Moving Blog

I’ve thought about it for a while, I’ve had it set up for a while. With some changes to how self hosted wordpress works, I’ve decided to move my blog over to that. It will give me more flexibility in modifications and will hopefully become more of a project for me to tackle. After all my day job is to create websites.

So the new blog is www.croydoncyclist.co.uk All current content is moved over to there. Only thing I can’t move over is people’s subscriptions. So if you have set it up to receive this as an e-mail alert, you will need to do the same on the new blog. This is fairly simple due to a subscribe via e-mail form on right hand side of every page.

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How are they spending the money? – Croydon A cycling Borough

Back in May 2011 the Mayor of London announced that Croydon was a cycling borough and would receive £450,000 over a 3 year period to improve cycling in the borough.

Croydon is one of the largest boroughs in London, both by land and by population. £450,000 is not going to change cycling in the borough for everyone. Wondering how the money would be spent I asked the council if they could give me some information on their plans.

The majority of the money is being spent on a cycling hub at East Croydon station. The idea being to attract people to cycling by getting those who use the tram or bus to get too and from the station on their way to work in central London. It’s probably the best place in Croydon to build a cycling hub, it is the busiest train station with a huge range of destination. The east Croydon area is going over a massive re-development process for the 2020 vision. This includes high-rise buildings, arenas and all sorts. The footfall around the area will increase dramatically and it won’t just be seen as a transport hub.

Money is also going to be spent on making Wellesley Road ‘feel less concrete cars-ville [and] more “Connected City” ‘, those are the words from Croydon Council!!! The way they are going to do this is by adding in several surface level pedestrian crossings. Something which Wellesley road hasn’t seen for a number of years! This should help connect East and West Croydon together making it possible for people to easily move around the town.

£105,000 of the money will go to marking more cycling routes in the town centre and to encourage and enable cycling through parks. Croydon has a vast quantity of parks but most of them have bylaws that prevent you from cycling in them. Getting through the town centre is also a bit of a tricky task at present, the options are to go down an urban motorway or try to survive with the buses and trams on the back route.

Money is also being given to provide cycle training at schools and to those who want it, community led rides, and cycle awareness training for HGV drivers.

I’m sure we could all think of ways to spend £450,000 to make cycling better in our boroughs, the Cycle Hub is probably one of the best things that could be done and if done  well, will last us for decades!

Road Safety Week

It’s been and gone but nothing has changed. It was the same old same old for me on the roads. Silly Cyclists, motorists imitating motorcyclist’s, mobile phone use and general lack of concern for other road users.

Confused.com hit the cycling media in a bad way in the past week, dropping the road tax bomb in a poll. I had someone from confused.com contact me last week with regards to road safer week and what they had done. For some reason they didn’t get back to me when I asked them about that road tax comment.

The Mayor of London announced a review of all the superhighways. They haven’t appeared to be so super after two cyclists had been killed using them in the space of only a few weeks. RIP. I’ve always been quite clinical of the superhighways, I raised concerns I had about them to TFL before they were built and got no where. If you are going to call something super and describe it as a safer journey, then they better be super and they better be safe. Unfortunately I feel that none of them are currently in a safe state as they are just a bit of blue paint on the side of the road.

Lots of other things happened over the whole country. Most I fear where for little gain, ‘a thought today, forgotten tomorrow’ springs to mind. This is the first Road Safety Week in the Decade of Action. Again something which looks like it hasn’t really taken off.

I had several encounters in the past week that shows the attitude of some of the drives on our road rather well.

This driver attempts to cut across my path, he states that he saw me and that I was too far out from the pavement. He then shows just why you should cycle that far out from the pavement as he does a close pass on another cyclist and then stops straight away.

This driver actually drove relatively well but sounds her horn as she comes past. I ask her later on what the problem was, apparently I was too far out from the pavement again and it is dangerous for her to change lanes to move around me. I should therefore be closer to the pavement so she could overtake me without changing lanes. No thanks!

They say cyclists don’t stop at red lights, clearly this guy left his bike at home.

