Taking my life in my hands

Not my own words but those of our great PM:

I’d been meaning to do a post about why I’m attending the Cyclesafe Flashride but I think Mr Cameron has hit the nail pretty much on the head (with a sledgehammer….). I think the reason I don’t stop riding is because I’ve just become used to the poor conditions and treatment I receive whilst out riding and have adjusted my riding accordingly. Sharing multi-lane road systems that scare even Olympic athletes has become part of my daily routine as I try and get to and from work.

The situation gets worse once I’m move further away from the city centre, where the relatively fast moving but wide multi-lane raceways are replaced with smaller main roads and side streets. It’s on these sort of streets I normally encounter the driver who can’t spare a few seconds for my comfort and decides to scrape past with hardly any space, again this is something I’ve become accustomed to. Some people do seem to like to see just how close they can get and for their efforts they earn a spot on Youtube. Some however do actually wait patiently for a safe space and give me plenty of room, something which should be common place is all too often a pleasant surprise.

I think it’s because of this why I’m so nervous in letting my eldest attempt to ride to her secondary school next year. The route there and back involves travelling down a road that is going to be fairly busy during the school run and is punctuated with quite a few traffic island pinch points. As an experienced and confident rider myself I feel fairly comfortable asserting myself through these but I can’t expect the same of her can I?

David Cameron’s comments in here are pretty much straight out of their campaign material and the “template” response most of his party sent out in response to Cyclesafe campaigners. £15m investment? Yeah I’m sure that’ll make a *huge* difference! Considering Boris spunked  £10-20m per Cycle “Super”Highway just in London alone Cam’s £15m for the entire country is going to be spread VERY thinly! The whole cyclist training thing is another great piece of spin, you can throw around a few large numbers and make it look like your doing something! After all why bother trying to educate 30m drivers about how to act respectfully around cyclists and about their rights on the road when you can just target the much smaller minority of cyclists and arm them with techniques to tackle the car-centric roads we now have?

So in a nutshell the reason I’m attending the ride this evening is because I want cycling to be accessible. To anyone. To everyone. Everyone from my 11 year old daughter to my 52 year old mum should be able to hop on a bike and go for a ride without “taking their lives in their hands” and without needing to attend a special training course!

Cyclesafe and complaint response from my MP

Following on from my recent dealings with Siobhain McDonagh (MP for Mitcham & Morden) in regards to my HGV incidents and her contacting each company directly I thought it best to let her know that Advanced Fuels had actually started dealing with it more seriously. I also took the chance to bring up the Cyclesafe Campaign, seeking her support for it if possible. I received her response earlier this week:

Thank you for writing to me with your concerns about how to improve safety for cyclists. I
am very glad to hear that Advanced Fuels are now taking your complaint more seriously, I do
hope that the matter will be resolved shortly. However, I am disappointed that your complaint
with PJ Brown is not being treated in the same manner, I shall continue to make enquiries into
this on your behalf.

I welcome efforts to increase the take up of cycling and want cycling to be considered more
often as a transport solution, and as a way of keeping fit and healthy. You may have seen that
I signed a motion in Parliament aimed at reducing accidents, and I am especially concerned
about the continuing number of accidents involving lorries and cyclists. I know that this has
also been a concern of the London Cycling Campaign. Like them, I support making it easier
and more pleasant to cycle, and am pleased that more and more people are travelling in this
way. I want cycling to be as safe as possible, and I certainly support the recent campaign to
improve safety.

I sincerely hope that the campaign launched by The Times will make a significant difference
to the safety of cycling in London, so that you can have confidence in allowing your eldest
daughter to cycle to school.

So looking rather promising on the cyclesafe front, she hasn’t done a “copy and paste” job like it appears some other MP’s (including the PM) did when contacted by other concerned members of the public, neither has she suggested cyclists put themselves in danger. It’s also good to know she is still going to make some enquiries with PJ Brown following their rather shocking response in the previous post.

Now a bit of a call to arms, although if your reading this I’m sure you’re already aware, there is a flashride planned for next Wednesday (22nd Feb) in London – the evening before the cycling debate in parliament. Details can be found here or here. I strongly urge any cyclists to try and attend, having been on the Blackfriars flashrides myself in the past they have all been excellent fun. There’s a great sense of community and you can’t help but grin as you look around at a sea of cyclists 🙂

PJ Brown – No they don’t care..

