Cycling in Copenagen

Another trip to a European city to add to my list – Copenhagen. Much like Rotterdam, Stockholm, and Berlin, people don’t wear helmets, dress up with enough lights to fit a christmas tree, or high visibility clothing.

On my return to the UK, I read another article in the Daily Mail that is clearly designed to whip up public anger, nominally on the topic of cyclists jumping read lights.

Anecdotally, I have noticed an increase in the number of vehicles jumping reds, perhaps inspired by the cyclists who do the same. The difference between the two is that a cyclist jumping a red will mostly endanger themselves, while a vehicle doing the same may have consequences of an order of magnitude more severe.

 

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Cycling in Sri Lanka

Sri Lankan Cycling

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View from Chaldon, North Downs

View from Chaldon

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Kings Cross

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.

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My wheel’s bigger than yours… I think…

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Pollution

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?

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Rotterdam

Rainy, windy, Rotterdam. Nasty rush hour, plenty of cyclists, not a single helmet!

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The Need for Speed

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?

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