, producing zero emissions!
Busses also do wonders for congestion, because 50 people on a bus, can be 50 cars off the road, no longer wasting 10m2 of road space per car.
Put another way, the passengers on one bus would represent a traffic jam of cars, the length of an athletics track; just vanishing! Because the (ex-) car users are now all on a bus. They're probably whizzing down a priority bus lane too...
Tuesday, September 12, 2006
Gyms and Cycle Commuting. Both contribute to a fit & healthy lifestyle, but how much do each cost?
There are 1,420,000 gym goers (source) which is great, because the gym is engendering fit, energised, motivated, people.
But strip away all the whizz-bang gadgets, TV's, high-tech equipment, and brand image, exposing the raw purpose of visiting a gym is just: to exercise.
Considering some gyms are charging £30, £60, even £70 per month (!!!!) just to exercise, are gym goers getting value for money? Can't that same energetic lifestyle, be attained by incorporating exercise in to the daily requirement to commute somewhere?
- Monthly gym fee: say £45 per month (£10.47 per week)
- Driving to gym & back say 2 x 4 miles @ £0.42 per mile*, £3.36 each day. Times 5 = £16.80 per week
- Parking near gym say £2 each day, Times 5 days = £10.00 per week.
Gym weekly sub-total: £37.27
Times 52 weeks = £1,938.04 per year.
Shared equipment - can't always get on the best machines.
Sweaty, smelly, other people!
Maybe catch other people's cold & flu viruses.
Even if members stop using the gym, get an injury or get lazy, the monthly fee keeps on leaking out of their bank accounts.
* ' * ' * ' * ' * ' * ' * ' * ' *
- Annual professional maintenance: £130
- Parking: FREE!
- Vehicle Excise Duty: FREE!
- New set of road tyres per year: £40
- Brake pads per year: £15
- Chain lubricant per year: £6
Cycling yearly sub-total: £191 per year.
Divided by 52 weeks = £3.67 per week!
Exercise is done automatically while commuting to work. Sounds obvious , but there are some benefits to this:
No chance to wimp out / eat cream cakes / stay in & watch TV, which happens when contemplating "have I got enough motivation to go to the gym tonight?":
By cycle commuting the exercise is automatic, a daily necessity, because you HAVE to get to work.
Commuter cycling, is a two-for-one special: commute home and exercise simultaneously, which gifts riders valuable extended free-time. Whereas the gym wastes more time in comparison: e.g. commute home, drive to gym, exercise at gym, and then commute home again.
Tired of exercising with the same view? Cycle a choice of different routes home.
Miss the anaerobic resistance weight training at the gym? Buy your own free weights, £30 from Argos. The cycling acts as a perfect aerobic warm-up to then lift weights at home.
* = From a recent RAC survey (source), the average yearly cost of motoring: £5,000 divided by average yearly mileage: 12,000 miles = £0.42 per mile.
Sunday, September 10, 2006
Underneath the baby-on-board window sticker pleasantries, lurks an unintentional menace feared by cyclists everywhere!
Frequently encountered on the school run, often in a menstrual panic on a chaotic mission to drop their sproglings off at school. Meet the chav-mum.
Pony tail hairstyle, smokes fags, often blonde of hair, "blonde" of nature.
Car plate ~ 1985 to 1995, typically well dented (evidence of previous driving errors?), internals neglected (blue smoke, no oil, no maintenance, etc), and I would take bets against the status of MOT & insurance paperwork validity...
Chav-mum commonly stands out when she's driving treacherous manoeuvres around cyclists such as:
- Overtake, and immediate left turn in front of rider :-(
- Force-squeezing past cyclists going through unsafe gaps, with only luck & hope informing this bad driving decision :-(
- Irresponsibly opening car doors without looking for cyclists / motorcyclists / even other cars / in fact ANYONE else! :-(
Perhaps the lack of attention the chav-mum gives to her car (dented, unclean, un-maintained) reflects a lazy outlook towards the role of "the car" generally, perhaps explaining why she doesn't take safe driving skills seriously?
Perhaps chav-mum views the car as an entitlement. A facilitating go-between, a right to drive for life, no matter how poor her driving skills.
Perhaps chav-mum has become ignorant to the reality that the car is a fast moving tonnage of potential foot crushing, bone-snapping, unforgiving metal. Some of her driving I've seen, evidences she has.
