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Tag Archives: Cycling proficiency

It’s a cycle… part 2

Is cycling dangerous? Well like everything else I had to be careful and know what to avoid. I learned pretty quickly that petrol tankers were to be taken very seriously. They had a tendency to suck cyclists in as they passed them when both were at speed. The nearest I came to an accident was at a roundabout when a woman started swerving all over the place and almost collected me when she suddenly decided which exit to take. I also had the odd knob throwing things from cars and shouting abuse etc. Cycling is like everything else, you don’t want to be in the wrong place at the wrong time and you are RESPONSIBLE for your own actions!

The current fad for cycling within the general populace, within a certain segment, is of course driven by self-righteousness. Save the planet. We hate cars. We are better than car drivers. You know the stuff.

The other day there was an interesting article in the press about cyclists and how stressed they get when cycling in the city. Edinburgh University got a group of cyclists together and asked them to cycle along a particular route. The group contained experienced and new cyclists.

You’ll be shocked by the results. Apparently the more experienced cyclists didn’t feel as much stress as the less experienced and the cyclists felt more stress when they approached busy junctions. Really? Who would have thunk it?

I’d suggest that if the beginners took some training and put some though into how they would actually cycle, like not going through red lights, not going down one way streets the wrong way, not cycling on pavements, not cycling along the left hand side of a any vehicle, not wearing and using ipods/headphones, not putting far too much weight on the bike etc. etc. etc. I’m fairly sure their stress levels would drop and the number of injuries and squishings would also drop. Also bear in mind the streets go as well as down and Edinburgh has lots of hills, cobbles and very poor surfaces.

Of course they won’t do anything. They’ll just sit and whinge and try to gain as much benefit from the council to give them a higher status, funded by the local council using taxpayers money, than every other road and pavement user. Bear in mind that they are not insured so if they crash into you what happens? Do you have to pay for their accident?

The biggest nonsense though is the current push for vehicle drivers to be deemed the cause of any accident a cyclist is involved in. That’s better known as guilty before being proven innocent.

I was in Hyde Park recently and they have all these wee routes all marked out and cyclists and pedestrians share the same tarmac paths. The speed of cyclists compared to pedestrians is, in a lot of cases, significant so walkers are likely to take the brunt of any collisions.

How did we ever come to all this crap?

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Posted by on November 27, 2014 in Cycling, Edinburgh, Health, Traffic

 

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It’s a cycle… (Part 1)

Cycling used to be looked down upon by most of the people who are now very keen to cycle themselves. After all cycling used to be the preserve of the workingman, it was a cheap way of getting to work, it saved them time and maybe they felt fitter. Kids had bicycles also but mostly hand me down adult bikes without much in the way of gears and certainly no suspension apart from a couple of springs under the seat. Then in the 60s things changed a bit.

Cars became more affordable making it easier to transport kids and all sorts of stuff and go out for drives and holidays. Kids still cycled and some bikes, like the Raleigh Chopper were interesting from a design point of view but they weren’t good dynamically.

Some chaps in the USA started racing down dirt hills on their bikes, which led them to needing better gears since they had to get up the hills first. They also needed much wider tyres so they had enough grip and the tyres didn’t puncture as easily. They started messing around with various things one of which was to make the weight of the bike much less since pedalling up hill is easier if weight is lower.

It caught on and before we knew it mountain or all terrain biking was born.

I joined the ranks of cycling many years before that, when I was big enough to reach the pedals of an ancient maroon Raleigh ladies bike with no gears and brakes worked with solid metal rods rather than the much better and safer cable operated brakes. Years later, my re-entry in cycling was to buy a mountain bike which had some 15 gears to choose from but it was still pretty heavy. I then moved onto a bike, which I had to tie down to stop it floating away which had 21 very expensive but beautifully engineered gears. I also started wearing cycling shorts and lycra tops in hideously bright colours etc.

I started off doing around 5 miles at a time and then expanded that to 25 or more miles depending on time, light and weather. I was doing more than 120 miles a week just for fun and was certainly fitter for sure. There were lots of hills where I lived which was a bind but at least going downhill was pretty good. On the flat I’d usually manage around 18 mph cruising speed on the mountain bike I had and I’d see around 30 mph on some downhill sections.

I’d learnt the cycling highway code thing and done the cycling proficiency but not got the badge. I wore a helmet sometimes and I timed and recorded all my runs out on my bike in a sort of cycling diary, which I still have. I had a wee computer that I used to measure all sorts of things for each time I went out.

