January 29, 2007

Fill that hole!

A new online tool to help get potholes fixed.

Another to help get off-road obstructions cleared

December 05, 2006

Traffic islands

A fine road until Coventry council built a centre island:

Traffic island

Centre islands are a major and growing problem for cyclists . It’s become fashionable for councils to construct them to serve as either pedestrian refuges or traffic calming measures.

The idea that central islands make much difference to traffic speeds has been brought into question by a review of traffic calming conducted by the Institute for Transport Studies at Leeds University which indicated that narrowing traffic lanes has little impact on traffic speeds.

As far as the impact on cycling is concerned, an investigation into drivers’ perceptions of cyclists was made by the Transport Research Laboratory under commission from The Department for Transport. To quote the Executive Summary:

Increasing the amount of cycling and improving the safety of cyclists are key aims of the Government’s transport strategy, as set out in the White Paper ‘A New Deal for Transport – Better for Everyone’ (DETR, 1998). Previous research has shown that one of the main deterrents to cycling is a fear of traffic, often attributed to the attitudes and behaviour of drivers [...]

On the basis of this research, a number of recommendations may be made relating to highway design [...]

* physical road features that force cyclists and drivers into close proximity should be avoided, or where this is unavoidable, motor vehicle speeds at such locations should be reduced;

* highway designs that deliberately require cyclists to obstruct traffic in order to produce a traffic calming effect should be avoided as they are likely to cause particular frustration to drivers;

For the whole report (reference TRL549), click here and “buy” the pdf version of the report (it’s free).

November 15, 2006

Police Warn of Bike Thefts

Writing about web page http://www2.warwick.ac.uk/insite/newsandevents/notices/biketheft/

In the first five weeks of term, 12 bikes have been stolen from locations around the campus and police are warning people to be sensible over how and where they store their bikes.

I don’t know how this compares to stats for previous years (although there was a post on this blog in May 2005 )

Police here appear to be giving out the same old standard advice but do mention

the thieves have broken locks to take the bikes away

Does this mean braking D locks?

October 19, 2006

Budget Bicycle

A package of
  • Bike
  • Mudguards
  • D-Lock
  • Front & rear lights
  • Cycle helmet
  • Full assembly and testing
  • One 6 week service check

is being offered for £140 to all University of Warwick staff & students by Albany Cycles

October 03, 2006

Local cycle spares and repairs

Cycle repair shops near campus:

*Albany Cycles 199 Albany Road, Earlsdon CV5 6NF 024 7667 3353 (closed Mondays)
*Coventry Cycling Centre 140 Far Gosford Street CV1 5DY 024 7622 2997
*Halfords 36 Foleshill Road CV1 4NU 024 7622 9434
*Hawk 82-92 Foleshill Road CV1 4JJ 024 7622 2783
*Jardine Cycles 100 Jardine Crescent CV4 9PP 024 7646 0880
*Ride 6 Holbrook Lane CV6 4AB 024 7668 1102

*Mike Vaughan 3-5 High Street CV8 1LY 01926 853944 (won’t repair bikes bought elsewhere)

*Atkins – Leamington 32a Clemens Street CV31 2DN 01926 430211
*Broadribbs 56 Bedford Street CV32 5DY 01926 421428
*CH Smith 26 High Street CV31 1LW 01926 425742
*Halfords Unit H, The Shires Retail Park CV34 6RH 01926 311700
*Kelvin 61 Kelvin Road, Cubbington CV32 7TG 01926 423308

The closest shops to campus are Albany Cycles, Jardine Cycles and Mike Vaughan.

Albany Cycles is about two and a half miles by bike from the library, Jardine Cycles is just under and Mike Vaughan just over three miles. TravelCoventry bus route 12 passes though campus and close to both Albany Cycles and Mike Vaughan cycles.

Puncture repair kits are sold by a larger number of shops. Tips on avoiding punctures

Please comment if you find an error or ommision in the above information.

September 29, 2006

Covered cycle parking on main campus

Covered Campus Cycle Stands

There are no facilities secure enough for overnight parking of valuable bicycles.

Lockers suitable for cycle clothing are administered on a departmental basis. So if you need one, contact your departmental secretary.

September 01, 2006

Should I have bought a new bike?

Imagine my shock and horror when I turned my my city bike over and saw this:

With rust holes like that, I thought, it won’t belong before the bicycle collapses. It’s no use trying to claim on the five year warranty on frame and forks as it ran out a year ago. And a repair might not be very cost-effective. Not only must the rusted down tube be cut out and replaced, but the whole bicycle re-sprayed since the new steel won’t be painted and the heat from the welding will burn the paint on the steel which isn’t replaced. On the other hand, my bicycle isn’t one of those toy bikes which sell at a hundred pounds or even less, a replacement of similar quality might cost £500 or £600.

