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Things are looking positive

February 24, 2012 — 1 Comment

Hundreds if not thousands of cyclists turned up to cycle around the streets of London to show support for The Times Cycle Safe campaign on the eve of the parliamentary debate. A debate which saw the House of Commons rather empty.

I would like to start of by saying thank you to the usual suspects, Mark of i b i k e l o n d o n, Danny of Cyclists in the City and of course the London Cycling Campaign for organising another great protest ride, which despite the forecasted weather, had plenty of cyclists attending. And whilst there where a few niggles with the police and how the pack was being split up, thank you to them for helping marshal the event and keeping everyone safe.

Unfortunately I wasn’t able to cycle this event due to a knee injury, instead I was walking on foot with my camera in hand taking photos. A few of those photos can be seen on flickr. The turnout was certainly huge, I’ve heard numerous numbers thrown around, and as a bystander, I can certainly say it was above 1,000 cyclists. Watching the cyclists coming over westminster bridge was just amazing, the line went on for ages!

This was of course on the eve of the parliamentary debate about cycling safety. The Times campaign has certainly set an impressive chain of events into motion as we see the House of Commons almost empty yesterday afternoon. This is an achievement that no other cycling campaign has managed in recent years.

So are things looking positive? Well a great turn out from cyclists and a good turn out by MP’s is certainly a positive, our trusty Prime Minister David (not a cyclist) Cameron may have just thrown a few bad eggs. Promising a pitiful amount of money for building new cycle routes across the country (less in fact than what was spent on the current Cycle Superhighways, and we know how good they are). It is of course a start.

At the end of Wednesdays ride, Mark of i b i k e l o n d o n announced a new date to keep clear in our diaries, Saturday the 28th of April, for another mass ride, where hopefully even more cyclists will turn out for our biggest gathering to date.

 

A riders view of the ride. Thanks to Arasllopp for this

It has been said countless times that painted cycle lanes on the side of the roads don’t keep us safe. Despite this, our cycling facilities seem to be made up of mostly this, painted cycle lanes on the side of the road.

The magic paint lines obviously don’t keep other, much harder and faster vehicles from straying into them, and the consequences of them doing so can be huge. As the cyclist in the above video found out, being in the position designated to us on the road doesn’t equal safety and being hit by a bus that was driving in it was not a pleasurable experience!

What are we missing?

February 21, 2012 — 14 Comments

The Times #cyclesafe campaign has taken off massively over the past weeks. With support from sporting stars, politicians, huge companies and thousands of people.

The campaign raises similar points to other campaigns, touching on topics such as trixie mirrors, issues with large vehicles, re-design of junctions and speed limits. The difference so far is that it has been coming from a huge newspaper and not from a cycling lobby.

But are we missing something?

The one thing missing is a way to change road user attitude. I see the Times mention training of drivers and cyclists and to include a cycling specific section in the driving test. Whilst yes this would be a good measure, it doesn’t solve the millions of drivers we already have on our roads who are ‘bad’ drivers.

So what can we do? Essentially we need better policing on the roads. At present people are allowed to get away with bad driving if nobody in authority is watching and if no collision occurs. Because they aren’t brought up on it, this leads to bad driving become a habit and essentially normal driving.

Speeding is bad driving

As Croydon Council recently put on a sign around the corner from me. ‘Speeding is bad driving’. They put this on a road which is well-known for speeding road users. It’s nice and wide, with a pedestrian footpath on only one side which is also separated from the main carriage way by traffic islands and another small roadway. So people feel like it is OK to speed. In my +10 years of using this road, as a cyclist, driver and passenger, I’ve not once seen a police vehicle on it that was going after speeding drivers.

Usually, unless there is a fatal or serious road collision due to a speeding vehicle, local authorities will not put in speed cameras, and even if they do, they are of the type which are static, highly visible and only slow drivers down for a few meters. Only a few years ago hundreds if not thousands of speed cameras were turned off around the country because they cost too much to run.

