Friday 18 December 2015

Milton Road - The Battlefield

Milton Road is one of the major routes in or out of Cambridge and its dreadful for cycling. There's sporadic provision for riding on this road - in places there's a joke of a shared use facility, in others we're in the bus lane, and we're expected to swap back and forwards from being assertive cyclists to modified pedestrians multiple times, endangering us and angering motorists. And if we get it wrong because it isn't even labelled where the cycle route ends the Police stake it out to nab us. Indeed having motorists punish us for riding here is so common we refer to this treatment as the Milton Road Effect - defined as bad cycle facilities contributing towards aggressive treatment as motorists try to bully us out of the way.

So Milton Road is a major thoroughfare for cars and a massively important route for cycling or, at least, it should be. There really aren't good alternative routes (although just wait until we're told to take absurd detours via the Eponymous Trail - it'll happen) so its important to sort this out as part of the City Deal - government cash set aside to for infrastructural investment to facilitate the continued growth of the Cambridge phenomenon. We can expect a fight - while the economic, health and environmental benefits of facilitating cycling are well established (really, if you don't already know about this holler in the comments below and I'm sure links will be forthcoming) there's always resentment when egotistical motons are asked to cede more than four square inches of tarmac to us smug gits who are only doing it to make them look bad (we're not, by the way - however much they try to project this).

Take for example Councillor Hickfords comments regarding cyclists in Cambridge - he wants to charge us for riding here because we use up road space (and note how grudgingly he refers to it as 'street space' in this clip, not wanting to cede even a syntactical inch to anyone who isn't in a car). Its all about cars, you see, and how long it takes cars to get where they're going. Its not about average journey times for people, or reducing the environmental or economic impact of travel or even increasing capacity of the road for journeys - its about cars. And cyclists don't count for him because we're not cars. So if cars should have to pay we should because its just not fair, and where's my bobo Nanny!

What can I say other than bloody typical Tory wank - like all Tories he knows the price of everything but the value of nothing. How predictably disappointing that yet another Tory councillor failed us - at least this one isn't claiming to be championing cycling on the council while knifing us in the back like Councillor Curtis did. Seriously, he's saying its a good idea to tackle congestion by charging the cleanest, greenest, most compact form of transport - he knows its crap and he's being a coward by setting it out as someone elses position to deflect the personal mockery he richly deserves and to try to restrict what cyclists might ultimately get. Shameful, nonsensical, idiotic, manipulative, evil. Fucking Tories.

But there's more. Here's a consultant telling us we should be delighted with cycle lanes that are narrower than he is, using the example of two cyclists in a pencil thin cycle lane on an absolutely quiet road in Oxford. Well, yes, a 1m cycle lane is fine when there's no bloody cars encroaching on the space - in fact if there's no other traffic, ever, we don't need a cycle lane - and yes, we did all notice you cherry picked precisely such an image. It isn't fine when there's heavy, dangerous traffic turning across us - 1m wide lanes are below any accepted standards for cycle provision. You know it, we know it. Stop with this.

And apparently narrowing the road makes it safer for everyone too because they all have to go more slowly - only when its good, right thinking petrol heads and not dirty hipp... err, cyclists its narrowed for though. So narrowing roads with parking good, narrowing roads by simultaneously making them more appealing for cycling (1m cycle lanes don't do that - again, if you doubt this yell out and I'll get references for you) is bad? You're playing us for fools - you're not a consultant, you're a stitch up merchant presumably hired to muddy the waters sufficiently to prevent any real progress for sustainable travel. Shame on you and shame on whoever wasted public money on you.

The problems we're going to face with Milton Road are many and varied. There's a big battle to come regarding the mostly weedy, unhealthy and naff trees that speckle the route for a start (seriously, rip them all out and plant a better selection of urban trees, there's huge scope for improvement), but we're also still fighting crude ignorance and prejudice against cyclists. These are people who resent being told to stop eating pies if they don't want to be so fat, who shuffle along slowly in traffic in metal cages because they willfully misinterpret this metallic imprisonment as freedom. Idiots who'd render their cats down for a litre of diesel rather than walk five minutes to the shop to get a Mars Bar, and who resent the oxygen we breathe as they'd rather burn it in their infernal combustion engines. They hate us because we are not them, and they only understand economic development as framed by a tax disc and windscreen wipers. Actual spending, earnings, and transport and health cost savings are lost on them.

We spend more than they do. Sorry, but its true - we're better customers and better employees. That makes us better citizens than you. We're fitter, healthier, more active, cleaner, greener, quieter and more efficient users of road space - there is every reason to invest in sufficiently good cycle facilities to increase participation in cycling whereas merely fannying about with the road for motorists cannot increase capacity - we're not going to get multiple lanes for motorists there and, besides, travel times will remain the same for driving because the same bottlenecks will remain (unless we're going to start knocking down houses - and we're not).

I urge Cambridge councillors involved in the City Deal to immediately dismiss these charlatans, and to distance themselves from the vicious claptrap coming from Councillor Hickford - so we can have a real discussion on the costs and benefits of different approaches to road use. Level the playing field by getting rid of this nonsense - or are you just to afraid of the moton lobby to do so?

Tuesday 17 November 2015

Is how we're treated based on the bike we ride?

I should start this by saying I've never, for a moment, believed the idea that close passes of cyclists are due to inattention. The very idea that a motorist is accurately judging a close pass at speed is farcical - its just not a feasible claim. Close passes are intentional, aggressive acts.

So I'm somewhat predisposed to believe that observations based on how I'm treated on different bikes are genuine rather than all in my head. And I'm finding that on my funky chunky new bike I'm getting rather more dodgy overtakes than I do on any of my others.

I don't commute on that one every day of course - its great fun to ride and can take a hell of a load, but I'd rather commute on something with a bit more zip to it unless I'm getting shopping - and yesterday I wanted to indulge my clementine habit with a couple of boxes from the market at lunchtime, so off I went to work on the bike with the big baskets.

There were four crazy overtakes on the way home. The most frightening for me was this one:

So I'm apparently not a bike, I'm a gap in traffic.

But its worse (for others on the road) than that - it would seem I'm big enough and slow enough to make it necessary to squeeze past at a junction and try to throw your taxi into a bus.

Now I get silly motorists no matter what I ride, but its so noticeable that if I'm on a 'typical' bike I get the occasional close pass or some hostility sometimes, whereas if I'm no the chunky bike I'm getting almost no verbal aggression but NO END of bad passes. And if I'm on a road bike I get no end of anger.

Much has been written on driver behaviour and how the drivers perception of the rider is important - but I've seen less attention given to what kind of bike we're riding. It seems likely to me (from my own observations) that motorists pay enough attention to what we're riding such that how they act towards us is significantly influenced by this - its more evidence that the way motorists act around us is not just one of those things, the dodgy passes aren't accidental, and that the negative experiences that put many people off cycling are caused by direct, intentional aggression of motorists. Its not just how we ride or what we wear that influences what form this hostility takes - its what we ride. 

Why ought a moton give a shit about what we ride? That's something to discuss another day.

