Category Archives: Uncategorized - Page 2

Dandy Designer for sale

We are currently on holiday in Cornwall in our Dandy Designer. After this it will be up for sale.

We are switching to a caravan with shower to make visiting grandson & family easier, especially in winter and to make it simpler to take grandchildren on holiday should they want to travel with aged grandparents.

Ours is a beautiful example of a Dandy Designer (ours is the light blue colour scheme). That is a 5 bed, compact folding camper that can be put up and taken down in the rain and which is made of insulated PVC so no mould to worry about.

It also has a lot of extras and upgrades:
– a proper Dandy PVC awning
– bed skirt for the “higher” double bed
– fully factory winterised specification
– fitted blown air gas heater
– roof lining

  • Alko stabiliser hitch (makes it an absolute delight to tow, whatever the load or weather)
  • upgraded suspension units. Factory fitted. 750kg units which also mean the trailer tows level
  • gas struts fitted to both bed units making it much easier to put up and down
  • new LED lighting units fitted for towing. Much brighter and more reliable.
  • roller fresh water bottle
  • trolley waste water
  • portable 3 way fridge
  • two strips of LED lighting (12v or mains) providing excellent light in camper and awning

We have had it just over 4 years with holidays in France and Netherlands as well as all over the UK.

You won’t find a better equipped Dandy anywhere ūüôā

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A new venture

Well I know I have been quiet on here for a long time, it does not mean that nothing has been happening!

Anyway the latest thing is that I have decided to publish an eBook, “A Bike for Life“, it will use a lot of the material written here plus a lot more.

All the proceeds from the Book will go towards the Syston Methodist Church Youth Cafe.

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Sainsbury’s and lost desire (lines)

It is just about possible that Sainsbury’s and Leicester City Council have realised that cyclists are unhappy with their new junction at Melton Road/Troon Way and Watermead Way built for the new so called Triple Zero “super environmentally friendly” Sainsbury’s.

Tonight, I noticed that Sainsbury’s have been putting grass seed on the verges (in December?). However, this immediately highlights that they have not yet heard of the concept of Desire Lines (or Desire Paths).

Crossing Troon Way, South side:

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Crossing Melton Road. South West side:

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Everyone of these corners has foot and tyre marks in the mud because they have expected people to walk around a pointless right angle corner and so people are cutting that corner off.

This should not be news to anyone. The idea of desire lines is not new. Now we will have a mud bath whenever it rains, the mud will get onto the pavement all the time and the grass will not grow.

Why?

Note that this is part of a collection of blog posts about the infrastructure (paid for by Sainsbury’s, designed by Leicester City Council) around the new Sainsbury’s store on the Melton Road in Leicester North.¬†I have written about the posts, other problems with the junction, the failed safety audit, the process questions the City Council want to avoid, a simple way to have radically improved the junction at very low cost, what a good design process might have come up with¬†and how they have forgotten to tell cyclists how to get into the store.

The story has also been picked up by the Leicester Mercury.

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What Leicester City Council and Sainsbury’s could have done (2)

In my previous post What Leicester City Council and Sainsbury‚Äôs could have done (1)¬†I took a minimalist approach to providing a safe infrastructure for the Melton Road junction with Troon Way/Watermead Way at the site of the new Sainsbury’s.¬†Now I want to take a little more radical approach.

Political Support

Both Sainsburys and Leicester City Council make bold claims for their political support for the environment and for carbon reduction.

Sainsbury’s on the environment

Let us imagine the sort of design that would fit with a Supermarket chain that claims the following:

Respect for our environment

At Sainsbury’s, respecting the environment is about doing the right thing. We aim to be the UK’s greenest grocer, which is great for our business but even better for the environment.

Making a positive difference to our community

For us, retailing is about more than quality products and great service. It’s also about supporting and helping the communities where we work, and being a good neighbour. We aim for our stores to be at the heart of the communities they serve

Further more, let us imagine they wish to build a flagship store that is their most environmentally efficient:

Sainsbury‚Äôs new supermarket in Leicester is one of two ‚ÄėTriple Zero‚Äô stores the retailer has just opened. It is Sainsbury‚Äôs most environmentally friendly store to date and uses the very latest technologies available to complement its industry-leading standard specification.

