The People’s Transport

'...yes sir, I even have to wear High-Viz to operate this stand in case you walk into me whilst I'm holding a biro'

So Edmund King, President of the Automobile Association and keen cyclist, is heading an initiative to give away 5000 helmets along with Hi-Viz tabards in Central London today. The aim of ‘Cycle Safety Day’  is to hand out this safety gear to people using Boris Bikes (in case you’re wondering why they’re just focussing on London), I assume to protect them from AA members and their van drivers.

Carlton Reid has the full story on Bike Biz and you may also read accounts in Road.cc and Bike Hub.

Mikael Colville-Andersen of Copenhagenize has also spoken out:

“While it’s great that the AA president is also a cyclist, this is merely another case of placing the responsibility on the vulnerable traffic users instead of tackling the rampant bull in our society – the automobile. It also sends dangerous signals that bicycle helmets are effective in collisions with cars, which they’re not. They’re not even designed for that kind of impact.

“If the AA wants to be taken seriously, it should consider promoting motoring helmets and, for example, fight for strict liability and back initiatives like the Dutch one of making external airbags on cars to protect pedestrians and cyclists a standard accessory.”

Whilst I’m sure that Mr King is acting with the best intentions, and I have nothing against him personally at all, this sends out all the wrong messages for cycling. At best his move makes the simple act of riding a bicycle look far from simple. It tells the public that the only way you can get from A to B safely on a bicycle is when dressed up as a cross between a coal miner and Liberace. At worst it looks like a cynical move by a motoring organisation that wants cyclists to act as mobile reflective road signs  to allow for easier motoring. It looks like a move to enforce the burden of responsibility on to the most vulnerable road users. It looks like a move to justify insurance companies (such as the AA) not having to pay out so much if the cycling victim in a road accident isn’t wearing a helmet. Basically, it’s treating cycling like a stubborn stain that won’t go away.

As stated before on this blog, if we have arrived at a situation where grown men and women feel the need not just to armour themselves to ride a bicycle, but to put surveillance measures on that armour, then something is severely wrong with riding a bicycle in this country. What hope is there for our nations children that wish to cycle to school?

What’s really bizarre is that for all this debate and argument on what’s best for British road safety, no-one seems to be even daring to look North or East across the North Sea where real proven, tried and tested solutions may be found. The Netherlands and Denmark have had 2 to 3 decades of developing infrastructure for riding bicycles. They have made mistakes, have learnt from those mistakes and are still learning.

So, back to basics. Here is a film from Mark Wagenbuur regarding a country that  acknowledges that far more people young and old, rich or poor will have access to a bicycle than a car and therefore makes that a priority, as any civilized nation should. Please note that helmets and hi-viz are regarded as irrelevant, as is the need for lycra. Also note the children cycling, not just to and from school, but also popping home for lunch completely independently. Please note that this country currently has the best road safety record in the World.

For those of you that instantly think ‘it can’t be done’, the Highways Agency recently revealed a [potential] £1 billion overspend on the M25 widening project. That’s £1 billion on just one road scheme, which is almost double the £560 million of ‘local transport’ funding that’s been cast out to the provinces. The real money is there alright. Also the infrastructure solutions available to us have been tried and tested, and then some. The picture below is from the always wonderful blog of David Hembrow.

They're just taking the piss now.

It shows a bin placed near a school in Assen so kids don’t even need to slow down to dispose of the rubbish or litter the local area. That’s right, the Dutch have even created the perfect synergy between bicycle rider and rubbish bin. No helmets in that picture either.

We need to make cycling normal again. We have to return it as a mode of transport. In normal clothing.

Mikael Colville-Andersen sometimes refers to ‘Citizen Cyclists’. This is the masses using the bicycle as a simple tool to get from A to B without the need to resemble a carnival float. This is for people who don’t regard themselves as ‘cyclists’ per se but just use the bicycle by default shorter journeys because it is easy. They are not regarded as engaging in a specialist activity or being part of a sub culture. They are just people getting to the pub or the shops but on a bicycle. In the UK we have gone out of our way to make the most difficult mode of transport easy and the easiest mode of transport complicated and it is to this country’s detriment in every way.

I don’t believe the phrase ‘Citizen Cyclist’ would work in the UK however as it has communist, revolutionary connotations that the British might find a little unpalatable (when I started a campaign group in Worthing called ‘Worthing Revolution’, I was asked the change the ‘Revolution’ to ‘Revolutions’ as ‘Revolution’ sounded a bit too….well…..Revolutionary for a seaside town).