Bidwells? Cambridge Police? #Badlyparkedbike? The plot thickens.

So you'll remember #badlyparkedbike, our police services comically inept social media campaign aimed at shaming cyclists into not locking their bikes in perfectly out of the way spots to divert attention away from the fact that most suburban pavements in this city are entirely impassable due to parked cars? You'll remember their clinging to that sinking ship no matter what was shown to them? And you'll no doubt recall how this escalated to the point where a cycling journalist was threatened with arrest for taking a picture of a police car obstructing a cycle lane?

Well, @cambridgecops twitter feed (from which a number of vocal but polite critics have been blocked) has stopped yammering on about it. Initially I assumed this was probably because the tag was hijacked by a gloriously sarcastic deluge of car-blocked pavements and perhaps someone at the constabulary had finally got the point - but then things seemed to be turning sinister as Bidwells (the owner of one of the sites chosen by the Police to hi-light this - not that you can readily discern this, it looks like a public space) threatened to remove bikes locked there. With very little notice. 

Well, they went and did it. 

And, quite understandably, I would expect the bike owners furious. And one of them has been digging to find out whats happening and is pursuing a complaint to get her bike back.

Now it would have been hard to accept the claim (in the link above) from someone at Bidwells that they've been collaborating with the Police to remove bicycles. But lets be frank, Cambridgeshire Constabulary have made a complete pigs ear of things with cyclists recently and it would surprise none of us were the same anti-cyclist elements at Cambridgeshire Constabulary who so unflinchingly backed #badlyparkedbike were to have given tacit approval for this - especially as this was the location for the first shared image of a bike allegedly thus parked.

Its obvious from this that both Bidwells and Cambridgeshire Constabulary have questions to answer if anyone from our police service is reading this, think about how you'd react were the person from Bidwells to have implicated any other organisation but yours. You'd be suspicious too - especially after #badlyparkedbike. 

To remove bicycles that (in this instance) had been in place for less than a day with only a few notices that are rather hard to find in the dark (and commuters at this time of year are arriving in the dark both in the morning and the evening) and give them to a charity isn't a proportional response to those bikes being on your property, and its certainly not good publicity. I urge the folk at Bidwells to sort this out and make things right with cyclists whose bikes they've taken, and to do so as quickly as possible. Guys, we're not just folk on bikes, we're a demographic that spends money and who make decisions who to work with. Right now do you really think this is good business? 

And in the mean time, if anyone has had their bikes grabbed, I wish you all success in getting it back. Keep us all informed how you get on - and if you've any information to add to whats in the complaint letter linked above then please share it. 

Monday 16 November 2015

Roadside damage - who pays?

It always seems to the the case that another car ploughs through another hedge or wrecks another sign, and once the cars are dragged out backwards (causing more damage) its the rest of us footing the bill, if its public property, or a farmer/landowner if it isn't. Its like wrecking everything by the roadside is considered just one of those things - so I wonder, can we change that by embarrassing our highway authorities into giving a damn?

I mention this because after this rather shocking bit of road carnage I've just put this FOI in. My bottom line is that whoever did this should pay, and I (as someone who pays council tax) shouldn't. I wonder how far I'll get with it?

And I just wonder, if we ALL put in FOI to find out who pays whenever we see some road carnage caused by yet another motorist who 'lost control' etc. could we get to a point where its normal for motorists to pay for their damage?

Are the Police colluding with developers to remove bikes?

Some strange happenings in Cambridge have led me to ask the paranoid sounding question in the title of this blog post.

What started out with the badly thought out, disastrously naive #badlyparkedbike campaign (which backfired spectacularly, leading to cyclists taking pictures of cars blocking pavements across Cambridge and beyond, with one even threatened with arrest under protection from terrorism laws for doing so) has now taken a more sinister flavour with one of the first locations targeted by Cambridge Police being the site of a controversial bike removal scheme. The stubborn refusal of our police service to admit error, followed by blocking many prominent critics, has rather made a mockery of their claims to impartiality - are they colluding with the developers to remove these bikes?

Its not obvious down there near the station which parts of the development are public space and which are private. Indeed its a total pigs ear - there are insufficient bike spaces for commuters and residents, resulting in people locking bikes up all over the place. Such is the nature of Cambridge though - its not new, its the way things are and pretty much always have been - if something is not obviously private property you've really got no excuse for being angry at people using an out of the way location that won't block access to lock up their bikes.

The close proximity of Cambridge Police talking about #badlyparkedbike in the context of this? That takes this past obvious coincidence into suspicious. 

If I were to remove a car parked on my property and dispose of it I'd be breaking the law. But if its a bike? Well, it seems no one at our police service gives a monkeys about you. 

Friday 13 November 2015


I've gained just a modicum of grudging respect for Ray Brown at the Cambridge News. A modicum.

He's picked up one of my youtube vids and built a nice little news story around it. This vid here:

I was riding out that way on Monday and I couldn't quite work out what had caused that kind of damage - a car or van must have rolled over or through the tree somehow, clipped the fence, hit a fence post (a big, solid, brick pillar affair) and come to a stop on a muddy verge. Must have been going at a hell of a lick - and it struck me as odd that it wasn't in the news so I uploaded a video asking what had happened. Turns out there'd been a police chase which ended thus - quite a dramatic event and I'd have thought newsworthy in the bloated fenland village of Cambridge.

And best of all its a simple, clear exemplification of why having rules on our road matters - there's a bus stop not far away on the other side of the road, and had it not been for a tree and a solid brick post the van could have ended up in a house - not all the homes along Mere Way are as well protected as this one was.

Rules on our road matter. I'm not saying slavishly follow every letter of every regulation, but the lesson here is very simple - motorised vehicles pack a hell of a wallop and handling them is a huge responsibility requiring attention to the detail of the rules.

But right next to that story in Cambridge News is this one. Its a bog standard 'cameras catch thousands of motorists blatantly, knowingly breaking the law and fine them for it, isn't it all so unjust 'affair. Claims that the 46,000 drivers who've hurled £700,000 in fines down the bog aren't throwing themselves like lemmings down the bus lane or are just making mistakes and not trying to queue jump the traffic are absurd - its well sign posted and its very easy to avoid these fines by not driving in the bus lane. I suspect many motorists there decide they'll chance the fine because they want to get where they're going a bit faster. 

Same journalist, two consecutive stories, one giving a graphic demonstration of what happens when motorists don't obey the rules followed by a exemplification of motorists breaking the rules - and this is tens of thousands of times - which has a very blatant 'its so unfair' slant. 

Same journalist. Same paper. Consecutive articles.

Raymond old chap, I've misjudged you. You've got brass. But I do wish you'd apply some more brain power to this - can you not see that the slant you put on article (b) is part of the problem that leads to the problems portrayed in article (a)? Or do you understand this, and you don't care?

Monday 9 November 2015

Taking a picture of a police car? Terrorist?

Nothing much can be added to this direct account.

But if true, it would appear that our police service has gone completely mad.

We shall await results of FOI requests and complaints but, in the mean time, it really pains me to suggest being cautious around Cambridgeshire Constabulary.

