Wednesday, 30 March 2011

A Reformed Character?

I see a word from the police has had the expected effect on this driver. Expected by me anyway - i.e. not very  much at all. 

Of course it may be a different driver but it is definitely the same Audi as piloted by The Sniggering Driver.

Here the driver accelerates hard into a 20 mph limited area. An area heavy with pedestrians and which is a no through route for private vehicles.

Maybe the police could add it to their intelligence file if I ask them nicely?

Better stop now as I don't want to come across all 'anti-motorist'!

A Near Bump

Cycling home last night I was witness to this example of poor driving. Is it any wonder people have 'accidents'?

In case you cannot make out, the silver Focus driver is indicating left so despite not being positioned correctly (?intention uncertain) the black Vauxhall driver goes to pass and then is surprised when the Focus turns right in front. 

From my perspective it is the stream of traffic that pass between myself and the almost stationery Vauxhall, particularly the blue MPV, which really piss me off.

Note the Vauxhall driver turning round. Going to 'have a word' me thinks!

Monday, 28 March 2011

A Cycle Before Brunch

Went to the monthly meeting of Wheelers Brunch the other day. A 20 mile round cycle trip for a nice chat, a BLT sarnie and some coffee. Great to catch up as I missed it last month. 

Wheelers Brunch

This is my journey there (just an excuse to mess with my new video software really but what the heck). 

If you are local see if you recognise anywhere.

Thursday, 24 March 2011

Help: Cycling With Helmets

The Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM) is currently conducting a poll on the wearing of cycle helmets (closes 17/04/11).

I will be honest and make clear I wear a helmet most of the time but am absolutely against legislation forcing mandatory helmet use. I suspect most readers will share my sentiments. As the poll is open to anyone I urge you to take a few minutes to complete it. 

Lets not go the way of Australia. We are fat enough already (as a nation!).

Cycling With Cranes

Back in February 2011 Cycle A2B set a test. This visual and mental reasoning assessment was designed to determine the preference of average people for cycling either on the road near a big moving mobile crane or cycling on a segregated cycle path. Existing cyclists were excluded so I did not take part at the time.

A recent experience of cycling on the road near a big moving mobile crane has afforded me some personal insight into this quandary and so I now wish to present the following short film - Cycling Near A Mobile Crane - which will hopefully demonstrate my feelings on this matter. 

Thank you.

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Messing About On Bikes

I happily present the following film short - Messing About On Bikes.

Happy because I have finally found some easy to use, free editing software, that handles the MOV files my helmetcam uses and processes really quickly. Thanks VideoPad.

Any film reviews welcome but please remember it is my first attempt! 

Saturday, 19 March 2011

A Question Of Priorities

Question: Which road user is correctly positioned beyond the Advanced Stop Line (as per rule 178 of the Highway Code); the taxi driver, the blue Ka driver, the motorcyclist or the cyclist filming ?

No prizes I'm afraid. Just for fun!

Thursday, 17 March 2011

Cycle Touring Club Fun

British Rail, cafeteria cars, guards vans, traffic free roads, hundred of cyclists, no helmets or lycra. Ahh the good old days!

A great film best watched in full screen if you can. Thanks Morgan Fletcher.

Wednesday, 16 March 2011

The Tale Of 'No Lights' Dobson

I bumped into on old teacher the other night. Not literally bumped, although that was not beyond the realms of possibility, but rather cycled past and recognised.

Mr Dobson was a teacher of mine while I was at school between 1974-1979. I would like to say he was my favourite teacher but to be honest I don't have any great recollection of this period unless it was particularly exceptional one way or t'other. That certainly doesn't mean he was a bad teacher but simply my memories are just vague. I remember the headteacher, Mr Best, playing various suite's from The Planets by Holst at assembly. I remember winning first prize for a painting competition with an undersea scene of cartoonish fish. The prize was a large sticker of Busby, the bird used for advertising British Telecom at the time. I stuck it to my bedroom window for years. I remember finding out why I'd been having terrible headaches for months and then having to wear some terrible specs' to sort the problem. I remember Blackfriars swimming baths always had Daddy Long Legs in the pool. I remember the point when I decided I really, really didn't like football. When I think of Mr Dobson I just get some warm fuzziness (so pretty good really) and remember we all thought he was a little different because he was a grown up who cycled everywhere.