And a small shunt I witnessed on Friday evening. No damage done but shows just how aware some drivers are of what is in front of them and the size of their vehicle.

Standard Response

Complaining about anything these days just ends up with a standard response taken straight from the clipboard. Nothing personal in the response or anything relating back to the initial complaint.

I complained via TFL about a dangerous bus overtake which ended up with me being forced to slow down to avoid being clipped by the rear of the bus. The bus was managed by Arriva and as such it was forwarded to them by TFL.

It took Arriva just over 2 weeks to respond to my complaint and of course, a standard response was all that I got.

The manager of Croydon garage has identified the driver concerned with this incident and he will be interviewed at length.  He will be reminded of the standards of service and performance which we expect from all of our employees and a copy of this report will remain with his file.  Should any similar incident occur in the future, this information may be used again.

When I read these sorts of responses the first thing I think is rubbish. I don’t believe a word of it. Perhaps they really will do what they say, I have no way of telling. I hope they have a way of showing the driver the video I have of the incident. It highlights how reading the road ahead of you is important. Without reading the road then I wouldn’t have been able to predict the bus cutting across my path.

Cyclist down in Croydon

A female cyclist and a car collided with each other on Croydon Road vs Nicholas road yesterday morning. The cyclist sustained leg and arm injuries and was taken to Croydon University Hospital.

This stretch of road was changed several years ago. A two-way semi segregated, not maintained, cycle path was put next to the west bound carriageway. The road was narrowed by a series of pedestrian islands put between the two lanes. It could have comfortably stayed as a normal road and had a cycle lane on each side of the road.

As a result bicycle traffic travels in two directions and goes across several junctions. Drivers pull out of these junctions but are often not used to looking both ways when crossing the cycle lane and as such if you travel east on this section of cycle lane then you need to be very careful as drivers will not look in your direction and will pull out straight in front of you.

The route as a whole makes little sense as there seems to be no reason to have the east bound cycle traffic on that side, there are no shared used pavement areas at either end. This makes joining or leaving the east bound section very tricky.

Due to its use only by cyclists (this route is not one of the popular routes for cyclists) and it’s cleaning by the council at the bare minimum. It is full of stones, glass, shredded tyre and various other rubbish that is thrown from the road by the tyres of motorised vehicles. It really is an unpleasant and an avoided cycle path. I suspect just another section of cycle path that Croydon Council can mark as installed for the year.

I wish the cyclist in question a full recovery from the RTC. I may just have to contact Croydon Council and see what went into this cycle lane and if anything is planned, as it really is a nightmare.

Story originally reported by Croydon Guardian and brought to my attention by 4ChordsNoNet

Make London’s streets safer

TFL and the Mayor have set out a plan to make London’s streets safer for cyclists.

  • Huge range of initiatives to improve conditions for cyclists across London
  • All highway maintenance firms working on London’s major roads agree to fit blind spot mirrors and detection equipment by the end of the year
  • Transport Commissioner tells haulage industry that more needs to be done and Mayor urges cyclists ‘stay safe, don’t stay next to a HGV’

Those are just the key points which appeared in a recent press release from TFL. But why haven’t TFL and the Mayor of London got off their backsides and done something about Blackfriars bridge? Something which thousands of cyclists have protested about over several months and one where no action has been taken to make it safer for cyclists and pedestrians to use.

Why don’t TFL and the Mayor ban HGV’s from London during certain times, to try to prevent the majority of deaths!

Why did TFL and the Mayor decrease the congestion charge zone in the West of London? It needs to be increased to put people off driving into London each day when there are better options.

Whilst the Superhighways have seen a massive increase in cycling, the cycle lanes themselves are nothing new, a bit of blue paint and nothing else. Cyclists get no sort of priority, they are still bullied by other road users and KSI’s still happen.

Whilst the idea of making the streets safer in London is one that I will always back, TFL and the Mayor of recent have not shown a side of them which is positive.

This is madness

Image from BBC News

I’ve lived in Croydon for most of my life. As long as I can remember it has had bad press and thought of as a dangerous place. It’s not uncommon for there to be shootings and stabbings and a lot of it is gang related.

