Archive for March, 2010
What is going on? There is so much cycling on the BBC at the moment. First we had a celebrity end to end for Sport Relief, then Mark Beaumont cycling from Alaska to Argentina in the same week as massive (and very welcome) coverage of the World Track Championships with Sir Chris Hoy’s stunning gold medal. The only thing we didn’t see was the broken pedal (which doesn’t bear thinking about, but if you must – imagine the damage he could do to his leg if the spindle got in the way of the downward leg stroke – nasty).
So much cycling, the BBC iPlayer is filling up with it. What’s not to like?
We….ll may…be it mi…ght (Robert Peston intonation), it might be good if some of the coverage was of cycling as a normal everyday activity not an epic, dangerous, gladiatorial activity conducted by supermen and in which mere mortals like Jimmy Carr are reduced to twitching lumps of jelly.
But no, the BBC have even thought of that and are encouraging mere mortals to participate. Chapeau!
It’s a funny old world. Our attitudes to risk are stunningly inconsistent. In medicine if a practitioner were to suggest that a new drug just be tried out, without any testing and ‘we’ll just see what happens’, not unreasonably one would expect them to be struck off.
And yet, and yet. Develop an innovation such as a mobile phone and people can use it while driving until the evidence stacks up that the practice is lethal. No prior testing needed. By which time significant numbers of drivers have convinced themselves that mobile use may be dangerous for other drivers but not for them.
So what of Sat Navs. They have a display and people look at them and while they are looking at them, they can’t be looking out for cyclists. It is slightly reassuring to know that there is some post-hoc research going on, but the absence of a requirement to present research evidence in advance speaks volumes about how car culture is pervasive.
Today’s ride was to a new cafe, the Tea Junction in Hulme End. Door to door it was 64 miles, but that gives no sense of the difficulty as it was a windy, windy day. One minute you are flying along, the next struggling to make any forward progress. It is on days like this that riding with a group makes all the difference. Frankly if I was on my own I would have given up and returned home.
Anyway the Tea Junction scores full marks for food and service. Excellent soup, great cakes and massive portions. All served in a former engine shed, but not without controversy.
No anyone familiar with Manchester and Sheffield will know that there is a range of hills in-between. Now you wouldn’t want to ride your fixed up the Snake Pass. Maybe Joseph Lobato has the answer. Or maybe not. But I liked the video when I saw it on Bikesnob NYC, so here it is here.
This is what fear looks like. The brutal realisation that the corners of the Manchester Velodrome are banked at up to 42.5 degrees and therefore the outside of the track is 12 feet above the inside. Pictured just before a two hour taster session organised by Sheffield CTC it was certainly an experience. The knowledge that your bike handling skills as a complete novice to riding fixed on the banked surface are matched by the nine others on the track makes for a certain heightened level of awareness. Actually slowing down was the the bit I found most difficult, and the one person who fell off during the evening did so just as they came to a stop at the rail. Chris Hoy I am not, but then I think I knew that already.
The team pursuit must have been hilarious to watch. Not so much two tightly disciplined groups of riders, more two groups of riders linked nothing more than they were moving in the same general direction.
Lynne Jones talks about a visit to Cambridge by the all party parliamentary cycling group in this video by Carlton Reid.
For those not in the know, Section 106 agreements are referred to, these agreements are often known as ‘planning gain’ where a Local Authority can reach agreement with a developer for community facilities in return for planning permission. As a way of funding cycling facilities they are problematic because honey pot locations such as Cambridge can extract more in return for planning permission than areas desperate for employment. Net result, the environment is developed more in the places which are already attractive, making them even more attractive comparatively.
There is also the wider question of whether paying to improve cyclist specific facilities rather than creating better general cycling conditions by enforcement of a generally safer environment for road users is the the way to go. Having said that, I like the idea of guided bus tracks far more than tram tracks.