Tag Archives: Leicester Royal Infirmary

Wondering about potential while gliding past stationary traffic

This morning I had a 9:30am appointment at the Leicester Royal Infirmary (another wisdom tooth to be removed).

So at about 8:45am I gently cycled into Leicester along the Melton Road passing about a mile of stationary traffic queuing due to the roadworks at the Troon Way junction.

I tried counting the cars with only one person in them but gave up after 19 of the first 20 were single occupancy.

After passing all these cars and going straight through the traffic free City Centre I got to the LRI where I was of course able to park for free right at the entrance.

Obviously huge numbers of people travel shortish distances along the Melton/Belgrave Road everyday and it is only about 5 miles from Syston to the City Centre, it is almost flat and it is a wide road (especially if you measure the full width of the space).

As always I can’t help wondering how much we could save and benefit from installing wide segregated cycle tracks along the full length from East Goscote to the Clock Tower with priority at all the junctions.

There would be huge savings for individuals (fuel, parking, time, gym, illness) as well as transformational savings for the community through cutting congestion and pollution while generating significant health and increased productivity benefits.

So many studies show how the businesses for example along the Golden Mile would benefit if it were a more pleasant place to sit, walk and cycle.

Along the route you also pass several schools, wouldn’t it be fantastic if the children could get to and from school without being at risk from busys roads. For that matter how much better would society be if the air they breathe all day in school were not full of particulates coming from diesel engines going past their windows.

I struggle to understand why people sitting for half an hour in a queue are not clamoring for cycle tracks to reduce the traffic and make the places they go nicer.

I completely fail to understand why residents on these busy and wide roads are not up in arms demanding cycle tracks to reduce the noise, pollution, congestion and danger outside their homes.

Have our brains been destroyed by cars?

Leicester Infrastructure Safari

The Cycling Embassy of Great Britain are coming to Leicester on 12th October for an Infrastructure Safari starting at 11am from Leicester Railway Station. There is already a Facebook Event for this and everyone is welcome to join us.

On Monday evening a group from the Leicester Cycle Campaign Group met to plan the route.

You can view the draft plan on Strava. Comments are welcome.

The route consists of 5 “loops”. Each has possible short-cuts which allow not just a shorter route but also allow you to avoid hills or particularly scary roads. Most of the loops bring us into or close to the city centre for a choice of lunch and/or coffee stops as desired.

The loops are:

Loop 1 (South and Leicester University)

3.2 Miles

Start Railway Station front Entrance

Head South on the A6 London Road (heading for University student accommodation)
At Clarendon Park Road turn right to start loop back to city centre.
Turn right onto Queens Road (popular student housing area).
Cross Victoria park on main Leicester University route
Continue into the City Centre past the Prison.
Use King St (recently closed to through traffic) and Market St (pedestrianised) to get to the Bike Park.

Possible short cut along Victoria Park Road between London Rd and Queens Rd

Loop 2 (East towards Leicester General Hospital)

4 miles (7.2 cumulative)

From the Bike Park head for the Curve.
Then through the Churchyard to St Georges St (Strava map incorrectly shows using Queen St)
Left then right to cross St Georges Way
Route passes Spinney Hill Park on way to Gwendolen Road (the route to the General Hospital).
Cut north to the A47 Humberstone Rd to use it’s cycle facilities to head back to the City.
Cross the Central Ring and head through Humberstone Gate to the Clock Tower.

Possible short cut (saving distance and hills) from Sparkenhoe St to Humberstone Rd via Maidstone Rd and Kent St.

