Category - Cyclists

Saving Money On Magazines

ReadlyA couple of years ago I was having a clear out and I was amazed at the number of magazines I’d collected over the years. They were mainly my Classic Rock mags, and part of my decision to have a clear out was that I’d been getting more and more disillusioned with that particular publication.

At the time, I was on an annual subscription, but Planet Rock had just launched its own magazine and that did exactly what it said on the tin – it covered rock music. Classic Rock acquired a new editor, and she made it clear in her introductory piece what she was planning. Subsequently, any rock music they covered had to include at least half female acts – meaning it became obscure and far from ‘classic’, at best – and they also decided that (as just one example) Depeche Mode somehow ticked both the ‘classic’ and ‘rock’ boxes at the same time (actually, they decided twice in the space of just a couple of months with that one example). Then they did their ‘best 100 female artists of all time’ issue, and necessarily had to include non-rock genres to fill it out. That was it from me, and I cancelled my sub.

Before any feminists start frothing at the mouth over this, I go to see lots of female artists and bands with female members. I actually seek them out if I hear them on Planet Rock and like the sound. Like Samantha Fish, Haim, Paramore, Evanescence, Courtney Love, Joanne Shaw Taylor, The Lounge Kittens… I just don’t need any feminist magazine editors trying to filter out the men for me. And if you don’t like the fact that I don’t like that fact, click the back button and go somewhere else.

Planet Rock mag suits me fine, but when the lockdown came along, it also came with a lot of extra time for reading and finding tips on how to do stuff I wouldn’t have otherwise had time for. And going out to buy magazines wasn’t an option – even if it would have been of benefit with the ‘current’ issue on sale (you usually need a series of them).

A few years ago, as a result of my quest to find some authentic German food recipes, I came across a subscription service called Readly. It carries – and this is no exaggeration – thousands of UK titles. They’re all the ones you see on the newsstands (and many you don’t), from TV Times, OK!, Hello!, through all the photography and amateur DIY magazines, through to music and musicians (including Classic Rock). They cover specialist computer and technology subjects, gaming, weddings, cycling, fishing, horse riding, pets… everything (but no X-rated adult stuff). Including back issues, too, which multiplies the content by at least ten. And as I already implied, they have similar numbers of publications from Europe, Asia, and America. They’ve also recently started including newspapers, though it’s only The Independent and Evening Standard right now.

My normal Readly subscription is less than £8 a month, but they offer a two months for free trial. Even so, at £8 a month, that’s the newsstand cost of just three magazines! If you were after foreign magazines, you’d probably pay more than that for a single issue once shipping was included.

You can get the Readly app with the offer through Amazon (it’s free), and you can read on your phone, tablet, or computer. You can also read offline by downloading the content.

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The Jeremy Vine School Of Performing Arts

I just saw this video posted by Jeremy Vine on his Twitter feed. For anyone who doesn’t know, Vine is the cycling equivalent of a Born Again Christian. He never gives up in his crusades. And they are legion.

There are two incidents in the video. The first – which he circles – is where a car pulls out into the cycle lane, forcing him to have to deviate slightly from the cycle lane (ironically, his Twitter feed shows another video where he’s in and out of the cycle lane avoiding puddles). That’s wrong on the part of the driver.

But in the second case, HE is in the wrong. The Highway Code says:

Rules for cyclists (59 to 82)

Rule 72

On the left. When approaching a junction on the left, watch out for vehicles turning in front of you, out of or into the side road. Just before you turn, check for undertaking cyclists or motorcyclists. Do not ride on the inside of vehicles signalling or slowing down to turn left.

Vine was in complete contravention of this. The car was in front of him all the time. It indicated well before turning, so Vine – as the big nuts, all-seeing, all-knowing űber-cyclist he believes he is – would have known exactly what it was intending to do. Instead, he pumps on without slowing even a fraction and attempts to undertake it. The only possible alternative for the car driver, had she known he was trying this, would have been to slam her brakes on to let Vine pass – with the risk of someone slamming into the back of her. She should not have been put in that situation by someone blatantly disregarding the Highway Code as it applies to them.

