Tag Archives: Parking

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?”


Crazy politics in Syston

We have had leaflets delivered from both the Conservative and Labour parties ahead of the local elections on Thursday.

When it comes to transport they are both completely crazy. Both are making impossible promises that they will not be able to keep and if they could keep them it would only make things worse.

The Conservatives are promising something about making parking in the town centre easier. Yet the roads are constantly clogged due to the levels of traffic trying to get to the parking places already. Unless they are going to start demolishing shops or homes there is no more land for parking unless they concrete over the park.

Labour are promising something about providing the opportunity for everyone to park outside their home. Clearly they have not looked at the local roads which are totally chocked by parked cars. Try walking along St Peter’s Street, cars fully parked on both sides with those on the left completely blocking the pavement.

The solution for transport in Syston cannot be the car. The town is too small. I have checked on Google Maps and the furthest you have to travel to the junction of the High Street and Melton Road (essentially the town centre) is 1.4 miles from some houses of the end of Anthony Close. That is only because there is no cut through which would reduce the distance to about a mile.

With the provision of a couple of short cuts there could be nobody living in Syston more than 1 mile from the town centre. How is it a possible that Syston town centre can need any but minimal parking for disabled visitors from neighbouring villages. Remember:

  • Nobody in Syston lives more than 1 (flat) mile from the town centre
  • Nearly all the shops in Syston town centre serve the local community
  • Syston is itself only 1.5 miles from an out of town shopping centre
  • Syston is only 6 miles from Leicester City Centre or about 9 miles from Loughborough Town Centre
If they want to make access to the shops more convenient then:
  • remove all on street parking on Melton Road, High Street, Fosse Way and Wanlip Road
  • install 2.5m wide mandatory, separated cycle lanes on Melton Road, High Street, Fosse Way and Wanlip Road.
  • make sure than the cycle lanes have priority at every side road & driveway
  • make sure the cycle lanes are safe and suitable for mobility scooters
  • provide plenty of good cycle parking spots by every shop
  • close off rat runs such as Broad Street to through traffic
  • install real traffic calming on all residential roads
  • setup an enforced 20mph speed limit on the main roads eg Melton Road, High Street, Fosse Way and Wanlip Road
  • setup an enforced 10mph speed limit on all other roads
  • ensure the cycle paths/lanes get gritted and cleared of snow and leaves
  • start charging for residential permits for on street parking. Costs should start at £1 per day and be set to use by 10% every year.
  • Reduce the numbers of on street residential car parking spaces by 2% a year
Change is possible, reduced congestion, reduced pollution, reduced deaths and injuries are all possible. But nothing can be improved by encouraging more cars.

Convenience: Bikes win everytime

I have been putting a new shed up and realised that I needed some felt adhesive (thought it was supposed to come with all the materials needed, but never mind).

It is 3/4 of a mile to the local hardware shop. A big tin of bitumen felt adhesive is quite heavy so obviously I went on my bike (the Bullitt Cargobike was handiest as I had just got it out to let Jane get off to work on her bike). I parked right outside, no queuing and no hassle. Got the tin and was back out in less time than it would have been to find a car parking space.

I can’t understand why people choose to use cars so much to come to the shops in a small town like Syston. Cars are just so inconvenient, expensive and unhealthy – they make no sense at all for trips to the local shops.

Meanwhile all these people making odd choices keep filling up the roads with pollution, noise and congestion. What a pity because it is a beautiful day and being out on the Melton Road would be great, friendly people, good shops – just a pity about the cars clogging it up and spoiling the atmosphere.


Avoiding the hospital queues

Yesterday evening I was visiting someone at the Royal Infirmary in Leicester. They currently have something of a lock down on visiting times due to the load on them caused by flu.

This means car parking is even more of a problem than normal.

So it was no surprise that I zipped past a long line of cars waiting to get into the visitors car park. However, I was surprised when I left to notice a long queue (I guess over 25 people) waiting to pay so they could get out of the car park. So I saved two queues 🙂

Today is my second attempt at having my operation to remove a wisdom tooth at the Royal Infirmary (last time they ran of of surgical sets and so sent me home).

So no eating this morning. However, to save getting up early I had my breakfast before going to bed 🙂

To avoid queues, keep the car park costs down and save Jane hanging around for hours  I’ll cycle into the Royal and then Jane will come and pick me up after the operation (I am not allowed to cycle or drive for 24 hours). Of course if the operation is cancelled I can just cycle home (via a big lunch).

