Archive | April, 2014

A Solihull Cyclist in Wales

21 Apr

Recently, as part of my university course, I was able to spend some time in south Wales. Unfortunately I had to leave my bike behind; but that didn’t stop me from keeping an eye out for cycling stuff. Here are some of the pictures I took on my travels:

Our first port of call was Cardiff Bay; an area of significant regeneration and home to (among other things) the Welsh assembly building.

As a whole there was little car traffic around; partly due to the restricted access along much of the bay. Barriers such as this rather neat bus gate:

no doubt contributed to the decent number of cyclists using the bay-side roads. With a few exceptions, the Cardiff bay cycle trail extends pretty much continuously around the bay:


One of the exceptions being the ubiquitous UK ‘cyclists dismount’ sign (now with added Welsh) for a wide pedestrian bridge:


The Barrage lend itself to cycling through filtered permeability and low speed limits:


Although Cardiff bay area appears to be emphasizing cycling as both a tourist attraction and an enhancement to its sustainability credentials pretty well, I do wonder whether better cycle connections with the rest of Cardiff are in the plans. Overall though I thoroughly enjoyed sightseeing around the area, by boat, land train and foot and I reckon I would have enjoyed a cycle around the bay even more.

After this we moved along the coast to the Gower peninsula and a small seaside town called the Mumbles:IMG_3922

While a very pleasant seaside town overall, the Mumbles (like so many other seaside locals) was blighted by motor traffic even during off-peak periods:

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However effort has clearly been made to encourage walking and cycling along the seafront including; cycle parking:

and refurbishment of the promenade:


I saw a good deal of cyclists using this path; roughly divided into half  lycra and vis clad, and half wearing ordinary clothes. Here are some of the cyclists I saw while sitting on the seafront:

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The cycle path seemed like a pretty good way to enjoy the spring sunshine, as long as you don’t mind dodging the odd pedestrian. However I would hesitate before chancing the main roads surrounding the bay.

So if you’re looking for a nice holiday in Wales I would heartily recommend the stunning beauty of the Gower:

(Iwould, however, think before travelling by bicycle).



Pollution: Enough is Enough.

2 Apr
Today (April 2nd) we were granted a vision of what an apocalyptic future might look like.

A thick pall of toxic smog hangs over the landscape, as enclosed capsules roar along barren streets belching out thick fumes. Those few that venture out into the polluted air are ridiculed, abused and endangered by the drivers of the speeding chunks of metal. 

While I may have taken some creative liberties with this account, it is not too far removed from the truth. A truth that might not be in the too-distant future.

So what caused this sudden pollution of British air? According to various newspaper articles, the cause is dust from the Sahara mixing with airborne pollutants from England and the North of Europe, creating a smog that blankets most of the UK and ranks in at a 10 on the air pollution scale (very high). Which in most cases mandates a health warning to children, asthmatics and the elderly to stay inside and everyone to avoid strenuous exercise. So just the result of some unusual weather, it’ll only crop up once in a while. right? Well actually no, air pollution is nothing new for the UK. The UK has been consistently exceeding the legal limits on air pollution since 2005, consistently refusing to take meaningful action to reduce air pollution.

This isn’t just some airy-fairy environmentalist thing, this is keeping the air safe to breathe for us, our families and everyone else in the country. These polluting particulates have been scientifically proven to be damaging to health and are directly linked to the deaths of over 4,000 people in London alone. So why is a pollution problem that is severe enough to breach legal limits for 9 years and mandate health warnings, not a national scandal?

The answer is that the average British person vehemently opposes and denies anything that requires a change of lifestyle or does not agree with their view of the world. Whether it is climate change, peak oil or pollution, any attempt to coax them  out of their air-conditioned bubbles is met with violent opposition. This is reflected by the policies of those in power: who stubbornly refuse to admit that there is a problem,  sidestep the issue, vastly exaggerate plans and progress, before quietly doing nothing.

It’s time for the UK to collectively wake up and smell the nitrogen oxide; air pollution is not going to magically disappear, get better or stay a problem only for the distant future. It is real, pervasive and its effects are already being felt, the time for empty platitudes and meaningless gestures is past. This is no longer a problem of ‘climate change’ and ‘being green’, it is something that if left unchecked will affect not only us, but the very lives and freedoms of out children.

Now if only there was a pollution free alternative to the motor car…