Vine cleverly captions her comment on the video: ‘Oh my God. I didn’t see you at all’. I know what my response would have been, and part of it would have rhymed with ‘clucking bat’.

It’s really coming to something when cyclists who do things like this believe they are somehow in the right. And they seem prepared to put their lives at risk trying to exercise it.

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Advanced Stop Lines – Say What?

Pebbles on a ropeIn this months issue of Intelligent Instructor magazine, there is an article from the RAC, the heading of which suggests that motorists could face being fined and getting points on their licences if they stop inside the cycle forward area (advanced stop lines) at traffic lights. The full RAC news release is here.

I’m absolutely in favour of that, because the number of drivers who ignore them totally – especially taxis, Audis, BMWs, motorcyclists, and other crap drivers – drives me mad. They’re there for a reason, and shouldn’t be ignored.

However, there are no links whatsoever indicating where this has come from, or how reliable it is, and the only quoted source appears to be “Olympic cyclist Sir Chris Hoy”. On top of that, motorists can already be fined for stopping in the box (see later). So you have as much balance as you’d have trying to place a rock on a tightrope. Consequently, I did a bit of Googling, and immediately came up with this article in The Sun (a UK tabloid, registered at the Post Office as a comic). This one is much more interesting.

In this article, dated only a couple of days ago (and more recent than the RAC story, which is from last week), it seems that cyclists could find themselves being fined up to £1,000 if they go over the second (stop) line. And as we all know, most of them do (the ones that don’t use the pavement at the last minute instead, then skip back on to the road once they get across the pedestrian crossings). To be fair, there are no absolute links in this article, either, though they do quote rather more balanced sources than the RAC does.

The thing is, drivers can already be fined and get points on their licence for stopping after the 1st line – and that’s official, from the police. So is the fact that cyclists can already be fined for crossing the 2nd line. It isn’t actually illegal for a motor vehicle to stop in the cycle area unless you do it after the light has changed to red – it’s not illegal if the light changes as you are passing through the box. Of course, the problem with that is that it has to be witnessed by a policeman or caught on camera.

It would appear that the only thing changing is the price list. I cannot see how they could possibly make it completely illegal for a motorist to stop in the cycle area, since there are sometimes extenuating circumstances. The one that jumps instantly to mind is on someone’s driving test – they haven’t seen a red light, the examiner uses the dual controls, and they stop in the box. It happens – it actually happened to one of mine less than a month ago – and the only alternatives would be to shoot the red and either get a prosecution notice or collide with someone, or brake so hard someone goes into the back. DVSA would love having to deal with the fallout from those.

You will also note that the cycle forward area is only for pedal cycles. Motorcycles and motor scooters are classed as motor vehicles along with cars, buses, vans, lorries, etc., and are not supposed to use them. I don’t need to point out that motorcycles and scooters routinely weave past and stop in them.

The only changes that I definitely think should be made are that cyclists get fined the same as motorists for not complying with the rules, and that enforcement is equally distributed. If the fine is increased from the current £50 for cyclists and £100 for motorists to the suggested “up to” £1,000 for everyone, and cyclists get nailed as readily as motorists, then good. And tough.

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A Six Inch Nail Through The Frontal Lobe

I was on a lesson over the weekend, and driving through the city centre and on to London Road we were repeatedly obstructed by a cyclist who was weaving through traffic and riding in the middle of lanes to prevent anyone getting by. Amusingly, he had a GoPro on the front of his helmet – which I assume must have been attached with a couple of 6-inch nails straight through his brain.Cyclist warnings on lorries

I pointed out to my pupil, as this twat weaved his way through traffic and rode straight through red traffic lights at the junction between Lower Parliament Street and Pennyfoot Street, that this was the precise location where a woman cyclist was killed not that long ago. Then, at the roundabout, he skipped on to the pavement to avoid stopping, and we again had to deal with him blocking the left lane he’d re-joined as we approached Hooters.