Sunday 8 November 2015

Complaint to Cambrideshire Constabulary

What can you do when faced with this kind of recalcitrance?

Copy of the email I've just sent to the city centre police team and to the PCC. Why the hell has it come to this?

Dear Sir/Madame,

I must complain about the way your staff have acted on twitter recently. May I ask that you log this as an official complaint please?

In response to your widely mocked #BadlyParkedBike campaign, many people (including myself) have been sharing images of badly parked cars - the alternative suggested by your staff later, which was to use #DaftParking, came too late, and 'daft' doesn't have the same connotations anyway. I think that members of the public this sharing images of cars blocking the pavement with you is a very positive thing - this is surely precisely the kind of interaction you want with us? Isn't it good that people are sending you images of antisocial and dangerous parking, regardless of what hashtag they use? Why are you treating this as a failure and not a resounding success?

I posted just such images on Saturday, one of them linked here. From here you can see the main body of tweets in reply, showing the behaviour I'm complaining about.

You can see that the response from @CambridgeCops was petulant - an outright refusal to look at evidence of cars illegally blocking the path purely on the basis of the wrong tag being used.

It is inappropriate for anyone working for the police service to refuse to look at evidence of criminality on such spurious grounds - that your social media campaign has been lampooned to the point where it has backfired badly is not an excuse to ignore dangerous and obstructive car parking. #badlyparkedbike has become, more or less in its entirety, a catalogue of bad car parking, whether you like it or not, and #daftparking barely shows up at all -and your desire to reverse this trend not only seems fruitless, but it is clearly getting in the way of good policing and is bringing the police service into disrepute.

I asked for the badge number of person tweeting on multiple occasions, and was first directed to phone 101, then to email you, then finally told to 'mark it up for the attention of collar no. 440. I still do not know from that comment whether thats the person making these tweets.

I do not believe it is okay for a police employee to tweet anonymously and make it such a huge deal out of being asked identify themselves when interracting with the public, and I believe it is flat out wrong to refuse to look at something because its got a hashtag that annoys you.

Please, for the good of the reputation of Cambridgeshire Constabulary if for no other reason, reconsider how you handle social media. You've got some superb, hard working, competent police officers, and they are being entirely failed by how electronic communications are handled. Please process this as a complaint as described above.

Yours sincerely,

Friday 6 November 2015

Time for Cyclists to Snipe Back?

And the response to these hate pieces is ever more jaded, its like cyclists are so used to being beaten about the head with this crap that they just give up. And its interesting that many of those who were most vocal years ago are now amongst the most jaded, and while there's a steady stream of new people sharing outrage there's a sort of progression, a seral succession whereby members of the online community move from enthusiastic outrage to thick-skinned via. tetchy, cynical and jaded. 

So another whack-a-mole trollumnist comes along, is hammered, will no doubt feign offence at how these aggressive cyclists have treated her, and we go back to square 1.

Something thats really hard to get across to activists in other areas is that for the most part, if you ask someone who cycles who or what they are, they don't say 'cyclist'. Yeah, we get about by bike, but we don't usually identify as cyclist. That identity is in other peoples minds. And that means that most cyclists aren't up for a fight about this stuff - it makes cyclists one of the softest targets for this kind of hate, because we're a demographic that doesn't mobilise behind the same banner. We don't recognise the banner that they believe defines us. 

When I look at articles like this I'm particularly reminded of how media have turned on other social out-groups in the past, particularly gamers, and their response was both simple and, initially outstandingly successful. By complaining en masse to sponsors of sites that they perceived as overtly critical of them, those gamers very quickly achieved most of their goals.

Their five-step approach - consult a list of those who've posted 'hate', define whats offensive, pick articles or related postings that exemplify this, plug this in to defined emails sent to the publication itself and to sponsors who advertise therein, and keep doing it ('be an annoying little shit') worked on their own press, but had far less impact on the broader media (which still loves its gamer stereotype).

Can we go one step further? We're a broad demographic - can we succeed in the wider arena of the mass media where gamers failed?

Can we go further than inept twitter outrage and consolidate the cycling community behind a campaign to change how we're portrayed?

Wednesday 4 November 2015

Is our housing designing-out cyclists?

I was sitting on the old fountain in the market square yesterday, while tucking in to lunch from of the excellent Cambridge Paella Company. I got talking to a chap who'd leaned his bike on its kick stand next to me - a sweet, ancient shopper with a sturdy metal basket on the front. He sadly related that he's going to have to lose it because he's got nowhere to keep it any more, having moved in to a place on Orchard Park he and his wife have just got nowhere to store bikes. 

But they have a car. Of course.

My partner and I are rather lucky in that we've got somewhere to store our bikes - we're not tripping over them in a narrow hall on the way in and out. But such is becoming vanishingly rare in this City, as the population expands but the pace of housing growth remains resolutely sluggish more and more people are living in small flats, studio apartments, shared houses or bedsits. Much has been written elsewhere by folk who are far more knowledgeable about our housing crisis than I am, so I shan't add to that - but from a cycling perspective the problem is very simple. You can't just leave a bike outside on the street all the time (and battles to get on street bike storage take years and, even when successful, don't deliver enough), you need somewhere to keep it, and that's an increasingly big ask unless you've got more than just a rented bedroom in a shared house.

So back to the chap I was talking to yesterday. He's keeping the car because he can park that on the street. He can't always get it close to his house but there's always somewhere within a hundred yards or so, he said. 

Free on street parking doesn't just facilitate car ownership and use, it actively discourages active transport. From making roads hostile to cyclists due to intermittent parked vehicles requiring us to swerve in and out as aggressive motorists squeeze us into the parked car zones, pedestrians who increasingly find it hard to walk down pavements littered with cars, right through to the issue of free parking in home zones versus the difficulty of storing bicycles, giving people free access to public space in which to store a very large item brings with it social, economic and environmental problems. This matters - but not sufficiently to those who want to drive to meetings to make planning decisions.

Cambridge is currently Britain's top cycling city, but central London is catching up. The two places share some features in common - nowhere to park a car for most people at work being one of them. But I wonder, as we fail to address cycle storage as one of our housing needs as Cambridge grows, will we remain the most cycled city?

Monday 2 November 2015

#BadlyParkedBike - A failed opportunity for Cambridge Police

Its been hard keeping up with the #badlyparkedbike campaign from Cambridgeshire Constabulary - but as an abject lesson in how not to use social media, I think it is worth a quick re-cap.

What should have been among the least controversial social media campaigns in history (to paraphrase, 'don't park your bike like a div, make sure you lock it securely and don't block the pavement') has backfired on our local boys and girls in Blue. It isn't that the basic message there is a bad one (be excellent to each other, as a wiser man than me once said), the problem is that the examples given, followed by shambolic responses from the force, have brought this campaign further and further into disrepute.

It all got a bit too much for them when responses to this tweet sparked a backlash - cyclists across Camnbridge and then the rest of the UK started getting shirty because, fundamentally, a bike being chained half way up a tree guard and not blocking the path is neither illegal nor is it in the way. Or in other words, if you've taken great pains to find a bike locking space thats physically out of the way and not illegal, our local coppers will still 'out' your bike parking.