Instead, I would therefore like to propose ‘THE PEOPLES TRANSPORT’ as a way of pitching the bicycle to the 97% of people who don’t know that they’re regular bicycle riders yet. Seeing as more people in the UK can walk or use a bicycle than drive a car, then surely improved access for those two modes should be prioritised. Especially as motorists don’t pay for the roads. At the moment, the People have their place but the car comes first as opposed to how it should be – that the car has its place but the people come first. We can’t keep sticking little hats and bright clothing on people in the hope that this will make things better. It’s just not cricket (cricket actually requires armour, take it from someone who knows).

If the Government can commit to the idea of a bicycle being a mode of transport, if the AA can stop putting the burden of responsibility on the vulnerable as opposed to its members,  if we can implement a range of infrastructure measures that are decent, fast, direct, that opens up communities and is fit for our children and other more vulnerable members of society then we can hold our heads high once more, without a helmet. To me, being able to buy a bigger car (with AA membership) doesn’t make us a decent, civilized nation. Leaving it in the driveway and exercising the freedom to walk or cycle to the local shops does.

A bit rambling I know but that’s the beauty of Dutch Bike riding. Lots of thinking time. Probably too much really.

Make Hammond History

Big Business People Doing Important Big Businessy Things. They need Big Business Infrastructure. Like that Big Business Flipchart. For Big Business People

Transport Secretary, Philip Hammond MP announced big plans for transport infrastructure spending.

Along with the eight schemes announced by the Chancellor last week, work will therefore begin on a total of 24 schemes as a result of the Department for Transport’s spending review settlement.

The schemes given the green light today, subject to statutory processes, will deliver major upgrades to relieve congestion at the following locations either through widening or managed motorways schemes:

– M60 Junctions 8 – 12
– M1 Junctions 32 – 35a
– M60 Junctions 12 – 15
– M1 Junctions 39 – 42
– M62 Junctions 18 – 20
– M25 Junctions 5 – 6/7
– M25 Junctions 23 – 27
– M6 Junctions 5 – 8
– A556 Knutsford – Bowdon

The following key local infrastructure projects were also confirmed, subject to a best and final offer from local authorities:

– A new single carriageway bypass which will ease congestion in Sefton and improve access to the region’s motorway network;

– An integrated package of sustainable transport improvements in Ipswich including improved bus facilities and walking and cycling routes;

– Improvements to M5 J29, east of Exeter, providing access to new housing and employment areas;

– A bypass to the north of Lancaster, connecting the port of Heysham to the M6;

– Improvements on the A57 east of M1 J31, near Todwick;

– A new road in Taunton to provide additional cross-town capacity and access to areas of brownfield land; and

– A new bus station and associated transport improvements in Mansfield.

In addition, the Transport Secretary announced a pot of over £600m of funding for further local authority projects. Local authorities will be invited to bid for this funding over the next few months. Councils will be challenged to consider the cost, scope and possibility of local funding when bidding.

The Government believes this competitive process will ensure that the greatest possible number of schemes, with the best value for money, will be able to proceed, facilitating economic growth and providing jobs across the country.

Philip Hammond said:
“Whilst we have had to make some tough choices, I am pleased that spending on transport was treated as a priority for the Government in the Spending Review.

“This Government sees transport as a key driver of growth nationally and in the regions. So I am delighted to be able to give the green light to 24 new transport projects and a fund worth over £600m for many more schemes to bid for.

“Taken together, this investment will not only bring benefits in terms of reduced congestion, shorter journey times and more efficient public transport, but also provide a vital economic boost. For every pound we spend on Highways Agency schemes, on average we will get back £6 of benefits and in many cases there are even higher returns for local authority schemes.

“Transport is vital to securing the UK’s long term prosperity. That is why these schemes are so important and why I will continue to argue for investment which delivers long term benefits for both the travelling public and the economy as a whole.”

The Government also announced that the Highways Agency will continue work on developing a further 14 schemes in preparation for them to start in future spending review periods, as funding becomes available, and will review the design of a further four with the aim of finding a best value solution.’

I like the way in the detailed motorway plans, the hard Shoulder being used to increase traffic flow becomes a DYNAMIC Hard Shoulder! At least until someone breaks down. One shudders to think what cycling improvements have been planned for Ipswich.

History has shown us beyond doubt that building more roads and increasing capacity of existing roads just creates more traffic with the resultant knock on effects to surrounding areas. This has been common knowledge since the A40 Westway via the M3 Twyford Down to the A34 Newbury Bypass. However, Mr Hammond is oblivious to all this, just as the public enquiries were for many road schemes and ‘improvements’ through the years.