Quite obviously chav-mum has not enrolled herself on an imminent Advanced Driver course. So aside from handing out free highway code booklets, followed by "how to read" videos, the main way to help change this unwittingly-dangerous driver stereotype, I guess is by "street education." In the form of beeps, toots, and other expressions of incredulity, from the innocent party.
Unless chav-mum is informed she's done something wrong or unsafe, she will probably be absolutely oblivious to it, and do it again automatically. You have been warned!
Thursday, September 07, 2006
Probably the most odd cycle commute in to work I've had so far...
It was only yesterday that I was talking about;
Upgrading my patience, in preparation for the random oddities which these crowded circumstances can throw up.
London to Paris , a charity ride for the Royal British Legion.
How's this: Perfect weather, 18 Degrees C, dry, sunny, begun cycling, everything as normal, except for some unusual incidents.
It looked like a well organised event with support vehicles, and gains extra-cool kudos for having police block junctions for them. Lucky bastads!
2nd event de jour was an articulated lorry which had got itself stuck around an impossibly tight corner, which would never in a million years have worked in the first place!
I guess anger, frustration & embarrassment combined to produce "extremely desperate" driving, as the artic driver reversed directly back in to a large traffic queue waiting patiently behind, sending cyclists & motorbikes at the front scattering to safety elsewhere.
3rd incident was overtaking a long line of stationary cars stuck in traffic. Filtering on the right, plenty of room, when this guy just wildly threw his drivers door open!! WTF?!
No mirrors, no thought, no nothing. So he got a well deserved and huge "WTF!" blast of my Airzound bicycle horn. And the same response again from motorcyclists witnessing it following behind me.
The driver's expression as I unleashed the wrath of mighty airzound was kinda amusing. A transparent hotline to his thought process revealed:
- "Sh*t, that's loud!" Followed by;
- "I must have done something wrong, but I don't know what it is yet." Followed by;
- "(raised eyebrows) I think I'd better wake up now."
But the bottom line is, despite the randomness of today's unique and exceptional circumstances, all was well, calmness prevailed, and I got to work as normal. Thankfully, you don't see that everyday!
Wednesday, September 06, 2006
Little Johnny's back! In the flipside to my post Enjoying The Non-School-Run, this week kids go back to school. So what changes?
We return to the status quo of me cycling past stationary traffic all the way to work! Well, almost all ;-)
Is it noticeable that schools are back? Definitely! Particularly for the drivers delayed in traffic, rammed bumper to bumper, trading rear exhaust fumes with forward air intakes. For me cycling, it's noticeable because last week roads were flowing ok, and this week I have to adapt my riding style for dealing with more vehicles in the same limited road space.
The most noticeable effect is reduced visibility - sometimes only a few meters where traffic jams may be hiding all manner of hazards: e.g. pedestrians sleepwalking, right turners across your path, passenger doors opening, etc. What have I changed? Well mostly slowing down, chilling out, and upgrading my patience, in preparation for the random oddities which these crowded circumstances can throw up. As they say; expect the unexp...BOO!
For any new risks dense traffic might bring this week, it's got to be said, there is an undeniable satisfaction in coasting effortlessly past line upon line of stationary traffic queues.
If you added up the combined value of vehicles sat in a traffic jam, you could easily be looking at say £3 million? £5 million? worth of metal. Just sat there, spunking fuel, wasting money.
And there goes me, pedalling away, staying fit, riding past jams, wondering with jaw-dropping disbelief why these drivers suck this every day, and when they will have their eureka moment and try cycling in?
Cycle commuting to work for the last 2 years I can honestly say, even with the most humongous traffic jam tail-backs, blocked roads, roadworks, and the like, my actual cycling time to work remains amazingly consistent! I generally only incur a tolerance +/- 2 minutes, cycling is THAT reliable! For my car, that same tolerance is +/- 30 minutes late.
How come? Well on the bike my average speed is pretty steady, even if I push hard and go around quickly, traffic lights tend to even things out. Bikes are great for carefully filtering past stationary traffic queues. Because of that, invariably cyclists get through the 1st phase of green traffic lights they approach. The combination of these factors makes commuting times by bicycle, very predictable.
