Category Archives: transport - Page 2

Monday inspired by Steve Abraham

So I’m feeling inspired by the amazing Steve Abraham. On 1st January he started a One Year Time Trial to break the record, held by Tommy Goodwin since 1939, for the longest distance cycled in a year. So far he has done over 1,000 miles!
My response is much smaller, but it is leading to me choosing slightly longer routes to/from meetings etc when I can. Hence, a slightly odd route back from Birstall this morning.

Elapsed Time Moving Time Distance Average Speed Max Speed Elevation Gain
03:34:12 00:47:16 10.21 12.96 27.29 892.39
hours hours mi. mph mph ft.

I also like this new Strava feature where you get awards for the fastest segments (short bits of road) this year. Tempting to find bits of road nobody else has ridden yet this year 🙂

Anyway, I guess my target this year is to reach more than 5% of Steve’s miles which is still going to be more than I did last year.

They should be banned!

This morning was cold, foggy and very icy! I rode to Rothley to take their annual Methodist Covenant Service. Despite the -2.5 degree temperature, fog and ice all over the road most car drivers did not slow down, they did not give me more space (I was lit up like 3 Christmas Trees), they did not take more care to only overtake when it was safe. Many had no lights on. In my view they should be banned!

If you drive so that it is only good luck that meant you didn’t kill someone then we should be able to take away you license.

In my view at least six drivers this morning were so bad they deserved to be stopped and have their vehicle confiscated immediately.

That included the driver of a Corsa heading towards Rothley at well above the 40mph speed limit. How they didn’t crash as they tore round the bend to the bridge over the river Soar.

It included the drivers of two cars who felt their journey was so important that they just had to overtake me without lights on when there was an oncoming car. With a frozen gutter puddle to my left it was terrifying.

It included the drivers of two Range Rovers and one big Volvo SUV who all swept past without moving out of their line at all to give me any space. Note that nobody was coming the other way, this was indifference, laziness and some kind of entitlement.

Volvo claim to be interested in improving safety. So why are they not developing black boxes to record their drivers behaviour and to stop the car if it is driven dangerously. They claim to be able to be able to detect cyclists so why don’t then they immobilize the car immediately if it passes too close to a cyclist or pedestrian. The driver could be made to get a release code from their insurance company (and pay an increased premium each time).

By contrast my thanks to the 3 drivers who politely and properly waited until there was proper space to overtake and the 2 drivers who did obey the law and wait for me to pass a parked car on their side of the road before proceeding.

Sadly Leicestershire County Council believe that only motorised vehicles matter. My leading worship and visited elderly people in their homes does not have any value because it was not done by car, hence they are uninterested in working for safer roads for anyone other than drivers.

Anyway, here is my slow and cautious route from today.

[Ride id=236619907]

Practical combinations that only a bike can facilitate

Some Christmas traditions appear to have been lost. This year nobody bought me any socks or toiletries. Although remembering the choices of some, now long departed, Aunts maybe this is not all bad.

So I needed to get both some new socks and some shower gel and shaving cream. Plus I’m trying to lose a few mince pie remnants from my middle.

The practical answer was to wait for the rain to stop and then cycle to Next at Thurmaston Shopping Centre for some socks. Nice and quick with the only delay being all the cars circling the car park looking for a space and not looking for anyone else at all. Unlike those car drivers I was able to find a space to park, under cover, less than 20 yards from the shop entrance. I guess that by the time I got back to my bike with my socks some of them were still trying to park or taking their life into the hands of others as they walked across the car park danger zone towards the shop.

Anyway, for me onwards. I continued into Leicester along the Melton Road/Belgrave Road. I apologise for the frustration is causes car drivers when they are holding each other up and I carefully nip past them. Some take that as a challenge and with lots of revving engines scream past me, only to slam their brakes on again at the next lights or turning car. What they forget is that even if they get ahead of me I’ll more than make up for it as I’m allowed to cycle right up to the shop I’m visiting. In fact I lock my bike up about 3 small shops away from Lush and go straight in. Meanwhile all those car drivers will still, at best, be walking out of the car park at least 1/2 mile from the shop.