Following on from my last post I was rather surprised to see another letter awaiting at home this evening once I got in with the House of Commons markings on the envelope 🙂 Not bad, that’s a quick response!

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Well I guess this goes someway to explain the views expressed by the Transport Manager who first responded if this is what the MD is like! Both the drivers may consider their driving ‘satisfactory’, after all it is “their living at risk” (no mention of my living or actual life you’ll notice….) so I guess that’s fine! But you have to appreciate driving is “emotionally demanding” for everyone. Clearly Mr Brown completely ignores the stress that cyclists are put through by the small minority of selfish drivers who seem to think it’s perfectly acceptable to terrorise vulnerable road users. Of course then there are those cyclists whose close encounters with HGV’s didn’t end with them being able to complain to the company themselves.

But then why bother listening to the person who rides around with a hidden agenda with my ‘hating’ of any road users other then cyclists…

FWIW Mr Brown, if you even bother to read this, I’m not anti-car and pro-bike I’m just anti-idiot – regardless of their chosen mode of transport.

And here’s the video of the pass that the MD thinks is acceptable.

HGV Incidents Update

Just thought I’d post a quick update about the HGV incidents I mentioned in the previous post.

Firstly thought I’d like to say a big thanks for all those who took the time to read the last post and offer some advice. As you’ll see below some of it actually helped 🙂

After sending a chase e-mail to Advance Fuels I eventually got a response. Below is the e-mail trail after the chase:

Advance Fuels:

I have just received your email ref a complaint about one of our drivers on purley way I have viewed your video. And yes you do have a point on overtaking our vehicle does seem close but I would like to point out if you watch your video he overtook you on a clear part of road and pulled back over when he had passed you from what I can see on video he has not made you swerve into curb or made change direction the road does look as it narrows that aside I will be talking to driver on this matter and then decide on what action to take please feel free to contact me on this matter with any suggestions on what course of action you feel would be appropriate for me to take

My reply:

Hi <name removed>,

 

Thank you for getting back to me on this and taking the time to view the clip. At the time as I was approaching the traffic island I could hear the sound of a large vehicle coming up behind me. My shoulder check at the start seemed to confirm they where gaining on me rather quickly hence I had to brake to avoid coming into conflict with them as we approached the narrowing. Unfortunately it’s difficult to tell I’m slowing down in the video.

 

I consider myself a fairly confident and able rider, my usual commute takes me into central London where I deal with generally much larger and busier junctions, however having such a large vehicle pass so closely is rather un-nerving. A little bit of patience and then overtaking me once we’d past the traffic island (with a bit more room then the PJ Brown driver left me!) would have been more considerate. I appreciate drivers are normally on a tight schedule and having to contend with traffic isn’t easy (I used to do field engineering so spent most of my day driving between sites) but considering I caught up with one lorry at the next set of lights and then passed your truck shortly after that he didn’t really save himself that much time.

 

Thank you again for taking the time to look into this matter.

 

Regards

Their response:

Thanks for your reply I can assure you I will be pointing out your comments to the driver and make sure he is more aware of other smaller road users in future and to take more care while overtaking and where possible leave extra room when it is a cyclist I hope this acceptable to you and hope this will be a end to the matter

Following on from that my reply was “That would be acceptable”. I got the feeling from the second, rather poorly written reply, that they may be having a word with the driver which is a bit better then what PJ Brown said!

 

 

Fast forward a bit to last night and as I’m getting changed from the commute home the wife suddenly says “You got a letter today!” in a rather excited tone and hurries towards the front door to fetch it…”It’s from the House of Commons..”

My brain starts ticking over as I remember who I’ve e-mailed links to the previous post too…”I think I know what that might be about”

Imagine my delight as I find a lovely covering letter from my local MP Siobhan McDonagh attached to 2 letters addressed to the MD’s of Advance Fuels and PJ Brown requesting an investigation into the actions of their drivers 🙂

At some point I will try and get the full text of the letter up but I certainly consider that a bit of a result, not sure they’ll be so keen to fob off an MP 😉

The letter said I should expect a response within 4 weeks so I’ll be making a note in my calendar to chase it up if I don’t hear anything back…once I do I’ll post another update.