Re-cycling difficulties in London

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Serco staff struggle to cope with the overflow bike parking near Waterloo Station by London’s South Bank.

They were having to free up some docking stations so people could check their bikes in.

The surplus bikes are then loaded on to a lorry and distributed to empty or depleted cycle hire locations around the capital.

Having used the cycle hire scheme successfully on several occasions, yesterday evening I found I couldn’t get a green light to release a bike.

The helpful Serco operative checked my balance with me on the terminal and it was fine. However, I couldn’t release a bike, even though I tried putting my key in about 10 docking stations.

Today I enquired by phone and was told that you have to wait 5 minutes after getting a red light before you can try for a green light, due to the configuation of the computer system running the scheme.

The helpdesk operator was surprised I wasn’t aware of the 5 minute rule. I said in that case I was equally, if not more surprised, that the Serco contractor wasn’t aware of it either.

Better communication needed all round.

And much, much more user research, modelling and usability testing needed for systems like this (and yes, that is an offer of my professional services!).

On yer bike!

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Yesterday I cycled to and from a client meeting twelve miles away.

If I’ve understood correctly, this means I can claim £4.80 in business mileage against tax (i.e. 24 miles at 20 pence per mile).

If I’d driven I would be able to claim £9.60 (i.e. 24 miles at 40 pence per mile).

It got me wondering. Perhaps it’s based on 10 pence per wheel.

Here are the rates (taken from the HM Revenue & Customs website):

Approved mileage rates
From 2002/03 First 10,000 business miles
in the tax year
Each business mile over
10,000 in the tax year
Cars and vans 40p 25p
Motor cycles 24p 24p
Bicycles 20p 20p

How about giving cyclists the same rate as car drivers?

I understand it costs more to run a car – I have on of those too. But if we really want people to do more exercise and reduce their carbon emissions surely we need to be offering better incentives.

Of course the great news is that if you cycle more than 10,000 miles in a year, the rate stays the same. Hooray!

See and Be Seen around HGVs

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This via our discussion forum at work:

June 26-27 Tuesday & Wednesday 7am – 7pm

Your chance to see what the HGV driver sees, or doesn’t see. Turn up anytime

Two large lorries will be set up all day Tuesday and Wednesday in Trafalgar Square. This is your chance to get up close and stay safe. Sit in the driver’s cab, see what you look like in the driver’s mirror. Walk / cycle around the lorry, discover where you can be seen and where you cannot. Talk to the police and some drivers, explain what it’s like cycling near a lorry.

One objective is to educate cyclists by getting to understand lorries. The other objective is to educate lorry drivers and trainers. You can take part in video filming of your moves and reactions, tell them what you think and feel. These videos will be used to help train lorry drivers in London. The aim is to reduce the number of collisions and deaths. If a lorry hits a cyclist – it’s the cyclist who hurts.

This show is put on by the Commercial Vehicle Education Unit of the Met Police. They are working to make freight transport safer.


Please pass this information on to other cyclists . . . . .

Charlie Lloyd

Cycling Development Officer

London Cycling Campaign

Cyclists should be allowed to use the road

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I’ve just added my name to this petition:

The new highway code requries cyclsits to use cycle facilities ‘wherever possible’. Many facilities are of poor standard, or just plain dangerous. cyclists should not be forced to use such facilities against their better judgment.

In short, cyclists should be allowed to use the road.

Deadline to sign up by: 18 June 2007 – Signatures: 7,083

Add your name to the petition here.

Cycling charter from the Evening Standard

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I saw that David Cameron fellow riding his bike to work down Constitution Hill this morning on my cycle commute to White City. He appeared to have a bit of an entourage and wasn’t wearing a cycle helmet. When I mentioned this to a friend at work he suggested he didn’t need a cycle helmet with all that protection around him.