Bikehub reported on Sustrans response

‘… Sustrans has reacted strongly to Hammond’s announcement.

Jason Torrance, Sustrans’ Policy Manager, said:

“Sustrans is dismayed that the Government is missing a golden opportunity to put right a broken transport system, despite its green promises.

“The Secretary of State for Transport proudly boasts that his lengthy list of road transport schemes bring benefits of £6 for every £1 spent. But sustainable transport schemes that encourage active travel offer much better value, at £8 for every £1 spent. And they directly address the congestion issues that today’s announcement claims to solve.

“And there are other benefits.  Given that 1 in 20 UK people are now being treated for type 2 diabetes and 1 in 10 for obesity – both illnesses that are exacerbated by physical inactivity – improving the health of the nation, and tackling the costs attached to that, has to be seen as critical.  With this in mind not prioritising walking and cycling should be unthinkable.”’

The Lo Fidelity Bicycle Club does not regard this as reacting strongly. In fact it’s barely reacting. Personally, I’ve written stronger letters to the Worthing Herald. The CTC website is showing no reaction at all. Anyway, that’s another debate.

The DfT has also just launched its THINK! ‘Be bright, be seen’ campaign.

Not content with building more dangerous roads, they seem to have entered the spirit of Halloween with a bit too much vigour on a site that is bound to scare children (and more importantly their parents) making cycling look like a dangerous activity and putting them off.

Here is an example ‘gory story’;

‘The girl who didn’t dress bright in the dark

She always liked to look her best

So didn’t wear a nice bright vest

Or any clothing that was bright

When she was out at nearly night


But traffic couldn’t see her see

And now she isn’t so trendy

A car drove right into her guts

And covered her with bruisy cuts’

I’ve checked and I still can’t find anything informing parents that when they drive, they are in control of a heavy vehicle that can maim and kill if not driven correctly, and that they have a duty of care to the children of others, not just their own.

The Lo Fidelity Bicycle Club would like to start a campaign of its own;

Make Hammond History Reshuffle the Kerfuffle!

Obviously The Lo Fidelity Bicycle Club wishes Mr Hammond no harm (although we would like to drive really close to him at speed if he ever gets on a bicycle). We feel that there must be wholesale reform of a Department for Transport that’s not entering the spirit of the twenty first century with their belief that ‘sustainable’ means ‘bigger roads’ or ‘electric cars charged by fossil fuels’.

We suggest getting brown wristbands made up to represent the utter dung cyclists have had to put up with and will have to endure now that many speed cameras have been switched off and Cycling England disbanded with no viable alternative and cycle infrastructure thrown to the provinces that couldn’t design a cycle facility if their lives depended on it.

A bit like this, but brown. And 'Hammond' instead of 'Poverty'.

Who would have thought that something as simple as cycling could be made to look so dangerous, complicated and strangely irrelevant in the wake of ‘progress’? Oh well, if ‘Make Hammond History’ doesn’t work there’s always ‘Make Baker Better’. The Lo Fidelity Bicycle Club is open to ideas.

Cycle Campaigning Simplified No 6 – The Highways Agency

..what do you mean 'why has it got to be built?' It's a bypass! You've got to build bypasses...

Once upon a time Great Britain was a green and pleasant archipelago criss-crossed with a rich lattice work of highways and byways, footpaths and bridleways. However, successive car-centric policies over the decades in the name of progress has led not only to a massive expansion of highways, but the creation of environments extremely hostile to any other mode of transport.  

Carriageways were widened, then ‘upgraded’ to dual carriageways becoming motorways in all but name. Not only did they start to bypass the communities the original roads were meant to serve but severed the byways, bridleways and footpaths that would have continued to link communities, in turn leading to greater car-dependency. In the Worthing District of Sompting, close to where I live, the A27 has been so wonderfully ‘upgraded’ that to get to the houses, church and the South Downs to the north you can either run like Usain Bolt (which rules out a few parishioners) or drive a longer circuitous route. No bridge or underpass was provided.

These ‘Strategic Roads’ have also led to car-dependent development on Greenfield sites such as out of town shopping centres & business parks leading to urban srpawl.