I continued to see Mr Dobson cycling the streets where I lived for several years after I moved from that school. Eventually I left Manchester in the early 90s and he faded into distant, hazy memory. I moved back to the area in 2005 and was surprised to see him still pedalling the same routes, looking older but still fit and wiry and definitely the same Mr Dobson. I told my wife who he was and mentioned I would like to say hello if I ever got chance. My chance came the other night.

Cycling home in the dark, I noticed an elderly cyclist pulling out of a side road into the cycle lane ahead of me. I tutted to myself they had no lights/reflective gear but as I went passed I instantly recognised the slightly stooped profile. I decided to wait at the next side street and see if he would stop and chat. I'm glad I did.

I'm pretty sure he didn't remember my name or face but he was more than happy to have a natter. I have to give him credit as one of the first things he did was to apologise for not having any lights on. It turns out he retired from teaching in his early 60's and "got a proper job" working as a painter/decorator. He was just on his way home from a job that had run over and he hadn't brought his lights.

We chatted a bit about what I was up to and the fact I still see him about the locale on his bike. He started off telling me he'd done the coast to coast a while ago, then impressed me by casually mentioning he'd also done the LEJOG. I didn't get any details about this as he then went straight on to blow me away with his tale of cycling for 12 weeks across the USA from San Francisco to Chicago and I think onto the east coast. Cycling 50 miles a day, being welcomed into stranger's homes to stay the night, really tasting and feeling the country. I'm not sure when exactly this was but he did mention he did it in his 60's and it was maybe something I could do when I retired. I hate to have to guess at his age now but likely a very sprightly mid 70's (if you are reading this Mr D then I am happy to correct this if told!).

Great to be able to catch up with him after several years of trying to say hello and I hope to chat again. But really sir - no lights! It just is not good enough... 

The black void is Mr Dobson
No point showing any video as he is even harder to spot

Monday, 14 March 2011

Cyclists. Know Your Place

Having admitted being an anti-motorist campaigner (reformed) and now understanding I should count my lucky stars I am even allowed to use the road, I feel it is only right I now try and persuade other cyclists how wrong they are to criticise and berate motorists. Remember we are using their road space and we can only continue to do so if we know our correct place and act in a manner befitting our lowly status. Here are three examples of how cyclists can and do annoy motorists. Please remember guys - when you act like this you give all cyclists a bad name.

Example One
Here we have a cyclist who does not give way to a bus despite it being in a Bus Lane. He then has the temerity to discuss this with the bus driver causing further delay to the hard working driver and his passengers. Really sir. You should hang your head in shame.
Example Two
This cyclist feel he has the right to suggest to a motorist he stop using a mobile phone while at the wheel of his van. He obviously does not realise the driver is stationery so that makes it OK. The driver is forced into retaliating by the cyclists very unreasonable attitude. Cyclists should pay attention to staying in the cycle lane/gutter and leave motorists to get on with using the roads properly. 
Example Three
A cyclist goes to extreme measures passing stationery/slowed traffic to annoy the motorists - filming his antics and posting them on YouTube in an obvious attempt to 'thumb his nose' at the those who actually pay for the roads. He should just join the queue and wait his turn. No wonder motorists don't like cyclists when they have to put up with this disrespect and pushing in. 
I hope all you cyclists out there have now learned a valuable lesson and will now only use the roads knowing your correct and lowly place in the highway hierarchy. 

Here endeth any lessons. Thank you.

Friday, 11 March 2011

My Apologies To Motorists

Having been accused of running an anti-motorist campaign recently, I have been at first very upset, then confused and finally very reflective this week. I felt wronged by this accusation but being a modern man, in touch with my feelings, and willing to learn from my mistakes I have examined why someone might consider I am running such a campaign. 

The conclusion I reach is that I must enter a cyclist-centric state of mind when videoing on the bike, posting any 'close encounters' on YouTube and writing my blog. So despite gaining my driving licence (at the first attempt) 27 years ago, being an Advanced Motorist (IAM) of many years and holding a full motorbike licence (again at the first attempt) it must be when I am on my push-bicycle or writing about cycling I enter a minority mindset and so subconsciously take on other characteristics of such a minority - namely; fear, blame, anger, a feeling of not being important enough to matter as well as having a general sense of being hunted. I probably even go looking for trouble if I am honest.

I now realise how wrong I have been. Having admitted this I feel somehow liberated and energised. I need to shout what I am out loud and seek forgiveness.