He wasn’t unusual. He was typical.

Coincidentally, the case against the lorry driver who ran over that woman has just come to its conclusion. He has been found guilty of “causing her death by careless driving”. The BBC Local newsfeed has a few more details – most notably:

Jurors were told it is not illegal for a cyclist to come up the inside of a lorry, but the Highway Code recommends not to do so.

Actually, the Highway Code says various things aimed at cyclists. I can’t find anything like that, but there are plenty of much better ones.

Rule 72

On the left. When approaching a junction on the left, watch out for vehicles turning in front of you, out of or into the side road. Just before you turn, check for undertaking cyclists or motorcyclists. Do not ride on the inside of vehicles signalling or slowing down to turn left.

Rule 73

Pay particular attention to long vehicles which need a lot of room to manoeuvre at corners. Be aware that drivers may not see you. They may have to move over to the right before turning left. Wait until they have completed the manoeuvre because the rear wheels come very close to the kerb while turning. Do not be tempted to ride in the space between them and the kerb.

I don’t think it has been proven one way or the other whether Adam Haywood was signalling. He has never claimed that he was – saying that he cannot remember, but that he normally would have. That Post report somehow has reached the conclusion that he wasn’t, and I believe this is based on the premise that Louise Wright – an all-knowing and completely flawless cyclist – wouldn’t have been there if he – a totally flawed and guilty before proven motorist – had been signalling, so since she was there, he couldn’t have been.

The big problem here is that the Highway Code is full of MUSTs and DO NOTs for motorists (the capitals mean there is a Law that applies). ALL the cyclist rules – with a few notable exceptions – are completely free from hindrance of Laws, meaning cyclists can technically get away with anything. Absolutely no cyclist is anywhere near flawless, and even the exceptions are ignored.

Rule 64

You MUST NOT cycle on a pavement.

I don’t think I need to say again that 95% of cyclists ride on the pavement when it suits them. And 100% of the police force does sod all about it. Then there is:

Rule 60

At night your cycle MUST have white front and red rear lights lit. It MUST also be fitted with a red rear reflector (and amber pedal reflectors, if manufactured after 1/10/85). White front reflectors and spoke reflectors will also help you to be seen. Flashing lights are permitted but it is recommended that cyclists who are riding in areas without street lighting use a steady front lamp.

Not many cyclists have lights fitted, or even reflectors.

Rule 71

You MUST NOT cross the stop line when the traffic lights are red. Some junctions have an advanced stop line to enable you to wait and position yourself ahead of other traffic

The majority think nothing of skipping lights when it suits them, and many haven’t got a clue about cycle forward areas and assume they can do that at any junction.

Rule 66

You should

  • never ride more than two abreast, and ride in single file on narrow or busy roads and when riding round bends
  • not ride close behind another vehicle

It’s common to see the Spandex boys slipstreaming cars and buses. Riding two abreast on country lanes and busy roads is standard behaviour. Earlier this summer there was an organised cycle event around Ruddington and the south of Nottingham, and there were parents riding three or four abreast as they ushered there bloody kids on tiny little toy bikes along the A60. It was extremely dangerous, since the roads had not been closed, and you had to overtake wide.

Considering all of the above, the Pennyfoot Street junction does not have a cycle forward area. The junction is one of the busiest in Nottingham and the accident happened during the rush hour. Any cyclist pushing forward – and especially alongside a lorry – under those conditions would need their head examining. And yet they still do it.

