Cycling

[This is a work in progress]

I am a keen cyclist.

I want more people to cycle.  Cycling is quick.  I cycle to town quite often.  It takes about 10 minutes.  It is often faster to get there than by a car.  What?  Well, although I don’t reach 70mph down the dual-carriage way, I simply lock my bicycle up when I get there and get my shopping.  My effective speed on the bicycle is often faster than a car because of the time spent for drivers in congestion, at traffic lights and then looking for a space to park.

Cycling is safe.  Every year, roughly 100 people on a bicycle do die.  Five people die in a car – every day.  The average rider would have to cycle 2,000,0000 miles before facing serious injury.  However 85,000 people die each year from conditions linked to a lack of physical activity.  WHO recommends half an hour of moderate activity every day.  Do you do this?   As well as the personal health benefits that cycling offers, it is a nicer way to get around with it estimated that any speed under 20mph would allow you to make eye contact with pedestrians and fellow cyclists.  It’s more social than being hidden in a individual metal pod on wheels.

After reading the above, you may feel that you might want to leave the car at home.  It will be safer, and you’ll get some exercise.  But you may still be hesitant about about cycling with all the dangerous traffic.  You chose to walk instead.  Don’t.  The average number of people killed whilst walking is 36.  This figure is not whilst crossing the road but simply walking on the pavement.  If you cycle normally and predictably, it is safe.  Not only will you be safe but others will be too.  You will not be pumping out exhaust emissions which seeping into the enclosed cabin of the car.  Also, you will be very unlikely to hit any pedestrians.  There is this untruth that regularly people are hit and killed by bicycles.  It does happen but according to published UK government figures which come out every year there are usually no deaths.  More people die on average per year due to bee and wasp stings.

I love the the bicycle but I do not believe it is the superior mode of transport.  I welcome walking, cycling, driving, coaching, bussing, training or flying. Anything else? That too. Each way of transporting oneself has pros and cons to oneself and others.

My history

When I were younger, I had a nice mountain bike which I took great care of. I had it for years and years. There was so much sentimentality attached to this bike. Up until the age of 18, I’d sometimes (relatively rare compared to now) use it to go cycling around the town on the pavement. It wasn’t common to see cyclist on the road – well, at all. I never knew it was against the law to ride there as no police officer, or anyone ever stopped me. I was always, a considerate cyclist, and I still am.

When looking for potential universities, the University of Nottingham’s acres and acres of campus really appealed to me and after I successfully got in, I was certain that I was going to take my bicycle with me. Getting from A to B without a bike would have taken a long time.

After a month up with my yellow mountain bike, sadly some evil thief cut the padlock and stole it was stolen from Sainsbury’s in Beeston.  

Exploring the campus. Only 4 days later a vicious thief stole my bicycle.

I used a couple of other mountain bike replacements for a year or so. They just weren’t the same. They were heavier. I was, of course grateful that it was a bicycle and I got to where I wanted quickly. I used it everyday and didn’t think about cleaning it. After extended use, as well as excessive oiling on my part, it collected a lot of dirt from the road and gradually became too sluggish.

In the long summer of 2013, I got my first road bicycle. And my love with road cycling stemmed from there.

June 2013

I loved it as it was so much lighter and the smaller tyres meant less resistance. The dropped handlebars altered my position and made long distance cycling easier. Love, love, love. But another vicious thief stole it from campus whilst I was in a lecture in February 2014. Luckily it was covered on my uni room insurance and I was given a more expensive bicycle.  I wasn’t thinking about what requirements to request and simply accepted the recommended Dawes Giro.  It was quite heavy but it is robust and reliable.

I still have it now. As a consequence of the stolen bikes, I have now got a couple of super secure D locks which are very difficult to break. Also I alarm my bike with a padlock when I lock it up.

In August 2015, I purchased another bicycle. Using my Dawes constantly, it is prone to gather dirt and muck off the road and where I ride it in all weathers, the rain has rusted the chain and cogs slightly. My new bicycle is a Boardman Team Carbon. So light and beautiful. If there is even a cloud in the sky, I don’t use it. Haha.  Slight exaggeration.

And now is now.

My Garmin device which I had for a year on January 13th 2016:

I have cycled 2,092 miles burning 141,351 calories for 11,480 minutes!

 

The count for 2017 is 2,028 miles:

Oh, and I got a tandem and unicycle a few years ago.

 

Reading

I read heavy and wide about cycling.

As well as reading many blog posts and articles, I recently (summer, 2017) read “The Bicycle Planning Book by Mike Hudson (1978).

And here is its conclusion:

I know I shouldn’t put these on but the summaries of each chapter are wonderful. I recommend the book as the heart of the content talks in great detail about the history of the bicycle, its usages, safety aspects, the law, and planning.