It is only right I now show some remorse, do some kind of penance and demonstrate how, as a lowly cyclist, I inconvenience and generally cause nuisance to motorists. What better way than using my own video evidence over the last few days to incriminate myself.

Exhibit One
The poor BMW driver is forced into overtaking closely by my inconsiderate road positioning. I was obviously not paying attention and should have given her more room to pass as she was so busy concentrating on using her mobile phone (just visible to the camera at 32' but very clear to me). I am sorry for getting in your way.
Exhibit Two 
The driver kindly waits for me to make my intentions known. I normally would have moved out to primary before the turn so no motorist is inconvenienced and lulled into performing a 'left hook', but here the driver has rightly kept me in my correct kerbside place and I did not slow down enough to allow them to make a safe turn. Thanks for stopping. I really am sorry.
Exhibit Three 
The driver of the little red job is delayed by my use of primary here. I was doing my best 18mph up a slight incline and against a headwind but still he is fully is justified demonstrating just how annoyed he is by sounding his horn and waving at me to get over to the kerb.
I am at a loss what to do on this stretch of road. I have cycled in secondary along here before and lulled a BMW driver using a mobile into overtaking me closely. I thought if I made myself as visible as possible then motorists would have more chance to see me and avoid me. This strategy obviously inconveniences some drivers too much. What to do?
Anyway, I almost caught up with him (in the lane he decided to be in eventually) and was about to find out how I could improve my cycling when the black Vauxhall rightly took the road in front of me and so the opportunity was lost. Shame that!
Dear motorists I am so, so sorry. Please can you forgive me?

Thursday, 10 March 2011

Police Persecution Of Motorists?

I am just a little confused. 

Recently, after reporting this driver, I was informed by an officer of the Greater Manchester Police (GMP) it was wrong to post videos of motorists and display the vehicle registration numbers on YouTube and I was accused of being anti-motorist for doing so. Now, as regular readers will know, I certainly do not run an anti-motorist campaign and have been at pains to make this clear through my recent posts. Yet here we have a GMP web page*, none the less, actually using a cyclists video of a motorist in an alleged road rage incident, appealing for information. 

Just a screenshot of the page for posterity
After viewing the video though it becomes obvious why the police have done this. The motorist likely has some legitimate issue with the cyclist and feels justified in using his vehicle to force the dangerous individual to stop and have words with him. Perhaps the motorist is just trying to educate the cyclist and show him the error of his ways. It is certainly very interesting the earlier riding behaviour of the cyclist is edited out as this would no doubt show the whole event in a different context. Surely, the police are just being even handed and wish to get the motorists point of view. It is very lucky for the cyclist he did not capture an image of the number plate as that would be wrong somehow and would then have placed the police in a real quandary - dare they show a number plate on YouTube even if they are just trying to be fair?

So having been able to reconcile the fact the GMP can make use of cyclist's videos when it is deemed anti-motorist for individuals to post similar videos, you can imagine my surprise when I found the Metropolitan Police (it's a force down south) actually encourages individuals to grass up report motorists. They have a web page - RoadsafeLondon - which invites individuals to give details of perceived slight road based infringements and, what is more, makes use of video evidence of the alleged poor driving

Now how anti-motorist is that? You can see why I am confused can't you?

*Thanks to The Cycling Lawyer for that link

Horses For Courses

Just look at these three fools, riding horses none the less, blatantly jumping the red lights. Such a dangerous thing to do and typical of non motorists. They should all be registered and have to carry number plates, pay "Road Tax" and at least have third party insurance. Why are horses even allowed on the roads anyway? They pollute the environment with noxious emissions, hold up law abiding motorists and damage the road surface with big heavy hooves. Disgraceful!

It is interesting to note here how all the motorists patiently wait and let them progress on their law-breaking antics without beeping horns or driving at them to give them a justified warning. Truly, car drivers are the 'Knights of the Road'. Anyway, horses are really only good for sport or glue and should be kept off the highway so innocent motorists are not inconvenienced in such a manner.

Just more proof (if needed) I am not waging an anti-motorist campaign.

Wednesday, 9 March 2011

Car Parks For Cars

Car parking secondary to bicycle stands at PC World (Bury). Ridiculous!
A recent trip to the local personal computer emporium in Bury resulted in somewhat of a shock. There were seven (SEVEN!), more than adequate, bicycle stands just outside the store entrance, while the far more numerous motorists were forced to leave their vehicles somewhat further away and walk across the car park to the store. Further, motorists were actually obliged to pay for the right to leave their vehicle while sweaty bicyclists were given free use of the stands.

