Wednesday, 3 April 2013

Day 3 of 30daysofbiking

I'm finding it quite difficult to stop what I am doing at some point in the day to get some warm clothes on and hop on my trike to just go for a quick ride around the block simply to make sure that I have my bum on the saddle regardless of needing to or of having any specific place to go, which I didn't today.

I suppose it doesn't help with the weather being so bitterly cold.  I am also at the moment having to leave my little dog behind when going for a ride because I haven't yet sorted out a safe way for her to ride with me now that she has grown too big for the front basket.  I know how I want her to travel but I haven't been able to get to the D.I.Y. store for the bit and pieces I need for the project.  Once again if the weather was much warmer that would be a project I would enjoy doing instead of keep putting it off waiting for the sun.

Life has been made easier though since buying and installing a permanent cover for the trike.  So much easier to just go down and whip the cover up and over than it was to unwrap her from previous throw over coat.  As you can see by the image, Tess' cover is really a mobility scooter cover, but after measuring Tess and looking up the measurements for this type of cover I realised that it would be so suitable.  Luckily we have a mobility shop at the top of my road so it was only a matter of quickly popping in ordering one and within 3 days they had it fitted.

Tuesday, 2 April 2013

Day 2 of 30daysofbiking

Today I set off for our local co-op store to get a few bits.  It's only a mile round trip but I mostly take the trike anyway because it means I can carry more back than without it.

You know what it's like once one gets in a shop when one has only popped in for a loaf of bread or a pint of milk.  I always seem to end up needing at least 3 carrier bags full of groceries so knowing the trike is outside I don't need to worry about buying too much to carry home.

A co-op employee was cleaning up around the bike racks as I came out of the shop and loaded up.  As I was taking the photo on the left he started chatting about my trike.  He mentioned he would love to get his elderly Mother out on one of those, and just might suggest it to her.  Yet another convert to biking I hope.

Although the co-op is a little more expensive than Sainsburys where I would really like to shop, the co-op as you can see do have a few bike stands behind the shop, whereas Sainsburys do not have any even though it's a very large Sainsburys store.  Our co-op backs into the local council car park which does cater for cyclists.  Therefore I always shop at co-op when on the trike.

So today I came home and made a call to our local Sainsburys.  The short story is that they expect cyclists to chain their bikes to the rails surrounding the trolley area (next time I am biking past Sainsburys I will take a photo and add to this post).  On explaining that there is hardly any room and very inconvenient to get a trike, child carrier, cargo bike or trailer through there with comfort and that they will have to do something in the near future to keep up with people getting out of their cars and onto bikes, (never thought to mention that bicyclists also don't like parking their bikes way out of sight and a long way from a store entrance anyway), I was told that all Sainsburys will be soon fitted with cycle racks.

Unfortunately they will be the upright wall racks.  So I then confirmed that it will be a case of Sainsburys only catering for the young, fit and healthy that ride 2 wheelers and have the strength to lift a bike onto a wall rack and that the disabled, people with children and those that choose to shop with a cargo bike will still be unable to shop in Sainsburys even after cycle provisions are installed.

The funny thing is a few years ago our branch of Sainsburys did have cycle racks where they have now accommodated the trolleys, but for some reason they saw fit to remove them.  That was of course when I stopped shopping at Sainsburys when on the trike.

Sainsburys!  A company that only caters for motorists and not people.  Me thinks they need to take a look see how things are done in The Netherlands.

Everything is always a compromise in this country when wanting or needing to ride anything other than a 2 wheeled cycle.  Parking, getting through barriers, cyclists dismount signs (pushing a trike is no picnic),  etc. etc., this country really is a joke when it comes to catering for bicycling as a mode of transport and for everyday use.

But I did very much enjoy my short shopping trip as I always do, even though once again it has been a bitterly cold day.

Monday, 1 April 2013

Day 1 of 30daysofbiking

Today unfortunately, was literally just a case of getting my backside on a saddle simply because I didn't want to let myself down and not ride on the first day.  Being as it has been Easter Monday, arrangements had been made to be with the family.
So there I was at 6am this morning, cycling up to the top of the road to the seafront car park (obviously empty at that time in the morning and being it has been a freezing cold day) on Freda the folding bike, to do a few circuits around, after all I am still trying to learn to ride her.

I came back almost in tears for two reasons.  1) The wind was so bitter it was biting my face off and I just couldn't stop my eyes and nose running, and 2) I was so frustrated with myself because I simply can't get on with riding a two wheeler.   I barely have any balance and it hurts like billio to put my arthritic foot down on the ground when I stop.