It did amuse me in Lush when the lady at the til said “Oh you must really like our ‘Dirty’ products”. Not especially but I don’t like the smell of strawberries enough to shave in them and you have very few ranges of products for men – no maybe not very few, maybe only one ie the aforementioned ‘Dirty’. Still the products are made in the UK, are made by a company that does not try to avoid UK taxes and are made without animal testing. Always good when the money I spend can be recycled around our own economy generating jobs and income so that we can fund our NHS etc.

From Lush I decided to get a little exercise so I came home via

  • a quick look at Jubilee Square (yes I do hate the name, wish it had been named after something local or worthy). The long queue of cars did seem to mean that it is fairly traffic calmed at the minute, although one taxi seemed to be on a tour of the pedestrian areas of the square by driving around the new monument thingy.
  • the new cycle track crossing of the Southgates slip road at St Nicholas Circle. The post with the toucan button and indicator is appallingly positioned for cyclists coming from Jubilee Square and heading for DMU (or vica versa)

20141203_150241

  • A quick flypast Jane’s site. See Planning Permission At Last
  • I then tested the shared use cycle facility along Bennion Road. It has been “finished” for months and yet there is still not a single sign to show that it is shared use.

My rather roundabout route was:

Elapsed Time Moving Time Distance Average Speed Max Speed Elevation Gain
01:45:11 01:25:27 17.48 12.27 33.78 652.89
hours hours mi. mph mph ft.

By the time I got home the temperature was just below freezing and my feet in old trainers were just starting to notice it, although overall nice and comfy.

Total elapsed time was 1 hour 45 minutes and I’ll bet that with just the two shopping stops it would have been hard to better that much by car – and there would have been all that expense of fuel, parking as well as the running costs of the car.

A typical utility cycling day

This is where I cycled yesterday (Thursday):

typical-day

That is just over 13 miles. Yet the longest ride was only 2.6 miles.

Like most of my “normal” days it was made up of lots of small separate journeys.

  1. To someone’s home to plan Sunday’s worship
  2. To someone else’s home to plan a funeral
  3. To St Peter and St Paul primary school for an assembly
  4. To Queniborough Methodist Chapel to support an after school club
  5. To Wreake Valley Academy for a parents evening
  6. To Syston Methodist Church to open up and sort out recording for a choir
  7. A quick trip home to collect my headphones for the recording.

Note that

  • Car parking is not available close to all these destinations
  • Cycling avoids the busiest part of Syston (The Melton Rd especially the junction with High St and Barkby Rd)
  • My car engine would have never warmed up on any of these journeys. So it would have been both much less fuel efficient, much more polluting and cold inside)
  • I was able to park right outside (and sometimes inside) every destination

For the community, my employer and myself cycling is less damaging and cheaper than driving (much less likely to kill or injure someone else, no air pollution, no noise pollution, less damage to the roads, no congestion) with obvious health benefits and savings (I’m less likely to be obese, will take less time off work and won’t have damaged anyone else’s health).

Yet doing these short journeys around a small town involves significant levels of determination to ignore perceived danger and actual inconvenience created by planners. In a small town, where nobody lives more than a mile from the centre or from school we have developed an infrastructure that prioritises getting around this small area by car. This is crazy! It helps nobody and harms us all (road deaths, air pollution, congestion, noise pollution etc).

Drastic action is needed to improve the quality of life for everyone. Here are a few examples:

  • an enforced 20mph limit for the whole town.
  • Narrowing the Melton Road and adding segregated cycle tracks on both sides
  • Closing the Melton Road as a thru route for all but buses and cycles
  • Fixing the railway bridges on the High St and Fosse Way so HGV’s don’t need to go through the town centre.
  • Closing Upper Church St to all vehicles except for access to the houses.
  • Closing off Brookside at the east of St Peter Street.
  • Massive street calming on Parkstone Rd to stop parents using it to drive kids to/from school. Create a car park/waiting area alongside the Melton Rd in the sports field (reducing the size of the school car park to compensate)
  • double the width of the path along the brook between Fosse Lane and Brook St
  • traffic calming in the Hobby Horse estate (only buses to have through access)

Bikepacking for on road riding and flexibility

My understanding is the Bikepacking is a new(ish) term for Mountain Bike touring without racks. Generally kit is carried in frame bags and in dry bags hung from the saddle and from the handlebar. Some people use a rucksack as well.

