Way to Go!

<a href=”https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/trains-planes-and-automobiles/”>Trains, Planes, and Automobiles</a>

You’re going on a cross-country trip. Airplane, train, bus, or car? (Or something else entirely — bike? Hot air balloon?)
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Choice of transport mode? No contest, Airplanes mean crowds, waiting in line, luggage getting lost, feeling shoved around discomfort, boredom.

Trains – well in the old days trains were fun. In the days of steam, Thomas the tank engine and the Fat Controller…yes, trains in stories were great. The Railway Children, Hogwarts Express…The reality was much less fun, Overcrowding seems to be the norm and even if you have a seat booked you have a struggle to find it and then have to get the person sitting in it to move. Can be tricky.

Bus? If you live in a rural area of Britain just finding a bus can be a challenge. A lot of the rural bus services have been shut down as “uneconomical”.

A car does give you the chance to set your own pace – or at least choose your own traffic jam. But at least one of the party has the job of driving and can’t enjoy the trip and the scenery,  It costs too, fuel, servicing, maintenance, MOT, vehicle excise duty, driving licence, insurance. Cars are an expensive luxury that would not be used to the same degree if we had a really good public transport system.

The best way to go is under your own power on two – or three wheels.

“In a car you’re bound and fettered
But a bike can not be bettered
As a way to get yourself from A to B
So I beg you, do not drive,
Breathe fresh air and come alive
Get  a bike and come and ride along with me!”

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Or just possibly this way…..

CG16D

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SLASH AND BURN

<a href=”https://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_prompt/slash-and-burn/”>Slash and Burn</a>

Write 500 words on any topic you like. Now remove 250 of them without changing the essence of your post.
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There are many reasons to ride. My own are what I call the 4 Es

ECONOMY
ECOLOGY
EXERCISE
ENJOYMENT
ECONOMY riding a bike has got to be cheaper than a car. Think  of the costs of buying a vehicle, insurance, fuel and servicing, MOT, license and vehicle excise duty – often wrongly called “road fund license”.

ECOLOGY Consider the harm done to the environment by cars and buses, Petrol and diesel fumes, exhaust gases all pollute. Every car adds to our carbon footprint.

EXERCISE With a bike as a way of getting around your daily journey to work e can be a time of enjoyment. The exercise you get sets you up for the day. I know, I’ve been there. I can remember going into an office and finding one colleague moaning about traffic jams and parking, another complaining about the slowness of the bus service and the cost of fares. The only happy man was to one whose bike was chained to the hatstand.

ENJOYMENT If I am honest, none of the reasons listed above would make me want to ride my bike if I didn’t enjoy it. Cycling is economical, it is ecologically friendly , it will help you keep fit, but above all it is FUN

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Here is the longer version

A difficult one, this.What can I go on about for 500 words…Riding a bike and/or a trike. Yes! Even if it is a bit rubbishy and repeats lots of things I’ve said in previous  articles/posts etc.

There are as many ways of riding and reasons to ride as there are cyclists. My own take on this matter is that I ride for what I call the 4 E’s

  • ECONOMY
  • ECOLOGY
  • EXERCISE
  • ENJOYMENT

ECONOMY riding a bike has got to be cheaper than driving a car. The cost of buying the vehicle, insuring it and feeding it petrol (or I suppose diesel) and oil, servicing and taxing the machine, learning to drive the damn thing and keeping up with the changing regulations on what you can and can’t do on today’s roads. Then there’s MOT and license and vehicle excise duty – often wrongly referred to as “road fund license”. This tax has not been used exclusively for road maintenance since I understand the 1930s.

Everyone pays for the upkeep of our roads if they have an income. Roads are funded from general taxation, income tax and council tax. Someone who never ventures outside his front door, doesn’t drive a car or ride a bike or even walk on the pavement nevertheless if he eans money and pays tax on it contributes to the upkeep of our highways.

ECOLOGY Just think of the harm done to the environment by the use of various other means of transport. Buses, cars, coaches, taxis all pollute, some more so than others. Petrol and diesel fumes, exhaust gases. Maintenance  of roads and motorways has come at a cost to the environment. Every car adds its bit to our carbon footprint. Every car journey does it bit to deplete the atmosphere.