Adding brand new cycling facilities is all well and good but they are useless if they aren’t enforced by the police or if all road users aren’t educated about them. We can see an example of poor implementation, enforcement and education by looking at advanced stop lines. A large proportion of ASL’s have vehicles in them which shouldn’t, which just makes the whole reason for them pointless.

It took years to make drink driving unacceptable, fines and points is not enough to deter people from doing something. Driving bans are much more effective. Driving whilst on the phone is just as dangerous as driving whilst over the drink drive limit, yet the penalties are at completely opposite ends of the spectrum which makes driving on the phone appear to be less dangerous and more socially acceptable, which it shouldn’t be.

We obviously need to change certain things to make the road network safer for all road users but I think a big aspect we are missing in current campaigning is increased enforcement of road users, continued education throughout driving ‘career’ and changing the underlying attitude that British road users have.

A few weeks ago I blogged about some speed bumps that would be put on the ramps at work to slow cyclists down.

The bump was installed around 2 weeks ago and as my colleague put it the other day

it’s pathetic

We where all expecting the style of bump you find in supermarket car parks which are very steep. This would of course make sense, with most bicycle tyres being 26″ or larger in diameter, a bump which would force a wheel of such size would also have to affect other vehicles, it is basic physics.

Instead the bump installed only goes to the dizzying height of 15mm off the ground, this of course causes no issues for cyclists and has resulted in many of us not needing to slow down for it. I asked a different colleague if he had noticed the joke of a speed bump they had installed, his response

they installed the speed bump already? I didn’t even notice

The building management do really confuse me, they are perfectly happy to waste money on a product which affects nobody but they don’t want to listen to you when you mention the cycle racks are not safe or that the air conditioning is not working (a separate issue).

Hump de Bump

January 25, 2012 — 2 Comments

I blogged in the past about issues I was having with the building management and the bike stands provided at work. After several bicycles where stolen from the basement the security decided to take a more proactive action with regards to cyclists.

This has resulted in those of us not able to use the racks due to full length mudguards or we use non-standard design bikes being punished as we are forced to use them or our access will be taken away. I argued that the racks where not secure and can damage bicycles but it went unheard.

In recent weeks a pass reader was put half way up the exit ramp, something which only cyclists have to use as motorised vehicles set of an automatic gate opener in the floor. This is obviously quite a pain as you either have to be perfectly skilled to be able to touch the card on the reader whilst cycling up the ramp and time it so that you get to the gate just as it opens, or stop and touch in. The later results in an uphill struggle as setting off again on a slope of this nature is not easy.

I can see why the building management decided why this would be a good idea, as the thieves where coming from the outside and able to leave at a push of a button. But why put the reader in such an inconvenient place?
Well that would be where the previous button was and to save re-wireing the whole system they decided to replace the button with a card reader. It would be much more sensible to put the reader at the bottom of the ramp where it is flat, so that you don’t have to start off on a slope.

There is a flaw in whole concept of touching out to open the gates. The gates are open for a fair amount of time after you have touched in, this means that multiple cyclists can get out at once. All you have to do is wait for a cyclist do go up the ramp and touch out, to get out without a pass.

Anyway on to the subject of this post.
An e-mail was sent out yesterday about the installation of speed bumps on the ramp due to a few near misses and apparently an accident because of speeding cyclists down the ramp.

Please be advised that on Saturday 28th January we have arranged an installation of speed humps on both of the ramps leading to the car park. They will be installed 2/3rd way down the ramp in order to control the speed of cyclists. We have experienced several near misses and an accident resulting from speeding cyclists therefore these precautions are necessary.

Further on in the e-mail

We recommend that the cyclists should walk down and push their bike both down and up the ramps.

Well I also hope that they recommend drivers and motorcyclists to get out of their vehicles and push their cars/vans/motorbikes up and down the ramps.

I managed to find out what kind of bumps they will be installing, its dimensions don’t look too bad and i expect only a small change in speed is required to get over them, how wet tyres will handle them, I’m unsure.

I spoke to a few colleagues about this and we certainly feel that the building management is a bit of a joke. We will try to form together a group and see if we can use our numbers to battle them. I suspect that getting together with the other companies in the building is going to be required, and this is going to be the tricky part.