This made it to the local newspaper (because this passes as news in Cambridge) and other news feeds, and its just sort of spiralled from there.

It became embarassing when the police tried to defend this by saying it was getting people talking about road safety - it isn't, its got people mocking their use of social media. Then the local police commissioner tweeted out in support and explained to us what the hashtag means (and was corrected). A frequent refrain from the police feed, when faced with criticism that they're not dealing with the cars vans that completely block pavements in this city on a daily basis, is that they're 'primarily an emergency service'. So why are they so keen to deal with bikes locked to trees? Whats the emergency?

If @CambridgeCops were to take a step back they'd realise that that the response to this has been superb, but it doesn't fit with their goals. They've had no impact on cyclists, the hashtag has entirely gone away from them. No one is discussing road safety, they're laughing at the Police force, and I don't think thats ever a good situation. But they could snatch success from the jaws of defeat here by taking the multitude of images of cars illegally blocking pavements across Cambridge and taking action to stop it happening - go talk to the motorists who regularly make our pavements impassable, ticket them for it if you must. They're getting an ever-increasing catalogue of of images of genuinely nasty and entirely obstructive pavement parking - but is #BadlyParkedCar as important to them as #BadlyParkedBike? So far, it doesn't look like it.

So what are you waiting for guys? You've got the evidence. When does #BadlyParkedCar get the attention you know it deserves?

Friday 30 October 2015

Elephant Bike - A review of a refurbished Mailstar

This isn't a blog about charities so I'm not going to lecture you about this being a good cause (although it is). If you want to know about that I can't do better than the Krizevac Project have already done - its a great idea, well worth reading about.

This is a blog about cycling, and the typical post here is a little bit political and ridiculously sarcastic - thats all going to be on hold for the moment while I tell you about my new bike. This bike here: 

Its an Elephant Bike, a not entirely informative name from a cycling perspective but brilliant for the charity. It wasn't made for elephants but it feels like it could have been - in my riding of it so far its the most ridiculously robust and rugged thing I've ridden. As you'd expect of a bike built to carry a heavy load and do hard work day in, day out.

These are bikes with a bit of history behind them. I'm sure many of you were as irrationally upset as I was to learn back in 2014 that the Royal Mail were phasing out the use of their Mailstar bikes for making deliveries - a sign of the times as posties struggle under the weight and ridiculous excess of packaging in the modern online ordering era. Manufactured by Pashley and sold as the Pronto, its not only hard to find one in a shop its also very (or 'reassuringly' as some maintain) expensive to buy one new. But the great thing about these critters is that with a bit of TLC they just don't need to be new - they're rugged as hell and built to survive judgement day.

And this is where the Elephant Bike comes in - for £250 (or £280 with the rack on the front and basket - why would you not?) you get a little bit of cycling history. An ex-posties bike refurbished to a high standard.

If I really go looking I can find the occasional spot where there's been some corrosion on the bars - but the frame is beautifully repainted and absolutely rock solid. The wheels, tyres, forks, racks and cables all seem immaculate. It took very little assembly (pedals screwing on, basket screwing on, saddle adjusted, handlebars straightened and I was ready to go), and I must say its one of the smoothest bikes I've ridden.

So, the positives - its gorgeous. Look at it, just look at it. Tell me it isn't gorgeous. And as I've said, its tough - after the holocaust there'll be nowt left but cockroaches getting around on Pashley bikes. Its built to take a hefty load, which makes it the ideal shopper or run around for the allotment. And its very low maintenance - hub brakes and hub gears that minimise work. This isn't a speedster, it was built for easy, mid-to-slow speed cycling with a load, and it is in my experience un-matched in that role. Especially at this price. And its the kind of bike that gets a following, there's already a wikia forming around the idea of using and maintaining these bikes

The negatives - while I love the look of the wicker basket, I don't immediately get why its more useful than the black plastic ones that decked out the Royal Mail ones. If the choice of the wicker basket is just aesthetic, I get it, but I'd have rather had the plastic one too (even if I'd had to pay a little more for the 'original' box as well as the wicker one). I also loathe the saddle - I don't know whose derriere it was modelled on but its not the right shape for me, and I'll be replacing it imminently and trying to resist the temptation to go Brooks. I'm also not entirely convinced that the gear tension is right, but for it would be churlish indeed to grumble if that's all that's wrong with a bike coming through the post.

So good causes aside, if you've got the money and the space for a load-carrying bike, I really can't find much to fault this bike on. It really is a glorious bit of kit, other than maybe the choice of a wicker rather than tough plastic box on the front. 9 out of 10 - just shy of perfect.

Saturday 24 October 2015

Bad cycle facilities - The Milton Road Effect

Britain is full of councils and local road administrators who live under the quaint notion that any kind of cycle facility at all must be better than no facility. They might perhaps believe that while a good, wide, segregated cycling route would be great, that would just be inconveniencing the motorists too much so they'll just put some paint on the pavement and call it a cycle lane, or section off a foot of road outside the gutter for cyclists. They seem to seek a compromise between encouraging cyclists and pleasing motorists by spending as little cash as possible on almost nothing for us, and then not give a flying fuck at a rolling doughnut when no one cycles. The self fulfilling prophecy of a moronic mindset that assumes that because only swimmers currently cross a river, no one would benefit from a bridge. 

The result of putting in dreadful cycle routes is well understood in Cambridge, by planners (who still do it because clearly they don't give a shit)  and by cyclists who don't want to ride such routes. I've seen it called the Milton Road Effect - named for Milton Road, in Cambridge, the site of some of our worst shared use facilities, and occasional ambush site for Police who want to collar cyclists with no hope of knowing where they can or can't ride legally.

The problem is simple. We're presented with the option to use a dreadful cycle facility which may be too narrow, too badly surfaced, crammed with paked cars and pedestrians, too indirect or give way to far too many driveways and side roads to be useful or safe. The use of such facilities is not only inconvenient, it may often be very dangerous due to poor visibility of what can come out of driveways and of cars that will just turn across you without looking. But because the lanes are visible and sign-posted we get no end of aggro from people who think they know better than us - there's a cycle lane there, and they reason that (1) it must be better to ride there than on the road and (2) it should be expected of us to be in that lane to be out of the way.

The result? Abuse and threatening behaviour, at worst. Or condescension at best.

Proof? Here's a driving instructor who apparently has in the region of 17 years experience teaching. He's actually ignoring his student for a while there (who unless my eyes deceive me seems in overtaking me to spook the oncoming motorist sufficiently to swerve into the bus lane opposite) so he can gawp at me and direct me towards the cycle route I'm not using (because, as I intoned above, is crap). And that's at the better end of things - this is the sort of stupid, pointless (criminal, it was judged) behaviour (aggressively sounding the horn at me and passing close and fast for 'being in the road' while also being on his mobile phone - pretty crap really) we get at the worst end. It isn't every motorist - but how many such incidents do you think it takes to give most people a life-long fear of cycling?