Tuesday, September 05, 2006
"Motorists, cyclists and pedestrians in London are all being encouraged to ShareSource: TfL
the Road - the title of a new and ongoing Transport for London (TfL) campaign"
"London's roads are crowded - we can behave like caged rats and fight with each other for space, or we can behave like human beings and cooperate with each other."
Source: Institute of Advanced Motorists
Will it work?
Asking people to change ingrained habitual behaviour, doesn't work:
- UN: "Excuse me Iran, would you mind not making nuclear bombs please?" - pff!!!
- Roads: "Drivers, please do not exceed the speed limit." - pff!!!
- Health: "Chavs, kindly avoid binge drinking your own body weight in alcohol and beating each-other up every weekend" - pff!!!
Generally, the only way people change is if they have to.
The ambition to achieve a more considerate and co-operative road using population is very worthwhile pursuing. And I commend TfL for even attempting this almighty task.
To make a cultural shift in attitude does not happen by throwing up a few posters, sitting back and maintaining the status quo. There needs to be a "pull" factor - justification and selling the attractiveness of the idea, to motivate people towards the idea. AND there needs to be a "push" factor - enforcing and coercing those who are too lazy to change, are in a long-term rut of bad habit, or negatively want to see the idea fail.
To achieve change, there has to be friction, in this "Share The Roads" campaign, this necessary friction will have to come from enforcement and consequence. Fines, punishment, and educational sentencing (e.g. safety courses), will need to be the tools of this change, aimed at all offenders, regardless of their mode of transport.
Getting a message through to people these days is no easy mission, TfL's campaign will have to compete with the advertising giants, and all manner of media trying to tempt and woo consumers in to some product or other. Of which, us consumers have become increasingly resistant to, often filtering out the "white noise" of advertising because we've become sceptical of the whizz-bang claims and over-rated, misleading messages.
However TfL conduct this "pull" aspect of motivating road users to "buy-in-to" the share-the-roads idea, one question will have to be addressed in road-users minds: "Why should I?"
Camden Cyclists site hosts info of the same campaign name, and rooting around, mentions a quite substantial sum of £500,000 earmarked for this campaign. Now this is old data, and I don't know the accuracy of it, but I'd expect to see something special for that kind of dough!
Camden cyclists - share the road
Other ways to blow half a million £:
> Buy 3,000 new bikes and hand them out for free.
> Employ 240 coppers 24/7 for a month, to rugby-tackle red-light-jumping cyclists.
> Employ 1 million hippies to descend on London for a day and give everybody traffic-jam hugs.
> Give the money to me.
> Send it to Nigeria 'cos this email I got right, says I will get £4 billion back in to my bank account!
> Employ those Hare krishna geezers FOREVER! To spread good vibes by singing their mantra at all main road junctions in London.
Other linkies on this topic:
Tuesday, August 29, 2006
Many councils have ongoing policies which each year introduce new 20mph zones in to residential areas. From a cycling point of view: Who cares? & Do they work?
20mph zones are more enjoyable to cycle, for exactly the reasons of relative speed posted about here. Two and four wheeled traffic generally flow more harmoniously in these traffic calmed areas.
When first introduced to my local area, there was the occasional idiot car driver who was desperate to scream past my bike, earning a tank slapping "boof" as he scrapes something expensive on a speed hump...
But it seems most people become used to the safer speed, albeit by force and not choice. I guess it's a demonstration of selfish culture, that 20mph zones only work when enforced by the physical impracticalities posed by speed humps. Meh.
Up to 20mph on flat, is a speed accessible to most cyclists, perhaps not always if the wind direction is against them, but certainly if the wind is coming from behind them, giving some welcome assistance.
I find the short wheelbase of a bicycle means I can ride over speed humps effortlessly quicker than cars do. Whereas in my car I have to slow right down, or else risk damage to the undercarriage (as previous drivers have found out, judging by the wounded tarmac above).
The majority of residential roads are a minefield of potential hazards, often with dense rows of parked cars making visibility quite obscured. E.g. Who knows when a family cat might run out from underneath parked cars? Or when a car door may be unexpectedly swung open? Or when a football rolls in to the road, chased by a child? Or when cars reverse from driveways after an obscured bend?
