Hump de Bump

I blogged in the past about issues I was having with the building management and the bike stands provided at work. After several bicycles where stolen from the basement the security decided to take a more proactive action with regards to cyclists.

This has resulted in those of us not able to use the racks due to full length mudguards or we use non-standard design bikes being punished as we are forced to use them or our access will be taken away. I argued that the racks where not secure and can damage bicycles but it went unheard.

In recent weeks a pass reader was put half way up the exit ramp, something which only cyclists have to use as motorised vehicles set of an automatic gate opener in the floor. This is obviously quite a pain as you either have to be perfectly skilled to be able to touch the card on the reader whilst cycling up the ramp and time it so that you get to the gate just as it opens, or stop and touch in. The later results in an uphill struggle as setting off again on a slope of this nature is not easy.

I can see why the building management decided why this would be a good idea, as the thieves where coming from the outside and able to leave at a push of a button. But why put the reader in such an inconvenient place?
Well that would be where the previous button was and to save re-wireing the whole system they decided to replace the button with a card reader. It would be much more sensible to put the reader at the bottom of the ramp where it is flat, so that you don’t have to start off on a slope.

There is a flaw in whole concept of touching out to open the gates. The gates are open for a fair amount of time after you have touched in, this means that multiple cyclists can get out at once. All you have to do is wait for a cyclist do go up the ramp and touch out, to get out without a pass.

Anyway on to the subject of this post.
An e-mail was sent out yesterday about the installation of speed bumps on the ramp due to a few near misses and apparently an accident because of speeding cyclists down the ramp.

Please be advised that on Saturday 28th January we have arranged an installation of speed humps on both of the ramps leading to the car park. They will be installed 2/3rd way down the ramp in order to control the speed of cyclists. We have experienced several near misses and an accident resulting from speeding cyclists therefore these precautions are necessary.

Further on in the e-mail

We recommend that the cyclists should walk down and push their bike both down and up the ramps.

Well I also hope that they recommend drivers and motorcyclists to get out of their vehicles and push their cars/vans/motorbikes up and down the ramps.

I managed to find out what kind of bumps they will be installing, its dimensions don’t look too bad and i expect only a small change in speed is required to get over them, how wet tyres will handle them, I’m unsure.

I spoke to a few colleagues about this and we certainly feel that the building management is a bit of a joke. We will try to form together a group and see if we can use our numbers to battle them. I suspect that getting together with the other companies in the building is going to be required, and this is going to be the tricky part.

Ungrateful Bastards

Received this comment on one of my videos.

Us cyclists are freeing up space on the road by cycling instead of driving! If we all drove instead, nobody would be able to get anywhere, or at least it would take them a lot longer. Considering how impatient a lot of car drivers are, they should be thanking us! Ungrateful bastards 🙂

 

Haha, made me chuckle. If only they where thanking us!

No Helmets?

Look at these cyclists, on ice and not one of them is wearing a helmet and none of them crack their heads open and die.

I posted this more in jest than an actual representation of not needing helmets.

Recently the Womens Institute has been looking into backing mandatory helmet laws. As adults who have cycling experience, you are unlikely to fall of your bicycle by your self. You are more likely to be knocked off your bicycle by a hard moving vehicle. A collision which involves forces outside of the design parameters of a bicycle helmet.

Just look at the other countries which have mandatory helmet laws, cycling levels have dropped but a considerable amount.

It would be better to target the cause of bicycle accidents rather than try to force people to use protection which doesn’t actually protect you in all circumstances.

Teaching people to cycle

We are mostly taught to ride our bikes in a park by our farther. He pushes us along and we learn to ride in a straight line. As we cycle more we get more confidence.

How do we learn to ride on the road? We can go to bikeability courses or other cycle training run by local councils or qualified individuals. But will adults go to these course, will people actively seek out education on how to use the roads safely?

I suspect most won’t, why do they need to be told how to cycle. It’s a fairly easy task to ride a bicycle but doing so in an environment full of faster moving, harder and sometimes recklessly driving vehicles is much harder.
Understanding traffic flow, the mindset of most drivers and common dangers can give you the vital foresight to position your self in a safe and sometimes controlling position.

Getting lessons can provide people with the confidence and knowledge to cycle on the roads safely but are there other ways we can teach people to cycle safely?

I’ve tried giving the odd tip to people on the roads, “Cars indicating left will often turn at the turning, so don’t undertake them” but people don’t take well to being told what to do. Even if it is with the best intentions. So it often results in being sworn at.

The Mayor of London and his team boast about how much cycle training they have provided, don’t get me wrong, I think it is great! But something needs to be done to educate the cyclists that don’t think they need training. I see people cycling in the gutter and lane splitting on multilane roads daily. These are the Silly Cyclists we need to educate, as one day their style of riding may result in them getting injured.