Now it is certainly not fair to lay the blame only at the door of PC World for this miserable state of affairs as the car park is not run by them. Yet it is obviously a ridiculous situation and still the store seems willing to tolerate, nay even sanction it. Who actually buys the majority of their products? Not bicyclists I'm sure. Their trade comes from motorists and motorists who might need to carry heavy things from the store to their vehicles to boot. Surely it makes sense to have as much car parking as possible right outside the store?

As you are no doubt aware, I am not running an anti-motorist campaign but one where the rights and needs of the poor downtrodden motorist must be placed in dominance to all others. I therefore call on PC World (Bury) to move to end this car park unfairness. Motorists must take precedence over lesser road users.

Please sign my petition to have the store ask the car park operators to remove these bicycle stands and use the resulting space for more car parking instead. I would also be grateful if you would forward the link to anyone you think might be interested in signing my petition.

Thank you

Tuesday, 8 March 2011

Roads Are For Motorists

Continuing my theme of not being anti-motorist, I would now like to illustrate the rightful dominance of the car in society today using the two photographs below. 

The first shows a scene along the A56 Bury New Road close to where I reside. This was taken sometime in the early 1900's. As you can see these were dark times indeed and the car in not apparent. While this is obviously a single moment in time and motorists may have been able to make use of this highway, they would certainly have had to battle with a number of obstacles to do so. Here we can see a tram (complete with annoying tracks), a number of horse drawn vehicles, several pedestrians and a cyclist who cannot even be bothered riding his damnable contraption and is certainly not wearing a helmet or hi viz gear. It is also arguable the road surface is not of adequate quality for the modern motorist who needs to travel everywhere as quickly as possible.

The more recent photograph (taken today at 09.30hrs) show a somewhat different scene. Here the motorist has rightful dominance along the same stretch of road (the viewpoint is slightly different as the crash barriers limit access to the road and I certainly wouldn't want to get in the way of any motorists and impede their progress). It is clear to see the road surface has been improved and pedestrians coralled more tightly. What is really needed here is get rid of that annoying crossing and build some kind of elevated or sunken walkway to allow pedestrians to cross the road or better still give them all a car each so they don't have to walk anywhere. Once these footwalkers have been dealt with then the official speed limit could be increased to 40 or maybe even 50mph.

Still happier motoring times don't you think?  

Monday, 7 March 2011

Naughty Cyclists

I have recently been accused of running an anti-motorist campaign (by an Officer of the Law none the less). I was not aware this could be classed as anything illegal, immoral or wrong, or even that I was actually mounting such a campaign but hey - the accusation came from someone who should know these things. So, not wanting to display such a bias and in the interest of balance, I wish to clearly demonstrate I am not an anti-motorist campaigner by pointing out cyclists can be damn inconsiderate as well. I am even willing to admit I have been one of these naughty cyclists and have got in the way of innocent motorists while being allowed to share their road space. No cyclist is innocent or beyond reproach. 

Here is clear evidence of a cyclist who has secured their old bike in such a way as to cause an 'Obstruction of the Highway', likely while visiting the local antique shoppe. The inconsiderate chap or chappess has locked the bike in such a way that no pedestrian can make their way along the inside of the lamp post forcing them to travel between said post and the roadside bollards. There is not enough room here for any wide prams or wheelchairs and these would have to move into the road, so potentially forcing a poor motorist to take evading action and maybe even 'having an accident'. This is not a one off occurrence either as Google Maps shows a very similar looking cycle secured to the same lamp post some time ago.

So with my loudest campaigning voice, I call on the police to take the strongest action possible against this wrongdoer and to do so at the earliest opportunity. No motorist should be subjected to this potential hazard. I will gladly make a statement and if needed attend court in the hope of securing a conviction. Lock em up and throw away the key I say!

I hope balance is now achieved and order so restored. 

Saturday, 5 March 2011

Manchester Cargo Bike Again

Came across the Manchester Cargo Bike again yesterday. I was on my way to work and the cyclist + passengers were waiting at red traffic lights so the resulting chat was short. It transpires the bike was imported from Copenhagen and is the only one in Manchester - the only one of its type anyway as it is an...electric bike.

