Yesterday afternoon I received word from LCC of a flash protest that they were organising at Bow Roundabout last night after the fourth cycling death in 8 days in London. I picked up CS2 on Whitechapel High Road and headed east to Bow Roundabout. It was rush hour at the time, around 6 p.m. and traffic was heavy as it always is.
It was not my first time at all on CS2, but it was my first trip to the Bow Roundabout.
I wanted to write about the so-called 'Vigilante Cycle Gang' as reported with such revolting bias in a local rag. As regular viewers of my videos may know I often have problems with the bus gate crossing Belgrave Middleway in Birmingham, which is of dangerous design, where traffic restrictions are unenforced and is effectively lawless.
The signs clearly show the crossing to be for buses and cycles only but this doesn't stop a significant minority of motorists from passing illegally, using it as a rat run to the Moseley and Pershore Roads. Right turns are banned from all arms of the junction yet frequently ignored by drivers, putting pedestrians and cyclists at extra risk.
You may have come across the current RoadPeace campaign "Crash not Accident". The premise being that:
Crash Not Accident is a campaign for more neutral,
constructive terminology when referring to collisions on the roads.
"We understand that many collisions occur without
intent. But we object to the use of ‘accident’ as the standard term for all
collisions, including those where the driver is convicted of causing the death,
manslaughter, or even murder."
On the whole, I support this campaign about the language
used when referring to collisions and the connotations that come from the word
"accident". The word accident itself is not a legal word but in
practice it’s often intended to refer to any situation when the actions of a
person were not deliberate.
On Sunday, a collection of Birmingham's cyclists got together for a flashride to raise the profile of cycling in the UK outside of the capital.
It was great fun and a really great mix of people and bikes. From cyclists in full MAMIL regalia on carbon fibre hi-spec road bikes, to single speed bikes, recumbents, trikes, trailers, kids on bikes, kids in carry
chairs and on trailers, mountain bikes and Pashley’s with baskets etc.
Whatever our style or the type of bike we rode, we all had
something in common, a desire to highlight the need for better cycling
infrastructure in Birmingham.
Following a landmark report on the future of cycling in Britain by the All Party Parliamentary Cycling Group (APPCG) that is calling for 10% of all journeys in Britain to be by bike by 2025, the London Cycling Campaign (LCC) have organised a "space for cycling" protest ride to coincide with the Parliamentary debate on the APPCG report.
Ahead of what is being called the most important Parliamentary debate on Cycling EVER, cycling solicitor Tim Beasley from our Birmingham office will be attending a Flashride this Sunday morning in Birmingham.
Scheduled to start at 9:45am, from Victoria Square, cyclists will embark on a short ride around Birmingham to raise the profile of cycling in the UK outside of the capital. The BBC will be covering the event which calls upon the people of Birmingham to show their support for a greener more pleasant country where people of all ages are safe to cycle around without the risk of tragedy.
Come along and show your support!
Further details on facebook here.
Don't forget to like Levenes Cycle whilst you're on facebook! Find us here.
Birmingham’s inner city tunnels (St Chad’s and Queensway) are closed for maintenance between 19th July and 2nd September. Any time the tunnels get blocked such as when a car brakes down on the inner ring road, traffic in and around the centre of Birmingham comes to a complete standstill. Motorized traffic that is, because even though commuting by bike in Birmingham can be challenging, one thing is sure – when Birmingham City Centre grinds to a halt, cycling is a lot quicker.
In anticipation of the closures Centro have funded an initiative to encourage more people to take to 2 wheels and beat the jams. They have organised a series of led rides – dubbed “Bike Trains” starting at 7.45 from various locations around the city. The aim is to find quiet routes that novice cyclists might try as an alternative to the scarier routes into the city such as Walsall Road/Birchfield Road.
On Wednesday 10th July I joined the Perry Barr to Birmingham bike train. (Video of the train at the bottom of this article) The attendance was a little disappointing. There were 2 punters (me included) and two ride leaders who met up at the College Road entrance to Alexander stadium. The first thing we did was sign a waiver and then dismount and cross Walsall Road on foot. It was over a minute that we stood at the pedestrian crossing waiting for the lights to change. It took a total of 3 minutes to cross both carriageways. Then we walked to the junction with Perry Avenue. It was 3 minutes 30 seconds into the “ride” before I was actually riding. Then we were on our way turning left into Perry Avenue and right into Glendower Road. My criticism of the train is that you have to take these detours, it’s not a criticism of the ride leaders themselves who were only doing their job.
Before too long we were stopping again to use a pedestrian crossing to cross back on to the Walsall Road by the One Stop shopping centre. We then rode away from the city because the quiet route - which the ride leader said more than once - is the “recommended” route - takes a wide detour of the interchange at the Birmingham City University/One Stop Shopping Centre. There was one more dismounting - to get across the middle ring road at New John Street before we picked our way through Newtown. The train continued with just 3 riders towards it’s final terminus at Victoria Square as I peeled off to head for the office.
I think there is merit in this initiative. The turnout was low but I wonder if more people will cotton on when the tunnels actually close. It was useful to be taken on some quieter roads. However, it took 50% longer to get to work than my normal route. Given my experience in April of cycling in Amsterdam, I cannot help feel that your average Dutch cyclist would have laughed at the whole idea right from the signing of a waiver, to the dismounting and the avoidance of the most direct routes. The truth is, if Birmingham had proper cycling infrastructure you would not need a “bike train” to promote it.
I do think though that the closure of the tunnels is an opportunity. People will be reluctant to abandon their cars for as long as they perceive that using the car is convenient. If the roads are snarled up with traffic perhaps a few people will venture out on their bikes. Let’s hope so.
I enjoyed the ride. It is nice to ride in company and I am going to look for some more routes, that are reasonably direct (with no dismounting) but avoid Walsall Road/Birchfield Road.