Thursday, November 30, 2006

Who Benefited The Most?

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:

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!

Working on the experienced law that - "If you build more roads, more cars will fill and congest those roads". The same rule, then, works for cycling too - If you build more dedicated cycle paths, more bikes will fill and congest those routes (in a good way!).

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Saturday, November 25, 2006

Cycling Banned!

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.

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Tuesday, November 21, 2006

My Favourite Time

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.

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Thursday, November 09, 2006

Less Police, More Deaths

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?

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Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Radical Gran

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?

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Friday, November 03, 2006

Trundling Vs Pootling

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.

Baring in mind this is a Cycling blog,
who or what, might be holding up this queue of cars?

When the tables are turned, I am driving and a cyclist is in front riding through a space only really safe for one vehicle (a bicycle is a vehicle too), I back off, slow down and wait for a place with enough space (ideally a gap the same width as a car, as per the Highway code) and overtake the cyclist then.

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:

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Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Just... Why?

Aaahahaha! You have got to see this new invention!

Treadmill Bike

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!

Arty, Baby!

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!

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Inspiration from: Warren T

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