It was lovely to see it on the streets of Prestwich/Salford. Somehow I don't see them replacing a vast number of cars on UK roads (not without the infrastructure at least) but I think there are going to be more variations on the eBike and cargobike themes around in the future. This lady obviously found it very useful having the electric assist on the local hills with her two kids on board. She has also gone to the trouble of importing the bike and makes regular use of it around the locale. Far more environmentally friendly than using a car for local trips me thinks.

I would love to know some more details about its practicalities, cost to run and maintain, and the reactions it creates. So, Electric Bike Lady, if you are reading this I would love to have a longer chat. You can me email via my profile page. Hope to speak again.

Friday, 4 March 2011

The Sniggering Driver - update

Note @ 22.00hrs
Some of my descriptive language in this and the original post has been changed. Advice I have sought makes it clear I could be prosecuted under section 5 of Public Order Act for "...any writing sign or other visible representation which is threatening or abusive or insulting...".
I cannot say any more about this at the present time as I am waiting for a senior Police Officer to contact me and think it would wise to hold my tongue for the moment.
I am sorry if any one has taken offence at language so used in this post and wish to apologise unreservedly for any distress it may have caused. 
Thank you for your understanding. 
End Note 

Just had a brief chat, for that is all it was, with a Police Officer about this miscreant and I have to say I am disappointed and relieved in equal measure. 

I explained the incident and showed her the footage. She did not seen particularly enthused by the details and explained she would visit him and give a verbal warning. I asked if there were not any grounds for prosecution and was informed that would require a calibrated camera. While accepting that on the speed issue I queried about the other offences and was told it was Great Manchester Police policy to issue warnings and create an 'intelligence file' for this kind of complaint.

So I am disappointed it is likely to end there but relieved I will not have to go to court and give up my time. Maybe this careless driver will take heed but somehow I doubt it. I wonder what it takes to get prosecuted for this kind of driving? I know it is easy to target speeding drivers (and rightly so) but it seems a little out of balance that someone might get points for doing a few MPH above the limit and this imbecile gets away with some words of caution only. 

Wednesday, 2 March 2011

Cycle Security

Question: Choose the most secure method to secure a bicycle to a standard Sheffield Stand from the three examples given. Please state your reasons. You have five minutes.*

*Apologies to Cycle A2B for borrowing a great idea.

Tuesday, 1 March 2011

The Sniggering Driver

What do you get when you cross a busy road, a pedestrian crossing, a driver in an Audi racing a rider on a quad bike and a helmet cam? Hopefully a few points at least.

I love the look on the drivers face when he realises the camera I am referring to is actually pointing at him. Do you think they are a little sheepish as they pull away? Will see what the local police make of it.

A Critical Incident

So moving on from the previous inspiring story of courage to this sorry tale. The BBC reports:
A car has ploughed through cyclists staging a demonstration in Port Alegre, hitting at least 20 people.
The incident happened on Friday, when riders in the town were taking part in their monthly protest against the number of cars on Brazil's roads.
Of those hurt, nine needed hospital treatment. All were later discharged.
The driver, 47-year-old Ricardo Neis, alleges that he and his 15-year-old son felt threatened when protesters began to hit and kick his car.
Makes you think twice about attending a Critical Mass. Glad no one was seriously hurt. Usual anti-cyclist comments on the YouTube video comments. Don't you just love your fellow man?

An Inspiring Tale

I went to the Imperial War Museum North recently. Always something thought provoking and moving to find there. It never ceases to amaze me the trouble Mankind creates as well as the courageous things individuals will do for each other and the strengths many find within. A great museum.

While I was there I came across a little exhibit about a guy called Charlie Hancock. Mr Hancock was severely wounded in 1943 during the North African campaign. He states:
One of my legs was blown off, I was blinded in one eye, had a gunshot wound in the chest and my left hand was torn by shrapnel. As I tried to make my was to safety, my other leg fell off. I was 22 years old and didn't think much of my chances.
Well, he may not have thought much of his chances but survive he did and upon his return to Britain was fitted with artificial legs. He worked for 30 years as a toolmaker before becoming ill. He then purchased a hand pedalled invalid tricyle and moved to a care home in 1971. He became a tireless fundraiser and rode his tricycle between Land's End and John O'Groats. 

Makes some peoples excuses for not cycling seem a little hollow doesn't it? I will certainly remember him next time I am climbing a steep hill with full touring rig! What an inspiration.