Thursday, 14 July 2016

Tour de France Ventoux Crash

More and more people keep saying that it was a moto-bike accident on the #TdF today on Mont #Ventoux. The direct hit clearly was, but that's not what caused the accident.

The moto-bike rider had to stop suddenly to avoid hitting spectators that blocked the route. That caused the pile up, as it was a race, riders come very close to each other (unlike normal roads).

What really was the cause of the accident was the slowly failing policy of crowd control that hasn't really changed in several decades. The policy of having out-riders further up the road to clear the crowd back to let the riders race simply wasn't enough. The crowd was too big and concentrated on too small an area. Some will point to the shortening of the stage thus bringing several miles of already stopped spectators down the mountain to where they could see the race. However, we have seen similar scenes on Alpe d'Huez recently, so it's not like it wasn't predictable that this might happen sometime soon.

Now the organisers need to act. They've often shrugged their shoulders saying "What can we do?". More barriers would be a quick, easy, solution.

Quite rightly, riders could easily decide it's no longer safe to ride this race. What we need to decide is whether they want bike racing or a party of drunk people on a mountain with something vaguely going on in the middle.

UPDATE: Well the "organisation" seems to want to sweep the incident under the carpet.

The #ASO and #UCI commisionaires came up with the only result that they could. Despite this being failing the riders who were attacking (Mollema's time was after he crashed as well, so it's not what was happening on the road).

And the teams don't want to rock the boat in the middle of a race. Which simply isn't good enough. Rider safety was compromised by a failed policy of dealing with keeping them riding.

This needs looking at. Richie Porte was absolutely correct when he said that the organisation failed to keep the spetactors out of the way of racing riders. That's not acceptable, either for safety's sake or even for the benefit of seeing a good race. The farce the happened wasn't worth watching. And that needs to be understood by the people who actually organise these things.

Monday, 6 June 2016

The Highway Code for Cyclists vs BikeAbility

I know BikeAbility isn't everybodies cup of tea in the cycle advocacy world. I happen to like teaching as it combines my joy of riding with teaching children. To me it's much than "throw the kids into traffic" concept of vehicular cycling. It really does build confidence, hazard perception, and awareness. It's patently clear that these skills are needed in kids, for far more than just cycling purposes.

I'm also aware that it's not going to deliver the kind of change in cycle take up needed in this country. Although it does increase cycling rates, it's nothing like enough to make the big gains we need. Note that The Association of BikeAbility Schemes recognises this and endorses the use of segregated infrastructure to really make the difference.

However, this post is about the Highway Code for Cyclists and seeing how it stacks up against BikeAbility practice. It's prompted by the recent release of The Highway Code for Cyclists by the AA and Carlton Reid. My experiences of the cycling sections on the Highway Code is that they are a long way behind BikeAbility. I hope the new booklet does more to show how much more is understood about cycling now.

I've written a few additional notes on several of the cycling rules. I've tried to be neutral about these notes, I'll temper that at the end.

Rule 59 additional notes.

1. You should CHOOSE what to do based on circumstances.
2. Research done since this rule was introduced shows helmet wearing isn't conclusive at reducing head injury. Also, car drivers will make riskier passes if you are wearing one. They are good at protecting at slow speed falls but offer little protection in a collision.
3. Note that reflective and fluorescent clothing do NOT glow in the dark, they need an external light source. Hence side road users can't see it all the time.
4. Research done since this rule was introduced shows drivers do not see hi-viz any better than normal clothing.

BikeAbility talks about road position being a much bigger determining factor when riding, with the further away from the kerb the better.

Rule 61 additional notes.

1. Often you'll find vehicles in ASLs, so you shouldn't use them then.
2. Also getting into ASLs can be awkward with narrow or non-existent feeder lanes. Again, don't use them then.
3. Finally note that they are about the same shape as an HGV blind spot. BikeAbility talks about making sure you get eye contact with any driver once you move into an ASL.

Rule 63 additional notes.

1. Note that many cycle lanes fall well beneath the standard that BikeAbility sets for riding. Simply never use these.
2. BikeAbility talks about cycling a metre from the kerb. This gives you better visibility and stops you hitting the kerb, road debris, poholes, drains, and so on.

Rule 66 additional notes.

1. Riding 2 abreast is a really good way of being seen. It mimics a car driver and a passenger, and ensures all overtaking is done the the other lane when there is no oncoming traffic.
2. BikeAbility talks about cycling in the middle of the lane on a narrow road or round a bend. This helps with visibility.

