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The Hedge-blog has news and opinion on all sorts of matters cycling-related.

Hedge-blog: near miss in the town centre

12th April 2019

In the town centre this afternoon, I saw a near miss by the War Memorial. A driver turning from West Park into James Street was within a few centimetres of knocking down a man crossing the road. The driver stopped just in time.

He shouted angrily out of the window of his pick-up truck, 'This is 3 tonnes, you know.' He also said he hadn't even been doing 30mph.

I believe we have allowed ourselves to get things quite wrong in this area. If you have bought and are driving a 3-tonne vehicle in a busy town centre, is that your responsibility, or is it up to everyone else to accommodate you?

Further, a lot of us don't seem to understand that speed limits are only limits, not targets. You drive to the conditions, not to the speed limit. 30mph is inappropriate in a crowded shopping area.

Unfortunately, the British mindset appears to be that it is up to victims not to be run over, not up to drivers to refrain from running people over. When you're crossing the road, how often does someone drive right at you, to make you scurry out of the way? And would threatening someone with any weapon other than a car be deemed acceptable? We need to think afresh.

The justice system - police, CPS, and courts - are hugely reluctant to punish acts of violence if they are committed with a vehicle. Totally different standards apply to the driving of a vehicle, as compared to the operation of any other dangerous machinery.

Put simply, I suggest that drivers should take responsibility for the danger they cause with their vehicles. Where they have priority, that is not a licence to crush a human being.

Hedge-blog: Alan Partridge and passing distance signs

27th February 2019

It's not the first time Bournemouth's passing distance signs have been in the news. Last time, it was because someone had stuck Ainsley Harriott's head on the cyclists on the signs. This time, Alan Partridge is the face of the campaign.

The serious point is that signs asking drivers to leave at least a metre and a half when overtaking a person on a bike are possible. I didn't know that before the Ainsley Harriott story.

I am under no illusions that such signs would be a silver bullet, but there are places where I'd like to see them - places where road design combines with drivers' impatience and lack of awareness to produce frightening close passes time and again. I've written about such signs, and contacted the DfT to suggest them. The DfT dismissed the idea, without mentioning that signs like these are already possible.

So come on Harrogate, come on North Yorkshire, let's take whatever steps are necessary, and get some of these signs put up. Add in some police enforcement against close passes, and we might start to make a difference.

Toothbrush driving

11th October 2018

Hornbeam Park

Hornbeam Park

You've heard of drink driving, you've watched as everybody steers their cars while distracted by their phone, but what about toothbrush driving - is it acceptable?

Read about toothbrush driving.

Pros and cons of cars

3rd October 2018

I've enjoyed reading the diaries of John Dickinson, from Timble (1844 to 1912). He lived through the introduction of motor cars in Yorkshire, and commented on their pros and cons - comments which still resonate today.

Read about pros and cons of cars.

Toyota Aygo ad for distracted driving

28th July 2018

Toyota are promoting their Aygo car on the basis of the text message conversations you can have when you're driving. Why are they building distracted driving into their designs, with, in effect, a mobile phone screen just above the gear stick? And is a video portraying distracted driving an acceptable advert?

Read about the Toyota Aygo ad for distracted driving.

Froome Salbutamol case

25th May 2018

Chris Froome

Chris Froome, by denismenchov08, Licence CC BY-SA 2.0

There's been an awful lot of comment on Chris Froome's Salbutamol case, almost certainly too much. Cycling journalists ask hard questions of Froome, but give the UCI a free ride about the leak of the confidential process. For below the line commenters, everything is evidence of cheating - good and bad performances alike.

Read about the Froome Salbutamol case.

Inspiration from Dutch cycle infrastructure

20th September 2017

Bikes in Zandvoort

Bike lanes in the Netherlands are designed with thought and intelligence to create a joined-up, easily  usable network. I took a few photos of cycle infrastructure in Zandvoort, and I've added some comments about the intention of the planners. In the UK, we should pay particular attention to the way they give bike routes continuity, instead of making them give way to every side street.

Read about inspiration from Dutch cycle infrastructure.

Save our wildlife - don't drive so fast

3rd July 2017

Brown hare, North Yorkshire

An otherwise delightful Sunday morning bike ride was blighted by the sight of too many fresh animal carcasses, the creatures killed by speeding cars. Could we change the law, or change our driving culture, and save our wildlife? Read about save our wildlife - don't drive so fast.

5 thoughts on the N-S Cycle Superhighway

November 2016

A Santander bike hire station near King's Cross

I visited London on a work trip in November, and it was the opportunity to test out the North-South Cycle Superhighway (CS6). My impressions are necessarily superficial - those of a two-journey Big Smoke bicyclist, not a local. Read my 5 thoughts on CS6, and the experience of cycling in London.

Dear Andrew Jones, cycling minister

28th September 2016

Andrew Jones MP opening a road

Andrew Jones MP opening a road, by Highways England, Flickr, Licence CC BY 2.0

An open letter to Andrew Jones, MP for Harrogate & Knaresborough, and minister in the DfT with responsibility for cycling. Two months in, and we have a 'head in hands' moment. Anyone who rides a bike and has seen your crass and offensive 'cyclists hang back' video will be dismayed. It's unclear about the story it's telling, makes a joke out of violence, gives highly dubious advice, encourages bullying of vulnerable road users, and alienates cyclists instead of persuading them. Read an open letter to Andrew Jones, cycling minister.

Overheard on the Nidderdale Greenway

25th July 2016

View from the Nidd Viaduct

'Oh my God, this is the best place ever,' I overheard on the Nidderdale Greenway. 'I really want to come down here with my camera.' There is something special about the view from the Nidd Viaduct, and the fact that a younger generation appreciates it too is encouraging. Read about overheard on the Nidderdale Greenway.

5 thoughts on riding in hot weather

20th July 2016

Road across Dallow Moor

Yesterday was the hottest day of the year so far. It was more than 30 degrees celcius in North Yorkshire, which can't be right. I went for a bike ride, thinking I'd get a breeze, and everything would be fine. I did get a breeze, but the abnormally hot weather made a difference in various ways. Read my 5 thoughts on riding in hot weather.

Gerra bell - an encounter on the Nidderdale Greenway

10th July 2016

Shared path sign on Nidderdale Greenway

I was out for a Sunday morning ride, and when passing a dog-walker, apparently in a civilised and amicable fashion, he growled 'gerra bell' at me, even though I had a bell and I'd used it. What lessons can be learned from this encounter (or are there no useful conclusions which can be drawn)? Read about gerra bell - an encounter on the Nidderdale Greenway.

Cycling Embassy of Great Britain's design principles

14th March 2016

Spanish cycle infrastructure

The Cycling Embassy of Great Britain published draft design principles for mass cycling last month. They suggest categorising roads as 'through', 'distributor', or 'access', and providing for cycling according to the road category. Read more about the Cycling Embassy of Great Britain's design principles...

UK Cycling news

Cycle Superhighway, London

Reports on cycling in the UK, including national policy and government actions, and significant developments locally in different parts of the country. Read the UK cycling news.