In recent months I have been getting a number of British Made Bike packing bags. I used some on the Epworth Pilgrimage and others on my long ride last weekend to and from Synod in Milton Keynes. My full collection of Bikepacking bags is now:

When touring in bikepacking style the expectation is that you will be doing very lightweight camping due to the limited volume of the bags. That means a Bivvy Bag and/or Tarp or a very lightweight tent. It means minimal cooking and accepting being very smelly 😉

However, I’m using the bags in other ways too.

I have not fitted racks to my Whyte Road Bike (and do not want to) and despite these bags being originally conceived for Mountain Bikes they work really well on my road bike. They make the bike fast and convenient for long rides where I need to carry a change of clothing (such as to Synod) or more food (eg long rides when you won’t pass many open shops). Also they will allow me to use the road bike for lightweight overnight stops, a road bike version of Bikepacking.

I’m also looking at using them for my sabbatical. That is now looking at about 1,500 miles in 7 segments totalling 32 days. Plus 30 days on retreats, visiting etc. Also I’m hoping to add the Welsh Ride Thing. As the ride will include The Welsh Ride Thing I will need this bags for their originally designed purpose. However, the rest of the time they will be useful combined with my panniers as a neat way taking bulky stuff (tent, sleeping bag) leaving more space for the extra clothing I’ll need for the retreats etc. They also make stuff like food easily accessible while riding.

Saturday will be my longest ride

So on Saturday I have my longest ride ever at just over 125 miles in total. That is 62.6 miles from home to the Northampton Methodist District Synod in Milton Keynes and then the same home again after.

The route is on Strava if you want a look.

As I need to be at Synod by 10am it will mean a pretty early start!!! 🙁

While it promises to be a lovely ride I do have to admit it will not reduce my carbon footprint as I could have easily got a lift in a car that is going anyway.

I think my previous longest ride was a smidgeon under 120 miles so this is not a lot longer, although it will include about 5 hours of Synod as a long lunch break.

I’ll be riding my Whyte RD7 Suffolk with various Bike Packing style luggage:

It shows how much has changed over the last few years that 125 miles with 6,000 ft of climbing does not seem particularly daunting or anything to worry about 🙂

I don’t know why cycling to day meetings does not get more coverage, it makes them so much more fun and healthier!

Britain has all the wrong sorts of bikes

In my earlier post “So many beautiful road bikes but” I was commenting on the number of “proper” road bikes I saw while driving to Rothley and back. Earlier this evening I cycled towards Leicester (Harrison Road Methodist Church) on my new road bike.

Suffolk

 

This time I saw several families cycling together, probably on their way back from Watermead or Abbey Park.

Sadly, the day’s experiences reinforced my view that one of the biggest problems facing the growth of riding bikes as transport in the UK.

We are riding the wrong bikes!

Road Bikes are the Wrong Bikes

Yesterday, I was a good example of that. I rode 3.5 miles to an evening service on my new road bike. It was completely unnecessary and not at all suitable (my excuse was that I just wanted to ride my new bike). It meant I needed to change from cycling shoes with clips when I got there, it meant that when I was too warm cycling there I had nowhere to put my jacket, it was too fast a bike to feel appropriate on footways shared (legally) with pedestrians, it’s speed means that British cycling infrastructure feels too slow (tempting you towards a dual network where fast cyclists use the road and the rest use the crap provided at as little cost as possible), it meant I had to watch for debris including glass and the lower handlebars make it harder to watch for bad drivers. Oh and despite the much higher riding speed by the time you have swapped your shoes four times (each end of each ride) you have used up all the time you saved (and if I hadn’t ridden in my “work” clothes including clerical shirt it would have taken even longer).

The more people we see on fast road bikes the harder it is to campaign for a safe, convenient segregated infrastructure. The addition to speed that makes car drivers so dangerous also infects cyclists. So we read of commuter cyclists who thrive on adrenaline and who use their commutes for race training. We see the barely disguised race bikes sold as being ideal for commuters. We breed cyclists who are unhappy with a gentle pace in your work clothes sharing a segregated infrastructure with school children riding to school.

This high speed view of “commuter” cyclists fostered by the “sport” image of bike that they ride is actually a false picture of speed. Look at this article (inc video) of a 5 km commute by bike in ’s-Hertogenbosch. Or the video in this post showing longer routes between towns. The Dutch make commuting using a bike fast by making it direct and non-stop not by making people ride super fast sports bikes in lycra. Then the commuters don’t need special clothing, they don’t need to shower or change when they get to work and they can use the same routes as school children, elderly people going shopping, students going clubbing etc.

