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.

Cyclists don’t stop at red

Cyclists are often outed by other road users for not stopping at red lights. But no group is innocent at this.

A TFL study showed that 84% of cyclists in London stopped at red lights, so why is it perceived that we jump red lights?

Cyclists generally cycle through red lights when other traffic has already stopped at them, they cycle slowly, sometimes stop, and check if it’s clear to go. It’s clearly viewable by other road users and in most cases done safely. You get the odd Silly Cyclist who cycles through pelican crossings far too fast and without checking for pedestrians.
Where as other road users generally drive through the amber and red lights just after they have changed, they do it at high-speed and without checking. This can often cause crashes if the light sequence is very tight and you get someone pulling away from the lights early.

Which is worse? Well they are both technically as bad as each other. There is an argument that cyclists do it safely because they wait, look and then go. Where as motorised vehicles drive through the lights at speed and without checking, their vehicles are often considerably bigger, heavier and harder than a cyclist. Doing it safely and slowly doesn’t make it any better. The act of doing something so visibly wrong is damaging to the rest of us that cycle, hence why we are all tarred with the same brush.

You’re causing traffic

Something I’ve had shouted at me as vehicles pass me or been told on other occasions. Statements like this show the stupidity and naivety of people who shout them.

For starters, the definition of traffic is not vehicles being held up or stationary but in fact just describes any vehicle on the road. So I am traffic, as are you and that is without other vehicles behind you.

Traffic: Vehicles moving on a public highway: “a stream of heavy traffic”.

Even if the word traffic meant a queue of stationary or slow-moving vehicles. Are cyclists the ones causing these queues? Or is it the hordes of other vehicles using the road?

Cyclists are pack animals

At least that is what labyonnette of youtube thinks. He posted the following comment on my Why are cyclists using video cameras video.

Most of these incidents reflect a very sensitive individual who is over reacting to quite normal road occurences. Listen to the aggressive yelling, its typical of of you low IQ, low education, gay, self opinionated, paranoid prima donnas who think they own the road. You have absolutey NO tolerance of morists and you are pack animals often gathering together to intimidate motorists. Well boys you dont frighten me, I’ll cut you up at every opportunity. Give blood, run over cyclist every day

What a charming individual, with some incredible opinions about cyclists and those that choose to record what happens to them on the road. The road conditions and drivers are only normal to him, because that is the way he drives.

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.

Do RLJing cyclists pose a risk to the rest of us?

I’ve often asked cyclists that don’t stop at red their reasons behind their behaviour. More often than not they say something along the lines of

I don’t hurt anyone by doing it and it saves me time

But is that true? It’s been said that drivers often think that all cyclists jump red lights. And they expect that every cyclist is going to continue through a red light which has just changed from amber. This is probably one of the most dangerous things to do and often a cause of collisions at junctions.

It affects those of us who stop at red lights because the drivers aren’t expecting us to stop and they want to get across the junction, this can mean any cyclist stopping at a red light which has just changed is at risk from being shunted from behind.

I was lucky in the video below, the driver just missed me, I presume he thought I wouldn’t stop.

T – The new way to avoid the door zone

The San Francisco Streetsblog recently posted about a new ‘system’ to keep cyclists out of the door zone which has been introduced by the
San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency on a trial basis. The idea is to add a T next to parking spaces. This is meant to show the area of the door zone but to me it is rather confusing.

a 'T' on Howard Street

Is this really a good way to avoid the door zone? From what I have seen the vertical line of the T is painted out from the boundary line of the parking spaces, so if you cycle outside of the T then you should be just outside of the door zone.

How it could be better, but it still doesn't make sense

American states have tried several different ways to get work around the door zone. Most of them involving a form of sharrows but many of them don’t have borders so cyclists don’t stay out of the door zone.

Cyclists, like many road users, will stay in the lane markings provided, even if that means putting them in danger.  If the lane markings provided adequate space next to parked cars then KSI’s from doorings should be decreased. For example, the image below shows how there is a buffer between the cycle lane and parked cars and there is a boundary line on both sides of the cycle lane. This should keep most cyclists safe from the door zone as they follow the cycle lane away from the danger.

Chesterton Road, Cambridge

The T to me is another road marking which is confusing and is not self explanatory. The door zone is not known by many cyclists and if the road marking that is meant to save lives is not self explanatory as to what the danger is, then it doesn’t work.