These bad cycle routes make our lives more hazardous by bringing out the worst in motorists - and we've got whole generations of them picking up bad habits and dangerous mind-sets from the very instructors who should be teaching them to drive safely. It is incumbent upon ever yone of us - every cycling advocate, every cycle campaigning organisation, and everyone with an interest in the health and fitness that comes with active transport to oppose every single bad facility and to only cooperate with local authorities when cycle facilities on offer are of excellent quality. And if too many cycling bodies continue to compromise on this? We may as well give up.

Thursday 22 October 2015

Ron Eastoe Driving School - Just a bit inconsiderate...

UPDATE 4: It appears that a different Mr. Eastoe junior (Lee Eastoe) also left a message. I got an emal notification of a comment to the video saying "If you don't remove this video and all tags to Ron Eastoe, I'm going to sue you". I can't see the comment on my video though - does that mean he posted it then deleted it?

I must say, without prejudice, I am baffled by what you think you're going to sue me for. The actions of the driver were in public in a clearly painbted vehicle - I've broken no law by filming this, posting it and commentng - you'll observe my comments here have been entirely reasonable. May I suggest that the two Mr. Eastoes (Jr) should take a time out and cool off - if Ron Eastoe wants to talk about his (I presume) advice and why I've responded telling him why he is wrong both in his choice to give it as he did and in terms of the content, please get in touch. 

UPDATE 3: Mr. Eastoe (jr) has, in what seems ever more like some kind of angry breakdown, resorted to abusing other commentors on my videos and going through my old vids and, bluntly, stirring for the sake of it. Mr. Eastoe, my channel, my rules - you were warned to be civil to other contributors and you were not. Your behaviour has been disgraceful - I am blocking your comments from the channel. Fat shaming? Not acceptable. Not now, not ever.

UPDATE 2: Mr. Eastoe (jr) is getting increasingly irate:
Just stop! Excuse me. you are the one who started this nonsense and now you are demanding that I don't have an opinion. R u superior Cab? Do you realise the stress you're causing my 60 year old mother over this? You have a history for this sort of thing I see. Do you have nothing better to do? Quite frankly cab you are just another sad little man in lycra with a helmet cam. You give cyclists a bad name! Anyone with half a brain can see that this means nothing and you need to get a life Sir..
UPDATE 1: Well Mr. Eastoe (senior) hasn't got back to me yet, but I'm sure he's aware of this from comments made by his son on the youtube video. 

Gentlemen, I'm pretty sure you'll be coming back to see this blog page, I'd like to point out that my own offer to take you for a ride down there is genuine, and Rad Wagons offer to talk to you about cycling safety from the perspective of an experienced, professional cycling instructor is also genuine and really generous - I know Rad, he's a good guy and if he's offering to do this for you, jump at the chance.

But I ask that you quit with the line you're taking in the comments there - I think my comments here, and there, have been more than polite to you. I've left no negative reviews, I've not and will not suggest that anyone else should do so. I have not made a complaint to the DVSA, I've tried to handle this by asking you to reconsider your actions which I believe were inappropriate and from a cycling perspective unsettling. So stop with the nastiness ("quite frankly you sound on edge and ready to snap in this footage", "On the grand scheme of things this is ridiculous. You boys need a hobby fast. " etc.). I really have no interest in your reputation - but I don't believe those postings on youtube can be seen as positive in that regard. Do you?

This is (most of) the text I posted to Ron Eastoes facebook page. It concerns this driving (below). I've invited him here to comment - I don't want to give the guy a hard time but I think its important that a driving instructor in Cambridge has a better awareness of cycling that he seems to have.

Hi Ron, I've uploaded some footage to YouTube of someone (I presume you?) in the passengers side of a car in your livery pointing at an off road shared use cycle facility while overtaking me, while on my bicycle, on Mill Road in Cambridge Yesterday.

I'd just like to point a few things out here. Firstly, if you point and call out at a cyclist, its intimidating. You're in a car, you're in a position where the slightest error could prove fatal to more vulnerable road users. From such a position your comments really are rather unnerving, at best.

Secondly, please, get on your bike and ride that off-road use. Just once. You'll only do it the once, and you'll immediately thereafter understand why so many adults riding Milton Road ride on the road instead. The shared use facility frequently has a lot of pedestrians on it, it is poorly surfaced, it has numerous hidden entrances and driveways from which cars can emerge with no warning, and at this time of year it can be as slippery as sheet glass under leaves. This is why rule 61 of the highway code makes it clear that it is a cyclists choice to use a cycle facility or not, depending on 'experience and skills'. Its my call whether I use it, not yours.

Lastly, I must point out that cycle facilities do not exist to get cyclists out of the way - we've a right to use the road space, for motorists its a privilege controlled through licensing, a fact that I hope a driving instructor should understand. If you want cyclists to use those facilities please understand that the answer is simple enough - write to your councillors and your MP and demand that such cycle routes must always be of sufficient quality to encourage people on to them. We don't ride on the road out of a bloody minded will to be in your way, we do so where there are no safe or useful facilities.

Thanks for reading. I'm not a regular on Facebook, I've only got an account to see an odd link that is behind a log-in wall. So I'm going to put this text on my blog, alongside the video footage. Please reply there...

(sorry folks, posted before copying the rest of the text over. Thats the bulk of it - I also invited him for a ride because riding the roads he's teaching on would be of great value, and invited him here to comment)

Tuesday 20 October 2015

NEWS FLASH - Daily Bread has a bike rack

...its small, but it doesn't suck. Our top ethical-supplier in Cambridge now approaches being ethical at last!

Its only taken, oh, I dunno, 14 years of suggesting it to them, or thereabouts?

Pictures to follow.

Thursday 8 October 2015

Wot no cycle racks?

Back in 2012 I complained that Hughes Electrical were terrible to shop at if you're on a bike because they're on a savage road with no bike locking.

I've been in the shop many times since then, but I've bought very little because there are other shops (e.g. Seven Oaks) where I can lock up the bike and the trailer to take goods home. Its so much more convenient.  But on Saturday I was looking for something that'll have to be delivered (a new cooker), so I was happy to slum it and lock the bike up wherever I could find. And I went to Hughes first, as its at one end of the city and I could go to the other shops in succession.

I must say I'm disappointed that they've made no progress, at all, in improving bike provision. I can't blame them that Cherry Hinton Road remains one of the worst routes to ride in the City, but I do feel that in three years they really ought to have sorted out some bike locking. This is Cambridge, if you want my custom you need to give me somewhere to lock up my bike. 

So after Hughes I rode out to the Beehive Centre, to the actually quite good bike locks at Currys and at Argos, before riding in to the City Centre to the really very good (but ridiculously under-sized relative to what was promised) underground bike-park at the Grand Arcade to go to John Lewis. I chose in the end to go with John Lewis to buy my new cooker - not because they were cheaper or better than Hughes (they weren't) but because I didn't really want to have to fanny on with a wire mesh railing to lock my bike to for a second time in the same day. 