EXERCISE with a bike as a way of getting around you are able to keep fit without the hassle of joining a gym or indulging in sweaty workouts. Your daily journey to work if done on a bike can be a time of enjoyment and benefit. The exercise you get sets you up for the day. I know I’ve been there. I can remember going into an office and finding one colleague moaning about traffic jams and the difficulties of parking, another complaining about the slowness of the bus service and the cost of fares. The only happy worker was to one whose bike was chained to the hatstand. Yes, there are some problems with commuting by bike; bikes can get stolen or vandalised. I’ve known saddle bags or pumps being taken and some people were in the habit of removing their saddle and when leaving the bike with the thought, I suppose, that a thief must be pretty desperate if he is prepared to ride minus saddle.

ENJOYMENT If I am honest, though, none of the reasons listed above would make me want to ride my bike if I didn’t enjoy it. Cycling is economical, yes; it is ecologically friendly , true; it will help you keep fit… well, maybe. But above all it is FUN.

10 Commandments for Car Drivers

1          Is your car journey really necessary? Would it be cheaper, easier, safer, and pleasanter if you walked or cycled or travelled by bus?

2          Allow plenty of clearance when passing a cyclist, the same distance you would allow for a car – and then some. Why? Cars don’t wobble, cyclists do. Fact of life. Potholes, crap on the highway and other obstacles have a greater effect on a bike than on a car.

3          Don’t think that because you see a bike ahead you must pass it at all costs. Only overtake when it is safe to do so.

 4          There are complaints about cyclists riding without lights at night. Not a good thing to do, I agree, but what about drivers who fail to dip their lights and dazzle cyclists and pedestrians. Much worse and more likely to cause an accident.

5          The advance stop lines at traffic lights are there for the use of cyclists – not for drivers in a hurry who want to get away fastest when the lights change. It surprises me how many drivers don’t seem to know this.

6          Don’t park on the pavement. (American readers amend this to “sidewalk” – i.e. the part of the highway reserved for pedestrians.) If there isn’t room to park on the road, then go somewhere else, don’t force pedestrians into the carriageway.

 7          Remember that a cyclist has as much right to be on the road as a car driver. A cyclist – or for that matter a pedestrian – is allowed to proceed along any road except a motorway. You can legally walk along a busy A road with a speed limit of 60 mph and no footway, pushing a pram and leading a dog. Foolhardy maybe, but not illegal.

 8          If you use your horn, use it sensibly. No use blasting at a cyclist when you are already alongside, all that is likely to do is to cause a timid rider to swerve and perhaps fall.

 9          Be especially careful on country lanes. No footway, no lights, sometimes blind bends and often the national speed limit, plus the chance of a piece of heavy farm machinery or a herd of cows coming towards you.

10        Get a life, get a bike!

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In a car you’re bound and fettered
But a bike can not be bettered
As a way to get yourself from A to B
So I beg you, do not drive
Breathe fresh air and come alive
Get on your bike and come and ride along with me.

 ESME

CG16D

 

Tuesday Tirade

Five things Motorists do that infuriate cyclists:

 1 Feel they MUST pass a bike

There is a strange assumption that if there is a bicycle – or a tandems or a trike  – in front of you, it is imperative that you pass it.  It doesn’t matter how fast or how slow it is going. If it is a bicycle you must pass it. A fast racing bike with a strong rider can get up to 30 or even 40 mph. Cyclists aren’t compelled to have speedometers as cars do, so in a 30 mph limit a cyclist might be legally riding at 35 mph but a car trying to out run him is breaking the law. Not that most drivers would know or care about this.

2. They don’t allow enough clearance when passing

The Highway Code tells a driver to allow as much space for a bicycle as for a car, Common-sense would suggest you allow more. Bikes can wobble and swerve to avoid potholes or debris. Cars don’t do this.

From my own observation many drivers regard a bicycle as a stationary object and will drive as close to a cyclist as they would to a brick wall.  When we cut the hedge outside our property we put a wheelbarrow a couple of feet from the edge of the road. It baffles me that drivers will give a stationary object like a wheelbarrow far more clearance than a moving bicycle. 

3. They play follow the leader

If one car driver can see far enough ahead to get past a bicycle or group of bicycles safely often the driver behind will assume that he can too. It doesn’t always work. Road conditions change by the minute.  An adequate gap 30 seconds ago is a dangerous gamble now and a suicidal risk ten seconds later.

Of course when a driver is faced with crashing head-on into a lorry or swerving and hitting a cyclist, can you blame him for picking the softer target?

4. They dazzle cyclists (and pedestrians) at night

A poetic take on this:

I’m flattered if you raise your hat 
In greeting when we meet.
Such charming old-world courtesy
I find is kind of sweet.
I like it if you open doors
Or offer me your seat
Politely in a crowded bus
Or on a busy train
Or hold your brolly over me
As shelter from the rain.