Meanwhile, it’s good to see something being done by the Evening Standard to help London’s cyclists… (of course, this doesn’t have to be limited to London)

Evening Standard’s 12-point charter

  1. A real cycle network across London
  2. Better cycle lanes with proper segregation
  3. Enforcement of special advanced stop lines for cyclists
  4. HGVs to be fitted with special cyclist safety mirrors
  5. Compulsory cyclist awareness training for all bus drivers and new HGV drivers
  6. Make safe the Thames bridges: some of the most dangerous places for cyclists
  7. Cycle-friendly streets: fewer one-way systems which funnel cyclists into the middle of traffic
  8. More cycle parking across London
  9. A police crackdown on bike theft
  10. Campaign to urge the selfemployed to claim a 20p a mile cycling allowance against tax
  11. Better cycle-bus-rail coordination: adequate parking at all railway stations
  12. Cycle training for all schoolchildren and any adult who wants it

What do I do to keep fit?

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Nigel tagged me a wee while ago and I’ve finally had a moment to respond.

Here are a few things I do to keep fit:

  • Running – it’s my Dad’s fault, and it’s his Dad’s fault! There’s nothing quite like it for clearing my mind. The more undulating the better… the Yorkshire Dales and the eastern Pyrennees are perfect, and East Dulwich and surrounding area has plenty to offer too.
  • Cycling – to work – it’s a 12 mile journey each way and I’m managing about 6 journeys out of 10 a week at the moment.
  • Not using lifts and walking up escalators – there are 124 steps at Elephant & Castle, down in the morning, up in the evening. When I’m not cycling of course.
  • Walking – what better way to get to know somewhere than to have time to stop every now and then and look up.

A case for more cycle lanes… if anyone can be bothered…

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On Tuesday morning at precisely 8 o’clock I crashed in to the back of a moped on my bicycle. And it hurt.

The moped had just overtaken me and then braked sharply in front of me to turn left at the junction of the Old Kent Road – in the direction of Elephant & Castle – and Surrey Square.

Now if you’re a cyclist you get used to this kind of hazard and normally you have time to cycle round the obstruction. Of course if they thought for a moment they’d realise how utterly stupid and selfish their manoeuvre actually is.

Unfortunately in this instance, my path around the moped was blocked by a light green Renault Kangoo which was moving pretty quickly from the congested right lane to the left lane which was pretty clear in front… apart from me and the moped.

The Renault driver would have had full view of me and the moped and would have been able to anticipate our movements, but didn’t.

So in a split second my reflexes took over. I didn’t overtake as this would have meant colliding with the Renault. Instead I braked as much as I could and crashed in to the back of the moped. There was a loud cracking sound. In fact it sounded more like a car crash. The moped and driver shunted forward. I went over the handle bars and landed on the bit of tarmac now vacated by the moped.

No broken bones, but my hands and right knee were consdierably bloodied from the impact with the Old Kent Road, pieces of which I removed later that morning. Apparently it’s called “road burn” – delightful! Plus mild shock and some muscular aches and pains in neck, back and arms.

So who caused this accident? In the immediate aftermath my anger was directed towards the Renault driver. But since replaying the incident in my head dozens of times, I can’t help feeling that even though I ended up crashing in to the back of him, the moped driver held some responsibility.

The other thing that has struck me, as well as leaving me feeling upset and angry, is that no-one, NOT ONE SINGLE PERSON, stopped to see if I was alright!

That includes the Renault and the moped drivers.

Isn’t it just as illegal to leave the scene of an accident with a bicycle as it is with a car.

That’s right, everyone just carried on as if nothing had happened. Well most of them slowed down a little to gawp.

There’s no wikipedia entry yet for “Bystander apathy” – I guess everyone’s just waiting for someone else to do it.

When I asked on two separate occasions for some passing traffic wardens to call the police, they said that unless I had a registration number from the car or moped there was no point.

So to add insult to injury I really was made to feel like a second-class citizen because I was on a bicycle and not destroying the environment with my carbon-burning car.

As many people have pointed out since, it could have been a lot worse.

I guess I can only hope the other drivers involved have it on their conscience enough to avoid causing this kind of accident in the future.

I’ve had some kind messages from friends and family and I will be back on my bike very soon.