Bluntly I'm just a but put out when it seems like a company doesn't make it easy for me to shop there. And that means you too Daily Bread, you've actually made your bike locking worse by putting planters in where I used to be able to wheel my bike trailer behind the railing to lock up my bike. You claim to be an ethical retailer but clearly active, green, clean transport isn't one of those ethics. Now if I bring the trailer I risk having to lock it up on the pavement which would block access, and I don't want to do that. So for big purchases I don't much use your shop any more.

Its not hard - do you want my money? Cater to my needs. I'm not asking much, just somewhere to safely leave my bike. Cyclists are a demographic with more cash to spend than motorists - we're not burning cash every time we leave our driveways, wouldn't you rather we spent it with you instead? So get bike provision right - not doing so is costing you money. Every. Single. Day.

Wednesday 7 October 2015

Change one law, make the roads safer?

Politicians like gimmicks, its easier to sell them to electorates via conference soundbites than it is to come out with real changes or real policies. So I've been wondering, is there a 'one thing' type gimmick that would give us real, sound improvements in cycling and walking? I think that maybe there is, so I'll put it out there and see whether anyone agrees. Or has a better idea...

If you're driving, you're driving. And thats what you're doing. You can't faff about with the radio, or the sat-nav, or fiddle with an e-cig, or mess about with your phone or a delivery sheet. You can't eat a sarnie or a bag of crisps, or balance a mug of coffee while at the wheel. Drive or do something else.

Penalty for multi-tasking driving? 6 points. So you can get away with it, once.

Seriously, I think this idea is a go-er. Its easier to enforce (how often have you seen a driver visibly doing something?), its simpler, and it would have a big impact on driving culture - it would bring into focus the fact that driving is something that carries a fair whack of responsibility. Even a small car is a powerful machine that can, if carelessly handled, cause immense harm. We still kill thousands on our roads every year, many of them through simple inattention. While we're not going to make every motorist suddenly give a damn and start looking where they're going, oughtn't we find ways of removing some of these distractions?

Tuesday 29 September 2015

Bike maintenance - Why are we so cheap?

I'm in the middle of having three of my four bikes serviced. While the road bike is pretty much okay right now, I've tweaked the brakes a bit, tinkered with the gears, it'll do for months to come (until Summer), the other three need some tlc.

My beast of burden, a Giant Expression I've had for years failed me on Friday, the bottom bracket unexpectedly snapped. So I resigned myself to the need for a new chain and gears while looking over it as was walking to a bike shop, and a couple of the cables could do with replacing. This reminded me that my old toy (a steel framed BSA sport 'racer' as you'd have called it back in its era) could do with new pedals, a new tyre, and a general servicing wouldn't do it harm. I rode it in to a specialist in old bikes like that, it'll cost me a few quid but not much. And finally my fast commuter bike, a Marin, is going back home to Ben Haywards bikes for a servicing. Its running pretty well (although its got a puncture), so why not keep it that way?

Yes, I could do all this myself to save money. Like I could mature all of my own cheese and make sweaters out of sheep. But I'm not going to, I've other things to keep me busy. And these guys are professionals, they're better at this than me. 

The total cost of all this? I should think it'll be just the wrong side of £200 when I add it all up. For 3 bikes, and it'll be way more than I've spent maintaining them for a couple of years. Which necessitated a fairly typical phone conversation with a bike mechanic regarding the work-horse bike the other day...

"So about the gears, you know you'll probably want to do those as well as the chain?"
"Yes, thats fine, I was anticipating that."
"And the two cables you pointed out..."
"Yes, thats why I mentioned them."
"And you'll want a new bottom bracket for the one that broke, and then there's the servicing, it comes to more than £100, do you want to do that?"
"Yes, the bike is otherwise solid..."
"cos you could get a second hand bike for like, I dunno, £150..."
"And then I'd have to spend more money getting that the way I want, and I'd have to shop for a new bike - and this was a £350 bike when it was new years and years ago, I'll pay the money and fix the bike."
"Are you really sure?"
"Yes, fix my bike please."

Now I understand that cost is an important factor in the life-cycle of any hardware. But bikes aren't cars, they're not endless money-pits as they age. I've been asking around on Twitter and its not unusual for car owners there to admit to spending £300 to £1000 per year just maintaining their cars, before even worrying about tax, insurance etc. So while spending a third the value of my bike when it was new on getting it back into almost-new condition might sound steep, lets keep this in perspective. Its an absurdly small amount of money to spend on keeping myself mobile.

When we consider the bicycle, mostly its just metal tubes, bolts and gearing held together with bolts and cables, with wheels and a saddle. Yes, things wear out - the tyres, tubes, saddle, chain and gears can all be replaced intermittently - and they really do account for much of the cost of bike maintenance. So you can very easily spend a high proportion of the value of a bike just in keeping it going - that isn't an indication that you're throwing good money after bad (like it might be if you're spending a grand a year maintaining your car!), its a reminder of the absurd, hilarioulsy pleasing simplicity of cycling.

Yet bike mechanics in the UK seem constantly braced for criticism of the work costs more than tuppence. We're a car-culture, and the all-pervasive moton attitude to money seems to scale down into cycling in a monstrous way. That bike mechanics seem so apologetic when spending even the minimum sums needed to get our bikes into the state we want them to be in, when that's even a small amount of money, I do wonder what kind of criticism and complaint leaves them in that state of nervousness.

So, my plea to cyclists and to bike repair shops - get real with regard to the costs. Yeah, if a bike needs gears replacing and a new chain, it'll cost you, but its better than a new bike. Paying out a third of the cost of your car on maintenance would seem excessive - but that doesn't mean paying a few notes out to fix a bike is. And you know what? All seven of our bikes in our house combined, that still a lower cost to keep going than a car would be.

Relax. Spend the money. Enjoy your ride.

Thursday 3 September 2015

Wednesday 26 August 2015

Cyclist Haters Boycott List?

This rather brought back to me the importance of logging the interactions we have with individuals and companies. How many times have we all watched as someone in their company van rained hate down on a cyclist? How often have we seen someone tweeting rancid abuse at cyclists from their company profile?
And within a couple of weeks, how many of these do we still remember?

I wonder, do need a simple repository for these incidents? Somewhere such are recorded, but where we give a right of reply to those who've been so unpleasant. It has to be matter-of-fact, simply logging what happened and giving the salient facts with appropriate links to media (video, tweets etc.) supporting the claim. 

My bottom line is that I don't want to trade with cyclist hating people. If someone thinks I deserve to be badly treated because of how I choose to travel, I don't want them to get my money. If someone employs others who endanger cyclists on the road, I don't want their company to benefit from my spending. I want them to have a chance to show contrition, and if I believe them I'll go back to spending there - but I want to know, an I want to have the option not to.

Many of us shop 'ethically' for food, clothing, energy, etc. I don't see that this is inherently very different to an other ethical choice.

The question is, how should this be done? Do I set up a new blog and record these incidents there when they happen? Has anyone got a better idea?

