06 June 2012
29 May 2012
03 May 2012
12 March 2012
24 February 2012
06 February 2012
The litany of nonsense that flows from his pen is compounded by a complete lack of factual information. Start with maintaining that capital cities Amsterdam and Copenhagen are 'mere villages' compared to 'most British cities'. Really? Take Amsterdam - its metropolitan area comprises c.3m people, in what can only be described as a thriving metropolis - if we compare it to our beloved Manchester. I know this - I've been.
As for declaring that cycling cannot be healthy since it has such a 'high mortality rate', this is an assertion without head or tails - cycling is generally safe as a mode of transport, and like any exercise it does promote good health. It is green and it is inexpensive.
Mr Grimes then latches on to the fallacy that classes cyclists as an entirely separate tribe, opposed to 'ordinary' people, and who want to subvert civilisation as we know it to accommodate their extravagant sport. Far from it, most cyclists, like myself, are ordinary people who want nothing more than for other road users (drivers, pedestrians, other cyclists) to observe the law and act and follow the highway code - thus avoiding, for instance, sudden turns at junctions without indicating.
One could go on for ages but that would mean bestowing on Mr Grimes a journalistic status he does not deserve. He mascarades as the voice of the common man - he is not.
Read more at: http://menmedia.co.uk/manchestereveningnews/comment/blogs/s/1472953_andrew-grimes-why-the-bicycle-has-no-place-on-our-city-roads
04 January 2012
30 September 2011
Saddle sore: Rawtenstall cyclists baffled by 20-yard cycle lane | Manchester Evening News - menmedia.co.uk
16 September 2011
31 August 2011
19 August 2011
02 August 2011
Justice done, at least. The fact the victim was a 'promising researcher' (and the perpetretor, it is implied, was not promising, in research or otherwise) is neither here nor there. The fact is, in this case it seems careless driving caused an unnecessary death - and it is motorists who cause most deaths on British roads, disproportionately so when compared to pedestrians, cyclists and other road users.
29 July 2011
Setting it up took me longer than I’d expected – it’s not that it was difficult, but it has to be done in the right order and instructions aren’t always as crystal-clear as the manufacturers tell you. And I don’t read instructions anyway. It’s all about where you put the things that perhaps are not meant to fit nicely – the pedals, the handlebars, the saddle.
My friend explained they hadn’t used the bike for years – bought it, then a couple of accidents they heard about put them off the idea – and the tyres were totally flat. I pumped them up, then left it for 24 hours, the idea being to make sure the flat tyres were just lack of use and not a puncture of some sort. Meanwhile, I would walk to work and plan my route a bit – I’ve come to the conclussion that in London you should cycle on quiet roads whenever possible. My route seemed pleasant yet very effective – it took 25’ on foot, crossing a canal over a pedestrian/cycling bridge. No major roads were involved.
The next day I got up early and set off to work on my bike. Needless to say, I didn’t manage to replicate the route I’d taken while on foot. A wrong turn somewhere and presto! I was lost. Eventually I got to work but via Hoxton Square – I had gone a bit too far north.
Getting back was, however, even worse. This time I got lost from the start, and compounded the mistake so that, after 25’ of cycling (by then I could have done it on foot faster) I realised I was going in the wrong direction altogether – literally, back to work. A check of the map enabled me to retrace my steps and eventually get home – an hour after setting off.
Now, a word of caution about cycling in London: you can cycle on quiet roads, but have to do a lot of navigation; or you can stick to main roads, brave the traffic but make navigation much easier. In my view, you can’t do both – not unless you have the brain of a homing-pigeon, but bigger. Like a London cabbie.
13 July 2011
The reality is that, while there's been progress and numbers have certainly grown dramatically in the capital, there remains much to do, and some of the things being done could be better. This chimes with views expressed by David Henbrow about cycling in London.
Take this as an example. These very short clips show a dedicated cycle lane near King's Cross/St Pancras. It is a segregated cycle lane - cor blimey, isn't that enough? What more do cyclists want?
01 July 2011
26 June 2011
Boris, by the way, didn’t actually father the creature, so to speak – not this one, at any rate. Not only were other European cities (like Paris and Barcelona) quicker off the mark, I am reliably informed the ball for this scheme got rolling on Red Ken’s watch, even if the bikes (unlike Barcelona’s) are blue – or rather, the livery on them is, for the bikes have the sort of grey-brown finish of 1970s office furniture.
23 June 2011
So, my new life has started - at the moment, it includes catching a very early train to work in London. So early, I can do with cycling to and from the local train station, as it's only 20' as opposed to 45'. I had no better idea than to recommission a cheap fold-up bike I got on ebay 4 years ago for £30.