Rule 69/71 additional notes.

1. Be aware that car drivers often speed up when lights are changing.
2. BikeAbility talks about cycling in the middle of the lane if it's narrow, which is often the case with multi-lane road space.
3. Pulling to the side will only increase the chances that the driver will try to squeeze through when there isn't space.

Rule 72 additional notes.

1. Note that if you are well to the left of the road, you are not well seen by anyone coming out of the junction.
2. BikeAbility talks about moving to the middle of the lane to avoid drivers trying to come round you at the last moment, and anyone nudging out of the side road.

So in summary, it's quite clear that the Highway Code is stuck a good 10 years behind good teaching practice and the evidence. I hope the new booklet does more to show how much more is understood about cycling now.

It's not only the Highway Code, road design has a lot to answer for. I live in "the cycling utopia" of Cambridge and it's got quite a lot of good stuff. However, it doesn't stop me for seeing new cycle lanes being painted that are well below the standards BikeAbility sets out. And ASLs which are dangerous to attempt to enter. And roads that encourage drivers to speed. And parked cars (legally and illegally) all over the place. And little or no enforcement of any traffic laws. And when it is done, it is overduly on people riding. Despite the evidence showing it causes 100 times less damage and injury than when we drive.

Then there's vehicle design. How do we still allow vehicles on the road that have blind spots as large as shown in the HGV picture? This is surely the very definition of hazardous design. If building site health and safety rules (that have done wonders in vastly reducing accidents) where applied to roads, these vehicles would be baned immediately.

Finally, the idea that if you dress up in "safety gear", that will somehow help. This isn't just victim blaming, it's just not even correct. The evidence just doesn't support it.

Saturday, 28 May 2016

#CamRideHome on 29.04.2016, the Reach Ride Explore

For the Bank Holiday weekend of the Reach Ride, #CamRideHome explored the city sections of the Reach Ride.

And here's the video of the route, with pictures along the way!

#CamRideHome on 29.04.2016, the Reach Ride Explore (Go HD see * below)

0:12 Setting off
0:26 Kings College Chapel
0:45 First wait for everyone
0:59 Onto the delightfully green Jesus Green
1:10 Another wait!
1:30 The river looking great
2:00 The Technology Museum
2:10 Cows!
2:20 The Green Dragon Bridge (which permits cycling!)
2:55 Back over the new cycle bridge
3:16 Waiting at the traffic lights, twice
3:34 Newmarket Road Retail Park
3:57 Cut through to York Road
4:19 People go the wrong way!
4:33 Crossing Mill Road a driver bullies their way through without priority (see
5:20 Pasing the cycle counter on Parkers Peice
5:43 Onto Downing Street Contraflow Cyclelane
6:00 Like "a sinner we crawl" back to The Mill

* How to go HD.

Sunday, 15 May 2016

A Late Sunday Afternoon Lazy Ride

I just fancied a short late afternoon lazy ride, which in the late spring sunshine felt glorious.

And here's the video of the route, with pictures along the way!

A Late Sunday Afternoon Lazy Ride (Go HD see * below)

0:12 Start a bit late on Brooklands Avenue
0:56 Lots of people by The Mill
1:10 Town centre is crowded!
1:45 Jesus Green, and lots more people
2:10 Some cows sleeping just before The Fort St George
2:31 Riverside
2:52 Stoubridge Common. more poeple, more cows
3:15 A big horse and a little horse
3:41 Onto an empty Ditton Walk
4:01 Crossing Coldhams Common
4:57 Mill Road, and a driver going the wrong way down Sedgwick Street (see YouTube clip here)
5:12 Carter Railway Bridge
5:46 Into the Triangle and almost back to Brooklands Avenue

* How to go HD.

Thursday, 12 May 2016

Outspoken Move

My friends and colleagues at Outspoken have moved. Their new address is as follows.
The Bike Depot
140 Cowley Road
01223 719594

On Friday we had the joy of moving all the cargo bikes. Best done by a convoy of vehicles across the river, along Chesterton High Street and up the new section of the guided busway.

I found myself filming again, and being asked if I have any good footage. I produced this for them!

Outspoken Move to The Bike Depot from Outspoken on Vimeo.

Fun to do and only a few hours of playing around. I did an earlier version which has a little more, although probably too much. Still the musical cues line up a little better, or do they? You choose!