What happened last night was truly shocking, there have been riots in Croydon before but nothing on this scale. Local shops burnt to the ground, houses set on fire and families forced to run for their lives only to be left standing on the street to watch their memories and belongings burn to the ground.

The A23 stretches through Croydon from north to south, covering several miles and passing through a few of the smaller towns within Croydon. I’ve heard news that nearly all of the shops along it have been attacked at some point, some of them specifically so. 3 bicycles span only 3 miles on the south side of the A23 and all 3 of them have been broken into. One of them specialises in high-end road bicycles and the stock on the shop floor is worth a small fortune, one bicycle stolen was a replica team sky pinarello with full Di2 worth over £7,000. This video shows the damage to the store and one person cycling away with two bikes, both with the price tags still on. Cycle King and Bike Plus where also attacked by looters and stock taken. I’m waiting to hear back from De Ver and Evans to see if their stores where subject to attack through the night. It would appear that these shops where specifically targeted, they where broken into by small gangs and before any of the fires started and in the case of Bike Plus, it a few miles away from the town centre and is not the area that is usually associated with trouble.

I recall looking out of the window at around 9pm and seeing thick smoke rising from the town centre, shortly later it became apparent this was just the start. It was a bus that was on fire, but the rioters quickly moved onto an old furniture store which quickly went up in flames as the building was made of timber. After that plenty of buildings where set on fire, many of them with flats above them. Shops all along the A23 where broken into and looted through the night, many of them local business run by families.

The behaviour of these people is shocking and in my mind these are the people who are not welcome in this country. Unfortunately across London the police have been outnumbered, in some cases 50 to 1. We expect the police and fire services to protect our homes and communities but at present they just can’t do it!

There where rumours on twitter last night that troops from the Croydon Territorial Army base had been sent out onto the streets, it turns out that it wasn’t true. But just how long does this have to go on for before that does happen?

Crazy Motorists!

I think it’s more just crazy people rather than motorists. But either way my interaction with them is whilst I’m on my bicycle and they are in their vehicle. They put me at risk by driving dangerously and their attitude towards other road users can be life threatening!

In my books there are two kinds of crazy motorists. Those that don’t know what they have done because they are totally oblivious, and those who are just angry at everyone and just drive like an idiot and shout at you for just being where you are!

I don’t often come across either of these types of motorists, I pass and get passed by thousands of vehicles each day. 99% of these are driven in a manner which is above acceptable for me and a minority are excellent!

The problem is when you do come across them, as a vulnerable road user you are put in danger and often have to brake and in some cases come to a complete stop to avoid a collision. For some reason drivers don’t see us or see cyclists as all being slow and that they must get in front despite that some of us travel at the same speeds as vehicles.

Yesterday I came across both types of crazy motorists in a space of only 30 seconds. An idiotic driver took a racing line around a roundabout and cut across my path, forcing me to brake heavily to avoid a collision. The driver was completely obvious to what had happened, and when I pulled up alongside him, he was singing along to the music he was listening to. He was adamant that he went around the round about correctly but little did he know that I had video footage to prove otherwise. This naive thinking from drivers is what causes accidents and gets people killed. He feels perfectly safe in his little bubble and doesn’t care about anyone else.

The second driver cares not for other road users and puts us in danger. When you try to point out their mistakes, they just launch an attack of random rubbish which makes no sense and they try to be the bigger man by yelling louder. These kind of people remind me of neanderthals, primitive behaviour. Their bubble is big and they care only for them selves, they will push you around if you are not strong and they think they are the gods of the roads. These drivers are a risk to everyone, they think they are invincible and more and more of them are on the roads each time a young driver passes their test*.

Until some real education is pumped out to these road users, then we, cyclists and vulnerable road users, will continue to have issues with them. A cyclists some where each day faces a near death experience as the inability of another road user, who is in control of a dangerous vehicle, can not drive safely around us.