Friday 21 August 2015

Second worst cycling junction in the Country

It won't seem surprising that Cambridge, the most cycled city in the UK, is home to a junction with one of the worst accident rates for cyclists in the UK. I refer here to the Lensfield Road Roundabout, highlighted as the second 'worst' in the UK.

Obviously there are imbeciles missing the point of that news story on comments pages across the UK, and blaming cyclists for everything form Isis and global warming to the Reptilian Conspiracy - such criticism isn't just contemptible victim blame its also mud-skipper intellect trolling ofa story that isn't related to anything on their (I use the term with caution) 'minds'. Likewise, there are glib tweets along the lines of this being a statistical inevitability because there are so many cyclists in Cambridge - an equally moronic comment ignoring the fact that there are also dozens of other junctions in this City, many with more cyclists than this one, none of them making it into this 'top 10' of shameful moton carnage. You can't say 'there's bound to be a Cambridge junction in that list' without having a good answer for why, say, Castle Hill or the Catholic Church Junction aren't in the list.

Its an awful junction. Have a look at it - approaching the first of two mini-roundabouts that make up this hellish route from Trumpington Road.

Yes, in that narrow space there are hree lanes for cars there - two going forward, one going left. Nowhere specifically for cyclists. The lanes aren't really wide enough to allow a car through without risking loss of its wing mirrors to the vehicles alongside, and they're corralled in by a traffic island (not that you could use this to cross the road - there's a fence to make it clear that pedestrians are not welcome). Click forward once - you see those two forward arrows? If you want to go straight on here, you need to be out in the middle of that traffic, so unless you were keeping pace with the traffic in the middle of the road to begin with, the constant stream of motons turning left has to let you out. And that traffic is backed up as far as you can see - they're already angry, they're on their phones texting to say they're running late. Don't expect any mercy from that direction.

Lets go forward to that first roundabout now.

The roundabout isn't raised at all - motorists will jump into it without a care in the world. Very often drivers turning from straight on will stop, half way across, because a car is coming from the left - although they're unlikely to do so if you're coming that way on a bike. And even if you've managed to get into the correct lane here your chances of drivers coming from the left ceding priority as they ought to are wafer slim.

Remember we had two ridiculously narrow lanes to approach this junction if heading straight on? Well, one would think that might be simple enough, but it isn't. The right hand lane feeds in to the next roundabout to turn right on to Lensfield Road, the left hand lane on towards Trumpington Street. And the right hand lane is the one used by delivery vehicles, lorries etc. heading towards University departments like Chemistry, the Gurdon Institute, Biochemistry etc. (the New Museums Site, Downing Site, Old Addenbrokes Site etc.) while freight heading for the Grand Arcade and Lion Yard is (mostly) going straight on (except where the driver intends to rat-run down Tennis Court Road) - bluntly, these heavy vehicles do not fit in to the feeder lanes for the first roundabout and the drivers have insuffficient visibility to safely change lanes in the short distance to the next mini roundabout, thus...

So we've got two streams of traffic, often with motorists distracted by mobile phones, sat-navs and the perplexing change of road arrows from straight on to right, crossing each other with no regard to cyclists on these two roundabouts. Its car-nage writ large.

But do you want to know the real shocker? Its worse coming the other way. This is what its like from Trumpington Street:

Why, yes, that IS three lanes for cars and lorries, each narrow enough to scour the go faster stripes off a mini, and no provision for cycling. In the heart of Britain's cycling capital. There is no provision for cycling, and if you work in this part of the city there may well be no viable alternative route.

And, yes, if you're heading off down on to Fen Causeway you've got to get across those streams of traffic ideally into the right hand lane, hope that the laughably unlikely thing of motorists at the first roundabout letting you across happens, and then face just the same implausible scenario at the second roundabout.

My dear readers, I put it to you that this is not the second worst junction for cycling in the UK because its in Cambridge and there are a lot of cyclists - we have many junctions, and this is the only one we've got in the top 10. This, my friends, is one of the UK's cycle accident blackspots because it is designed with no regard to cyclist safety. It was built by motorists, for motorists. And there it is, right in the heart of the supposed cycling Nirvana that is Cambridge. And if you survive it you're now at the other end of the road to this miserable piece of shit which leveraged nigh on half a million of cycling funds for drivers, for almost no improvement for cyclists. 

The trouble with Cambridge is, fundamentally, we pretend to plan each road for cyclists, motorists and pedestrians. And then we come up with a set of priorities that at each location puts motorists first, cyclists second, and we barely consider pedestrians at all. Which means that when we're lucky we do get some half decent cycle facilities - but they're almost never good enough and nearly always an excuse to shovel cycling cash into the coffers of car-centric road designs. And when push comes to shove, cyclists can go and fuck themselves, we don't build for safe cycling if there's a perceived need to squeeze three cars in sideways instead.

Cambridgeshire County Council, hang your heads in shame. Second most cyclist accidents at a junction in the UK, at your brutally designed junction. Deal with it. Do it now.

Thursday 20 August 2015

Why do I use a helmet camera?

There seems to be some suspicion around helmet camera riders. Indeed it isn't unusual for some to assume we're out looking for a fight, or some kind of trouble, and there has been some to-ing and fro-ing regarding this. 

While I don't really want to get in to the whole 'YOU'RE A VIGILANTE!' or 'YOU'RE A GRASS!' thing because, bluntly, I'm not going to pander to people that stupid, I do want to lay out how and why I use a helmet camera.

I'm a camera nerd - I've got rather more cameras than would be considered strictly necessary. I'm not a compulsive collector by any means but I've got different kinds of film camera, and assorted digital cameras. Photography is one of my passions, and if you really want to here, take a scan through some of my favourite shots.

When it comes down to it, helmet cameras (whether its a Muvi or a GoPro or whatever)  are cool. I mean they're really nifty pieces of technology - recording for hours on end, producing high quality video footage on to a tiny, tiny memory card. They typically have quite wide angle lenses and tremendous depth of field properties - they record images that are crystal clear and sharp as a button. They are amazing things - and I reserve the right to have a nerdgasm over a technology as great as that.

They give us opportunity to record many of the weird and wonderful things we see. But also they afford us a chance to record things that people just wouldn't believe happen on our roads - the things that if we went to tell anyone about before the days of helmet cameras no one believed. In fact I'd go so far as to say that helmet cameras have changed how the Police interact with cyclists - you've now got a chance of meeting a Police officer who's actually aware of the problems we face on the roads, although some are both aware and uncaring. If you've been riding long enough to remember before there were cameras you'll know that previously if you went to the Police with a buckled wheel they'd never believe you if you said a motorist was involved - now, at least, they listen. Its progress, but perhaps not enough. Helmet cam footage has changed the game with regard to getting non-cyclists to accept that there are problems.

But there's also the simple reality that the camera does generate 'evidence'. If confronted with a motorist being absolutely bleeding stupid I'll ask for a quote for the camera - sounds like a crazy thing to do but most often it'll calm the motorist down if they know they're being filmed. Well, maybe not calm them down, but they become cautious about leaving an evidence trail. 

