Archive | December, 2014

Random Thoughts 1

26 Dec

This post is intended as a collection of my thoughts on cycling and campaigning in the past month (my mind wanders quite a bit when I ride). In no particular order and with no particular theme:

  • Road schemes seem to fall into two rough categories: ‘relieving congestion’ whereby motor traffic capacity of an area is increased, or ‘encouraging sustainable travel’ where an attempt is made to encourage cycling or walking provided that motor traffic capacity and pedestrian space  remain the same or are increased. Both however have the same fundamental flaw in that the belief is that maintaining the status quo can be achieved at the same time as meaningful behavioural change; councils want more people to cycle but at the same time the same amount of people need to be able to drive through the area. A whole idea of ‘you can have your cake and eat it’ and “why on earth would building more runways mean more air travel. They’re quite happy with grassy strips.”. This fundamental issue with not looking at the bigger picture consistently puts campaigners in the difficult position of being consulted on schemes where only minor pieces can be changed and the choice is often down to “Would you like to have the path end at a 90* angle or 45*?”. This allows councils to tick the ‘consulted cyclists’ box while campaigners have been forced into the choice of which rotten fruit to choose from (“Well both the apple and pear are rotten but at least the apple smells slightly better.”). While there is a bull in the china shop, councils would like to know what colour to paint the walls.

 

  • Arguing against cycling and walking infrastructure on the basis that it makes it more inconvenient to get around by car is tantamount to telling your children and the future generations that their future is not worth your personal indulgence. How many parents are willing to move home just to ensure that their children land in a school that is a few more steps up the league tables, yet balk at measures that would improve their children’s lives and futures above and beyond which school they land in.
  • The usual requirement for putting in speed cameras is at least two deaths, which avoids them being placed anywhere else than accident black-spots (mobile speed cameras are moved at the discretion of the police force). If they were set up in a location to create a profit, then it would clearly need to have a significant number of people driving at above the speed limit to justify running costs. Therefore indicating a need for enforcement. Speeding is a crime, it’s ubiquity and current social acceptance does not change that. Plain and simple it is gambling with others lives.The easiest way to opt out of any ‘money collecting schemes’ is to drive at or below the speed limit, park only where it is legal and keep any electronic devices safely stowed away.

Life and Cycling

7 Dec

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Hi all

I am aware that it has been a while since my last post. When I first started up this blog in late 2012 I was college student with almost 4 days a week of spare time on my hands and very little to channel it into, since then I have become much more busy. Beginning with the founding of the Solihull Bicycle Campaign and the start of my university course in 2013, the launching of the SBiC monthly newsletter and my registration as a CTC Right to Ride rep earlier this year (resulting in me joining the Solihull Cycling Steering group earlier this month). All this together with a rapidly increasing university workload and various campaign and consultation meetings, has very quickly made me a busy person. Which brings me back to the blog, due to the time required to research and write posts for this blog it will regrettably be shifting to an as-and-when basis. I may down-shift to random small posts on a periodic basis but I still intend to complete the route review series.

All of this work seems to arrive and disappear in cycles, there will be times where I have to schedule my waking hours down to the half an hour just to get half of the things done that I need to, waking up at 5 am and getting my first down-time at 8 at night, 6 days a week. The are other weeks, especially during the summer, where it seems like I have all the time in the world to channel into the important things in my life. Thinking about these lows and highs, made me consider the other areas in which I experience similar changes.

As a cycle campaigner there are plenty: there are always those times when the council makes the right noises, support appears to be gathering or funding is announced and then you hit the brick wall. Comprising of government regulations, hamstrung funding, cycle behaviour filibusters and general lack of vision, consideration and forethought. Like when the government announces a ‘cycling revolution’ on the backs of a couple of million and then proposes billions of pounds for motoring in almost the same breath. Or when a visionary cycle scheme turns out to be nothing more than narrow shared-use pavements. Meaningful infrastructure is proposed, which is then either hamstrung or binned due to a few very vocal (or very rich) people. This is usually mirrored by cycles within cycling (excuse the pun). You get days where the sun shines, all drivers give you more than enough room, and cycling in the UK doesn’t seem like a bad thing it all, and then autumn hits and the grey drudgery and frustration of life in transportation limbo returns Faced by these constant cycles of depression it is no surprise that campaigners in the UK very quickly lose motivation and are ready to celebrate every advance no matter how small.

However it is also important not to forget what it is that we’re campaigning for. My drive is to make the world a better, happier and more sustainable place not just for me, but for my family and everyone else around me. And I will keep on working towards that ideal no matter what. So even if things look bleak remind yourself of your reasons,  ever lose hope that things can be better and don’t stop fighting just because someone tells you it’s impossible. Remember:
The night is darkest

So never give up!