It is a crude contraption indeed, but one that does that the job - poorly, but it gets me there. It also amuses people. What could possibly go wrong?
16 June 2011
Transport chiefs in bid to get more people cycling to work | Manchester Evening News - menmedia.co.uk
If Greater Manchester really want to be pioneering, they need to invest in, among other things:
- Real, segregated, cycle lanes
- Information campaign aimed at drivers ("There's no road tax"; "Cyclists are good for you" etc)
- Better law enforcement - and how about some coppers on bikes, on main routes?
- Legal support for cyclists involved in accidents - not to thwart justice, but to even the odds (hey, they could partner up with the CTC)
- Better (less car-centred) road/junction design so that cycling routes actually lead into the city centre, not circle around it or force you to go counterflow
- Bikes on trams! or at least, good, easy bike parking at tram and rail stations
And lead by example - I know Lord Smith may be past his cycling years, but I'm sure there are plenty of councillors and town hall mandarins who are not - some may already cycle to work, so why not make it visible?
15 June 2011
23,000 cars clocked breaking 30mph limit on Hyde country lane - in just 10 days | Manchester Evening News - menmedia.co.uk
13 June 2011
This morning for instance I cycled from Whitefield to Bury town centre. Along a section of the A56 there is a cycle lane approaching a traffic light. It is so narrow that, although it was clear of cars as the light changed to red, I still could not get through to the front, so had to wait in line with other cars and lorries. This is actually worse than useless - when traffic there is moving, cars can sometimes assume I will fit in the cycle lane, and in effect push me into the kerb. Bonkers!
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06 June 2011
"An inquest into the death of a cyclist who was hit by a lorry in Old Trafford has recorded a verdict of accidental death"
I shudder at the velvety, cushioned language in which the Police try to obfuscate what they reluctantly admit: that CCTV footage which would have been needed for a successful prosecution, was lost due to their actions (or lack of).
One should ask Andrea Leadsom whether she thinks her tinkering with the law in recent months will help address injustices like this.
A lesson in bravery: Teacher recovers from horrific bike crash and bids for place in top triathlon | Manchester Evening News - menmedia.co.uk
6ft hole appears in residential Bury road used as short cut by HGV drivers | Manchester Evening News - menmedia.co.uk
04 June 2011
So, I plan to join the growing hosts of London cyclists - the scourge of the Earth, according to some. In preparing for that day, I have re-discovered a folding bike I 'won' on ebay years ago: I paid £30 and collected it from somewhere in Cheshire. It's a crude single-speed contraption, and the only time I ever used it in anger (to reach a garage and collect my car before they closed for the day) I was ridiculed by school children all along the route.
I have, however, re-commissioned it - and found it is not as bad as all that. I'm not sure I will stick to it, but it will do for starters. I have no intention of forking out hundreds to purchase a Brompton - I'm sure one of those would be beautiful and ride like a dream, but I can't afford to splash out in that way. Also, how I arrange my accommodation will bear heavily in the choice of bicycle. If far away from the centre, I could have two cheap old bikes, one for each end of the journey. If I can manage to rent a room relatively centrally, I may want a reasonable hybrid or town bike I can do most things in - in fact, I already have such a thing, my beloved Tourismo 24.
03 June 2011
Inspirational teacher to be honoured by the Queen for helping disabled children take up cycling | Manchester Evening News - menmedia.co.uk
26 May 2011
Just one quibble: the chapter on ‘Feral Cyclists…’ – esp. the conversation with a bunch of London cabbies – seems to try a bit too hard to say ‘hands up, we cyclists have no great respect for the law’ and then goes on to try to justify the sin and gain sympathy from those we seem to ‘wrong’ with our cycling.
I would argue that it is unhelpful at best to single out a particular mode of transport when it comes to routine, habitual failure to follow the highway code. Take speed limits, for instance. In any kind of road, whatever the speed limit, you see people disregarding it – not always dangerously, but that’s not the point, is it? And how about traffic lights: how often do we see drivers speeding to ‘make it’ when the amber light shines? This is low-level flouting of the rules that those who engage in it will do without thinking – certainly without thinking they are doing anything other than ‘what everyone else does’. Add on top the real hooligans of the road – the ones who drive at silly speeds on urban roads, or jump the red light. Suddenly, it’s not just cyclists who appear ‘feral’, is it?