And there are a lot of us with cameras now - so many that I'm pretty sure the word is out among most of the aggressive drivers that we're here and not to be messed with. I get fewer really aggressive incidents on the road when I'm wearing the camera, so much so that I wear it as visibly as I can on top of the helmet. Its a visible deterrent, it says to motorists who may otherwise knowingly be looking for trouble to go and look elsewhere. I don't wear a camera to go looking for trouble - I wear a camera because I'm looking to avoid trouble.

Helmet cameras thus give us multiple routes to defuse potentially dangerous situations, and they're fun. They aren't about being vigilantes or looking for trouble to film - they're a way that we can get feedback about our riding and record what we see out there. And there is nothing wrong with any of that.

Friday 14 August 2015

Just a typical crap driver...

I wouldn't normally write a blog post about a random shit overtake, but this one has managed to get me a really odd reaction online.

Here's an incident that happened on Arbury Road a little while ago. Its a common or garden stupid overtake - she's passed rather too close and then has nowhere to go when she's past, so she slams on the anchors in a narrowing road space where there are parked cars. Stupid, pointless, and I catch her up at the junction.

Now its a bad overtake but its not a world class embarrassing incident for the driver. I think my cycling was okay - I'm out from the kerb to avoid the parked cars, until I'm forced a bit closer by a driver who's braking while passing me, in a 20mph zone she can't get anywhere fast in anyway.

So I was surprised by this.

Yes, apparently this is the worst bit of cycling ever seen by someone calling herself 'fatbird'. Naturally I (and others) enquired what I'd been doing wrong, and apparently 'opinions vary' but I'll not find out any more because I'm blocked.

If there's criticism, make it. But the worst cycling you've seen in Cambridge? Back that up or retract, Fatbird. Your criticism is plain stupid.

Tuesday 11 August 2015

Piece of crap victim blame tweeted by Cycletoworkday

UPDATE: The folk at Cycle to Work Day have held their hands up and said sorry, we goofed, we've deleted it. So, thats good then - I'm happy they've retracted and good on them for saying sorry. I'll leave this article more or less as it is though - it was my first (horridly disgusted) response to an awful dis-infographic, a sublimely awful piece of anti-cyclist propaganda that I've a horrible feeling will re-emerge.

I refer in the title there to this awful, AWFUL disinfographic.

One would hope that the folk at  would know better than to share such a buttock wrenchingly piss poor piece of anti-cyclist wank. One would be wrong. Its almost entirely incorrect in nearly every aspect it discusses - and while it ought by now be needless to correct bloody awful moton propaganda dished out by shitty little organisations who pretend to support cycling while in fact making our time on the roads worse by implying we're to blame for everything that ever went wrong in the history of humanity, I find myself once again refuting crap like this.

I'm bashing this out quickly during a work tea-break, so stats are from memory. Apologies for lack of referencing but if you require said refs then holler, I'll back these up and correct later if necessary. In the mean time I promise you I'm not far out with these...

From the top left, we can see this is about 'cycling and the law', and we're directed down the lamp-post where we're implored to wear a helmet and hi-viz - which is not required by law. At all. Even a bit. Nor does the benefit thereof show up in accident stats. So thats wrong to begin with. We're then told we must have lights - which is true, but of course the vast bulk of cyclist KSI's happen during daylight hours, and as a safety factor this accounts for something like 2% of deaths - and this is likely an over-estimate as it is often based on the sole living eye-witness (the driver).

There's a tree underneath it that for some reason blames jumping red lights (if memory serves thats another 2%, give or take, of cycling KSI) for the 85% of cycle injuries. Or, in other words, this ignores the measured, massive, overwhelming cause of cycling accidents (motorists not looking) and simply blames the victims. 

But then we've got the real doozy, the one that tells us unequivocally that this is to appease motons, not appeal to cyclists. We're told:
Use of cyle lanes makes your journey safer and is recommended in section 62 of the Highway Code
Section 62 does not refer to cycle lanes. At all. Even a bit. It talks about cycle TRACKS. Cycle lanes are covered in 63, where we're actually told:
 Cycle Lanes. These are marked by a white line (which may be broken) along the carriageway (see Rule 140). Keep within the lane when practicable. When leaving a cycle lane check before pulling out that it is safe to do so and signal your intention clearly to other road users. Use of cycle lanes is not compulsory and will depend on your experience and skills, but they can make your journey safer.
Bluntly, the highway code acknowledges that many cycle lanes do not make your journey safer - hardly surprising really.

This lying piece of crap disinfographic then tells us we must not ride 3 abreast (again, not in law - and not necessarily a good idea in the heavy cycle traffic of Cambridge, for example), it tells us that section 67 of the highway code tells us we should ride single file (it doesn't), and worst of all it gives us a fabrication for the most common causes of cyclist injury (every single cause they attribute to the cyclist - without mentioning that the most massive, overwhelming cause is motorist inattention/error).

This is worse than simple victim blame - its an intentional misrepresentation of the facts, of the highway code and of good cycling practice to pin the blame for accidents solely on cyclists with, I think, a simple goal of softening the guilt felt my motorists who cause such carnage on our roads.

For tweeting this, I'm clear in my mind that 'Cycletowork' are yet another part of the car lobby. All be it a particularly insidious, cynical part thereof.

Thursday 16 July 2015

Cambridge Cyclist to Traffic Droid. Come in, Traffic Droid

What's up, dude?

Seriously, you've gone and twitter-blocked how many other helmet camera cyclists? Why? 

I have no beef with you. I don't immediately recall us having a serious crossed-word. Most of the other folk I'm seeing mentioning this have no argument with you. Some don't agree with some of what you say, most don't particularly mention you.

Whatever it is, let us know, 'cos most are baffled.

Guys, someone tweet this into his TL so we can find out what is happening?

Monday 13 July 2015

Response from Devon and Cornwall Police...

So according to the police force in the South West, obeying the law on the road is a matter of conscience, not something for them to involve themselves in.

Yes, really. Look at their response:

Thankyou for your email.
We would not be able to take any further action if this is regarding the driver taking a photo whilst driving - it is down to the driver to be responsible whilst in their vehicle and ensure they are driving safetly. If a driver is witnessed doing this by an officer at the time then they will be stopped and potentially fined.
Many Thanks

So there you have it. Motons - is there no copper there present? Go for it, its down to you to be responsible and the Police couldn't give a wet slap.

Devon and Cornwall police, you're a disgrace to your uniforms.

Thursday 9 July 2015

Report to Devon and Cornwall Police...

Yes, I know, its pretty random, but it was cup-of-tea time and the dodgy tweet was just staring at me.

Text of email sent to Devon and Cornwall police below:

Dear Sir/Madame,

I was given this email address via. your twitter feed, for reporting a crime.

I'd like to draw your attention to this:

Someone has copied it as a screen capture and re-posted it in case the original tweet is deleted:

Its fairly clear that the image is taken from the perspective of the drivers seat - either by the driver or someone leaning in to the space normally thus occupied. Either would seem hazardous, and with the content of the tweet it comes across as a little sinister. Could you log this and investigate please?


CAB Davidson.