Mountain Bike Shenanigans

Leadsom One
March 29th, 2011

Randomly I stumbled across this article by Andrea Leadsom. The article raises an interesting quandry. I have no hesitation in agreeing that cyclists should be dealt with fairly. Other riders who flout the law wind me up, particularly those that jump the lights which I see on a daily basis.  They certainly should be held accountable if in a worst case scenario they are involved in the death of some one as in the tragic case of Rhiannon Bennett. Yet is the change Leadsom’s proposing going to make the issue go away? I don’t think so.

Andrea Leadsom

Andrea Leadsom MP

My concern is that a change of law through a government act won’t necessarily make things any better. The proposal to introduce equal measures to ensure that those motorists and cyclists who cause fatalities or serious injury are dealt with in terms that might be deemed fair to the family and friends of those killed or maimed is flawed. The current policy that dictates the range of sanctions that magistrates can impose against the guilty party are generally deemed weak and leave people dissatisfied, so I am not sure the proposed change is going to solve the problem. A more radical rethink might be needed, but that will undoubtedly have knock on effects on other legal sentences and if you end up locking more people up, the already inflated prison population will just grow bigger. Fundamentally this is a reactionary approach.

A simpler solution and something that would be more proactive would be to engage the police in actually tackling some of the offenders. I suspect that Leadsom’s comments are tinted by her experiences of the London rush hour. I’m convinced that a well coordinated and strategically positioned team of officers with the sole aim of capturing some of the cycling offenders in the big smoke would go some way to raising media publicity that steps are being taken, but such campaigns seldom have a lasting impact and are often perceived as public relation events. A month long campaign in central London is not going to solve issues in the vast suburban zones elsewhere in the UK where people are equally at risk.  A solution here is an increased number of police on the beat. More officers patrolling the streets means more chance of capturing people and a greater deterrent to the generally risk adverse proportion of the population.

I suspect that even with an increased presence on the ground, the police have higher priorities in terms of capturing the perpetrators of street crime, robbery, drug dealing and serious public order offences than pulling over cyclists that occasionally ride on pavements. Ultimately accidents happen and that’s the harsh reality of life. If people take risks that put them in the wrong and these actions lead to serious consequences then they should expect to be punished to the full extent of the law. Is Leadsom’s proposal the solution? I’d argue not in itself, so let’s see this properly thought out before any decisions are made.

Yeah, Cheers!
March 15th, 2011

“Where did you learn to drive* (knobhead)!”

Today’s choice phrase from the commute in was directed to an African brother behind the wheel of a Vauxhall Zafira who tried to kill both the bloke riding in front of me by accelerating from a standstill up the inside of him through a series of empty parking bays to undertake and then swerved out in front of him (resulting in a two fingered salute and some of Manchester’s finest effing and jeffing from my two wheeled brother in arms).

Then he slams on and starts indicating right as I’ve just caught up with him in traffic. So I begin to filter through on the inside at which point he then changes his mind and almost squishes me as he rejoins the main flow of traffic. I caught up with him at the queue of traffic for the next lights and scared the bejesus out of him by heckling his driving skills in a rather loud manner through the open drivers window as I overtook him.

* Mental note, should have added “…playschool?

Thanks for Nothing
March 13th, 2011

Someone somewhere within the corridors of power clearly thought that it would be a good idea to improve the bike lane markings near the office at work. In essence there are two ways to get to work.

Upper Brook Street Commute

The default route taking in the Bends of Fury and is all on the road (red line). The alternative is to cut across the oncoming traffic or ride over the pedestrian crossing to join the bike lane (green line) on the other side (which technically I think is supposed to be joined via Grosvenor Street). Any way it’s generally a nightmare during rush hour because footpath users tend to walk in the bike land and I’ve become bored with running people over or yelling at them.

The council have now altered the road markings that link into the contraflow bike lane on Sackville Street. Here’s Sackville Street and the contraflow bike lane:

Now what they’ve done is to direct people from the end of the bike lane around to the contraflow. Previously the bike lane just ended, but now your encouraged to ride across the path the pedestrians will use.

If you’re coming down Sackville Street on the Contraflow and now follow the signed rouite you can’t see any pedestrians until you’re round the corner of the wall which may not be enough time to stop running people over depending on the quality of your brakes and the speed your going plus the number of pedestrians.

Quite why they didn’t logically continue the bike lane on the logical side of the wall as a shared but delineated path at first isn’t at first immediately obvious. Yet there is a reason…

Yes people who have been on the bike path are now encouraged to join Sackville Street at it’s narrowest point – just after two lanes of traffic have become one and people are frequently coming off the Mancunian Way Motorway in a squeal of tyres at over 50mph. Brilliant.

When I’m taking the road route (red line in the aerial photo above) there is frequently not enough room to get past cars at this entry point because they swing wide on the bend and end up positioned near the kerb. During rush hour Sackville Street is often backed up with stationary traffic to this point too.

I think I’ll continue ignoring the signs if I take the bike lane option and in either case will be riding up the bike lane on Sackville Street against the contraflow markings. I’ve encountered a cyclist coming the other way once since the path was created…

Time for an Update
March 11th, 2011

Not really written much recently. Nick, Simon and Jon have all been posting more regularly than me recently. Not that much has changed, I’m still riding to work everyday, but the number of knobheads seems to be less at the moment so there’s not been that much to write about.

I see Jon still gets plenty of idiots trying to kill him so it’s clearly that I’m just having a good run of luck at the moment. I’ve no idea if Jon’s book is actually about his commuting experiences or not. Meanwhile, Jed’s redesigned his site using Joomla and made it completely car focused.

About the most significant change in these parts has been the installation of the Flickr Manager plugin which makes it a lot easier to add Flickr photos into posts. Armed with a phone with a decent(ish) camera now it might prompt me to post up more regularly now it’s all a bit easier and quicker.

IMBA: Long Live Long Rides