Today will be my 81st day in a row cycling so I hope that before bed time tomorrow I’ll feel up to a short ride to keep the habit going.


Connecting the day

I debated whether to title this post “Civilising the day”. Today is a good example for me of how cycling as transport makes better connections for the day. With three different places to be during the day it would have been possible to use the car but so much less efficient.

First stop a staff meeting, sadly still at the unholy time of 9am on Monday morning, I am still wondering how my Superintendent wrangled that one past me 🙂 This week in Birstall, so my turn to travel. As I gently pootled out of Syston, I thought this is not so bad, as I overtook about 15 cars in a queue for the Thurmaston roundabout. Slightly nicer, I thought, as I gently bounced along the Melton Road through Thurmaston village centre (lots of speed bumps and poor road surface). Even laughed to myself at the car that just had to overtake me just as they reached a set of speed cushions where they had to brake hard while still nearly breaking their suspension (not to mention the discomfort of moving your breakfast up and down that viciously – ugh!). Then very nice I thought during the lovely ride across the top of the southern part of Watermead Park, just enjoying it and not sparing a thought for the frustration in the cars queuing up to and through the junction with the Melton Road and Troon Way.

After the staff meeting my next appointment is at the Royal Infirmary for a pre med check up (I am having a wisdom tooth removed next month). The appointment letter reminds me to allow 30minutes to park my car. So instead I continue from Birstall, drop my bike at the Bike Park in Leicester and retire to Starbucks for some lunch (cheaper than the car park and diesel?) and to catchup on some paperwork (with a bit of time for blogging). From here I can make my way to the Royal Infirmary without any queuing or problems parking.

Then on my way home I can pop in to visit someone.

How would this have been by car?

Firstly, I would have to leave home at least 5 minutes earlier to get to the staff meeting (traffic and a much less direct route) and I would not have had the gentle wake up on the way.

Secondly, I would have had to choose between going home for a short while before the appointment at the Royal (which would have meant an extra 15 miles of driving) or coming into Leicester and paying for another car park.

Thirdly, I would lose all that time queuing to get into the Royal Infirmary car park (and paying for the privilege).

Visiting someone on the way home would be easy enough but given how close it is to home I would probably go home, leave the car there and walk. That is good for me but much slower than calling in by bike on the way home.

When your work, like mine, involves moving around between lots of places during the day all in a relatively small area (for me about 8 miles across) a bike is so much faster and more convenient than car that even ignoring the financial, health and environmental costs I don’t know why anyone would choose to drive.

Of course the fact that I can enjoy chocolate Yule log at Starbucks for lunch without guilt or worries about what the scale will say in the morning is just another added bonus 🙂

I am wondering how many miles this way of working is suitable for. Obviously the worse the congestion the more miles you can cycle and still be quicker than the car. Also as you get fitter the more miles you can cycle without affecting your work. For me I think I am up to about 20 or 25 miles per day on my Bullitt. This week I will have three days at around 20 miles and the others a bit shorter (say 5 to 15 miles). So I guess about 80 work miles in total. Clearly there has been some conditioning over the past 3 months as in the past 80 miles in a week would have sounded a lot, now it is just about connecting the day in gentle and civilised ways.


Drivers don’t pay enough tax

From I don’t pay road tax | At War With The Motorist:

The second is that Motoring and Motorism doesn’t have a single cost.  Talk about “road tax” and people will say that they’re paying for road construction and repair.  Talk to the slightly more sophisticated Motorists about “vehicle excise duty” and they will say that they’re paying for carbon emissions.  Nobody will ever say that they’re paying for particulate pollution — the fines our cities pay, and the thousands of economically active people who are killed by it every year.  Nobody will say that they are paying for the thousands of people who die on the roads; for the operations, the years of physiotherapy, and the lifelong disability support for those who are maimed.  Nobody will say that they are paying up-front for the later-life care for the obesity-related diseases that their sedentary lifestyle will bring upon themselves.  Nobody will say that they are compensating us for the breakup of communities or the closure of the village shop, the deleterious shifts in developmental patterns that affect us all.  The issue is not whether the taxes that Motorists pay cover the cost of road repairs: it is whether any amount of money could ever come close to making up for the many and varied destructive forces of car dependency.

