“What is striking about biking is not that it solves any particular problem but, instead, that it is part of the solution to several.” —

J. Harry Wray

Monday, 26 October 2009

Contrary to Popular Opinion...

...it is possible to do a spot of shopping on a bike:

Many years ago, the local Tesco, as part of its planning permission for extending the store, allocated some £40,000 towards the construction of a short extension of the Norton-Radstock Greenway to the store.

But, in the time honoured tradition of local authorities everywhere, our ruling clique continue to maintain an air of studied indifference and nothing has happened. (They were far too busy creating over 800 extra city centre car parking spaces as part of the shopping centre rebuild in nearby Bath.)

Meanwhile, those that can, do:

The only way for this chap to have done his Tesco shop is to stay on the main road and negotiate two roundabouts and a steep hill before he can join the current end of the Greenway. Roundabouts, traffic and hills are what put off novice cyclists, so he ploughs a lonely furrow, but all power to him. We salute you, sir. (But, please spend a bob or two on a carrier and a pair of panniers...)

Sunday, 25 October 2009

The End of the Dark Ages Cometh...

"...That the long, frigid, and hostile winter of relentless and dehumanising domination of motor traffic in our public spaces was slowly beginning to thaw..."

I just love those words.

Josh Hart's uplifting missive from New York gives the lie to the car-obsessed doom-mongers in my local "big town" - Bath, UK - that removing cars from the city centre would kill trade and kill the city.

Well, boo to them.

It is often said that where America leads, Britain follows.

For once, just once, I'd welcome it in this case.

Monday, 19 October 2009

The Master Plan

The following "script" appears in the current Tandem Club magazine. It was written by Bill Tordoff and I hope that he and the magazine Editor won't mind if I copy it here. (If you do, then let me know and I'll delete it). I reckon it's so close to the truth as to what happens in Council Highways Planning offices and Sustrans regional offices up and down the country that it's almost not even funny:

The Senior Planner is seated at his desk. There is a knock.

Senior: Come in!
Enter Junior Planner carrying a large roll of paper.
Junior: The plan, sir.
Senior (studying it): What sort of plan do you call this?
Junior: New cycle path, sir.
Senior (Incredulous): But it's just a straight line of...
Junior: Tarmac, sir.
Senior: Of tarmac, between where?
Junior: A and B, sir.
Senior: But why on earth is it so straight?
Junior: Well, it's the most direct way from A to ...
Senior: Oh, shut up! If our cycling friends wanted to go direct they'd use the car! They like their paths to be "interesting".
Winding about, like this! (Using a marker to alter part of the path).
Junior: I'm afraid that winding about will use more tarmac, sir. The budget won't stretch to that.
Senior (Scribbling in several places on the plan): Then we'll put in stretches of loose gravel among the tarmac, here and here! These people want variety, so we'll give it to 'em!
Junior: I see, sir.
Senior: Thought you would. (Winking confidentially and drawing lines across the path) Here, look at this!
Junior: Are those gates, sir?
Senior: Could be. Could be chicanes. Anything to break up their ride.
Junior: But won't they have to get off?
Senior: Of course they'll have to get off! That's the whole point! The idiots don't pay road tax: why should they joyride everywhere at the taxpayers' expense without paying for it somehow.
Junior: I really think they should get some enjoyment, sir.
Senior: Very well. (marking the plan). They can enjoy these things, then!
Junior: (Peering, puzzled). What exactly are they, sir?
Senior: So-called works of art: those scrap-iron statues we took out of the shopping mall because the locals sait they were obscene. We'll line the path with 'em.
Junior: People might not want to look at so-called works of art while they're riding.
Senior: They can look the other way, then. What about signage?
Junior: Ah! (pointing proudly): I've put an advance warning sign on the main road before the path starts. Helpful for cyclists on the other side of the road.
Senior: Stop mollycoddling them! If they can't see the entrance they can take their chance on the main road. And make sure there's a continuous fence to stop them getting on it once they've missed it. (pointing) What's this at the entrance?
Junior: Standard blue cycle sign, sir.
Senior: Pampering them again! Just put up 'No Cars, No Motorbikes, No Trucks' signs and let them work it out for themselves. Anything else?
Junior (indicating): Only these samples of signs along the path.
Senior: Are you mad? Those'll all be perfectly legible from a distance! What's wrong with Ye Olde Pokerwork signs, black on a dark brown background?
Junior: No-one can read them.
Senior: Exactly. And you've forgotten the 'Cyclists dismount and walk' signs. Here and here. (Marking the plan).
Junior: I don't see any reason for them. Why should they dismount there, sir?
Senior: Because we tell them to! These whinging loonies aren't going to have an easy ride as long as I'm Senior Planning Officer! Oh, by the way, what was that silly hat I saw on you the other day?
Junior: I'm afraid it was a cycling helmet, sir.
Senior: Oh dear. Still, you're due for a rise soon, they you can buy a car and forget all this silly cycling nonsense. Come on, I'll give you a lift.

Tuesday, 13 October 2009

Brompton World Championships

I really, really, wanted to enter the "Brompton World Championships" this year. But, of course, family matters precluded our trip to Blenheim Palace - Liz's stamina is really not up to the travelling.

The "official video" on the Brompton website is worth a watch. And a write up on the Brompton News Pages.

Next year...