All bicycles should be properly stored on a rack

I’m lucky to work for a good company who provides great facilities for cyclists including showers, towels and storage space for sweaty clothes. Oh I forgot, nearly 400 bicycle racks in the basement!

Bicycle Racks

The bicycle racks turn out to be not that great, unfortunately they are managed by the building management, whose main aim appears to ‘Fit as many bicycles in the space we have.’
This means we have bicycle racks which store the bikes vertically and in some cases with the racks backing on to each other in a very tight fashion that makes moving a bicycle around rather difficult.

I didn’t have a problem with the racks at first, I was using bikes with out mudguards but as I grew to dislike the dirt coloured stain in my arse area every time the ground was wet I quickly fitted mudguards on any bicycle I was regularly commuting on.

This however causes a massive problem with using the bicycle racks provided, the contact points are on the rear wheel as the bike is vertical and a loop over the front wheel. This causes obvious problems with any bicycle that has near full length mudguards as the bicycle rests most of its weight on the mudguard. I’ve so far broken/damaged 3 mudguards when trying to put my bicycle into the racks, a few months ago I decided enough is enough, I’m going to stop using them and lock my bicycle in a normal fashion to the back of the stands.

How my bicycle is locked

Locking it in such a fashion has a major advantage, no not that my mudguards no longer break but I can actually lock my bicycle securely by locking both wheels and the frame in two locations. This is not something that is possible if you use the racks as your frame is nowhere near the frame of the stand, even with a 1m chain I was unable to lock my frame to the stand.

I didn’t have any trouble locking my bike in such a fashion for a few months, then it all got heated when people started leaving their bikes in an untidy fashion for weeks on end. It causes issues with people who move around the basement, it looks untidy and it blocks people from getting in and out of their motor vehicles.
Recently e-mails have been sent to the facilities manager in the company I work for about such and that we shouldn’t be parking our bicycles in such a fashion. Obviously I quickly fired an e-mail back to him explaining the issues I have specifically about my bicycles getting damaged if I use the racks and he replied ‘I’ll raise it in the next building management meeting’. I’ve spoken to him several times since but nothing has happened yet.

A few weeks ago there was an increase in security in the basement just before 9am (when most cyclists turn up) and I’ve been questioned several times as to why I lock my bicycle where I do, obviously I mention the mudguards, mudflap and previous broken mudguards. Most don’t have an issue with me as my bike is securely parked and out-of-the-way (I park it next to a parking bay that is not used and there is plenty of space to open a car door) but one security guard recently said “Why didn’t you buy a bike which fitted in our racks?”

Last night I went to get my bike and I noticed a sign on it, from the building management.

I guess I’ll have to apply more pressure to my facilities manager.

You’re Looking for Trouble

I’m often told that I’m looking for trouble when I go out on my bicycle. After all, anyone that videos their bicycle ride is quite clearly acting up to the camera!

Comments range from

I ride a bike everyday and have never been aggressed in any way, so do thousands of others. The reason why is we aren’t looking for it.

to

it looks to me like you are looking for trouble and antagonising people for the benefit of the camera.

These comments come from all kinds of people, even from cyclists. They base this opinion around a few videos and presume that because I cycle in a position which they think is incorrect or because I did something different to what they would have done then I am acting up to the camera.

There are a few things to consider before making the assumption that I am looking for trouble. Distance, time, location, vehicle interactions and limited view.

Distance

My commute is 17 miles each way and I cycle to work and back again 5 days a week. Totalling my weekly mileage at 170 miles and that is not including the miles I do on the weekends. I miss a few days because of illness, holiday and occasionally bad weather. So my yearly mileage is normally around 7,000 miles. Much higher than the average cyclist.

Time

I work the 9 to 5, so the time I’m on the road is at rush hour, 170 miles a week at rush hour! Lots of traffic trying to get to work as quickly as possible and a few of them not thinking about anyone else but themselves.

Location

I commute from Croydon to central London. Whilst Croydon isn’t as big as central London, there is still a large quantity of traffic and I’m sure we are all aware of the traffic in central . I also follow some of the busiest routes in south London, with lots of different kinds of traffic all trying to get to their destination as quickly as possible.

Vehicle Interactions

In a single day I will have nearly a thousand interactions with other vehicles, by that I mean them passing me or me passing them. So weekly it’s +5,000 interactions but I only upload maybe 10 videos a week. Why? Because I’m not looking for trouble and most people drive safely. There are a few videos where at the time I think it was bad but on reflection it doesn’t look so bad on the video, in this case I don’t bother to upload the video

Limited View

Most of my videos show bad drivers, so of course it might look like I’m out looking for them. I rarely post videos of good drivers, mainly because they don’t get many as many views and it’s hard to see how good a driver really is.

