I cycle past Kings Cross and Euston on most days. Despite its reputation as one of the most dangerous junctions in London, there is little I can do to avoid it without adding a lot of time to my commute. So what does one do when a car passes you with only a “painted O” on the road as separation? Those who read this blog may realise that I am not averse to giving errant drivers a slap on the side of the car, as an suggestion that perhaps they have come too close… below is a picture taken on Monday – no phot0shopping involved. So how close is too close?
Edit: my Dad always said that you shouldn’t put yourself in a vulnerable position. So how can this be achieved when a car with 563 horse power (in this case, EN10 GGO, Mercedes SLS) is pitted against a bike? Defensive cycling will only get you so far.
My wheel’s bigger than yours… I think…
Safety is by far the top of my priority list when it comes to cycling in London, so I often forget about one of the other health issues with cycling – pollution. One of the least pleasant things about summer cycling is sitting behind a chugging diesel engine and inhaling a lungful of hot pollutants.
I remember doing some work with the DVLA a couple of years ago, and learning about the way that vehicle excise duty (VED) works. Basically, the amount that you pay yearly in “road tax” (a common misnomer) is dependent on your vehicle’s carbon dioxide emissions. But carbon dioxide is not the only pollutant – far from it. There’s also the matter of particulate emissions (in contrast to those that are gaseous). For particulates there are Euro standards for diesel engines, but I would imagine that there are enough excemptions to please the freight lobby.A natural consequence of consumers being taxed on CO2 emissions is for manufacturers to alter the design of their vehicles to reduce this one measure of pollution, but perhaps by raising one of the others.
You can look up your own vehicle’s emissions here [http://carfueldata.direct.gov.uk/search-new-or-used-cars.aspx]. I would love for there to be a low emissions zone in London. Will this happen any time soon?
Ok, so I understand the need for 20 mph speed limits, but sometimes think they can be over-zealously applied.
Haverstock Hill in Camden is perhaps a case in point. Lovely, fairly wide, and in many parts without the usual distractions of parked cars, it has in part been made a 20 mph zone, which is odd as some of the residential side streets that come off it present you with a sign that raises the limit back to 30 mph.
As a driver I am frustrated at such a low limit, and as a cyclist, I can hardly say I feel much safer. And the joy of free wheeling down the hill has been replaced by a constant checking on my phantom speedometer. On the way up, cars sometimes struggle to overtake me safely.
In the end though, it doesn’t seem as if the limit is being enforced, as drivers seem happy to drive at whatever speed limit they used to, regardless. Presumably there was a cost to the consultation process and consequent re-design – money well spent?
Something strange has happened. A few months ago when I drew up my top 5 of vehicles I was wary of on London’s roads, buses didn’t make the shortlist. But over the last few weeks I have seen an increased amount of aggression from bus drivers. Today I was almost squished by a bus near St Paul’s. The driver’s excuse was that the bike lane I was in ran out, so therefore he was well within his rights to cut me up. This is just not good enough, especially given recent events.