Loop 3 (West to the Hinckley Rd)

3.2miles (10.4 cumulative)

From the Clock Tower
High St to new Jubilee Sq and then new Southgates.
Past Magazine Sq on The Newarke to Braunstone Gate and then the Hinkley Rd
South on Fosse Rd S to Upperton Rd
Loop round Wilberforce Rd, Stuart St and Western Rd
The Wilberforce Rd to Briton St
Through Bede Park and then De Montfort University (Mill Ln, The Gateway).
From Magazine Sq use new Newarke St facility if open, otherwise Friar Ln, Berridge St, Millstone ln, Market St, Welford Pl.
Loop ends at junction of Newarke St and Welford Rd

Possible short cut from junction of Western Blvd and Braunstone Gate to Bede Park

Loop 4 (South to Tigers and then North to Frog Island)

4.2miles (14.6 cumulative)

This loop includes the busiest roads, see short-cut to avoid them.

From junction of Newarke St and Welford Rd head south on Welford Rd
Turn right into Almond Rd
At the end turn right onto Aylestone Rd using the cycle track on the right hand side.
Turn left into Jarrom St
At the end of Jarrom St go anti clockwise round the roundabout using the cycle facility
Along Upperton Rd to see the Grand Central Way, but turn right for Bede Park
Follow cycle route to junction of Western Blvd and Braunstone Gate and then onto crossing of A47 at Duns Ln
Richard III Rd and then the first part of Forest Way to the junction with Fosse Ln
Return to Soar Ln and to the A50 at Frog Island

Possible short-cut. From the beginning heading straight for the Leicester Royal Infirmary using the cycle routes (they are confusing!).

Loop 5 (North past the Space Centre and then returning to the railway station)

5.2miles (19.8 cumulative)

Start at the Soar Ln, A50 junction.
Follow the cycle route to the A6 crossing above Friday St
Follow the cycle route through Abbey Park,
Go past the Space Centre to Thurcaston Rd
Loughborough Rd then Checketts Rd to the Golden Mile.
Use the marked cycle route that runs parallel along Harrison Rd
Rejoin the A607 Belgrave Gate using Britannia Street
Head for the Clock Tower past the proposed location of the new bus station.
Use Gallowtree Gate and Granby Street to return to the Railway Station.

Possible short cut after Abbey Park along Abbey Park Rd to the Belgrave Rd, Turn right to where the longer route joins Belgrave Gate.

Training done all wrong :-)

I am sure that I am doing everything wrong. My preparation for the long rides this Friday and Monday (both around 120 miles) has included sorting the bike and some riding on it. Beyond that I am pretty sure I have got it all wrong 🙂

Today I did a double hospital visit (Leicester General and then Leicester Royal Infirmary). That was a 16.8 mile round trip, I did it on the Trek road bike in normal clothes (as in 3/4 length trousers and clerical shirt).

Then I had an evening meeting in Nottingham so I thought it would provide a another good test for the Exposure Joystick Mk.5 light and my route finding using my Samsung Galaxy Tab (an Android “phone” in tablet form with a 7.1″ screen that fits in the map pouch of my handlebar bag).

The result was 51 miles at an average of 14.9mph with just over 1800 feet of climbing. Again in normal 3/4 length trousers. I wore a cycling top going but didn’t change to come home so had a clerical shirt under my warmer cycling top. I also had panniers with some heavy books as well as a change of clothes.

Very pleased with that although that is definitely enough miles on the Body Geometry saddle without padded shorts.

With last nights test ride of 10.8 miles which was after midnight that is over 78 miles in 24 hours. That is great and encouraging for Friday and Monday. Except I think in training terms you are supposed to taper off for a week or more before an “event”. Doesn’t look like my training is very “proper” but then I am not a very “proper” cyclist either 🙂 When you are using your bike for everyday transport the idea of tapering off your miles is a bit impossible, on the other hand riding a cargobike probably does not meet anyone’s “proper” definition of training either 🙂

Still in honour of the idea of tapering I won’t be cycling very far today 🙂

Anyway all the equipment worked wonderfully. Google maps on the Samsung Galaxy Tab is fantastic. The Exposure Joystick is marvellous and I have less fat too 🙂 Also very pleased with my new rear wheel thanks to Cyclops in Syston. The Schwalbe Marathon Tyres are still completely trouble free. My Ortlieb panniers and handlebar bag just continue to be excellent. Still very happy with the Trek Pilot 1.2 as the base bike. I might upgrade the Specialized body geometry saddle to a Brooks B17 at some point in the future.