For cycling in Britain our obsession with using sports bike for transport is holding us back from demanding the infrastructure to make cycling a safe, convenient, pleasant choice for all people.

Mountain Bikes are the wrong bikes

On the other hand, when you see people riding bikes to the shops or out with the children they are also generally riding the wrong sorts of bikes. We frequently see people riding from the supermarket on a full suspension mountain bike with plastic bags hanging from the handlebars. Or out for a short ride in the park with their children also while riding a full suspension mountain bike. A Dutch style bike (maybe with 8 gears instead of 3 for the hillier parts of the UK) would be so much more convenient, comfortable, faster and lower maintenance. When you are struggling with shopping on a bike with no rack, no basket, nowhere to carry things it is no wonder you ride on the pavement.

Mountain bikes as generally sold are useless for general transport:

  • no way to carry things
  • no mudguards to keep you dry and clean
  • no chainguard to keep your clothes clean
  • knobbly tyres to slow you down
  • no lights
  • full suspension makes them very heavy (and difficult to fit racks to)

We need modern, clean, low maintenance practical bikes in the UK for commuters and for everyone else. Bikes like this Workcycles GR8

WorkCycles GR8

When commuters, shoppers etc ride bikes like this, then maybe we will be encouraged to ask for real Dutch cycle infrastructure that is safe, convenient and segregated. Then we will be able to see cycling as transport return to normality.

Oh and as well as that our bike rides to work, the shops etc will all become a lot nicer!

So many beautiful road bikes but

This morning I had to drive to and from Rothley for the morning service as Jane won’t let me cycle until this cough improves. On the way there and back I saw more more beautiful road road bikes than I have ever seen out and about before but sadly what is needed is not beautiful lycra clad people on shiney road bikes but ordinary people riding ordinary bikes to work, to school and to the shops.

No country has moved to riding bikes for everyday transport from cycle sport.

The increasing numbers of recreational cyclists are not bad news, it is great to see more people enjoying riding bikes, but sadly alone this is not the change we need to see.

It was also sad to see a number of drivers failing to wait until it was safe to overtake and many others passing far too close.

How do people manage without bikes?

I mean it as a serious question. “How do people manage without bikes?” Take yesterday as a pretty typical day.

In the morning I went to a local primary school to take an assembly. The School car park is always overflowing and the nearby road always full. I wasn’t ready in time for a 15 minute fast walk there. I didn’t have time for a 15 minute walk home after. They have undercover bike parking just inside the gate. So a 3/4 mile ride each way is faster and more convenient than anything else.

Late morning I had a funeral followed by a thanksgiving service. I needed to do some preparation at the Church, where there is no parking. So a 1/2 mile cycle there carrying the stuff I needed is by far the most convenient. I left my bike in the back of the building while I got everything ready and then walked 100m down the road to get a lift with the local funeral director. At the end it had started to rain so my bike got me home faster than anything else (by car takes much longer due to traffic in the centre of town as you avoid the one way system. Oh plus I am home by bike by the time I would have walked to where I could have parked the car).

In the evening I had several errands. Delivering some paper to three locations, sorting out some cables for Sunday at Church, going shopping for some little bits and pieces. It was only 1.2 miles in total. But I could stop right outside each place which I could not have done by car. No hassles caused by traffic or parked up streets.

So a grand total of 3.5 miles which was around 20 minutes, faster and cheaper than a car. Much faster and less tiring than walking.

So I ask again. “How do people manage without bikes?”

Compare and contrast a US Safer Route to School with the Netherlands

I have just seen this post: Bike Lane SUCCESS! A Safer Route to Middle School | One woman. Many bicycles.

Go and read it, then come back and watch this 5 year old video of cycling to school in the Netherlands by David Hembrow

Note that it was -2 degrees Celsius when this video was recorded.

So which would you prefer your child to use as a “Safer route to School”?

David has written a long and detailed post critiquing rubbish design such as the “sharrows” praised in the first link which is well worth reading: A view from the cycle path: Ontario Traffic Manual “Bicycle Facilities” draft edition. How not to design for cycling.

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