It's no good, I am going to have to quit trying to not only learn to ride a two wheeler safely and comfortably, but also actually enjoy riding one.  I really can't see myself finding riding a two wheeler anything but a chore.

Freda unfortunately has been consigned to the bike shed for an indefinite period.

At least in this biter cold I did manage to get on a bike and pedal for a while so I have made sure I started 30daysofcycling off right.

Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Getting Ready for 30 Days of Biking

I am seeing many blog posts popping up of people describing their plans for getting ready for the through April they have pledged to do.  I too have pledged to cycle every day of those 30 days and therefore thought I too would write a "Getting Ready" post.

Those that read my blog regularly know that my usual steed is a trike.  I ride a trike because 1) I never learned to ride a bike as a kid, apart from having a quick play on a friend or two's bike. 2) From the age of 15, on and off, I have suffered with vicious bouts of labyrinthitis which could descend upon me with no warning and therefore riding a 2 wheeler would have been positively dangerous, so when taking up biking, on my retirement, my logical choice was a tricycle.

However, for several years now I haven't suffered a single bout of the disease and last year I decided to buy the cheapest folding bike I could find on the market and teach myself to ride a 2 wheeler.   After several practices and a couple of actual trips out, I became very disheartened as I found myself useless at riding a two wheeler.  The bike was then tucked away in my Daughter's garage and ignored.

Related posts (Learning to Ride).

But........ pledging to cycle for 30 days has given me the incentive to give it another shot at learning to ride a bicycle rather than only relying on a tricycle.

As I am retired I have no reason to get out on the trike every day.  My trike is my only personal form of transport which takes me shopping, visiting, to the doctors, etc. etc.. but whereas working people use their bikes every day for commuting, I only ever need to pop out on the trike 2 or 3 times a week, and then not always going very far.  I am therefore going to have to force myself to find somewhere to cycle to each day.

So I thought by pledging to the 30 days of cycling I would kill two birds with one stone.  Unless I actually needed my trike for carrying back large loads I would persevere with learning to ride and use the fold up bike.

I have told myself that I don't have to go far each day to keep my 30 day pledge.  I will cycle out on the 2 wheeler all the time I feel comfortable and then head for home when I have had enough.  This way I might actually get passed my fear of riding a "bi"cycle and end up enjoying it as much as I enjoy my trike.

The fold up bike, which I have decided to call Freda, due to the fact that "the fold up bike" takes longer to say and type than does "Freda", has a couple of quirks that cheese me off.  So last night my Daughter dropped Freda back to me, and today I set about sorting out the quirks.

1) The saddle keeps slipping down.  Tighten it too much and one can't slip the catch to fold the bike, and not tight enough and saddle will slip after a mile or so.  So I decided that I don't really need to collapse Freda as I now have a key to our complex bike shed to store her in her open position.  So all nuts have been tightened to the fullest extent and Freda stays unfolded at all times.

2) She doesn't have any bag, box or whatever to carry anything.  Fitting something cheaply that could be removed for Freda to be folded was a pain.  But once I decided that she didn't really ever need folding I was able to attach, simply and easily, a plastic box on the back.

I haven't yet thought of how I am going to carry Tilly (my pup) on Freda, but until I do when Tilly comes out with me I will still be taking the trike.  I wouldn't subject Tilly to my wobbling all over the place on Freda yet anyway.  Baby steps!

Monday, 28 January 2013

It Only Takes One Idiot

Last Saturday on the way back from the local Supermarket with a week's shopping on the back of my trike I witnessed the ultimate in stupidity and impatience.

Picture from Google Maps
My way home leads me through what is supposed to be a quiet residential street which also leads to a large beach front car park.  The area is popular for walking, cycling and ultimately to the beach.  As you can see there are the occasional spots allowed for on road parking on the left.

On Saturday the parking area on the left you see in the picture had cars parked from beginning to end.  That particular stretch allows about 6 cars.

After looking behind me and seeing it safe I signaled then pulled out and cycled passed said parked cars well out of the door zone.

I was literally 2 pedal pushes away from the end of the row that would then enable me to pull into the left again when a car coming up behind caught up with me.  There was also a car coming towards us on the other side of the road.

Never in my wildest dreams would I have believed that a driver could be so impatient as to over take me at that point.

As I was level with the very last parked car in the row, the car behind whizzed up beside me to overtake, obviously now in the right hand lane, and baring down fast on the car coming in the other direction.  As he pulled in to the left I had actually cleared the parked cars and was myself pulling in left which would have allowed anything to over take me safely.

He had missed the on coming car by inches.  Too impatient to wait just a couple more seconds.

No wonder with idiots like that on the road more and more people are taking to riding on pavements even on quiet roads like this one.