Grammar For Motorists

Came across this nice little website from a friend. Certainly an excellent twist on cycling blogging and one to follow. The story behind it? Well here is what the twitter account says..

Grammar for Motorists is an idea that came to me while cycling to work this morning. Hope it has legs. Any ideas for future lessons welcome.

Here are just a few of the lessons so far

Lesson 4: Spacing

Use of spacing between words helps to avoid unsightly collisions between words that will obscure your meaning and cause confusion.

Similarly, when driving, use of spacing when overtaking cyclists will help avoid unsightly collisions between vehicles that will increase your insurance premiums and cause death or serious injury.

Lesson 3: Imperatives

Cyclists must stop at red lights.

Motorists must stop at red lights.

Motorists must not accuse all cyclists of being “red light-jumping scofflaws”.

Motorists must not labour under the delusion that no motorist ever jumps a red light.

Lesson 1: Prepositions

The car must go around the bicycle.

The car cannot go through or over the bicycle.

If there is no space to overtake, the car must wait behind the bicycle.

Avoiding close passes

A few months back I was trying to think of a way to get motorists to give us a little more space when overtaking us. There isn’t really much we can do that would be legal, which makes; flame throwers, paint guns and window breaking pins out of the question.

The one thing we do have in our arsenal is our arms. I’ve started to indicate to my right if i suspect a driver is going to give me a close overtake.

And from my unscientific research it seems to be working. An indicate to the right is making drivers either stop their overtake or they give me more room. Either way it is putting the doubt into the mind of the driver about what I’m going to do. Which is something the highway code suggests anyway

213

Motorcyclists and cyclists may suddenly need to avoid uneven road surfaces and obstacles such as drain covers or oily, wet or icy patches on the road. Give them plenty of room and pay particular attention to any sudden change of direction they may have to make.

A fair percentage of drivers don’t seem to think about this and overtake at a distance which many cyclists do not think is safe.

This is only executable when you think someone is going to overtake far to close, sometimes it’s hard to even be aware of the moment when you are about to be clipped by a wing mirror!

Delays at crossings in the United Kingdom

This is a response to David Hembrow’s post ‘Delays at traffic light controlled crossings’

Crossing roads in the UK as a pedestrian or as a cyclist is generally a pain! The roads really are aimed at the traffic traveling along it. Pedestrians are often forced to wait a substantial amount of time after they have pushed the button to cross the road and even then, you might not have much time to cross.

For example, the video below shows the traffic light sequence at hyde park corner, plenty of cyclists and pedestrians use this daily.

As we can see from the video, pedestrians and cyclists have 6 seconds on green to cross, 8 seconds of no light and 82 seconds of red light. Pushing the button actually has no effect at this junction as the phase is designated and is based on the traffic light sequence on constitution hill.

David Hembrow shows us what it could be like!

As David says in his post. The delay caused to motorists for this ‘priority’ to pedestrians and cyclists is actually very minimal.

I cycled the route for the up coming Barclays Cycle Superhighway Route 8 that will be launched in July. Work is being done on the route at the moment but it takes advantage of some already in place facilities. These facilities include several traffic light controlled crossings and the time you have to wait at these is very different to what cyclists and pedestrians expect in the Netherlands.

The first crossing is a 24 second wait. No so bad but could be better. The second crossing however is appalling, we waited nearly 50 seconds but nothing. And we both decided it was best if we cycled across the junction whilst no traffic was coming.

This act of crossing whilst traffic isn’t coming is actually very common in the United Kingdom. Because pedestrians are often forced to wait a large amount of time to wait. This actually has a repercussion on the traffic using the road. As the crossing request from the pedestrian is not cancelled, the lights will change at some point and there may not be anyone there to cross, so vehicles have to stop for nothing.

This also has an effect on cyclists when these types of crossings are involved with building off-road routes, they become a pain to use as they can take several times longer to travel a set distance when comparing it to using the road.

For example the Vauxhall Gyratory has an off-road cycle path that goes all the way round, but again pedestrians and cyclists are forced to wait long traffic light phases. I can cycle around the gyratory and leave the exit i want in under 30 seconds but using the off-road route takes over 5 minutes in the test run I did! [The video is 1min 47 seconds long and is sped up by a factor of 4.]

With crossings like these, off-road cycling routes are hardly appealing to cyclists. I personally know that I would, and do, prefer to cycle on the road where I can get to my destination in a reasonable time!