I was also wondering this evening about fitting a front rack so I could carry front panniers. Maybe something like the Old Man Mountain Ultimate LowRider as it uses the axle quick release plus straps around the forks. I don’t need a rack with a top (like the Old Man Mountain Sherpa) as I want to continue to use the Ortieb handlebar bag as it is perfectly positioned for the Galaxy Tab in the map pocket. With that (and the Brooks B17 saddle and maybe when it wears out a long cage rear derailier with a lower bottom gear) the Trek Pilot will be a perfectly good touring bike for my like;y needs.

Bargains by Bullitt #ride:13miles

Today I struggled with time travel (the problem is neatly described by my friend Angie in Realised Ecclesiology), for me the result was that at about 5pm I needed printer paper to finish preparation for the morning.

IMAG0421

So I trundled off to Staples where I couldn’t resist a bargain. Three boxes of paper for the price of two. That meant 7,500 sheets of A4 (should keep me going for a while) weighing 39kg for the 7.5 mile ride home. Lucky I had a Bullitt with me 🙂

The ride was no problem (and nice enough that I took the quieter more scenic route through Watermead Park). However, getting out from Staples (or Maplin for that matter) is a different matter.

Leicester City Council obviously think that nobody would want to visit Staples or Maplin by bike (maybe they have noticed the complete lack of any bike parking) so they have surrounded them with a network of one way streets to force everyone, cyclists included onto the Central Ring dual carriageway. Thanks a lot!

I confess that the frantic Central Ring at 5:45pm on a damp Saturday afternoon did not appeal at all. So I broke the law and went the wrong way along a couple of one way streets until I could break free from the trap.

Clearly this is one of the areas which demonstrate to the world the aspirations of Leicester to be a Cycle City. The Sky Ride team are incredibly positive when they write “Leicester has numerous cycle trails around the city making it the perfect place to get on your bike”. Clearly they run their projects without using any stationary.

Here is the google map of the site, I think Midland Street is now one way in the other direction just to makes things worse.

It seems to me that a basic requirement for a city to be considered to be on the starting rung towards being cycle friendly is that it does not force cyclists onto any of it’s manic ring roads. Sadly, this is a basic requirement that Leicester fails time and time again. There are at least three journeys that I do regularly that are impossible without riding at least a short distance on the Central Ring road: They are:

  • Home to city centre (Grafton Place to Abbey Street)
  • City centre to General Hospital (Charles Street to Swain Street)
  • City Centre to Royal Infirmary (Marlborough Street or Tower Street to Jarrom Street)

Other parts of the city are also bad. Coming from Oadby being a good example, the main cycle route is the A6!

It is just like London

A phrase about the Leicester Critical Mass on Girls on Cogs » Leicester’s Monster Mass made me laugh:

The aim  to encourage more cyclists onto our streets until Leicester gets to the level that London is at now

I laughed for two reasons.

One is an old family joke. Many, many years ago my brother and I were in our Grandpa’s car being driven around in a rural part of Cornwall. He saw three other cars at the same time and exclaimed that it was just like driving in London.

The other reason is a hollow one. How terrible it is for cycling in Leicester to have London held up as an example of what it would be good to be like for cycling. Look at pretty much anything on Crap Cycling & Walking in Waltham Forest to see why that is a really bad idea. Instead look to David Hembrow’s blog for examples of what it could be like.

Today I rode 14.8 miles to the Leicester Royal Infirmary, then the city centre and back to Syston. I guess I saw about 20 people on bikes. Not bad you might think. Compare it to this (and remember that the Netherlands would hotly dispute the claim that Copenhagen has “the busiest bicycle street in the western world). Our target should be that during a ride like mine today there should be 20 cyclists in view at all times. Compared to the Netherlands we are no where near reaching rural Cornish levels of traffic.