But why should your behaviour change
These manners that I like
When you are in your limousine
And I am on my bike?
When I am cycling down the lane
On dark and stormy nights
And you are speeding homeward
Why won’t you dip your lights?

A hat that’s doffed is very nice
But better far for me
Are headlights dipped as you approach
To let me clearly see
The potholes and the hazards.
What I would most delight in
Is clearance when you overtake
On lanes with no street lighting.

I don’t care if you cut me dead,
Ignore my cheerful greetings,
But please try not to cut me up
When driving home from meetings!
Your intentions may be friendly
But when I’m on my bike
A close encounter with a car
Is something I don’t like!

5. They Park on Cycle Lanes

‘Nuff said. Dangerous because it means the cyclist has to pull out into a (usually) heavy traffic flow to get past.

NB All except No 5 do not apply when I am riding my recumbent trike. I don’t know why drivers give little old ladies on recumbent trikes better treatment – I am just glad they do!

ESME

CG16D

Getting Rid of the Infernal Combustion Engine

When my father was born the motor car was in its infancy. Most people didn’t have their own car, they walked, cycled used buses and trains to get around. Now alas, we’ve moved to a situation where it is assumed that everyone – with a few weird exceptions – will have a driving licence and a car.

This is crazy.

Our  roads are overcrowded and  the traffic jams get worse by the day. Crimes such as road rage, theft of vehicles, driving uninsured or while banned have all increased. Breaking the speed limit is regarded as  a minor misdemenour rather than a crime. The pollution from traffic fumes makes  hundreds of people ill and hundreds more are killed or maimed in road traffic accidents.

When will our government – or indeed any government – see that what we need is fewer cars?  Cars that go at a sensible speed and most important of all are driven by skilled and careful drivers.

The notion that anyone and everyone should drive. whether they are a doddery old pensioner with failing sight and slowing reflexes or a speed-mad teenager,  is totally barmy. I want to see driving regarded as a skilled and specialised job, subject to stringent testing of both physical and mental capacity. Driving should be a high status profession,  properly rewarded with a substantial pension on retirement.

In my ideal state most households would not have a car of their own.  For short journeys they would walk, cycle or use buses.  Once the number of cars is restricted both walking and cycling will be much more attractive as a way of getting about.  For medium or long journeys you would hire a driver and an appropriate vehicle.

Most workplaces would have their own (small) pool of drivers.  When a middle manager, say, was asked to travel to a meeting in a town 50 miles away he would be allocated a car and a driver.  Thus no-one would be expected to do two jobs – one as a manager and a subsidiary one as a driver.  In the same way other people who are  expected to travel around to visit clients – anything from computer engineers to district nurses – would have a driver to take them to their destination.  So they could concentrate on their own speciality fixing computers or nursing rather than devoting a proportion of their time and energy to driving and the associated tasks of route finding, car maintenance, locating parking places etc. 

Most short journeys would be by public transport.  Buses would need to be frequent, comfortable, reliable and dirt cheap if not free of charge to the passenger.  All would need to have at least one other person aboard beside the driver.  One reason the present bus services are such a failure is that they use an OMO (one-man operated) system. One person can’t both collect fares, give change, supervise the passengers, announce the stops and drive a large vehicle in busy traffic, It is unfair to expect him to.   

Drivers, including bus drivers, would be expected to abstain from alcohol at all times. They would have an annual medical and have  to disclose any temporary medical condition that might  affect their fitness to drive.  They would carry their personal identification, insurance details and driver number whenever they were driving a vehicle.  All vehicles would  be fitted with speed limiters, and a means of recording driver number and time and distance covered. This should make the job of traffic policing much easier.  There would be strict limits on how long an individual could  drive without a break. The penalty for infringement of any of these –  admittedly draconian – rules would be dismissal and loss of driver status.

Motorways would be reserved for HGV’s and PSV’s.  Long distance freight and long distance coaches.  There would be compulsory rest breaks every 25 miles and all vehicles would carry a spare driver.  One day per week the motorways would be closed for cleaning and minor repairs.  One week per quarter for major repairs.  The first day of each month the motorways should be reserved for bicycles, with the hard shoulder available for pedestrians.

A fantasy?  I fear so.  Or a prophecy of what life could be like if we put the car in its proper place as servant not master? I can’t see it happening in my lifetime. Not even if and when the oil supplies run out. I hope I am wrong.

Esme

CG16D