After the beginning of 2018, as Christmas presents from my Mum, I received “Roads were not built for cars” by Carlton Reid and “Bike Nation” by Peter Walker.  Both books were wonderful reads.

 

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Useful

On another note, here is a video presented by Chris Boardman about how to safely overtake:

 

Here’s an interesting video about why cycling isn’t (yet) normal in London.  I like the humour here.

Helmets

Everyone has an opinion on this.  Even if someone has never cycled in their life, they will give you their view. I have been cycling for years and consider myself a competent cyclist. It’s up to you whether to heed my reasoning. It’s your head.  If you chose not to wear one whilst driving or being the passenger in a car, I wouldn’t judge you. 

I made the decision a few years ago not to wear a helmet.  I used to religiously wear one.  Even for a trip of less than a mile, I’d put the piece of plastic on my head.  After reading a lot of literature, I came to realise I may have lulling myself into a false sense of security, and changing the perception of drivers around me. The latter point is the biggest here. If a driver looks at me in my protective head gear, and thinks that I am a cyclist, and overtakes me with a sliver of distance, and hits me, I don’t stand a chance. A car can weigh nearly 2 tonnes. But if a driver sees my head they may think oh, there’s a person I need to carefully manoeuvre this machine around him.

All cycle helmets need to abide by EU/BS regulation. I cannot remember the details off the top of my head (further research required) but it states that all helmets need to take a single impact from a height of 2 metres at a speed of 12 mph. And that is it. And if there were to be an impact, it is really unlikely to be a single impact hit. If rotational forces are involved, the helmet has diminishing effect.

I do not wear a helmet when I go for a walk or when I am a passenger in a car or on a bus. If I shouted at the passing traffic and told them to put a car helmet on, the occupants in their metal shells would laugh. But people on foot and in cars are injured and killed on a daily basis from head injuries. These could have been mitigated by a helmet protecting their head.

But if everyone wore a helmet, maybe motorists would take more risks knowing that the military-clad walkers and fellow passengers are ready for action.

The debate is complicated and complex and I haven’t done it justice here. When I have more time I will reference some sources. But for now, I direct you to a video I produced a few years ago on the subject. It was meant to be short and snappy and it ended up so very long.  But hey.

Here’s an interesting piece: Cycle Helmets: A Duty to Wear? by Martin Porter QC

 

 

Rickshaws
I support them. Never rode in one but may do one day. Great way to get about.  Good for the environment! I believe they need regulating to control the prices. Have you heard the story about one rickshaw rider who charged a fortune for a few miles? Also regulation will ensure there is a degree of responsibility.

Is the General Secretary of the LTDA a joke representative? People don’t tip up and fall out of them. “The problem is you can’t licence a vehicle which is inherently dangerous”. But don’t taxis have a licence? The pollution produced by motorised vehicles is too high. It’s dangerous. It kills.

In central London, with average traffic speeds of around 10 mph, having rickshaws really isn’t a problem. Rather than allowing more and more private vehicles and private hires to fill the streets of London, a more sustainable approach needs to be found. This provides an opportunity to have a green mode of transport, and a pleasing way for tourist to explore the city.

 

Northamptonshire Police

Northamptonshire Police’s action on close passes has generally not been good.  If someone was walking along with a hammer and swinging it close people, they would be dealt with – at the very least for their anti-social action.  Then there is their likelihood of causing injury or death.  But if someone is driving a vehicle, they can get away with murder.  Cough.  I have to state that I have had some real success stories.  There are a few officers who had dealt with the close pass swiftly.  I have had quite a few others completely dismissed though.  Interesting development.  Back on 2nd February 2018 I saw this on Twitter and tweeted back. Hopefully PC Mike will help improve Northamptonshire Police’s attitude towards cyclists.

 

In 2018, Northamptonshire Police have launched Operation Close Pass.  I hope that this was bring all their responses in line and each case would be correctly be dealt with.  However, so far this has not been the case.

 

 

Links to elsewhere . . .

Cyclists reveals their filthy face masks after commuting in London. This is what the lungs put up with. Not everywhere is as polluted as some parts of London but just think about that for a minute. Is that ok?

Yes to this news.  London approves Europe’s First City-Spanning Bike Superhighway.  Segregated cycling!  Showing how it is done.

Cycling UK has recently called for greater public awareness into “dooring”.  This is a criminal offence under Regulation 105 of the Road Vehicles (Construction and Use) Regulations 1986 and Section 42 Road Traffic Act 1988.  Dooring, or car door refers to the act of opening a vehicle door without consideration of those around you and under these mentioned regulation and act it is punishable.  At the moment, only by a fine of up to £1,000.  This needs to be changed.  The following video is an example of the completely fine process of a bicycle filtering through traffic and a passenger opening their door:

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