Thursday 4 September 2014

My Personal Cycle To Work Day

Today was "Cycle To Work Day", an event aimed at getting people onto two wheels for at least one day this year. For me, it was my normal cycle to work, but I thought it would be a bit of fun to run through my journey.

There is more information on the Cycle To Work Day website and while a single day of publicity is not going to change anything overnight, at least it might be a way of showing the conditions that many of us put up with already and get people thinking what would happen if the right infrastructure was provided.

So, here follows a set of photos with some comments, and I will round up with some thoughts at the end;

The bike is ready to go. Coming to the end of my 4th year as a
bicycle commuter, I have the best bike I have ever had. 7 gears
(including a super low gear), twist shift, luggage rack, proper
mudguards, nice and upright, a comfy saddle and a smart bag which
converts from messenger to pannier. A happy rider indeed!

Round the corner from home, I am on a shared-use, unsegregated
cycle track. A bit uneven in places, it is far better than the amazingly
empty 50mph trunk road on the right. I don't normally see pedestrians,
but, this would be ripe for a proper separate footway and track.

Further down, our old friend, the multi-lane flare appears on the
approach to a large junction which means the track gets really narrow.
I often have to give and take with people walking or by the bus stop
in the background and if you think this hedge is bad now, you should
have seen it last month - virtually impossible.

Still on the cycle track, things are a bit better again, but the nice wide
verge separating riders and walkers has gone.

As I near the half-way point, the track goes all shared-use, segregated.
The trouble is that it is all paint, too narrow and often occupied by
pedestrians who for some reason, don't fancy walking next to the
50mph dual-carriageway!

So, well into the on-carriageway section of my commute and it is
advisory cycle lanes all the way. Normally, this road is stuffed and I
am able to glide past the traffic queues (watching for left hook at the
junctions of course). This morning, some plonker parked, and from
the fog on the windows, this person has been there for some time.
It would be a doddle to build a cycle track between the white line
and the edge of that concrete strip. Sigh.

Nearing the end of my journey, I have just ridden around a large
roundabout and now I just have a section of urban dual-carriageway
to contend with. I am not sure what is more fun, the bus stop to my
left, the sunken gullies in the cycle lane, or the vehicles to my right.

A quick nip over an area of single surface shared-space (which
kind of works as it goes nowhere for traffic) and my goal is in sight
(not work, but where I pick up some rolls for lunch!)

The bike gets tied up in the secure compound by the staff entrance
to my building.

And so to work with the obligatory cup of tea (strong, one sugar please)
and a sneaky pain au chocolate to get me started.

The first job of the day - setting up a new project file.
No money announced as yet, but I am going to put some base
drawings together as I live in hope. This project is staying with me!
(if we ever get some cash!)

I guess the photos are a fair reflection of many people's bicycle commute. On the first part of my journey, the photos show there is tons of space, but while all of the attention is in Central London (and please do read the blog post by Cyclists in the City), it is very easy to feel forgotten.

Sadly, the second part of my journey is on my patch and I don't have people queueing up to ask for it to be made wonderful (they are queueing up to sit in traffic) and so I doubt it is even on the political radar (with a small, and very objective and not at all critical 'p'). There is very little money floating around for cycling in my neck of the woods, despite the almost constant announcements.

I do live in hope and that Quietways folder is absolutely genuine - I am going to find the time here and there to get some base plans drawn up so the schemes exist. Once a scheme exists, even on a shelf, there is at least a chance it will be built. It is something to talk about and it is more than a scheme name on someones wish list.

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