When I’m out on lessons, my blood sometimes runs cold when I suddenly realise that a cyclist has crept up on our left side. It’s bad enough that it almost catches me out – but what about the pupil, who might only be on their second or third session? Even a newly qualified driver may not have suitably developed skills to spot every retard on two wheels who does things like this – and it doesn’t help anyone if they all find out the hard way. Neither the dead or seriously injured cyclist, nor the severely traumatised driver (who will undeservedly get 100% of the blame and 0% sympathy).

It seems that the Law is very eager to blame Adam Haywood for Louise Wright’s death. It is prepared to make all kinds of assumptions without the necessary proof in order to do so. But if you were being completely objective about it, it would be equally simple to make some similar assumptions about Louise Wright putting herself in such a dangerous situation to begin with.

The Highway Code urgently needs some DO NOTs and MUSTs adding to the cycling rules. Unfortunately, before that can happen, the UK needs to start getting real about cycling and road use. The government needs to stop trying to encourage people to ride on the roads, and instead get them on to the very expensive and underused cycle lanes and cycle routes.

Adam Haywood has been found guilty of “careless driving” because such a crime exists. There is no Law about careless cycling, and on that basis Mr Haywood might be considered to have been hard done by over something that was, at best, more like 50:50.


There’s more detail in this updated story on the BBC. The article repeats:

Jurors were told it is not illegal for a cyclist to come up the inside of a lorry, but the Highway Code recommends not to do so.

It also adds:

Jurors were told there is nothing in law to say that a driver must indicate, but the Highway Code says they should.

Only the first nebulous statement was used in determining Adam Haywood’s guilt. The second one was not used at any time to suggest that Louise Wright was equally to blame if such vague reasoning is to be allowed in courts of law. I’m sorry, but this is just f—ing ridiculous.

The BBC’s Local News feed includes a post:

Cyclist death should ‘remind motorists about awareness’

Speaking after the sentencing, Det Con Connie Xavier from the Serious Collision Investigation Unit, said: “It should remind all motorists for the need for absolute awareness.”

“If we allow that awareness to lapse, even for one moment, it can result, as with this case, in a loss of life.”

This is why the police have lost the plot. Where is the vital mention that cyclists should also develop “awareness” and not behave like anarchic prats?

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Nottingham. City. Council. Are. Idiots.

Four years ago, spurred on by the London Olympics, a lot of people with no brains took up cycling, and so joined a lot of other people with no brains who already cycled.

I think I should explain, for about the six hundredth time, that I ride a bike sometimes. But – being in possession of a brain – I tend to do the following:

  • keep away from traffic whenever possible
  • use cycle paths wherever possible
  • follow the rules in the Highway Code

As we all know, though, the vast majority of cyclists do none of these things. They deliberately ride in traffic, deliberately get in the way of traffic, deliberately refuse to use cycle paths and cycle lanes, and do not abide by a single rule in the Highway Code. And they’re just the good ones. The long and the short of it is that the number of brain dead cyclists on the roads has increased dramatically since London, and the Rio Olympics appear to have given the problem another kick start. As a result, the number of actually dead cyclists continues to rise.

Here in Nottingham, the City Council has decided that we should be like Amsterdam as far as bikes are concerned (it also decided we should be like Munich, Hanover, Vienna, Zagreb, and lots of other places it was nice to visit on expensive “fact finding” trips about tram systems, but that’s another story). Consequently, it has continued to plan and introduce more and more dedicated cycle routes – bravely ignoring all opposition – as it steamrollers its Cycle City Ambition Programme through every inch of road.

Probably the worst example at the moment is along Castle Boulevard and the surrounding area. This what the road used to look like:Castle Boulevard before the dedicated cycle route

Notice how the lanes were wide and there was already a cycle lane marked out.

But this is what it is like now, after the installation of Nottingham City Council’s Glorious Cycle Superhighway:Castle Boulevard with the dedicated cycle route

You can see how the kerbed area on the left has taken a significant amount of road away from motor vehicles. If you go back towards the city centre you will also notice that all the residential parking along the side where the cycle route is has been lost.