More exciting cycling stuff in part 2!!!

 
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Posted by on November 26, 2014 in Cycling, Edinburgh, Health

 

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Recyclists, cycling and organ banks

I know what you’re thinking. This I going to be a post about recycling. Probably not a very positive one at that. Well, you’re close but no cigar. I’ve seen what happens with the recycling we all do and the time we spend on it, but that’s not what I mean when I say Recyclists.

Last week I was making my way back and forth from Edinburgh Airport over a couple of days. My chosen route takes me through the Cowgate and the Grassmarket before heading long the Western Approach Road to the A8. A lot of people cycle along that route and since a lot of the route is narrow with a mixture of cobbles and poor road surfaces, things can get interesting, especially if it’s wet.

The junction at the bottom of the Pleasance is also interesting. The East side has three lanes when there is really only enough room for two. It means the oncoming traffic in the turning right lane have to sit in the middle of the junction whilst traffic going straight on weaves around it from behind and traffic going East has to weave around whilst also trying not to hit the high kerb or collect a side mirror or three. What fun.

Now mix in cyclists. The chosen route for cyclists is cycle west on the kerb side, that’s sensible, then take a sharp right in the keep clear bit, in front of the car waiting to go straight on and then cycle up the middle of the road and stop in front of the first car in the queue at the lights. Not too bad apart from there not being enough room for cycling in the middle if the road.

When the lights change the cyclist shoots off closely followed by a car, which squeezes alongside the cyclist, the high kerb the cars in the middle of the road and the oncoming traffic. Not too bad. Then the cyclist catches up and passes the same cars, then gets overtaken by the same cars and on and on until everyone reaches their destination, hopefully.

I was waiting at the junction at the end of the Abbeyhill shortcut going towards Meadowbank. I’d managed to avoid the pillar in the middle of the road, I’d managed to get over the 17″ tall sleeping policeman speed bump, okay I exaggerated it’s really only 16.5″ tall. I’d also played chicken with the taxis , vans and lorries coming towards me as I was going up the wee hill with the parking on both sides making the road far too narrow.

I had made it to the traffic lights beside the ugly green building and was first in the queue and turning right. The lights were at red and suddenly a lady cyclist came up my left hand side. Not just a lady cyclist, a daredevil lady cyclist, about to perform a stunt involving going through the lights when they were at red whilst also pulling a small child’s buggy thing attached to the back of the bike. The lady cyclist then went straight out into the junction just as the lights changed to green and she headed over and turned right.

Now risking ones own neck is silly but perhaps necessary at times but risking ones small child to save a few moments at the traffic lights is a definite no-no. Cyclists turn up at hospital A&E in ever growing numbers and some of them end up being recycled. Some doctors call cyclists organ banks and unfortunately for some of them they are. Some accidents are caused by lorries not seeing cyclists, cars not leaving enough room and cyclists just not cycling in a safe enough manner.

Cyclists seem to think it is the responsibility of other road traffic to watch out for them whilst some cyclists don’t stop at red lights or pedestrian crossings and also cycle on the pavement etc.

I’ve cycled a fair bit, although not recently, but I take my responsibilities seriously when I do. I want to know who is behind me, I want to be in a place where a lorry driver can see me and I judge that by looking in his mirrors and if I can’t see him I drop back until I can, especially at corners, and I’m going to stick to the rules of the road, exaggeratedly signalling as required and looking behind before changing direction.

Cyclists need some protection and the Greenie councils have failed to help. It costs money they say. Of course it does. They rip off the car drivers for ridiculous amounts money to park and a good proportion of that should be diverted into funds to build proper cycle lanes etc. Lanes with kerbs not green tarmac with white lines.

It shouldn’t be too hard to provide some pavements space for cycling lanes too although some sort of reasonable responsibility by both pedestrians and cyclist would have to be clarified. It can be done I’ve seen it work elsewhere. Cyclists need to stick to the rules of the road. If they don’t, no amount of good environmental intentions and moral high ground hogging are going to soften the blow of being knocked of their bikes. It will hurt. Their granny grasping a bottle of Witchhazel won’t be enough to put them right.

I only wish there were no recyclists, but the more people cycle the more recyclist recycling will happen.

You know what the man said “Be careful out there”.

 
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Posted by on September 11, 2012 in Edinburgh, Health, Politics

 

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