All entries for March 2006

March 30, 2006

Road Rights

Writing about web page

The Driving Standards Agency is currently revising the Highway Code. This includes a proposal to urge cyclists to 'use cycle routes when practicable and cycle facilities … where they are provided (Rule 58)'.

In a recent email newsletter, the fabulous Edinburgh Bicycle Co-op commented on this proposal as follows:

This sounds like common sense until you consider the implications. What if you were hit by a car on a road near a cycle path and the lawyer or insurance company defending the motorist used the alibi that the accident wouldn't have occured if you had stuck to the cycle path? What if you consider your local off-road cycle path less safe after dark than a lit road? How many cycle paths have a sign at every access point to alert potential users of their existence? The problem with the Driving Standards Agency's proposal is that it ignores the decisions every one of us takes whenever we travel. One day we'll choose the safest route. Next day, the quickest and most convenient. On Sunday, when time is not a consideration, you might take the prettiest. All these factors come into play whether we cycle, walk or drive. The problem with this proposal is that, for the first time, it questions the cyclist's equal right to use the public road (bar motorways / dual carriageways). And it ignores the fact that whenever you choose to cycle rather than take the car you are part of the solution to the ever-growing problems of road congestion, danger, pollution and global warming. Cyclists are not the problem yet, once again, we are being singled out by the bureaucrats.

The Cyclists' Touring Club are running a campaign against this proposed erosion of cyclists' status as road users. They have even penned a suggested email, automatically addressed to your MP which you can access at

Using the above service, I have written to my MP who, impressively and swiftly, passed this and similar other correspondence he received to Stephen Ladywood MP, Minister at the Department of Transport, who in turn passed the correspondence to the Driving Standards Agency.

In forwarding Stephen Ladywood's response to me, I learned that direct comment on the consultation can be carried out via the following web page:

Cyclists, park up and get involved. We have a chance until May 10th to influence this consultation. Let's do it.

March 23, 2006

Reasons to love the internet #22: Jacky and The Friendly Bicycle Shop

The Friendly Bicycle Shop

One of the more fabulous parts of a job developing distance and online learning resources for a major distance learning programme is that, every now and again, I have been able to travel to some fascinating parts of the world to run events for current students and to market the programme to prospective students. I was absolutely privileged to be able to visit Hong Kong recently and, with my work done, I had a day to myself before the flight home.

What better way to get a feel for the place and the landscape than to catch an early morning ferry to an outlying island, hire a mountain bike and take on a challenging coastal bike trail. I learned of the trails around Hong Kong from an elementary web search. Much more than that, however, I learned very quickly (from this article and this little advice piece) that I could rent a bike from The Friendly Bicycle Shop situated right beside the ferry pier at Mui Wo and about their very friendly owner Jacky. So, minutes after the ferry docks, I pull up at the shop, knowing where they are, what they can offer and the name of the guy who runs the place.

Jacky is the first person I meet in the shop. (That's Jacky in the centre of the picture, above.) I tell him about how I know about his shop. He's not aware of his 'internet fame', especially since, as he tells me, the shop's website had suffered an attack from hackers and it's offline at the moment. Jacky kits me out with a decent bike for 50 dollars and points me in the direction of the beginning of the trail. I cycle aroud the block to get used to the bike and the roads and pass two other bike hire shops, one of which is The Lucky Bicycle Shop, but neither of which had turned up in my searches.

So Jacky I salute you. Internet I love you, although neither of the articles I had read could have prepared me for just how thrilling and rocky the first section of that trail was. Perhaps this little post will add that additional information to the record (and give the Lucky Bicycle Shop a mention that might bag them some custom).

March 14, 2006

I'm a boffin

Writing about web page

BOFFINS Stuart Sutherland, Ray Irving and Helen Langton have scored a global success with a new health website.

According to the Coventry Evening Telegraph, who last week did a feature on our most recent course on Cancer Care for Children and Young People, I'm a boffin. I've never thought of myself as a boffin but now I must surely get myself a white coat from a workwear clothing manufacturer as soon as possible.

Do readers of local newspapers really need to have this sort of work translated to them in this sort of language? Do local journalists feel that this is the only way in which we can be understood? Should they not spend more time checking that their rewrite of your press release maintains some sort of accuracy? Still, it's very welcome publicity which took up over a third of their business page. I'll happily be a boffin if that's the price of coverage in the local press.

March 04, 2006

Web design best of 2005

Writing about web page

Netdiver's Best of the Year 2005: It's all so very illustrated and hi-res and gorgeous and worth a look through to shake us out of our header, 3 column, footer complacency.

Provocative little quote – not exactly William Morris but quotable nonetheless – from Ben Hammersley in a recent blog post about some web design's affection for code over aesthetics:

We went through the early stages of the web building our toolkits and learning technique, and now its time to stop talking about how wed build stuff, and go on and actually do it. Validation porn has had its day. Enough about the brushes already: give me some beauty.

March 2006

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