Further away from the city, at the junction with Abbey Bridge, the roundabout which used to be two lanes wide is now only a single lane (as are all the feed roads). This older shot is from the Lenton side before Google has had a chance to update its imagery:Castle Boulevard and two lanes on the roundabout

As a result – and bearing in mind that this is a main route into the city centre and the Castle Marina Retail Park – traffic is frequently queueing on to the roundabout, even outside rush hour. Nottingham City Council has, in its quest to make sweet love to all cyclists while systematically screwing all motorists, created serious congestion.

But I haven’t got to my point yet, I’m just about to show you proof that Nottingham City Council is staffed by complete and utter f–kwits.

Let’s turn left from Castle Boulevard and on to Abbey Bridge. Here’s what the road looked earlier this year (again, Google imagery hasn’t been updated yet):Abbey Bridge before the cycle route

Nice wide road with a cycle lane either side. Enough room for cars and lorries to keep well away from cyclists.

Here’s what it looks like now, with the Superhighway installed:Abbey Bridge with the cycle superhighway installed

You can’t quite see how narrow the lanes are now that more than a quarter of the road’s width has been given over to the new kerbed cycle route. Back down by the roundabout they’re narrower still, AND they have put in a pedestrian crossing more or less ON the roundabout itself.

Just consider this a moment. The area is more than 90% student accommodation, and is a ten minute walk from the University main campus. Anyone who has ever had to drive during rush hour where there are students and pedestrian crossings will know how much of a delay that can create as the crossing spends more time on red than it does on green. And you purposely put such a crossing right on a roundabout which – as we’ve already seen – is on a road which was busy to begin with, and which has been made more so by the halving of its capacity. And the problems already being encountered have occurred during summer before the students come back…? But I still haven’t come to my point yet – and you’re going to love it!

As you travel over Abbey Bridge and down the other side, you approach the junction with Lenton Lane on the left and Gregory Street on the right. This is what it looks like right now:The Abbey Bridge traffic lights

As the cycle superhighway ends, the road opens up into two lanes at the lights. The lanes are clearly marked as you approach, thus:Abbey Bridge lights - road markings

One detail you might not notice is that, having spent millions on building a dedicated and segregated cycle route, the Council f—kwits have not seen fit to provide any cycle lane between the end of the superhighway and the cycle forward area at the lights. You will understand that in normal operation, hundreds of cars will be trying to move into that left hand lane while – theoretically, at least – hundreds of Bradley Wigginses will be trying to move into it from the superhighway. And it’s not marked up in any way!

But I’m still not there yet. And here it comes.

This is what the road looked like until two days ago. At the weekend they had the road markers out, and this is what they did at this junction. It is exactly the same as in the photo above on the approach, but this is what you have when you get there:Abbey Bridge lights - cycle route markings

Precisely what that left turn arrow is doing there is anyone’s guess. But the placement of a marked cycle lane right in the path of traffic has to be the most stupid and dangerous thing I have ever seen carried out by people in positions of ill-deserved power.

It’s so dangerous it’s criminal. Literally.

I should point out that the last three images were taken from the same video clip I recorded when I drove through the junction today. I didn’t have a picture of the junction prior to the weekend so I simply erased the new cycle lane in the 2nd image to show what it looked like last week.

They simply cannot leave it like this, as it is an accident waiting to happen. The big question, though, is what will they do? The road is too busy – a lot of people turn right – to restrict traffic to just the right hand lane. It isn’t wide enough to accommodate the superhighway and two lanes either at or beyond this junction (I guess that’s why it ends 50m short). There are definitely two lanes on the other side. And the road has been two lanes for so long – decades – changing it now would be dangerous. In any case, the road leads to the ring road, and is a major route to Long Eaton, Beeston, Chilwell, and Derby.

Lenton students are idiots

Someone found the blog on that search term. ALL students are idiots. The problem with Lenton is that 99.9% of the population is student, so the problem is amplified.

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