Nowadays, Trunk Roads and Motorways are overseen by the Highways Agency.  Whereas Cycling England was a Quango, the Highways Agency is ‘An Executive Agency of the Department for Transport’. They have a big shiny website, with updates on closures either due to road works, incompetent driving or genuine accidents. They have Regional Control Centres  resembling Cape Canaveral (except instead of directing man to the moon, they’re directing mankind around Swindon) and people looking very smart and knowledgeable in suits and High Visibility tabards – essential wear if you want to look official.

They have a vision too:

‘We have a vision for our Agency to be:

‘The world’s leading road operator’

We have set five goals which will indicate progress to achieving this vision:

  • We provide a service that our customers can trust
  • We set the standard for delivery
  • We deliver sustainable solutions
  • Our roads are the safest in the world
  • Our network is a dynamic and resilient asset

To realise this stretching vision, and to guarantee continued service delivery in tougher times, we are developing our organisation to meet the significant challenges that we face. At the Highways Agency we are proud of the progress that we have made to increase our commercial awareness, develop and deliver innovative solutions, and build the capability of our workforce. Moving forward, we will demonstrate a broader range of skills, and be flexible to satisfy our customers’ and stakeholders’ range of expectations.’

Brings a tear to the eye doesn’t it?

One problem is that the Highways Agency (and Traffic Police) really believes the hype and Management Speak. Calling it a ‘Strategic Road Network’ with its ‘Innovative Solutions’ really gives all that use it and work on it that wonderful warm glow of overblown self importance – and yet more chances to wear high-viz tabards.

God, I'm Important!

In the section of their website dedicated to cycling, walking and equestrians, they set their mission statement out as follows (and I’ve provided a few links to articles within which might be of interest):

I know. It’s bringing a tear to the other eye isn’t it?

In reality, if you are a cycle campaigner, you will rarely encounter the Highways Agency unless a major new road scheme or ‘upgrade’ is planned. Their remit covers Motorways and Trunk Roads – not all ‘A’ Roads. When you do however, they will regard you with even greater contempt (from experience) than Council Highways Engineers as they have an even greater desire to get you off their roads and onto infrastructure, however crappy and dangerous. As cyclists, you don’t fit into Big Strategic Road Networks For Rapid Big Vehicles And Executives On Big Business. Like encounters with local Highway Departments cycling doesn’t fit into computer generated models.

Even if everone was driving happily within the speed limit, Trunk Roads are simply not that pleasant to cycle on with their pollution, noise, overpriced refreshment stops and proximity to fast moving traffic.  There could have been separate parallel cycle provision such as in the Netherlands. It could have linked up now cessated Bridleways and Byways and keeping vital, pleasant quieter links between cities, towns and villages.

A problem resulting from Trunk Roads and Motorways that you will encounter as a campaigner is that other road options for pedestrians & cyclists become less pleasant too. When road building projects occur (such as the A34 Newbury Bypass) they are justified by claiming that they relieve congestion elsewhere. More often than not, the reverse happens but by the time a report has come out (if you get to see it) the local surrounding roads have become more dangerous and the trunk road is perceived as inaccessible to all but the most dedicated club cyclists and time triallists.

As Noel Coward might have elegantly warbled, ‘Only Mad Dogs and Clubmen go out on a Trunk Road Run’

SPENDING REVIEW UPDATE! It looks as though the A11 ‘Upgrade’ in East Anglia  is to go ahead. This £134m scheme (up from £115m) will apparently save 3 minutes on off peak journeys! Upgrade of course means conversion to dual carriageway making it really unpleasant for anything other than a motor vehicle.  

Freewheeler has posted on the A11 in the past.

As someone has quipped on the CTC Forum,

‘Personally I think £115 million to save three minutes of my time is well worth it – my time is valuable. And in case anyone is worried about the stress and lack of exercise-related illnesses likely to arise from the new road, the government has also announced that the NHS budget is to be ring fenced. So good news all round.’

It’s like Thatcher never left!

Stay on Target

 

The Department for Transport (Lo Fidelity Bicycle Club Impression)

 

EDITED – THANKS MR BLOGS 🙂

In previous posts I put across an argument that the demise of Cycling England could be a good thing.  It could mean the reintegration of cycling within the Department for Transport, making it publically accountable and receiving a deserving share of the transport budget. Like the Highways Agency, cycling could be an ‘Executive Agency’. Cycling is after all part of the sustainable transport (and public health and wellbeing and climate change and energy conservation etc) solution.

As you have probably learned today, not only is Cycling England to be abolished from March 2011 but the future for cycling now looks far bleaker than anyone could have imagined. Now there will simply be a Local Sustainable Travel Fund with the mechanism for delivery still to be determined.

