Tuesday 4 February 2014

A Close Shave

I love my commute to my 'other' place of work.

It mostly consists of quiet roads and the Trans Pennine Trail.

I have written about small parts of my route which are annoyances, but not insurmountable.

But a recent incident has troubled me and kept me off my bike longer than it should.  I am hoping that, as it often the case, a blog post on the subject, can be a cathartic process and hopefully clear my mind and get me back out on two wheels.

My route, once I venture across the Mersey, gets to this point. Just before here is a large rubbish dump and the only traffic that uses this bridge seems to be bin lorries.

View Larger Map

Crossing the bridge on the RHS, Is a large brick yard.  Lorries often queue here, as I presume space inside is limited and it would be dangerous for so many HGV's to operate in such a small space.

Coming back towards the roundabout on my return journey, there were (I think) two lorries parked outside, waiting to go in.

I suppose, with hindsight, I should have stopped and carried on along the pavement. There are no pedestrians around here really.  I don't think I have ever seen one.  But hindsight is a wonderfully exact science.  I continued, careful to give myself room and ensuring there was no oncoming traffic.  

Then I am not too sure what happened.  I can only presume, either a lorry had come over the bridge that I hadn't spotted early on. Or that a lorry turned right out of the brickyard. 

But I found myself on the hatching with a lorry on either side of me.

I am sure neither driver knew I was there.

Now I am not suggesting the usual "get out of jail" card motorists play.  The lorry certainly did not come from out of nowhere. 

But on the right-hand side of a stationary HGV overtaking, it is perfectly possible that I did not see another lorry turning right from the brick yard.

Almost all cyclists will have either an accident or at least a close shave at some point.  With the recent spate of cyclists going under lorries etched into my mind, this close shave has really shaken me.

Now how to get back on the metaphorical horse?

Wednesday 20 November 2013

ENOUGH IS ENOUGH. CYCLING CARNAGE By Luke Vernon http://www.lorry-driver.com/

Yesterday I tweeted about this-


Shockingly the 4 cyclists to die in a week, yes a week, and this one on one of London's shameful 'Cycle Superhighways' (more of that later). Then I wake up to this, chilling number 5 -


This is getting ridiculous. I can imagine what both sides are saying, motorists blaming cyclists and cyclists blaming motorists. And of course one side, or both, will carry some blame for these tragic tragic accidents. Yes some cyclists seem to ride like they've a death wish, but many drivers dive exceedingly badly too. Simply blaming each other is not the answer.

No, in my opinion the answer is our roads and on this occasion Im going to focus on London roads. In the run up to the Olympics these so called 'Cycle Superhighways' sprang up which are in reality nothing more than badly implemented painted bits of road. I thought they were cheap till someone on twitter corrected me on that point.

Why does a first class city like London have such third rate cycle infrastructure? Obviously you know that I drive a truck as you are on my site. I happen to drive a huge amount in London. Space for cyclists has often been made at expense of other road users. In parts of London I have to straddle two lanes because they have squeezed in a 'cycle lane'. Or at least what they call a cycle lane. We all need to start lobbying Transport for London (TfL) to sort the appalling road network out. Crossrail is great, but while billions are being spent underground multiple cyclists are being killed A WEEK though lack of proper infrastructure and bad design.

The Cycle Superhighways are a case in point. Look at them, they are a complete joke. In fact I believe TfL should find them embarrassing in all honesty. 'Thats a superhighway? That stretch of painted road? Really?'. I'd find them funny were they not so tragically flawed with the horrible inevitable consequences. Transport for London has blood on its hands, and I know that sounds bad but its true.

I cant begin to imagine how hard it would be to be involved in one of these accidents. For the family of the poor cyclist to the driver, often lorry driver, who is just doing his job and finds one split second has the capacity to ruin his life. I am super careful in towns and cities around bicycles especially in London but even then have regular near misses. And most of the time its because no one has any idea who should give way to who

Education is the key also. And I think we should be all educated together. In one classroom to get each others perspective. Cyclists often just need to be made aware of the limitations of the trucks they are riding around  to change their habits. No one goes and gets on their bike aiming to be killed. I for one would happily go to a mixed class and talk about both sides of the debate and hear the other side.

But mostly, I think until Transport for London pulls itself together and stops endowing a first class city with a second rate road and cycle network cyclists will still be killed with tragic regularity, ruining many lives in the process. But hey, we'll be able to get from Heathrow to Essex soon on one train, so who cares about a few lives.....

Luke Vernon
Finally a video I made a couple of years ago from a lorry drivers perspective-

Mancbikemummy here:

I am at a loss to understand why more people in the haulage industry aren't also asking for more #space4cycling.  Surely it is in everyone's interest?  

I would not want the responsibility of driving a large vehicle around London where one small mistake by anyone, whether it be the cyclist, the lorry driver or any other road user, can result in someone's death.

This is what happens in countries where they have actually thought about solving the problem rather than lashing the road with blue paint.

Monday 21 October 2013

Showing the wrinkles - solving the problems

The idea that cycle campaigns are accentuating the danger in cycling

I may actually scream.




The idea that I shouldn't worry, because, statistically, cycling is safe.

Statistically, I wont be another woman under a lorry.

Statistically, I am more at risk sitting on my arse.

There aren't enough expletives in my vocabulary to express my anger at being patronised in such a way.

Because no matter what you get statistics to say, I have real genuine fear cycling along some roads.  Some are a complete no go.

That fear is magnified a million times when I think of my children taking to the streets.

To give me a virtual pat on the head and tell me my fear isn't real, has enraged me.

I am off to calm down

Tuesday 6 August 2013

Grow Up??? Sorry what???

Apparently I am immature.

If you read my blog, you are probably nodding.

If you know me then I have a steadfast confidence that you are going "no shit Sherlock".

That's fine.

You either 'know me' or you know me.

What I really object to, is some moron at an ad agency, telling me I am childish or immature.

Yes.....you guessed it......its those NICE PEOPLE again

I really don't know where to start.

I do cycle on the road.  Along a main arterial road that is 4 lanes of extremely busy and hostile traffic. Compounded by a huge amount of heavy goods vehicles and buses. Yes you are absolutely fucking right I use the pavement.  Especially when I am cycling with my toddler in his trailer or my 8yr old son.

Now don't get me wrong. I am happy to fly along this road on my road bike and keep up with the traffic on a Sunday morning, but if anyone is to suggest I am childish for not cycling in amongst rush hour traffic while I am with my son, leaves me apoplectic with fucking rage.

Not only am I fucking furious at being called immature, what I am doing is perfectly fine according to the Government.

"The arguments for including cycling on the footpath in the fixed penalty regime were given in a Home Office consultation paper issued in July 1996:

Cycling on the pavement is an offence which presents particular difficulties for enforcement. Many cyclists, not just children and teenagers, feel anxious and exposed when riding in traffic and therefore use the pavement for safety. This is understandable and must be taken into account in enforcement. But pedestrians also have the right to use the footway without facing the hazard of cyclists approaching them or coming up from behind. This practice can be especially worrying for the elderly, the infirm and the very young, and accidents have resulted.

Against this background, it is considered desirable to have a more flexible- system to respond to the varying nature of the situation. The existing enforcement arrangements are limited, in that the choice is normally between issuing a verbal warning and instigating prosecution in the courts. The provision of a fixed penalty would provide a middle course of action and greater flexibility of enforcement.

It is recognised that the enforcement of cycling offences can be more difficult than for motoring offences because of the absence of special identification for individuals and their cycles. But these difficulties can be taken into account by the police when deciding on their response to the problem. The police's discretion on how to enforce the law in this area will be particularly important in establishing the right balance. It is considered that the addition of a fixed penalty should help.

There is a letter from the then Home Office Minister, Paul Boateng, reproduced frequently on cycling sites on the Internet, which states that in relation to enforcement of this offence:

The introduction of the fixed penalty is not aimed at responsible cyclists who sometimes feel obliged to use the pavement out of fear of traffic and who show consideration to other pavement users when doing so. Chief police officers, who are responsible for enforcement, acknowledge that many cyclists, particularly children and young people, are afraid to cycle on the road, sensitivity and careful use of police discretion is required."

I consider myself responsible.  I am out cycling with the two most precious people in my life.  Why would I not be.  I don't whiz. I give pedestrians their legal right of way.

But here we have the same situation. The (not) Nice Way Code tarring all cyclists with one great big shitty brush. 

Maybe its not me that needs to GROW UP!

Thursday 1 August 2013

The Nice Way Code

As pretty much everyone who has a vested interest in cycling, walking and sustainable travel will know, this week saw the launch (before the actual launch) of the Nice Way Code

I was a bit amused that a company entrusted with nearly £500K of public money chose to launch and have a press call before the actual launch.

It produced odd pictures such as this:

I believe it has since been removed. But it took a number of people to point out why it was a very much flawed picture for a road safety campaign.  I will leave you to play Highway Code Bingo with it.......

This was also part of its launch

The Nice Way Code is based on a theory of mutual respect.  I quote " Let’s face it we all have to share the roads. Until the world is a perfect place there are some simple rules we can all follow to make it safer for everyone out there"

I quote the video "targeting pedestrians, cyclists and motorists"

I won't spend my time pulling apart the Nice Way Code Campaign. That is been covered much much better than I ever can here The Car and The Kitten

What I will say is Keith Brown MSP goes on to say "trying to increase the tolerance that should exist between users of the road" and "trying to encourage people to be more tolerant of each others needs"


"Thats how we got good figures in terms of drink driving, over a period of time trying to change the culture"

Ohhhhh kaayyyyyy

Rewind there........

Back to ANY drink drive campaign you have EVER SEEN.

Yup, he IS RIGHT.  They do try and change the culture.


They did do a great job.

Because people were dying, they had a targeted campaign to explain to the people doing the killing, it just wasnt fucking on.

Can any of you remember one campaign for drink driving that said....

"Pedestrians, try not to walk around between the hours of 1 am and 6 am because there may well be drunk drivers about and you might get run over by them"

"cyclists, try not to run red lights because its illegal and a drunk driver might be coming through the opposite way and you will most likely be killed.  You are a vulnerable road user and you need to take responsibility for your own safety by not doing illegal shit"

"kids, always wear a helmet because you don't know when you are cycling in the morning if the person next to you in the huge car hasn't been drinking until 3 am the night before"

Putting the responsibility of the guilty party onto the shoulders of the vulnerable road users in this instance sounds perverse doesn't it?

But that is exactly what they are doing and exactly the parallels they are drawing, Not me.


Just when I thought it couldn't get much worse.

They actually launch.

And what was it we were all told to patiently wait for?


I am now patiently waiting for the videos that will play on other stereotypes.  The one of the 'White Van Man' followed by the usual parody of 'The BMW/Audi/Mec Driver'.

Because so far, that is all the Nice Way Code seems to have done.

Reinforce stereotypes and give misinformed motorists a mouth piece.

Beyond that they seem to be having fun with the twitter account

Lovely, just what a Road Safety campaign needs. People being sarcastic about people being killed by HGV's

Thank goodness the Nice Way Code is in Scotland. I think they would probably be lynched if they were in London where the death toll amongst cyclists continues to rise.

Next we try to compare the campaign to the Kick It Out Campaign

Seriously? This is getting beyond parody now.

I could not find a better analogy than one tweeted to me "I think the equivalent would have been asking black players to be less annoying as well as asking white fans not to abuse them"

If the people at the Nice Way Code can't see this, then I despair.

Thursday 18 July 2013

Get Britain Cycling Debate in the Houses of Parliament - 2nd September

"Britain’s cycling revolution is to move a step closer, with MPs due to meet in the House of Commons in September to debate a landmark report on how to design safer streets, reduce traffic jams and boost public health.
On the first day back after summer recess, on September 2, the debate will take place in the main chamber of the House of Commons to discuss the findings of the ‘Get Britain Cycling’ inquiry, set up in response to the Times Cities Fit for Cycling campaign.
In February last year, 77 MPs from around the UK gathered in Westminster Hall to raise concerns over congested streets and a lack of cycle paths in their constituencies and the need for cyclists to be better trained. They now have the chance to support measures which would address these issues and encourage people to commute by bike instead of car.
A panel of MPs and peers submitted the ‘Get Britain Cycling’ report in April with 18 recommendations on how the Government should increase investment in cycling infrastructure, improve training for cyclists and motorists, lower speed limits in residential areas and introduce stricter planning guidelines for how roads are designed.
Between October 2011 and September 2012, 3,270 cyclists were killed or seriously injured on Britain’s roads — a 29 per cent increase on the 2005-2009 average — while 15,800 cyclists suffered minor injuries.

The Times is calling on all MPs to attend the ‘Get Britain Cycling’ debate, to be held in the Chamber of the House of Commons on Monday September 2."

So I have written to my MP to ask him to attend:

Dear Graham Brady,

I am asking that you attend the Get Britain Cycling debate on Monday 2nd of September.

The issue is so important for very many different reasons.

We as a nation are the fattest in Europe. 

Our towns and cities are becoming choked with unnecessary motorised transport holding back the economy and stunting growth. Most of these journeys are of very small mileage (DoT own figures) and it should not be the default that someone hops in their car for a trip of around 3 miles.

The Lancet has recently published a report that draws a link between air pollution and a 20% increase in lung disease and heart failure.

We need a government that will stand firm against the motoring lobby like previous governments did with the powerful tobacco lobby. 

And the intolerable deaths mostly but not only on the roads in London.

You only have to look in Trafford to see what an effect decent
infrastructure can have. The Bridgewater Way is responsible for significantly reducing the number of cars on the A56. But we need to see this everywhere and not the piecemeal approach we have seen in the past.

Please, please, as my MP attend the debate and show a commitment to Get Britain Cycling.

Yours sincerely,


To his credit, he has replied. Sadly with an 'unable to attend' RSVP.

Monday 8 July 2013

Altrincham Festival 2013

What a day!

We managed to get a 'cycling float' included in this years Altrincham Festival Parade.  A wonderful idea by Pippa a fellow Breeze Champion.

The interest from other cyclists was overwhelming and we had to eventually promise not to swell too greatly in numbers once the organisers caught whiff of our float snowballing.

Without telling too many people what we had planned, we suddenly had 40 or so people agreeing to come along.

We were joined by Altrincham Bike ShakMad Cycle Lanes of Manchester, Councillor Jane Brophy , Richard Alderson, and the all ability cycle group Simply Cycling with their adapted bikes.

I went for the frock and heels look, whilst towing a trailer.  Mainly in part to show, what you wear need not be a barrier to cycling.  We are not all Lycra Louts.

We assembled at St Margaret's in Bowdon.  It was very hot but the lovely leafy street kept most of the sun at bay. Thanks to Halfords Altrincham who came with lots of hooters for the kids and were on hand in case anyone had a mechanical problem.

The parade got underway and it was a slow stop/start downhill into Altrincham

So slow and stop start, Richard started an impromptu Brompton folding lesson.

A great picture of some of the Simply Cycling adapted bikes.

Andrew from Bike Shak managed to capture us on camera.

I found this YouTube clip which made me smile.

Towards the end about 8.30 is us.  The lady remarks "They've never had cyclists before", to which her friend replies "Its good though! Why not?"

We also won a commendation!

Considering how last minute we organised it all, the day went wonderfully well, mainly thanks to Pippa being a whiz at organising things and approaching everything with a 'if you don't ask you don't get' attitude.

I can't wait to do it all again.

For those that asked, my dress is the velo dress from Great Plains.  Its on special offer too at the moment!!

It is a lovely dress and so many people have commented on it.  Thank you x