09 May 2011
I put the photo order in, then had an hour to kill. The lure of good old Katsouris too strong to resist, I went there for a coffee and a sweet, I confess. The place is at its best at this time, get all the good things about it (the coffee, the sweets, etc) without any of the ludicrous overcrowding the the poor layout design of that shop causes on a Saturday morning. I realise there's background music - a succession of pop songs in many European languages - I guess it's there for atmosphere, the assumption being that customers won't distinguish between Greek, Italian or Spanish. On a Saturday you can't hear the music, only the din of shouted orders and constant chat.
I sit outside: my coffee is good, the 'home-made' paklava is ok - not sure what kind of home it may come from, for what I get is a solid brick of flaky pastry, ground mixed nuts and congealed syrup. The plastic cuttlery I'm given must be some sort of private joke, as it clearly doesn't cut it (literally).
Any aroma from the coffee is soon drowned by the smell of fish from the market hall. I don't mind - the smell of a real market takes me back, to childhood days spent with my mum or my grandma, filling up their bags through a miriad of quick transactions, stall after stall.
03 May 2011
I'll go straight to the point: I have a problem with this, in principle. The law does not require cyclists to have indicator lights - but it does require that we indicate, by using conventional hand signals, as specified in the Highway Code. Or rather, the Code says that all road users must use signals when appropriate - using our judgement, and your hands if necessary. To resort to gadgets like this seems to me to be a sop to those who think that all use of the road should mime the experience and appearance of car driving, to make it more "acceptable". In a way, it is a bit like the argument for using cycle helmets - to use the road 'unprotected' is not at all like being in the cocoon provided by a car, so it is 'wrong', and in some people's heads, helmets help to make it 'right'. The same may apply to using lights like these - yes, great, but if we all start using something that the law does not require, soon people will either come to expect them (like high-viz clothing) or campaign to make them compulsory.
19 April 2011
It was a great success. Granted, the weather was fantastic, but the route was great too. And Lancaster was easy - to drive into, to park, to find a toilet, coffee and ice cream afterwards. I hope to do it again. Perhaps do the whole Way of the Roses one day?
15 April 2011
13 April 2011
It links to the proposal by MP Andrea Leadsom to change the law so as to enable the tiny number of cyclists who kill people on the roads to be jailed for doing so. Fair enough that they should be if found guilty - but the article does well to remind us that the proportion of cyclists causing death of injury is microscopic when compared with injuries and fatalities caused by motorists.
31 March 2011
I’ll keep riding vows cyclist, 73, attacked by yob in car in Bolton | Manchester Evening News - menmedia.co.uk
26 March 2011
Compare that with the (successful) efforts by Andrea Leadsom MP to introduce 'tougher penalties for cyclists who kill" - even though the numbers of such unfortunate events are microscopic. I entirely sympathise with the plight of the parents of the victims of the so-called "cyclist" in this case, and fully agree this individual should have gone to jail for what he did.
Ms Leadsom assures us that there was no political point-scoring in this. Ms Leadsom is an honourable person. However, as reported in the press this can seem like one of those campaigns aimed at the soft target of cyclists and cycling - who cause so few fatal incidents but are also a "hard to hear" minority, a fringe group against whom this legislation is easy to introduce.
The fact is, when it comes to fatalities on the road, injustice is visited on cyclists just like on any other group of road users. The idea that somehow the law treats motorists more harshly is nonsense. It would be far more helpful for people like Andrea Leadsom to look at good and bad road users than to attack the problem piecemeal, concentrating on a particular mode of transport (usually cyclists) first.
Which takes me back to Early day motion 1393. Ms Leadsom has not signed it - I'll request that she does: let's see what happens.
23 March 2011
I must get better at photos: this was supposed to show (a) what a nice day today was; (b) the contrast of the modern Manchester buildings in the background and the solitary mill in the middle.
I cycled to Ikea - 24m round trip. No, I didn't buy a flatpacked bed - or anything else for the matter. Just a cooked breakfast and coffee for £1.65. Not a bad journey but for the roadworks to make room for the tram, and the ludicrously car-centric cycle lanes leading to the Ikea roundabout - in the end, I joined the road to avoid stopping at every traffic light.
22 March 2011
14 March 2011
It is however bliss to me, since it means that for a few weeks my favourite run is even better - at least for a mile or so I have a traffic free route with a great variety of surfaces. Perfect for preparing to go touring again.
Alas, it will not last.
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28 February 2011
Interesting to hear the driver 'felt threatened' - yet there were children and young people among the cyclists, which he indiscriminately drove over. Sheer luck prevented fatalities.