What’s worse is that, although Bikeability (Cycling Proficiency), is set to be protected under the Department for Transport, there is nothing to say it won’t be affected by the funding cuts to be announced on October 20th.

With cycling project funding cast out across the provinces, walking and cycling campaign groups will be left fighting for scraps while the DfT marches on, indifferent to the plight of those that prefer simpler, greener, more fun and effective forms of transport, or simply cannot afford a car. This is the Conservative tactic of ‘Divide and Conquer’ at its worst. There is some light at the end of the tunnel however; according to a press release brought to my attention by a Lo Fidelity Reader, ‘DfT is also considering establishing an expert panel on wider sustainable travel which would promote cycling as part of the wider green agenda’. I’d imagine some eco-car manufacturers may also be in the panel too.

As jolly nice and good looking cyclists and pedestrians, we must not be distracted by localism. We must remain fixed now on Phillip Hammond, Norman Baker and the Department for Transport; if a major transport scheme is planned, cycling has to be integrated from the beginning as opposed to fighting to get a crap cycle path running next to it or exposed Sheffield Stands.

 

'The Empire doesn't see small bicycles or pedestrians as a threat or it would have a tighter defence'

 

Above all Cycle Training in whatever form has to be retained or we lose yet another generation to the relentless pull of the sedentary lifestyle, leading to more dangerous roads.

Philip Hammond, Secretary of State for Transport, seems to think Sustainable Transport doesn’t incorporate the most sustainable forms of transport of all. Apparently we should all be using electric cars now. This is a man that clearly needs to be reshuffled at the first God given opportunity and the woefully car-centric Department for Transport needs to be reformed as it appears to be languishing decades behind in sustainability.

Whilst we work out what to do next, I’m off to dig out my Chas n Dave ‘Snooker Loopy’ EP, my florescent socks and look for a Sinclair C5 on ebay. I feel we are going back to the Conservative times of old.

The Highway Code (Rules for Cyclists) – The Lo Fidelity Bicycle Club Version

Please find below the ‘Rules for Cyclists’ as outlined in The Highway Code adapted by me to give more accuracy (in my humble opinion).

59 Clothing.

You should wear

• a cycle helmet which conforms to current regulations, is the correct size and securely fastened. It won’t necessarily help, but will make motorists think they can drive like lunatics around you because you are ‘protected’ and make cycling look much more dangerous than it actually is, putting everybody else off cycling. Which is exactly what motor companies (like Volvo and Fiat), that actively promote helmet use, want.

• appropriate clothes for cycling. Avoid clothes which may get tangled in the chain, or in a wheel or may obscure your lights. Do NOT wear lycra as that is very, very bad and our obese society will judge you for some reason.

• light-coloured or fluorescent clothing which helps other road users to see you in daylight and poor light because normally they can’t be bothered to look for you unless you’re lit up like a Mardi Gras carnival float

• reflective clothing and/or accessories (belt, arm or ankle bands) in the dark for that extra nerdy/librarian look

60 At night your cycle MUST have white front and red rear lights lit. It MUST also be fitted with a red rear reflector. White front reflectors and spoke reflectors will also help you to be seen. Flashing lights are permitted but it is recommended that cyclists who are riding in areas without street lighting use a steady front lamp. HOWEVER if your bike has been stolen or cost £20 at a car boot sale and you merely wish to get to the bookies/public house (Wetherspoons ONLY)/next crime scene then why are you even attempting to read this? [Law RVLR regs 13, 18 & 24)]

61 Cycle Routes and Other Facilities.

Use cycle routes, advanced stop lines, cycle boxes and toucan crossings unless at the time it is unsafe to do so. Use of these facilities is not compulsory and will depend on your experience and skills which you will need lots of because the facilities are normally designed by someone having an epileptic fit, but they can make your journey safer IF you are the last person on Earth and even then they are a waste of time and space.