*may not be true 🙂

Red Light Jumpers

Every time I talk to someone about cycling, the same old topic comes up, Red Light Jumpers. Ohhh give over, most of the cyclists I see on my commute to work obey the traffic laws that are so much in favour of vehicle drivers.  Only a small minority of cyclists jump red lights, and these are the kind that don’t care about other cyclists, they wouldn’t stop at the side of the road to help someone fix a puncture.

In reality, jumping red lights isn’t as dangerous as other things that some cyclists regularly do. In comparison to some, it’s actually quite safe if done in a certain way. Looking at the bigger picture, is a cyclist red light jumping really that much of an issue? Generally they do no harm, and the potential damage they could cause to others isn’t as large with comparison to motorised vehicles.

The only damage it does, is give the media *cough* Daily Mail *cough* some ammunition to shoot the rest of us with. And for some reason, they never pick up on the real offenders of red light jumping, the motorist. Not only do they do it, they do it often and at times when it is most dangerous. Just look at the video below, the driver gets impatient with waiting, so jumps the red light, whilst in this case there is no danger, cars do often coming over the hill at quite some rate despite the 30mph speed limit. And look where it gets him, 2 or 3 cars in front of where he would have been if he had waited at the red light like he was meant to.

The most dangerous form of red light jumping and the kind I see most often, is the amber gamblers. The ones that go through the amber/red light just as it has turned. Where they accelerate when they see the lights change to try to beat the lights and save a small amount of time. If the timing of the lights is short and the ones for the adjacent junction change before they have cleared the junction, the increase in speed that they have used to get through can cause crashes on a massive scale with the potential for serious injuries or deaths.

Riding the Barclays Cycle Hire

TFL have given me the chance to test ride the Barclays Cycle Hire bicycles that are soon to be released in London at the end of July.

bicycleMy first feeling when i got on it was strange but that was down to me normally cycling a carbon fibre racing bike with narrow handle bars. The cycle hire bicycles take on a more dutch look and feel, with a more up right seating position and wide handle bars.

Obviously it’s not the fastest bike I have ridden, and is rather heavy due to its frame type.  The 3 gears provided are enough for London cycling and provide a comfortable cruising speed. The upright position puts you above general traffic and you have a great view of the road up ahead. Your body position is positive and due to the general slow speed and low effort, you’re cycling along with a smile on your face (at least I was).

bike

The bike has some LED lights on the front and back, which start flashing when the bike starts moving. After stopping they stay on for around 2 minutes. Reflectors are also provided on the front and rear, as well as pedals and wheel reflectors. Pretty much perfect for city night riding under street lamps.

The handle bars where comfortable to hold and the brakes had a good feel to them. The stopping power wasn’t amazing, but it would certainly stop you quick enough for the speeds that the bike can manage. The saddle was nice and wide and felt comfortable over the distance I managed in 40 minutes. It may not suit everyone but this design is best used for the application at hand. The saddle height is easily adjusted via a quick release and numbered lines on the left hand side mean that you can easily put the saddle back to a position comfortable for you when you pick up a new bike.

The tyres where nice and wide and provided good grip, I felt totally comfortable over even the worst of potholes, the only problem I did face was badly cobbled streets. It was uncomfortable but manageable, unlike any racer.

Several information signs are provided on the bike, displaying information such as which brake is which, how to dock the bike, how to report a fault and what not to do at junctions.

My only issue with the bike is the pedals, they are made of plastic and I didn’t have great grip in my trainers or my loafers. On a few occasions where I changed down a gear by mistake, my foot slipped of the pedal and gave me a bit of a shock. Definitely not something that I’m used to, but that may just be down to my personal cycling history rather than the pedals them self.

Whilst out cycling on it, I got plenty of people looking at the bike and a few people asking me questions about it. One other cyclist was even jealous that I was on it and she couldn’t wait for the launch date.

My overall view of this bike is very good. But that is only when looking at the goal of the bike. And that’s providing people with  a cheap, easy, and simple way to get around London. The idea is great, the bikes are great and I will no doubt be using them during my lunch brakes to get further away from the office without worrying about locking my bike up against some railings.