Neil Sachdev, Sainsbury‚Äôs Property Director, said: “We aim to be the UK‚Äôs Greenest Grocer and achieve our 20×20 target to reduce our operational carbon emissions by 30 per cent absolute. To do this we‚Äôre now building and running highly sustainable, low carbon stores.

Such a store would of course take into account the environmental impact of it’s customers travelling to and from the site, sadly though all their public messages about the environment ignore transport, it is the elephant in the supermarket.

Of course if you want to build a very environment friendly superstore it helps to do it in an environment friendly city, so let us consider Leicester City.

Leicester City on the Environment

Leicester makes bold claims:

Setting sensible targets

So with a Supermarket chain and City both committed to a sustainable and low carbon environment, to the local community and to healthy and active travel, what might they do for transport at a site with 1,000’s of homes within a couple of miles, a site at a major junction where there is a lot of congestion and which is at the junction of key routes into and around the city.

  • They would presumably have targets for the percentage of staff walking, cycling or using public transport to get to work. They would do all they could to encourage this to reduce congestion, reduce car parking needs and increase the health, wealth and productivity of their staff.
  • They would presumably have targets for the percentage of customers¬†walking, cycling or using public transport to get to and from their store. They would prioritise access to the store for these customers recognising that by doing so they benefit the local community by reducing congestion, pollution and health care costs.
  • They would presumably recognise how key the junction next to the store was for access into and around the city. They would note that it is the most direct route into the city for the communities of Thurmaston and Syston (and beyond). They would note that alternative cycling and walking routes into the city are far less direct and are through unlit parkland that is on the flood plain and thus inaccessible at night and when flooded. They would note that the crossing of the river Soar from the junction is one of the few that does not flood (the next nearest to the North is the A46 which is 3 miles away, to the south it is Loughborough Road 1.4 miles away) and so is important for cyclists and pedestrians.
  • They would note how close schools were to the site and the safety issues that come from having an attractive supermarket across a busy road from schools.

Noting all these things creating safe, attractive and convenient walking, cycling and public transport routes to, from and past the Supermarket would be of the highest priority.

Designing the transport links

The roads by this site are all very busy. For example the Melton Road is a dual carriageway that has 5 lanes heading south into this junction. Troon Way has 4 lanes heading east into the junction. There are frequent tailbacks on all 4 arms of the junction.

The London Cycling Campaign has helpfully adopted a simple formula for when cyclists should be provided with high quality protected space. If speeds exceed 20mph (based on 85th percentile actual speeds not the speed limit) or 2,000 PCUs per day (passenger car units, a weighted measure see this pdf for more detail. Here is a bit more detail. The London Cycling Campaign claim this is similar to Dutch requirements although it seems to me that theirs are more finely grained and consistently applied which no British standard relating to safe cycling infrastructure has been. See the Cycling Embassy of Great Britain for some analysis of Dutch standards.

However, every road at this junction way exceeds both the 20mph speed limit and the 2,000 pcu per day measure. The suggestion from a City Council officer I met at the safety audit that cyclists heading out of the city should ride on the dual carriage way shows a worrying lack of interest or understanding of safety for people on bikes.

So, idiot engineers from the City Council aside, it is clear that this junction should have fully protected cycle infrastructure on every arm. Consider the map

If Sainsbury’s and Leicester City were serious about their environmental policies then they would be looking at making the following cycle journeys safe and convenient:

  1. North/South along Melton Road A607 to provide good access in and out of Leicester (especially for the Golden Mile) for people in Thurmaston/Syston (and the villages beyond). Also to the Rushey Mead Secondary school on the Melton Road.
  2. East/West along Watermead Way/Troon Way A563. This is a critical east/west connection for cyclists, especially at night and in winter when many will not want or be able to cross the river Soar in Watermead Park. It provides critical connections between work places, hospitals and residential areas
  3. North/South to East/West due to the strategic crossing of the Soar and the direct route of the Melton Road there are many routes that will turn at this junction. For example from Syston to Glenfield Hospital is from North to West. Syston to the General Hospital is North to East.
  4. Local Routes to Sainsbury’s. The closest homes are behind the store in Thurmaston and across Troon Way. However, access from Melton Road (North and South) as well as Watermead Way (Birstall is from 1 mile away) will also be popular.
  5. In the summer connections into Watermead Park and the Sustrans route along the River Soar would probably be popular for people who are less confident cyclists.