So to be fair motorists should pay for:

  • Road construction
  • Road repair
  • Carbon Emissions
  • The costs related to those injured and killed on the roads. Full medical care (short and long term), social care, benefit support to the injured/killed and their families
  • Particulate pollution (the cost all the deaths, the cleanup, the low quality environment)
  • Their own future care needs resulting from a now exercise lifestyle that is a major cause of obesity
  • The destruction of communities caused by travelling away from local amenities, the destruction of communities by traffic, congestion and space allocated to parking

Of course I believe that to be fair cyclists, HGV’s etc should all be taxed proportionately to the above costs they cause.

I’ll make an offer. If I pay ₤5 a year per bike then would someone work out how much it is fair to charge a car. Here are some suggestions.

We could charge tax based on the number of people killed by each means of transport. There are approx 3,000 road deaths per year in the UK. I understand that in a very bad year 1 of these is caused by a bike. I don’t know the breakdown between cars and HGV’s etc but let us imagine that 1,000 of the deaths are caused by cars. On this measure cars would need to be taxed 1,000 times higher than a bike in order to contribute proportionally towards the total cost of those road. So if I pay ₤5 a year per bike then cars would need to pay ₤5,000 each.

We could charge based on the damage caused to the road. I understand that this is related to the cube (or more) weight on an axle. So for a bike say 60kg per axle (ie 120kg for rider and bike). For a Ford Focus 1150kg plus driver and divide by 4. is 1250/4 = approx 310kg.  Cube these and the bike is 216000 and the Focus 30,000,000 ie approx 140 times greater. By this calculation the tax on a Ford Focus would be ₤700 which seems a bargain. [Update] apparently road damage is simply proportional to the 3rd or 4th power of total weight. So that would mean 120 cubed for the bike (1728000) and 1250 cubed for the Ford Focus (1953125000). So ₤5 for the bike means ₤5650 for the Ford Focus.

As the Carbon emissions and Particulate emissions of a bike are zero the car tax would be infinity 🙂

It seems to me that Vehicle Excise Duty is an absolute bargain for car drivers. It is hard to find an argument for it being less than several thousand for the cheapest car.

It also seems that it is unlikely any car driver will want a cyclist to pay as much tax as ₤5 for their bike as it so dramatically shows how much greater the cost of a car to society is.

Anyway when it comes to cars we will want to include other taxes on motorists such as petrol/diesel. In fact my preference would be to get rid of Vehicle Excise Duty altogether and re-coup the tax through a tax on fuel (not sure how this is done for electric cars though). Tax on fuel is fairer as the tax is roughly proportionate to the damage a vehicle does to people, the environment, the roads, communities. Big cars driven long distances pay the most, small cars lightly used pay the least. Cars driven where there are too many cars use more fuel due to queuing and stop start driving. The tax is hard to dodge and encourages healthier behaviour (more local amenities, moving nearer to your work/school/…, shopping locally, using other forms of transport, choosing smaller and more efficient cars).

So as a concrete suggestion how about the following as a move to fairer tax on motoring:

  • Phase out Vehicle Excise Duty on cars over the next 5 years
  • Set a fixed increase in the tax on petrol, diesel & LPG at 10% (of the sale price) per year for  every year to remove doubt and to let people budget properly.
  • Implement a sales tax on all new vehicles that varies according to their efficiency (Co2, Particulates, fuel consumption) this avoids manufacturers creating cars that have a good fuel economy but high emissions, it replaces the Vehicle Excise Duty by being at purchase point only.
  • Implement congestion charging for all major cities and for the motorways that get most blocked
  • Find a way to ensure that electric cars pay a fair share of tax

BBC News – New car park in Birmingham finds a space for you

There is now a solution to the age old problem of never being able to find a space when you go into a car park.

via BBC News – New car park in Birmingham finds a space for you.


A much cheaper solution than a multi million pound car park is to ride your bike! Parking is then easy. Of course if you want to pack in a lot of parking then build a proper bike park. You can fit a lot more bikes in a much cheaper building.

An example is on the right. 970 bikes and it looks nice!

This is in Alphen aan den Rijn and

This brings the total number of cycle parking spaces at Alphen aan den Rijn station to 2850. The town has a population of around 72000 people, so there are places for around one in 25 residents to park a bike at the railway station.

I wonder how much the Birmingham solution would cost for 2850 cars!


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox

Join other followers: