Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Even cyclists don’t like cyclists

There was an occasion I thought back to on my commute to work this morning.  On an internet forum I frequent, a regular poster was using the fact they were a ‘regular’ and ‘Ive been here for ages and done x, y and z’ to bully other people.  I don’t use the word lightly, but it was bullying.  When confronted about this behaviour they felt backed into a corner I presume and went on the attack.  They claimed that it was them who was the victim of bullying.  That people pointing out the behaviour was unacceptable was tantamount to victimisation.
It reminded me of a surly teenager.  So wrapped up in their own thoughts, selfishness and egocentric world, that they had lost sight of other peoples feeling.  Lost their ability to empathise with others.
It occurred to me this morning on my commute that maybe we as cyclists have been drawn into this victim mentality way of thinking.
I passed a lady on a horse.  I slowed and gave her a gentle shout to warn her of my approach from behind, so she could manoeuvre the horse so that it would not be startled.  She thanked me profusely and said that nobody ever really thinks like that and we spoke briefly of the dangers of silent fast moving cyclists coming up behind horses.
I also came across another gentleman, completely removed from his surroundings, bombing along listening to his ipod.  He seemed to be in a terrible hurry and oblivious to other users of the path.  Sadly it reminded me of the quote from The Thick of It “Not even cyclists like cyclists”.  Which in turn led to a chuckle.
So the chain of thought continued.  It prompted me to think back to a tweet recently from @Cyclemanchester who had said, “Safer roads for cyclists? We can help by not running red lights and obeying the rules of the road #cycling”
I couldn’t agree more.  I have been nearly run over on a few occasions on a local crossing while out pushing the buggy, by cyclists who feel they are above stopping for red lights like the rest of us.
I agree sometimes it might be safer to run a red light, in your head.  But all lit will do is annoy the cars behind you and put other cyclists in danger.  It is a selfish act (and obviously an illegal one).
A small, but I think maybe growing number of cyclists are turning into surly teenagers.  “people treat me like shit so two fingers up at the rest of the world” Really, what is needed is to grow up. Behave like you wish others to treat you. Give way once in a while, stop at red lights, slow down (like the prick on Strava thinks its funny to charge along a canal towpath which is a Sustrans safe routes to school at 22mph) and then maybe, just maybe, we will all be treated better by everyone else.


Another thing occurred to me.  You can tell the sun was shining and I wasn’t in a hurry.  The Trans Pennine Trail was full of people cycling this morning.  The sun was out and the school holidays have started for a lot of schools.  I thought about each of these people and the fact they were ‘one less car’ as the saying goes.  When I dropped O off at breakfast club there was a huge lack of traffic.  Hardly any at all in fact.  So the school run children not being in cars, coupled with people maybe walking or cycling due to the weather, had resulted in a wonderfully flowing, uncongested main arterial road.  Why is it then, that motorists aren’t banging the drum at the very forefront of cycle campaigning?  I don’t think it has really occurred to most of them, that this utopia could be their usual morning commute to work, if only the five other cars around them could be encouraged to get on a bike.  Just think how much faster ad stress free you could get to your office.  If I were a motorist (hag on a minute, I am) I would be out there asking my MP to get some of these motorists of the bloody road and out of my way, so I could get to work!  Come on motorists, switch on……it will be beneficial for us all in the long run!

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

Disincentivising Car Use

Part of our problems with parents driving to school got me thinking about society as a whole.  The reason we use the car so much is it is quick convenient and safe? Yes? Well no, not really.  On the school run I always get there and back quicker on my bike and on foot there’s not that much in it really.  The road is so narrow, that often the car drivers are stuck for real long periods of time.  As for it being safer, here are the accident statistics for the area. http://map.itoworld.com/road-casualties-uk

You can look for yourself.  Over 10 years there have been over 20 car incidents but only one pedestrian.  You tell me which is safest.

Talking to @OurAltrincham this isn’t a problem just at our school.  There are persistent offenders across the area.  How do we get these people to realise that they have to park away from the school and walk a short distance.  That parking on the zigzags is totally unacceptable.

Where I work one day a week, I would be lucky if I get a parking space within a ten minute walk of the front door.  But that is how it is.  I don’t just drive right up to reception and dump my car there.  I wouldn’t dream of it.  So why is it acceptable for me to have to walk ten minutes across our carpark (or worse park completely off site and get the minibus) but it isn’t ok for parents to have to walk a few 100m to the school gate.  Surely if they are going to work, they don’t have a parking space right outside the main door?  Are they all really that important?

What I think would be useful is to stop trying to pander to the car driver altogether.  Lots of people can’t afford a car.  In countries where car ownership is very expensive, it is a real leveller as bike ownership is very high.  They become the main force for change, the little people, not the rich few who can afford a car.

Why can’t we scrap ‘Road Tax’ (actually VED but still confuses lots of dimwits) and put duty on fuel?  It would have the same effect? Effectively taxing the big emission creators & the Gas Guzzlers.  It would do away with the shouts form the thickos in white vans of “Pay some Road Tax!”. 

While we are at it, we have a huge problem with people driving without ‘tax’ or insurance.  They simply can’t afford it, so don’t bother.  What’s the worse that will happen?  They get their car taken away and points on a license they probably don’t have.  Let’s put even more on the cost of fuel to subsidise insurance.  Everyone who drives HAS to pay for fuel.  It’s not quite so easy to dodge as your insurance premiums. 

Once you have driven off without paying from your local petrol station, you won’t be able to go there again for a while….you are going to have to start paying eventually…..

What about the hauliers???  Basically, sod them.  Gone are the days of Hillary Duvet-Day where people can make tons and tons of money out of shifting stuff on the road.  Keep up, change with the times or be changed.  Think of other ways to do your business more sustainably.  You never know, you could be at the forefront of a revolution.

Monday, 2 July 2012

Manchester to Blackpool Bike Ride

Toying with the idea of doing this ride, this weekend.  But I am altogether bamboozled by the logistics.  I am not about to part with £24 to get a coach back.  Although it maybe seems like value for money, the ride is £17.50.  It is a ride, not a race and not closed roads.  It seems an awful lot of money to have a few drinks stations and bike mechanics.

The trains will not take bikes either.

So, if anyone has done it in the past and has any quirky (or not so quirky, just down right sensible) suggestions, then fire away.

I am all ears!

Trafford the TPT and Twitter - We may have won!

It seems we may have a result......

A nice man from Trafford MBC has contacted me via email to say 

"Having visited the site in question last week I can appreciate the problem – as you may be aware Trafford Council already use the RADAR system http://myway.trafford.gov.uk/i-need-help-with/out-and-about/access-for-people-with-disabilities/radar-key.aspx so extending it to countryside sites is logical and overdue."


"I will keep you informed of developments as I now need to source a supplier and arrange alterations to the gates themselves so that the new padlocks can be accommodated."

What fantastic news!

I have also at this point got to thank the people at Slater Heelis in Sale, who very kindly helped me to look into the legalities of the access problems.  It would seem just the mere mention of their name sends local authorities into a tail spin.  I really am grateful.

And also thank you so very much to Trafford for listening at last.