With roads as busy as these I believe that grade based segregation is the best solution. Toucan crossings are slow and inconvenient. In the UK these are never very responsive to the needs of pedestrians and cyclists due to the focus on maximising motorised traffic flows. Nor do they provide attractive options that encourage school children to cycle (especially they do not encourage parents to allow their children to cycle to school).

However, the UK also has a very poor history when it comes to the design of grade separated segregation. We build subways that feel dangerous and which flood. We build bridges that are eyesores as well as narrow with long detours on the steep ramps. There are examples close to Sainsbury’s and they are frequently ignored by pedestrians and cyclists like this:

The Dutch do things differently and the best recent example is the Hovenring at Eindhoven that I rode over this summer. (although Mark also mentions a somewhat similar roundabout in Norway).

Note how the Dutch solution is attractive (no more than that, beautiful)!

hovenring

Not only is it beautiful it also feels very safe. The ramps are gentle and wide, for the most part with grass banks rather than railings. The roundabout gives you a choice of directions so you can avoid other people to feel safe. There is great visibility from all directions and the road which also makes you feel safer.

There are other practical advantages to the Hovenring, installation was quick as large segments were simply lifted into place. Cyclists and pedestrians never have to wait and never delay motorised vehicles. Maintenance is easy as the Hovenring is wide enough and strong enough for normal maintenance vehicles to drive on it.

Imagine how Sainsbury’s could have used this in their publicity and as a sign of where their most environmentally friendly store was. What a great gateway into the City the Council could have made this.

Things would have been done very differently. Instead of all the roads rising upto the junction it would have been lowered by a couple of meters, this would have provided the material for the ramps. It would have made the slopes easy for cyclists and pedestrians. One exit ramp could have curved gently down to the store canopy (where no doubt Sainsbury’s would have thought of providing more than 19 Sheffield stands for bike parking). One ramp could lead to a new cycle bridge alongside Watermead way where currently cyclists have to ride with no protection on a very busy road with a 50mph speed limit.

With imagination and a commitment to their public policies Sainsbury’s and Leicester City Council could have produced something to be proud of, something that would have gone a long way to transform the way that people get around Leicester and to/from this store. With that imagination they would both have gained huge visibility just as Eindhoven is currently reaping the benefits of being see the world over as a leading city for cycling.

 

 

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A tale of two cities (horrifying!)

Compare and contrast:

In the UK we have “Dad produces instructional video showing how he helps 7-year-old son cycle to school on busy London roads” from road.cc with a video from a¬†Sustrans‚Äô Schools Officer.

In the Netherlands we have The school run in Assen by David Hembrow

What the “Dickens” is going on here.

In the UK we should be filled with shame, embarrassment and guilt over the way we have made travelling to and from school so dangerous for our children.

We are a sick society and we need to get treatment now!

This is not a time for half measures but for real action to make our roads safe for our children.

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The best TFL can offer

So the London Cycle Campaign are positive about the new “Cycle Superhighway 2 extension”, see¬†Mayors Cycle Superhighway 2 Extension the first step towards going Dutch for London cyclists.

Sadly as I watched the video clip I couldn’t help but compare it to our summer holiday in the Netherlands.

If this is the best that TFL can design then what does it say about the UK that everywhere we went in the Netherlands was better?