In places like London, these crowded & populated urban & sub-urban settings are so widespread, that I feel many people become comfortable and nonchalant with the density, to the extent it is quite natural to drive through residential roads at excess speeds which don't acknowledge the ever-present residential hazards.
20mph zones, although employing rigorous physical deterrents, still often don't enforce the 20mph limit. When the speed humps are spaced too far apart, modern cars are easily hitting 30mph -40mph on the flat spaces between speed humps: Nullifying any calm and safe cycling evironment a 20mph zone may have set out to promote.
By spacing road humps closer together, traffic planners could make a 20mph zone genuinely successful - so that by the time a car (even a high performance car) accelerates to 20mph, it has to slow for the next imminent speed hump.
But is there any need for speed humps at all? Here's an idea:
Consider the technology already in use:
- Cruise control - The car automatically maintains a constant chosen speed.
- Electronic maximum speed limiters - Although a car can potentially go faster, manufacturers impose restricted maximum top speeds (e.g. 155mph).
- GPS route navigation (e.g. Tom Tom / Garmin / Navman / etc ).
It is only a short hop of imagination to combine the existing technology to eliminate dangerous speeding in residential areas.
Given that each individual speed hump costs around £1,000, GPS nationwide could be a whole lot cheaper & smoother method of managing the speeding problem.
Consider that the GPS finds your route, and knows your location. As easy as it is to know about hotels in the area, the GPS device could similarly be programmed to know the speed limit of the present road. If the GPS could talk to the car's engine management system, the two would guarantee speed limits are not exceeded.
This idea would generate a double benefit of safer traffic speeds through neighbourhoods, and reassurance the driver will never be caught speeding and suffer the fines and penalty points which go with it.
Given satellite navigation has become much cheaper recently, and is even sold as standard on some cars, this whole idea could be easily distributed as people renew their cars. Even if only 1 in 10 cars benefited from GPS speed management, all the cars in traffic following behind, would also be affected, in an ad-hoc Pace Car kind of situation.
- 20mph a better traffic speed to cycle amongst.
- Bikes less affected than cars over speed humps.
- 20mph is required because people become accustomed to speeding in residential areas.
- Speed humps only effective when continually located close to the next one.
- GPS speed management is a cheap & easy near-future solution.
Sunday, August 27, 2006
One legacy of the infamous Millennium Dome on the Greenwich peninsula, is a quality stretch of National Cycle Route Number 1, which passes through it.
The cycle route around the dome really is the complete antithesis of bad cycle lanes. As shown in the pictures, the design is wide enough for overtaking, riding in pairs & talking, and allowing a safe gap between oncoming cyclists, (something many other cycle paths fail at).
The purpose built cycle route, alongside the river Thames, genuinely deserves some credit for the well-designed, fit for purpose, facility which is available today. It's fine to ride, with a smooth flat surface.
A cycle map for the Greenwich peninsula is available on TfL's London Cycle Guide 11. Links available on my previous post: London cycle route map resources.
This is how off-road cycle routes should be.
Tuesday, August 22, 2006
Cyclists are like badly behaved toddlers running around the ankles of shoppers, as adults navigate their trolleys around other trolleys in a supermarket.
The bicycle is a vehicle; riders share the road space with a variety of other vehicles. A gruesome recipe of flesh & metal is only avoided because of the compromise and co-operation that is set-out in the Highway Code.
To arrogantly disregard the code, cycle through red lights, harry pedestrians out the way as they try to cross on a green man, make entire journeys on the pavement "’cos it's safer for me" (instead of the road - where vehicles live), and other examples of untrained and inconsiderate cycling, really reveal to me that the recent media onslaught highlighting negative examples from cyclists, is pretty justified.
When surveys are reporting endemic errant cycling, such as 50% of cyclists red-light-jumping, which matches up with my daily experiences, it appears "the cyclist" - the stereotype, is literally goading everybody else, including the "authorities" (as limp and without authority as they are...), showing that cyclists can do what the hell they want, overtly ignore their responsibilities, and generally piss everyone else off who are trying to co-operate and follow the Highway Code.
What this shows, is that human nature left to its own choices opts for the selfish gains, often at the inconvenience of others.
Stealing time by not stopping at red lights, of course has benefits, in the same way stealing a cake from a shop has the advantage of not having to pay for it.