62 Cycle Tracks.

These are normally located away from the road, but may normally be found on footpaths or pavements. Cyclists and pedestrians may be segregated or they may share the same space (unsegregated). When using segregated tracks you MUST keep to the side intended for cyclists (until another cyclist approaches when you both suddenly realise it’s too narrow) as the pedestrian side remains a pavement or footpath. Take care when passing pedestrians, especially children, older or disabled people. Everyone will drift into the cycle lane for no reason, usually wearing an iPod. Always be prepared to slow down and stop if necessary as they wander about aimlessly. Take care near road junctions as you will have difficulty seeing other road users, who will not notice you. If you were using the road instead of this poorly designed, dangerous drivel you would NOT be in danger in the first place. [Law HA 1835 sect 72]

63 Cycle Lanes.

These are marked by a white line (which will be entered by ALL other road traffic) along the carriageway. Keep within the lane when practicable through all the sunken drain covers and broken glass. When leaving a cycle lane check before pulling out that it is safe to do so and signal your intention clearly to other road users which will be ignored. Use of cycle lanes is not compulsory and will depend on your experience and skills, but they can make your journey safer if you are in Copenhagen or Amsterdam or Groningen or Germany or anywhere else EXCEPT the UK.

64 You MUST NOT cycle on a pavement UNLESS the Council has painted a white bicycle on it. There is a difference APPARENTLY. [Laws HA 1835 sect 72 & R(S)A 1984, sect 129]

65 Bus Lanes.

Most bus lanes may be used by cyclists as indicated on signs. Watch out for people getting on or off a bus. Be very careful when overtaking a bus or leaving a bus lane as you will be entering a busier traffic flow and the bus driver thinks he/she is at Le Mans. Do not pass between the kerb and a bus when it is at a stop UNLESS you’re unbelievably thin.

66 You should

• keep both hands on the handlebars except when signalling or changing gear or sticking the finger up at yet another example of incompetent driving

• keep both feet on the pedals UNLESS you are trying to do a really cool trick to impress your friends to justify owning a BMX whilst in your 20’s.

• never ride more than two abreast, and ride in single file on narrow or busy roads and when riding round bends. You’ll get abuse from motorists that confuse ‘a country drive’ with ‘Paris – Dakar Rally’ anyway.

• not ride close behind another vehicle UNLESS it’s slowed down just after overtaking you for a sudden turn or speed camera or police patrol car.

• not carry anything which will affect your balance or may get tangled up with your wheels or chain such as barbed wire, which MAY be the only thing that stops motorists passing so closely.

• be considerate of other road users, particularly blind and partially sighted pedestrians. Let them know you are there when necessary, for example, by ringing your bell if you have one. Try using common courtesy, which is an ancient craft that died out years ago.

67 You should

• look all around before moving away from the kerb, turning or manoeuvring, to make sure it is safe to do so. Give a clear signal to show other road users what you intend to do. This will be ignored.

• look well ahead for obstructions in the road, such as drains, pot-holes and parked vehicles so that you do not have to swerve suddenly to avoid them. Leave plenty of room when passing parked vehicles and watch out for doors being opened or pedestrians stepping into your path, particularly iPod wearers, the lemmings that they are.

• be aware of traffic coming up behind you. They know not what they are doing.

• take extra care near road humps, narrowings and other traffic calming features . They are supposed to improve road safety. In reality, they turn something as simple and easy as riding a bicycle into some form of gladiatorial combat and were designed by the person that came up with the course on ‘Extreme Wipeout’.

• take care when overtaking. Wave to stationary traffic and smile to indicate you are passing them safely. This should cheer them up no end.

68 You MUST NOT

• carry a passenger unless your cycle has been built or adapted to carry one. Those carefree days are over, apparently.

• hold onto a moving vehicle or trailer UNLESS you are going for £250 on ‘You’ve been Framed’

• ride in a dangerous, careless or inconsiderate manner. The Daily Mail thinks you will anyway but ‘dangerous, careless or inconsiderate’ also describes their take on journalism.

• ride when under the influence of drink or drugs, including medicine UNLESS it’s quite nice. [Law RTA 1988 sects 24, 26, 28, 29 & 30 as amended by RTA 1991]

69 You MUST obey all traffic signs and traffic light signals. That means NOT breaking red lights. The wearing of a replica professional team kit does NOT make you immune from all traffic laws. You know you are doing wrong because of the self-righteous yet furtive look you always have when you’re doing it. FAILURE to comply means ALL OTHER ROAD USERS INCLUDING LAW ABIDING CYCLISTS and SOME OTHER PEOPLE I’VE JUST THOUGHT OF have the right to abuse you. [Laws RTA 1988 sect 36 & TSRGD reg 10(1)]

70 When parking your cycle

• find a conspicuous location where it can be seen by passers-by EXCEPT on a council estate.

• use cycle stands or other cycle parking facilities wherever possible and do NOT let the vandalised bicycle already there with the kicked in wheels put you off in any way.

• do not leave it where it would cause an obstruction or hazard to other road users although they will find some reason to moan whatever you do.