Conclusion

I bet it doesn’t look like I’m antagonizing drivers or looking for trouble 99% of the time, and that is because I’m not, the other 1% is just down to people’s perceptions of a minority of incidences where they think they would have done better.
Pedal 7,000 miles in my shoes, ride 170 miles a week on the same roads as me and see how you react.

Hope Vision 1 Review

Featured

The Hope Vision 1 bicycle light is Hope’s bottom of the range bicycle light but don’t let that put you off. The CNC machined case makes the light full water proof and the Vision 1 puts out over 200 lumens from only four AA batteries, something not achieved by many other lights.

Hope Vision 1 Beam

The Vision 1 has 4 light modes, 1 flash and 3 steady ones. Making it a perfect commuting light, especially if you travel through multiple types of roads (lit vs unlit). The Hope Vision 1 is often praised by its quality, Hope certainly is traditionally british as the make good quality parts and offer a fantastic service. The whole product is well thought out and well designed.

Due to the narrow beam a single Vision 1 is not enough for cycling off-road or on unlit roads at night-time in my opinion, two Vision 1’s are enough. Whilst the narrow beam does have that disadvantage, it has an advantage when using it in other traffic. Pointing the beam on the road in front of you means you don’t blind other road users, you light the road up in front of you and you are made visible!

Something which crops up in other lights of similar target market is how you turn it off and change modes. For a light which is used in the dark and potentially off-road it is important how it handles this. The Hope Vision one can only be turned off by the user if the battery is removed or if you hold the power button. Pressing the button cycles through the light modes and this is how it should be.
Other models of lights have the off mode in the button cycle, which means if you want to change back to the first mode you must turn the light off first which either means crashing or stopping your ride.

Hope Vision 1

The only downside to using a light with 4x AA batteries is that the light really does chew through them, using regular Duracell batteries will be expensive and small capacity rechargeable batteries just don’t last long enough. High capacity rechargeable batteries are a good value purchase but you still need to work out a good recharging scheme so you don’t get caught out. At least you can rest in the fact that if you do run out of juice whilst on the road you can at least pop into a petrol station or corner shop and buy some batteries which will get you home, unlike the lights which use special battery packs.

The major downside of the hope vision one is the lack of power indicator, it is one often brought up by people who have bought one and is a real problem with its hunger for battery power. You can get around it with good battery management but be warned, when the power levels get too low the light will suddenly switch off and you will only get a few more minutes on the lowest power setting.

All in all it’s one of the best and brightest lights on the market for commuters, it’s at the higher end of the scale for most commuters but it’s reliability (as long as you manage the batteries) and power more than out weighs the price you have to pay, this light will last you years!

Where to buy one from?

Prices range from £70 – £90 so make sure you shop around

Croydon bicycle shops hit in the riots

Image from Cycling Weekly

Croydon has a handful of bicycle shops, ranging from top end bikes and parts to the lower end bikes. Geoffrey Butler Cycles recently told Cycling Weekly their story from the night of the riots last month.

Geoffrey Butler Cycles is located in the high street of South Croydon, a world of difference from West Croydon where the rioters where kicking off. Stephen Delaney, manager of Geoffrey Butler Cycles, went to his store at around 8pm and the door to his shop was already kicked in and several thousand pounds worth of stock was already missing, included a Team Sky Pinarello Dogma with Di2 Dura-Ace worth over £7,000. He decided the best way to protect his store was to stay up all night and protect it him self, he called some colleagues and friends to come and help him out, they blocked up the door with Calmpagnolo delivery boxes.

Geoffrey Butler Cycles also owns Bike Plus which is situated just a few miles down the road, at around midnight Mr Delaney received a call that this was also being broken into and rushed down there. In front of him was two white vans which pulled up by the shop but drove off as he got out. Quite clearly showing the intent of the thieves. Only a few bikes were taken from Bike Plus, and again staff arrived and stayed in the shop all night to protect it as the Police didn’t have the resources to protect local shop keepers.
In total Geoffrey Butler and Bike Plus had £40,000 worth of stock taken.

Cycle King which is based just down the road from Geoffrey Butler was completely cleared out, an estimated 600 bikes were taken which totalled over £120,000 worth of stock. As mentioned before, it is thought that this was done by an organised group of people. This looting was done well away from all the other action and looters turned up in white vans and packed them full of goods. Cycle King was forced to change the shutters they had several years ago by the council as they didn’t fit in with the rest of the high street. And as a result the cheaper ones where no match for organised criminals.

Originally reported by Cycling Weekly >