07 February 2011
- More cyclists are using helmet cameras to capture bad driving - prompting the usual anti-cycling comments from regular BBC news site readers, together with predictable calls to do something about the plague of 'lunatic cyclists' and suggesting that perhaps pedestrian who suffer oh so much because of them, should carry cameras too - and of course, cyclists should be licensed and 'pay road tax' and all that turgid, predictable nonsense: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-12334486
- More cyclists are dying on the roads - that's the BBC's take on the stats, although deep in the news item they do acknowledge CTC's crucial, crucial point: there are more cyclists than before! The real measure of risk would be the proportion of deaths to journeys made... but that wouldn't be news, so why report it?:
17 January 2011
Suburbia's own Jerusalem, all this I survey from a bus - long story, a job interview as it happens. I have been through MK before, but it was in a taxi which stuck to the periphery as soon as we left the train station. It is different from the bus, as it weaves its way in and out of neighbourhoods - and here's the link to cycling: beneath the car-centric surface, MK may well be more cycle-friendly than most large British towns and cities. For a start, more bikes I saw parked outside the railway station than I've seen anywhere else bar the rather a-typical Oxford. Certainly many more than in any Manchester station, by a long chalk.
Second, the town seems criss-crossed with segregated bike lanes - and by 'segregated' I mean really segregated, not council-speak for lip-servicing green paint on the verges of main roads. The place reminded me of parts of the Netherlands. The only caveat was that, in the whole journey I saw many more cycles parked than being ridden. Indeed the paths over green and gently rolling terrain looked like the ideal setting for a Silent Witness opening sequence - eerie, but with easy access for the productiont team.
07 January 2011
It is in the latter half that the article addresses the real problems cycling faces in London, and indeed pretty much anywhere in the UK: fear and infrastructure. The Economist is realistic (or pessimistic) as it fails to dig out the underlying causes of these two barriers - rather, it seems to conclude, with some cynicism, that they cannot be solved. Poor Yorick!
06 January 2011
29 November 2010
Let's face it, for a city the size of Manchester, Bike Friday is a fairly low key affair. I used to be a regular, and numbers for the North Manchester lot (departing from Prestwich) hovered between 3 and 11 - with 5, I would say, being the more likely number. Since I stopped working in the city centre (or anywhere else for the matter - for the time being) I had stopped joining this event, so I thought I'd come along this time, for old times' sake, because with it being so cold we are all feeling in the Xmas mood, and to support some sort of petition to the GMPTE which seemed to make this ride special - something to do with bikes being allowed on trams (tricky, I'd say - but visionary: while trams may only carry 5% of public transport traffic at present, in 50 years I'm sure the network will have expanded enough to compete with buses).
Well, a good time was had by all. I saw some friendly familiar faces and met some people I had wanted to meet but so far hadn't managed to, photos were taken in front of GMPTE's rather secluded offices opposite Piccadilly station, and - taking advantage of my current freedom - I even joined in the post-ride coffee in Piccadilly Gardens. OK, waiting 15' or so for the photographer and the tame GMPTE notable to arrive (he confessed, his tram was delayed!) it was bloody freezing, and while I had a couple of fleeces to put on, I didn't want to spoil the yellow & reflective look of the group. Then at the cafe (well, Pret-a-Mongrel, neither fish nor fowl when it comes to defining it) staff refused to close the door, quoting some company or building policy (never mind their customers turning blue) - still, it was warmer than outside, in the same way the fridge is warmer than the freezer.
Will this 'campaigning' achieve anything? It might - just to have a senior GMTPE official on board is a positive thing. The trouble for me is, the people cycling needs 'on side' are Joe & Josephine Public, the people who give us dirty looks when they overtake us, having been delayed by 0.1 second because we had to negotiate a delivery van parked on a double yellow line going up a slope. Congregating 40-odd cyclists in a public but almost invisible place one frosty November morning is unlikely to achieve this.
20 November 2010
I settled for the latter. I thought I'd try to be more European - do away with the lycra and wear civy clothes, so as to arrive ready for the event.
The experiment was a qualified success. I settled for a hybrid combination of casual cords, cycling shoes and tops, with a fleece to put on top on arrival so as not to get cold. Mostly it worked fine, and I achieved the overall goal. I found however that to cycle so slowly that I would not break a sweat was just not practical, so I picked up the pace and sweat I did, profusely. Despite refreshing myself on arrival in the university gents, once in the meeting room I realised the idea of wearing a fleece was not good, at least at first, since I was still overheated and needed to cool down.