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What integrated travel can be like

So I am going to London for the day (for The Christian New Media Conference in case you were interested) and it is a good example of how transport can work.
I cycled from Syston to Leicester, leaving home after the train that I would have needed to use.
At Leicester I printed out the 9 tickets needed for the return journey (having booked using the SouthernRailway website as unlike the East Midlands website it allows you to book a space on the train for your bike.
Had time for as coffee.
The platform staff actually knew which end the cycle spaces would be on the train.
My bike was the only one (because there are only 2 spaces on these trains which is crazy) on the train.
At the London end I will have left the station before you could have got to the underground ticket barrier.
I’ll be able to park closer to the conference than any other means of transport.
When I head home I will be able to cycle straight from Leicester station to an evening out with some friends, somewhere where there is no station.
Can’t understand why we don’t work hard to encourage this way of travelling¬†¬†¬†

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Direct Comparison turns out to be good news

Today provided a unique opportunity for me to compare my Bike for Life (a Stoater Plus from Shand Cycles to my previous bike a Trek Pilot 1.2
Last year I cycled from Syston to the Greenbelt Festival at Cheltenham racecourse on the Trek (just weeks after completing Lands End to John o’Groats in 11 days).
Today I did the same ride (but with an improved, slightly longer route), again as a group of 3.
Last year the group was myself, Neil and Ann. This year it was Rachel (married to Neil), Ann and me with both Rachel and Ann were on Giant road bikes.
Ann noticed a huge improvement (obvious to me as well) as last year she was on a heavy hybrid.

So given so many similarities, how does my Shand Stoater Plus, fully equipped with belt drive, Rohloff 14 speed hub gears, hydraulic disk brakes, dynamo lights, full length mudguards, kickstand and 3 racks (rear, front low rider and front randoneer) compare with a lightish audax bike without mudgards and with 27 speed derailleur gears.

I’m not sure about overall speed and that was set by the group anyway. However, I clearly felt less tired when I arrived (despite being on antibiotics and paracetamol and ibuprofen for a problem wisdom tooth). I would have been quite happy to have continued quite a lot further. Despite the¬† extra weight the Shand climbs much better. The Jones H-Loop handlebar gives great options for headwinds and downhills as well as the times when you need great control. The Hope M4¬† brakes inspire confidence so I brake later and less. The 32mm Durrano tyres are noticeably more comfortable than the 28mm ones on the Trek.

Not only was I less tired I was also more comfortable on the way with a better view.

These are exactly the sort of things I wanted from my Bike for Life. Not only that but it also comes with far less maintenance. FANTASTIC!!

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Direct Comparison turns out to be good news

Today provided a unique opportunity for me to compare my Bike for Life (a Stoater Plus from Shand Cycles to my previous bike a Trek Pilot 1.2
Last year I cycled from Syston to the Greenbelt Festival at Cheltenham racecourse on the Trek (just weeks after completing Lands End to John o’Groats in 11 days).
Today I did the same ride (but with an improved, slightly longer route), again as a group of 3.
Last year the group was myself, Neil and Ann. This year it was Rachel (married to Neil), Ann and me with both Rachel and Ann were on Giant road bikes.
Ann noticed a huge improvement (obvious to me as well) as last year she was on a heavy hybrid.

So given so many similarities, how does my Shand Stoater Plus, fully equipped with belt drive, Rohloff 14 speed hub gears, hydraulic disk brakes, dynamo lights, full length mudguards, kickstand and 3 racks (rear, front low rider and front randoneer) compare with a lightish audax bike without mudgards and with 27 speed derailleur gears.

I’m not sure about overall speed and that was set by the group anyway. However, I clearly felt less tired when I arrived (despite being on antibiotics and paracetamol and ibuprofen for a problem wisdom tooth). I would have been quite happy to have continued quite a lot further. Despite the¬† extra weight the Shand climbs much better. The Jones H-Loop handlebar gives great options for headwinds and downhills as well as the times when you need great control. The Hope M4¬† brakes inspire confidence so I brake later and less. The 32mm Durrano tyres are noticeably more comfortable than the 28mm ones on the Trek.

Not only was I less tired I was also more comfortable on the way with a better view.

These are exactly the sort of things I wanted from my Bike for Life

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Quietly getting on with it

So my blogging here has been a bit quieter here for a while.

It is not because I have stopped riding or fallen out of love with my Bike for Life ūüôā

I have been writing more on my more general 42 blog and I have just been getting on with everyday use of my bike for getting around Syston, Leicester and the area.

Anyway just thought I would say hello ūüôā

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