Anyway I am now a facebook friend of the “Critical Mass Leicester” and plan to go to their next ride (last Friday of the month) to meet some more cyclists (pity it is fancy dress, I hate fancy dress!).

On School runs

So today I was riding back from the Leicester Royal Infirmary at about the time all the roads clog up with parents driving to school to collect their kids. Here is my experience of the traffic that causes:

IMAG0235

Horrible isn’t it. All those fumes and the frustration of not going anywhere. However, there are some things I am willing to put up with for the sake of others 🙂

This school run thing is strange. Are we bringing up the most unhealthy generation ever?

As one example, I was visiting someone recently. Both parents work from home. While I was with them their teenager phoned to say that it was raining and would they come and collect them from school. One parent had to stop work and drive to school.

However, they live less than a mile from that school. In addition there are short cuts for pedestrians. The school has a car park that is completely blocked up by cars at end of school as are the roads through the housing estate on the only way to that car park. The driving route is along the main road in Syston which is very busy with cars for the shops and school run with multiple pedestrian crossings to hold you up. I left before they got back and cycled home (did not notice any rain). Our son who walks from a school a similar distance away was already home when I got there. It wasn’t cold, if it rained it was brief and light. So instead of the teenager getting a little bit of healthy exercise the roads were snarled by another car, the route home was made more dangerous by another car and the whole process delayed them getting home.

Why do people do this? What a huge waste of time and money. It seems crazy spending time & money to do something that is slower, less healthy and far less social (surely nicer to walk a short way home and chat to your friends on the way).

In a town as small as Syston we should prohibit parking in and near the schools (and enforce it) except for residents. Those who come in from the villages around should have somewhere to drop off and collect but keep it some distance from the school to make it safer for those who can walk or cycle home. Keep the road and car park for school buses and transport for any disabled children. The whole town would benefit and so would the kids education (I have seen several studies showing that children who get exercise on the way to school are more alert and more able to learn).

Don’t forget to do the zip up

I felt a bit silly today. It was raining hard when I rode the 1/2 mile to Syston Methodist Church for the lunch club but I didn’t do the zip right up on my jacket. So I had a v-necked wet patch below my dog collar. Looked very silly and of course everyone noticed and commented 🙂

Other than that I am getting more used to wearing the right layers and cycling at the right speed to avoid getting too sweaty and wet even in normal clothes. So this morning that was to Birstall Methodist Church with very wet ground and drizzle. On Sunday afternoon it was to Leicester Royal Infirmary which was just over 7.5miles in jeans and a clerical shirt.

Cycling for transport like this should be absolutely nothing special although it is so often seen that way in the UK. Actually it was very pleasant as so much of the route was on segregated cycling facilities and I got to ride on a part of the cycle network I have not used before. But I have needed to get a lot better at cycling slowly without feeling rushed so as to arrive dry(ish) in normal work clothes.

One of the things that does seem to be helping, just as I hoped, is my Brooks Flyer Special Saddle. As I had hoped it is very comfortable but also due to the shape and the shiny and slippery leather it seems to not wear out ordinary trousers as quickly as other saddles I have used.

Bullitt 01Another thing that helps is riding a big cargo bike like my Bullitt, while it is fast for a cargo bike (which basically means I ride at similar speeds to most cyclists except those fully kitted up on road bikes) it does not punish me for riding gently. My sportier bikes tend to suck me into riding faster than I need and being the fat and unfit person I am that makes me sweat a lot.

Plus the Bullitt is so quick and easy to take out. The locks sit in the box all the time, I just throw whatever bags or boxes of stuff that I need in and off I go.  Plus of course I keep my coat in the box as well which means I always have it with me and if it stops raining I can simply throw it back in the box. To make things even easier I will be buying the Infiniti3D security stuff as soon as it is available as it will make locking up the Bullitt much easier – just use a U-Lock or my Almax Series III chain to fasten the frame to something really strong.

So all I have to do now is remember to do up the jacket zip when it is raining 🙂

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