Not only highlighting the failings of cyclists, this current situation I am witnessing, highlights the failure of enforcement. Such widespread and frequent law breaking is so easily available to any cyclist who wishes to make that choice, because there is no deterrent or enforcement of the alternative.
Contrast with the driver who is coerced in to compliance by speed cameras, red-light-jumping cameras, bus lane cameras, parking cameras & wardens, in an Orwellian but effective, big brother style of constant enforcement. It seems cyclists need the same?
Monday, August 21, 2006
Just a quick plug for anyone who knows some fresh cyclists looking for some inspiration / assistance / riding tuition in and around the SE16 area of London.
It's an event on Thursday 24th August (11am - 7pm) called "Bike Magic Day" at Surrey Quays.
Offering stunt shows, simple local bike rides, and help with basic maintenance issues.
Perhaps the most attractive offer, for anyone considering beginning riding / cycle commuting, is an offer from "Cycle Training UK" of seriously discounted cycle coaching.
Wednesday, August 09, 2006
I recall reading various reports which assert the dreaded school run, is to blame for something like 33% to 50% of rush hour traffic. On my ride, it's VERY noticeable, especially during the morning journey.
This bliss of quieter roads & less cars, has got even better in August, which I guess is down to the typical holiday season. Whereby all the little kids are now getting driven around the streets of tourist resorts, instead of to school. The obese little sods!
This status quo lasts from July to September, and I'm going to enjoy it to the max.
Sunday, August 06, 2006
While motorists are constantly under threat of being caught speeding, this cyclist is interested in a different kind of speed.
Let's say a car turns a bend and gets first look at a cyclist in front, who is 50 meters down the road.
If the car is travelling at 30mph, and the bike is stationary (0 mph). The car will be where the bike is, in 3.728 seconds.
If the car is travelling at 30mph, and the bike is travelling at 10 mph. The car will be where the bike is, in 5.592 seconds.
If the car is travelling at 30mph, and the bike is travelling at 25 mph. The car will be where the bike is, in 22.369 seconds.
This example makes it patently clear that the faster the cyclist's speed, the longer the car behind has; to spot the cyclist, consider the best way to overtake, to plan and execute this manoeuvre.
With the '30mph car' vs '25mph bike' example, the ample time gap (22 secs before overtake) is present, because the car is only catching the bike at a rate of (30mph - 25mph = ) 5mph.
This is the relative speed between both vehicles.
Should the car be breaking the 30mph speed limit, let's say 45 mph (which is 198 feet per second!), and the bike is going uphill at 10mph, the car will be on top of the bike in 3.196 seconds.
That is quicker than if the bike was even stationary, and the car was doing 30mph!
(Relative speed in these examples:
e.g.1: 45mph - 10mph = 35mph.
e.g. 2: 30mph - 0mph = 30mph)
There is no doubt modern cars have fantastic technology, and in dry theoretical conditions can brake very efficiently once the pedal is applied. However, the weakest link as ever, is the human decision maker at the helm.
3 seconds sounds ok while sitting at a PC reading this, but tasks like mirror checking, indicating, changing gear, turning, checking speed, turning, etc, all take valuable seconds.
The more closely matched a bike and car's speeds are (i.e. a low relative speed), the more time the driver has to carry out the right checks and tasks, to overtake the cyclist safely. Cars being driven at excess speed have the opposite effect, so is more dangerous.
It is worth mentioning of course that managing relative speed (between bicycle and car) is largely the responsibility of the motorised vehicle, because it is much easier to control speed up or down - via engine power, than it is via pedal power.
The Faster The Better
Perfection sometimes, is when relative speed = 0 mph. I feel very safe bombing down hill at 25mph in the middle of a lane, at a similar speed to surrounding traffic. Because I just become another vehicle, in line. Well away from parked car door-zones, and in easy view of other drivers.
A small fan-club might form behind, of drivers who aren't able to overtake me, but they're not at all bothered, because we're all making fair progress.
Of course there are many other circumstances, which will require a different approach, and a relevant speed. (E.g. Filtering slowly past traffic queues / Densely populated pedestrian areas / etc).
Situations like heavy traffic might look daunting to some, but if the traffic is only ambling along at 10-15mph or so, this makes it a lot easier for me on a bicycle join in at 15mph also, to achieve that relative speed of zero.