I considered the purchase of a new city bicycle. Were I to buy one I’d want one with a full chain case. A chain case protects not only the right trouser leg from greasy dirt but also the chain from rain and salty water. The latter, one of the most corrosive chemicals that you can find outside of a factory or laboratory, is common on main roads in winter, a result of the practice of throwing salt over the roads in an attempt to prevent ice formation.

I asked in a couple of cycle shops about bicycles with full chain cases. One man just shook his head, another mentioned Pashley. A local firm (Stratford). Yet Pashley only a give a five year warranty on frame and forks, while my touring bicycle has a fifteen year warranty. Their city bicycles also only have three gears and have a rather old fashioned styling:

Pashley Princess-Sovereign

While I’m always a bit wary of the latest technology, I’m concerned that something that looks like it came out of the 1930’s will have the reliability of a vehicle built in the 1930’s. I understand, for example that the Sturmey Archer three speed gear has remained unmodified since 1937.

Consequently I’m rather drawn to bicycles made for the Dutch market. In the Netherlands cycling is still an activity pursued by a large number of people for practical purposes such as commuting or shopping. The argument that utility bicycles made for sale in the Netherlands market have kept up with developments over recent decades seems plausible to me.

They have more modern styling and 7 or 8 speed gears:

Azor Highlander

Gazelle Esprit

There’s a retailer in Oxford for Gazelle, who appear to offer a 10-year warranty against material and manufacturing defects on the frame and forks.

Still talking with my cycling mates, I was persuaded to try a repair. That did mean taking all the parts off the frame and forks which took me five hours. I’m awaiting the results…

May 15, 2006

Highway Code – written by motorists for the benefit of motorists?

Follow-up to Highway Code from Cycling to and around Warwick University

Apparently the Highway Code is entirely within the remit of the Driving Standards Agency. 67% of the staff are driving examiners.

Advice for Pedestrians, Cyclists and Horse Riders is mostly directed to getting them to do what drivers want them to do; keep out of the way so motor vehicles can have the roads to themselves.

Pedestrians and Cyclists are told to wear light coloured, fluorescent or reflective clothing – for the convenience of drivers (Rules 3 & 56). No mention that drivers should use light coloured, fluorescent or reflective cars so that they can be easily seen, nor that they should wear racing car standard helmets. Yet the latter would bring significant benefits in preventing neck and head injuries.

May 09, 2006

In defence of the cycle track

Follow-up to Timescales for Kenilworth Road Cycle Track from Cycling to and around Warwick University

The Coventry Evening Telegraph (8th May 2006), published a letter criticising Coventry council. Firstly for re-surfacing Kenilworth Road and secondly for adding a cycle track. The writer opinioned that other roads should have higher priority for re-surfacing and that as the road was hardly used by pedestrians and cyclists it didn't warrant a cycle track.

The text of my reply (which I've just sent off)

Whether or not the Kenilworth Road should be prioritised for re–surfacing (Ted Duggan's letter published 8 May), improvements for cycling are important.

Like most roads, Kenilworth Road is cycle–hostile at busy times. Motorists cannot leave sufficient space when passing cyclists without crossing the central white lines.

At peak times the junction of Gibbet Hill Road with Kenilworth Road is congested. With Warwick University planning for 40% growth over the next few years, traffic problems can only get worse. A switch from car to cycle for some of the people who commute between Kenilworth and the university does offer a partial solution. It would also improve the fitness of those who do make the switch. But most people are reluctant to cycle along roads where a constant stream of cars and lorries whiz by them at 40/50 mph.

George Riches

May 05, 2006

Highway Code

Over 11,000 cyclists have complained about proposed changes to the Highway Code. In particular against a proposed addition which would tell cyclists to "use cycle facilities…..where provided".

If such an amendment were incorporated, insurance companies would use it to reduce the size of compensation given when motorists drive into cyclists who have chosen to use a road rather than a nearby cycle facility.

This is unjust. Parliament has decided that cyclists have the right to use all roads except those from which they are explicitly excluded (mostly motorways), the Department of Transport should not attempt to erode that right without due process. It's especially galling as some cycle facilities are more dangerous than the carriageway and many are more inconvenient.

The outrage generated by the proposal has lead to close scrutiny of the Highway Code's current text. The advice it gives to cyclists is simply not based on practical experience in the real world. It suggests that cyclists should follow a rigid and poorly informed set of rules irrespective of the consequences for their safety. On the other hand, some of the most important advice that can be given to cyclists, such as the importance of positioning and exercising care when using many cycle "facilities", is conspicuous by its absence.


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  • This is effectively the implemented design, which seems to be a big improvement. by Andrew Marsh on this entry
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