Monday, 5 November 2012

Rule 64: You MUST NOT cycle on a pavement

Back in 1931 (correct me if I'm wrong on that date) when the highway code was first published, rule 64  "You MUST NOT cycle on a pavement" made perfect sense.

In 1931 everyone walked.  Our pavements were crowded with people walking to work, walking to the shops, walking to visit friends and relations, kids were on the pavements playing marbles, conkers, skipping, hopscotch and much more.  It would have been insanity not to have a law that protected pedestrians as rule 64 did.

In 1931 very few cars were sharing the roads with cyclists.  Cars did not travel at the speeds that they do now and motorists were far more conscious of sharing the road.   On top of which, roads had been originally designed and created for the bicycle.  It was logical that a government wouldn't go to all that expense creating roads for the cyclist not to make them mandatory.

In 1931 a cyclist's thoughts when starting out on his journey wouldn't have been about safety.  Wouldn't have been about planning his journey in advance for the quietest and safest of routes.  Wouldn't have been about making the choice of wearing a helmet, or wearing hi viz clothing.  He would have slapped his cap on his head, wheeled his bike out of doors and ridden to work.  His only planning for his ride would have been to remember to take his lunch box, and bike lights if he knew he was coming home after dark.

Back in 1931 rule 64 was protecting the majority of vulnerable people.  It made perfect sense and no one questioned it.  No one even thought about it.   No one wanted or needed to cycle on a pavement.  Why would they?  The roads in 1931 weren't killing and injuring hundreds of cyclists a year.

Forward to 2012 and we have a very different society.  A society where a law written in 1931 now adds to the death of many cyclists.   Rule 64 has now become lethal.

In 2012 no one walks anywhere.  In most parts of the country (excluding city and town centres obviously) pavements are deserted.   There are no children playing on the paths.  There are few people walking to the shops, walking to visit their friends and relations or walking to work.  Pavements now are totally under used.  Society has changed so much that in most parts of the country pavements are only serving as a space between driveway and road, with the occasional pedestrian needing to use it for a short distance.  Now it is perfectly safe to allow cyclists, if they wish, to ride on all pavements unless stated otherwise when in high pedestrianised areas.

In 2012 roads have now been so widened, are so fast and so congested that it's insanity to expect anyone not encased in a metal box to be anywhere but on a pavement.  Even our residential roads where children used to play happily and safely are now full of parked cars and motorists using them as short cuts at speeds that will kill or maime.

In 2012 cars have become so very safe for the driver and his passengers that they have become even more lethal for anyone on foot or cycle.  The safer the motorised vehicle has become the more daring and dangerous the driving.  Is it any wonder that the majority of people feel it's too dangerous to cycle on our roads.

Once upon a time it was illegal to shoot the kings deer.  Was that law moral and just in a time when thousands of peasants were dying of hunger?  No! of course it wasn't.  No more than it is moral or just to force nervous, young or elderly cyclists out into the path of killing machines today.

In the cities it maybe that more young, healthy fit males are taking to commuting by bike,  but here in the country and quieter towns it's the elderly and the families that are taking to their bikes because they are willing to risk breaking the law and pavement cycle.

Every day hundreds of normally law abiding people are breaking the law and risking fining or court simply because they can't (not wont) cycle in amongst the traffic of today.  For many it's a choice of breaking the law or of not cycling at all.  And illegal or not, pavement cycling is getting more and more people on their bikes.

Until this country builds a real, safe, Dutch style infrastructure, rule 64 needs removing from The Highway Code and in it's place pavement cycling etiquette rules written.  People should be given a legal choice of whether to cycle on road or pavement until cyclists have a place of their own within our infrastructure.

Saturday, 27 October 2012

Cycling Christchurch - A35 Lyndhurst Road

This shared use pedestrian/cycle path runs from the beginning of Lyndhurst Road (A35) in Dorset for approximately (not measured) 1 mile, where it peters out on the upward journey on the wrong side of a busy 40mph main through road just crossing the border into Hampshire.

Most times the traffic is in actual fact traveling at 10mph over the speed limit and it's extremely dangerous to cross this road at this point.

For much of this cycle path the width is between 18 and 24 inches.  Way too narrow for myself and trike.  I therefore have never attempted to actually use this wonderful bit of cycling infrastructure.

I haven't seen any part of the path being maintained since it became shared use.  It's overgrown, narrow and knobbly from start to finish.

Basically it's a case of "Well, pedestrians don't use it so if you want to cycle on it you can, but don't expect us to take care of it.  You use it at your own risk"

Lyndhurst Road (A35) Hinton Christchurch