Blog on The Landscape, Outdoors, Society, Transport

The Cycle Path Test

 

Cycle Path

Image by Pam Patterson from Pixabay

Near where I live runs a path along the former trackbed of the closed railway line from Newark to Nottingham. There are many old lines like this across the country – I’ve also walked on the path at Threlkeld in the Lake District and part of the Monsal Trail in Derbyshire. They are wonderful places to visit to experience the outdoors – mostly surfaced, level and easy to walk on for everyone, many like ours here are designated cycle paths as part of the Sustrans network that since the seventies has made at least something good from the Beeching annihilation of the railway network of the sixties.

I am quite happy to use cycle paths whether they’re in the countryside or in the town, though it seems many people don’t seem to agree with cyclists using them. I have seen on so many occasions cars parked on cycle lanes and on the railway path I encounter people walking dogs or otherwise exercising who rather than returning my friendly “morning” and smile just scowl at me, I know what they’re thinking – I’m one of these annoying cyclists who rides on their footpath and integral dog toilet.

Even the ones who don’t think the place belongs solely to them seem oblivious to the fact that there might just be the odd bike rider around at some point.

One day I saw a man who had walked down one of the entrance ramps to the path, he hesitated at the edge of the path with his back to me and then just as I reached where he was he took two steps to his right, without looking behind him, straight into my way – I swerved round him while shouting “whoa”… and only narrowly missed ending up amongst the nettles.

Last Sunday I approached a group of four women taking up the whole width of the path, I rang my bell a number of times until one of them looked round and said “oh, sorry we didn’t see you there” or hear me, presumably. Then, as I passed between them she said “you’ll have to negotiate them now” – the ‘them’ in question being six big dogs, running free on the path ahead, without leads and quite a way away. As they tend to do the women called their respective pets’ names and I then suddenly had a group of dogs running in my direction and one heading straight for me, I had to stop completely, expecting it to actually collide with me. “You’d never think this was a CYCLE PATH” I muttered, audibly, as I set off again.

Ruined my Strava time on that segment too.

Further along at regular intervals were a number of small tied-up blue bags left on either side of the path, no doubt waiting for the dog-mess fairy to pick up later, as someone else will always clear things up won’t they… But that’s a whole other blog post right there.

[I’m all for recycling, hence the title’s unmistakable similarity to today’s other, related, post]

 

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Society, Transport, Uncategorized

Big Fish, Little Fish

Temporary Cycle Lane Shift Back To Controflow

Temporary Cycle Lane Shift Back To Controflow (Photo credit: samsaundersleeds)

Just a quick thought on various road users and annoyance.  Yesterday a lorry pulled out in front of me on a roundabout while I was in a small works van, by his gesticulating he clearly felt that I shouldn’t have been there.  Some car drivers get annoyed with cyclists because they think they’re getting in the way and shouldn’t be on the road and then this morning whilst on an early morning bike ride in the sunshine I was a bit miffed at having to slow down and wait for a guy (who had been running) wandering along a narrow cycle path with headphones on so he was completely unaware that I was wanting to get past and get home for a cool drink.

Seems we’re just all getting in each others’ way.  C’est la vie.

Edit:  On a serious note I’ve just seen this article which demonstrates the dangers and I’m amazed the cyclist walks away at the end of the video.

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Health, Psychology, Random, Society

Slip Sliding Awaaaay

Snow Dawn (©2012 by Andy Vickers)

Snow Dawn (©2012 by Andy Vickers)

I don’t mind the cold, I like snow and I feel the chill later than most people I know but sometimes I see other people who make me shiver.  During the recent bad weather I have still seen numerous men out during the day in the snow, and more recently gale-force winds and stinging rain in just jeans and t-shirt, or often, football shirt.  The epitome of image over health.

You can see they’re trying to look like they’re not bothered but you can see them straining not to visibly shiver.  “I’m ffffine, it’s not ccccold at all”.  It’s not just men though, I see many women who do the same.  It’s not too bad if you’re only going out in the cold for a couple of minutes, say from one warm pub to the next on a Saturday night, but walking to or from work, going shopping where you’re outdoors more than inside?  I don’t think so.  As any experienced walker, climber or Arctic explorer will tell you layering is important, getting layers of insulating fabric and air between you and the atmosphere, as well as keeping dry.  Hypothermia can set in remarkably quickly and isn’t pleasant.

But it’s not just protection against the cold, people seem to choose odd footwear for the snow and ice too.  The number of people I see slithering around on icy paths in slick soled shoes and trainers is astounding, admittedly nothing’s going to work on sheet ice for goodness sake people you can get basic walking trainers with chunky, rough grippy soles for next to nothing these days, fashion isn’t worth ending up flat on your backside for.  Though at least if you have a decent thick coat on your landing would be a bit softer.

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Funny, Random, Science

Ever Decreasing Circles

English: Tree Stump, near to Langbank, Renfrew...

English: Tree Stump, near to Langbank, Renfrewshire, Great Britain. Looking past the tree stump and silage pit over the River Clyde to the west side of Dumbarton. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Most people have at one point said “I’m going round in circles” but many experiments have shown that a blindfolded person, when told to walk in a straight line, will end up walking in a curve to one side.  On the edition of QI tonight Jack Dee suggested this may be some kind of self-preservation response but nobody really knows why it is.

On the same programme the example of the experiment described involved a man who set off across a field blindfolded and spiralled right in smaller circles until he fell over a tree stump.  This proves one of two things however – humans can detect minute changes in the Earth’s magnetic or gravitational fields caused by things like tree stumps and are drawn towards them, or the universe has a sense of humour.

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Society, Tech

Pay Attention People

Heads up

Heads up (Photo credit: Brett Jordan)

A couple of years ago I was on my way home from work, it was December, raining, cold and I’d just walked two miles.  I was just approaching my street when a loud group of youths came walking the other way down the narrow path which was separated from the road by a railing.  Most of the group passed by me except one lad who was busy texting on his phone, not looking where he was going.  I walked as close to the wall as I could and he passed by.

The next thing I know this lad is shouting at me about how I should look where I’m going and that I nearly knocked his phone out of his hand, I carried on walking while he continued to rant, apparently about how important and the centre of the universe he was and that I should have moved for his lordship.

Having had a really lousy day I turned, walked back and firmly told him that it was him not looking where he was going and was only looking at his phone – “yeah, cos I’m busy” he replied – working on a multi-million pound equity deal no doubt – while his friend held on to him and his girlfriend crowed “it’s not wurf it mate” to me.

I agreed with that at least so turned and carried on walking.

It turns out that this condition afflicts many people these days – the inability to move from one place to another without tweeting or updating facebook – so much so that in New York signs have been put up to try to prevent collisions in future.

The signs are actually the work of street artist Jay Shells who campaigns for better social etiquette and whose previous works have included signs about not flicking cigarette butts on the ground.  Of course it’s not just pedestrian collisions that happen because of people not watching where they’re going, people have actually been hit by vehicles too so the message is serious.

So mind where you’re walking out there and if you’re reading this on the move for goodness sake LOOK UP!

[Metro]

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