• secure it well so that it will not fall over and become an obstruction or hazard UNLESS outside the Daily Mail offices (Northcliffe House, 2 Derry Street, London W8 5TT)

71 You MUST NOT cross the stop line when the traffic lights are red. Some junctions have an advanced stop line to enable you to wait and position yourself ahead of other traffic. They will generally have motor vehicles waiting in it. [Laws RTA 1988 sect 36 & TSRGD regs 10 & 36(1)]

Road junctions

72 On the left. When approaching a junction on the left, vehicles will turn in front of you, out of or into the side road. Just before you turn, check for undertaking cyclists or motorcyclists. Do not ride on the inside of vehicles signalling or slowing down to turn left despite the fact they just overtook you at speed.

73 Pay particular attention to long vehicles which need a lot of room to manoeuvre at corners. Be aware that drivers may not see you. They may have to move over to the right before turning left. Wait until they have completed the manoeuvre because the rear wheels come very close to the kerb while turning. Do not be tempted to ride in the space between them and the kerb. In fact, if you see a lorry indicating or making a turn just STOP for goodness sake. The World is a brighter place with you still in it.

74 On the right. If you are turning right, check the traffic to ensure it is safe, then signal and move to the centre of the road. Allow for BMW drivers that will still overtake you even in the middle of your manoeuvre. Wait until there is a safe gap in the oncoming traffic and give a final look before completing the turn. It may be safer to wait on the left until there is a safe gap or to dismount and push your cycle across the road. No-one is going to stop as motorists are always in a terrible hurry for some reason.

75 Dual carriageways. Remember that traffic on most dual carriageways moves quicker than the speed limit but it’s acceptable because they are all experts [in their own opinions] and when an accident occurs, it is clearly a problem with the road. When crossing wait for a safe gap and cross each carriageway in turn, like Mark Cavendish on MDMA and Lucozade. Take extra care when crossing slip roads. Bear in mind the Highways Agency don’t actually want you there at all, yet can’t put a proper segregated route in because that involves thinking and doing stuff.

76 Roundabouts can be hazardous ONLY if motorists are about and should be approached with care.

Roundabouts

77 You may feel safer walking your cycle round on the pavement or verge. If you decide to ride round keeping to the left-hand lane you should

• be aware that drivers may not easily see you as they will be tuning into a different station from Radio 2 now that Terry Wogan has left.

• take extra care when cycling across exits. You may need to signal right to show you are not leaving the roundabout and that you exist

• watch out for vehicles crossing your path to leave or join the roundabout or do whatever they bloody well like

78 Give plenty of room to long vehicles on the roundabout as they need more space to manoeuvre. Do not ride in the space they need to get round the roundabout. It may be safer to stop and go to a nearby pub to wait until they have cleared the roundabout. And a couple of other lorries after that.

Crossing the road

79 Do not ride across equestrian crossings, as they are for horse riders only. Do not ride across a pelican, puffin or zebra crossing. Dismount and wheel your cycle across EVEN if you are wearing a hooded top with the hood up smoking a B&H on a ‘Mountain Bike’ where only the wheels are working.

80 Toucan crossings. These are light-controlled crossings which allow cyclists and pedestrians to share crossing space and cross at the same time. They are push-button operated. Pedestrians and cyclists will see the green signal together. Cyclists are permitted to ride across and will inevitably get in the way of a pedestrian who will write to the local paper because they are a bloody stupid idea.

81 Cycle-only crossings. Very rare. Cycle tracks on opposite sides of the road may be linked by signalled crossings. You may ride across but you MUST NOT cross until the green cycle symbol is showing. Try to ignore the hatred simmering from the motorists you’ve stopped as you’ve added about 10 seconds on to their journey time. Do NOT forget to press the ‘Wait’ button again on the other side as courtesy to other cyclists who may be approaching. Somewhere. [Law TSRGD regs 33(2) & 36(1)]

82 Level crossings/Tramways. Take extra care when crossing the tracks (see Rule 306). You should dismount at level crossings where a ‘cyclist dismount’ sign is displayed. Then feel a little foolish when you see the replacement bus service pulling out from the station car park.

The next exciting installment is here

I Have A Dream…

25 years ago, some friends and I, aged between 13 & 15 decided to go for a bike ride. We packed sandwiches and flasks of squash into bags and cycled from our home village of Elstead, Surrey to Bury Hill, West Sussex. We had intended to cycle further to Arundel or the sea but we decided to quit while we were ahead. We had cycled 40 odd miles (including the stout climb up the South Downs) and had another 40 to get home. The freedom was exhilarating.