After the meeting and some lunch kindly provided by the friend through whom I heard of the event, I cycled to Prestwich on another errand. My friend suggested I followed NCN Route 6 instead of going on the road. I did try, but gave up after a couple of miles. It wasn't that it was so lonely as such, but the errand was important, time was tight and, should I had had, say, a flat tyre, I would have needed a plan B, eg. access to public transport (leaving the bike behind). On the isolated bike trail I would have had no such alternative. And although in theory the path follows the river so getting lost should be impossible, in practice it crosses the rivers and briefly detours in and out of estates, and there I found the limited signposting the route required to be incomplete or confusing.
Will I try again? Sure, yes. But you will not see me cycling to a job interview wearing a suit.
20 October 2010
In a last attempt to resist the change of seasons I stuck to shorts this time - it was manageable, although my legs were rash-red by the time I got home. And despite the woollen socks my toes were pretty numb by then.
At least it was very dry and sunny. I hope I can keep my resolve when the truly wet and dark days of early January make staying at home or going to the gym a tempting possibility.
08 October 2010
We both also noted that many users of this scheme don't seem, well, that at home with cycling in a busy city. Or maybe the city is not at home with them - the latter, I think, is the underlaying problem, and it applies to the whole of the UK, but nowhere more so than in London, where cycling has exploded thanks to congestion charging and the fact that it is probably the country's most compact city (ie. people actually live in it, and do so in high density).
This isn't just a "cyclists vs. rest of the city" problem. The mistrust and misunderstanding between different groups of road users is total - pedestrians, motorists and cyclists all have grievances against the other groups and against the state. Just try crossing the road from Euston station on foot - it takes ages, mainly because the traffic system is designed to keep motorists going. But motorists will then complain that pedestrians jump the lights anyway. And cyclists... well, they'll complain about that too, when a driver isn't cutting them off, or they are not cycling counterflow - a neat idea which some people back, but while it remains illegal can be inconvenient - ask a pedestrian who nearly got run over because he or she wasn't looking that way, since it was a one way street!).
So, my message to Boris is this: cycle hire schemes are great, but you have to do better than that. And where London goes, the rest of the UK may follow.
02 September 2010
|Cool and normal, baby|
18 August 2010
The overall picture, however, is that cycling in the UK remains marginal, a sideshow, and that - Meester Hembrow, brace yourself - "39% of all adults think “It is too dangerous to ride a bicycle on the road”, rising to almost 50% among those with a household income of under £25,000".
It is also interesting (to me, anyway) that the "main motivation for cycling, or being interested in cycling, is fitness (41%)". Great for those trading in lycra, but it pigeon-holes cycling into 'leisure' and leisure is something politicians can always pay lip service to without much harm - do up the local playground, photo; organise a marathon, photo; put some green paint next to the kerb, photo - of a cycle lane, no less. You know the kind - the one that runs 200yds then says "cyclists dismount".
See also: http://oxygen.mintel.com/sinatra/oxygen/display/id=479870&set_access_filter=unl-ZDE&about=full
30 July 2010
The reason we don't - and why we like Skyride so much - is that, while I'm confident riding in the Manchester traffic alone, I'm not when it comes to taking kids on the street. I've stopped feeling guilty about it. Even in the quiet-ish streets away from the main roads around us, there is always a speeding eejit, perhaps lighting up a fag or texting - why not?.
And while I'm an 'all weather' cyclist, my family are not. Yes, in the Netherlands everyone cycles in all weathers and I admire them for it. But meanwhile, back in Blighty, I have only this family and I have to live with them. So, Skyride here we go - I hope that the fun of that one day helps us instill the joy of cycling until the time when it becomes self-sustaining. Or perhaps I should do more.
I'm sure I don't as often see the label 'motorist' to robberies in which the getaway vehicle is a car (which, I reckon, are the majority). Or I've yet to see the headline "pedestrian snatches bag and runs away" in cases where that, one could say, is exactly what happened.
I'm not sure what my point is, except that the media, even the oh-so-impartial BBC, seem to have a liking for the label 'cyclist' as a catch-all to be used in conjunction with all sort of negative things. It wouldn't matter if we were not living in an age in which policy makers have the attention span of a fruit fly (and in some cases less intelligence - eg in the Lords where cycling debates have sometimes descended into outright farce).
05 July 2010
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28 June 2010
Of course, I took a wrong turn, which led me further East, to Queen's Park Road and on to Norden, where I joined the A680 to Scout Moor. I then went back down the road I had intended to follow up: Ashworth Rd, by the Ashworth Moor reservoir.
It all took 2h30' - haven't counted the miles but I reckon I did a good 20-odd. Total delight.