The majority of our route was on A roads and it was still a pleasure. We were cycling outside of rush hour on a week day; drivers were courteous, when a lorry slowed down behind us we pulled over to let the driver pass safely and he thanked us with a wave and a toot of the horn. We did all this with no helmets, no high-viz and without fear. Little did we know that Mrs Thatcher and the road building lobby had other ideas.

25 years later, cyclists can still use A Roads (they have a right to) but they aren’t exactly filled with pleasure, unless you’re the Marquis de Sade. Many have been ‘improved’ and ‘engineered’ to the extent that they have become dual carriageways – motorways in all but name that now bypass the very communities the original roads were meant to serve.  They have become incredibly hostile environments for anything that doesn’t have a motor attached to it. It’s strange to think that you can’t cycle in or out of a seaside town such as Worthing due to the A24 being a fast dual carriageway unless you’re Mark Cavendish on amphetamines. There isn’t even a consistant path at the side for pedestrians or horse riders either.

Cycling as a result has become a very schizophrenic activity; on the one hand experienced cyclists claim that we must assert our right to the road and that if enough people do it we will reach some sort of tipping point or critical mass. Others believe that this will never happen all the while that cycling is increasingly perceived as a dangerous activity and that cycle lanes or shared use facilities are the way forward. 

All very engaging stuff, but I would like to propose another way in the same vein as the Conservative road building policy of the 1980s and 1990s. I don’t mean London Cycle Superhighways or the National Cycle Network. No way. That’s for wimps!!

I want Town Planners and Highways engineers cowering in my wake as I pursue with extreme prejudice Cycle Mega Highways across the land as much as 5 metres wide!! I want them to be fast (or slow. It’s not a race), direct, with priority at junctions. Yes! Priority at junctions! I want ruthless planting of hedgerows and trees to act as windbreaks and encourage wildlife (that won’t get run over). I want to see people of all creeds, colours and ages riding to work and school with stupid grins plastered across their faces. I want to see the mass burning of High-viz tabards and helmets when people realise that cycling isn’t a dangerous activity and that they had been lied to by the motoring lobby and ‘road safety’ groups. I want the designers of ‘Shared Use Facilities’ and other crap cycle infrastructure put in large wooden stocks placed at the side of the Cycle Mega Highways to remind them constantly how it should be done. I want all ‘Cyclists Dismount’ and ‘End of Route’ signs melted down and turned into statues of Tommy ‘Angel of the North’ Simpson, Beryl ‘Angel of the North’ Burton, Sir Chris ‘Angel of the Track’ Hoy and Victoria ‘Angel of Angels’ Pendleton.  I want people’s house prices to spiral upwards out of control when a Cycling Mega Highway stampedes nearby with its deafening levels of peace and quiet and obscene levels of fresh air. I want residents to attempt claiming compensation from the RSPB when the sound of birdsong starts becoming too much. I want pedestrians to worry about whether they’re wearing any deodorant due to no cyclists brushing past them on the pavements. I want towns and cities to become liveable and civilized again! I want local businesses, cafes and farm shops to enjoy rampant good trade due to happy people cycling past and local money staying local. I want the Chancellor to say at a budget ‘we don’t need to raise spending on the NHS because you’re all so fit and stress free. We’re diverting money instead to the treatment of the Top Gear fan base as they’re not getting any younger either.’

Like this. But a bit smaller.

Above all, I want a proper legacy for my son and his children to enjoy. Not a sloppily converted pavement. Nor a strip of paint that fizzles out at the precise moment a cyclist would need it most. I mean a proper sustainable transport network. And I bet it would cost less than the proposed High Speed Rail Link too.

Some people say I’m a dreamer. But I’m not the only one. Please look at this brilliant blog entry from David Hembrow comparing British & Dutch streets.

Fascism, Cars & Cycling

Freewheeler has written a great blog post on Crap Walking & Cycling in Waltham Forest and linked to a post of mine at the precise moment I set up this more cycling specific blog. The article in which I referred to the Highways Departments of County Councils as ‘fascist wings’ was in this post here. I shall give further explanation (including why I consider the Highways Agency to be the fascist wing of the Department for Transport) in due course as it takes some explaining but has affected us all, particularly all cyclists, horse riders, hikers, or anyone that just fancied a stroll.

Apologies for ruining the link and please feel free to look around the rest of the site and make yourselves at home.

Best wishes and happy cycling