Saturday, 10 March 2018

Cycling and Walking Review Consultation response

This Thursday the  Government announced a review and consultation process as part of it's cycling and walking strategy. the response questionnaire can be found here, and I strongly urge everyone to read the consultation and respond.

Some of the questions seem a little odd, and almost seem intended to ask for training and licencing for cyclists, although that may just be my bias and cynicism shining through..For what it's worth, my responses are below

Q17. 1. Infrastructure and traffic signs - view in consultation document Do you have any suggestions on the way in which the current approach to development and maintenance of road signs and infrastructure impacts the safety of cyclists and other vulnerable road users? How could it be improved? 

Where possible seperated infrastructure for cycling needs provided and joined up into networks. For example in the last 4 yrs the first 10 miles of my commute to work has become a joined up traffic free route. This has made my trip much more relaxed, and I see a lot more others cycling along that route now.

All cycling infrastructure needs to be build to a uniform national standard, which needs to be of high quality. The strategic roads guide IAN 195/16 is a good start, as well as the TFL design guide and The Dutch CROW design guide. All three need to be merged into a single mandatory design guide for the UK.

All junctions and roundabouts should have cycleways to navigate which should be visible, and have prioritised crossing for cyclists and pedestrians to enable smooth progress. Often people don't use cycle paths due to the loss of priority at junctions. This would resolve that and actually make the cycle paths more attractive to use. 20mph zones are helpful, but need to be filtered to prevent through traffic, but allow walking and cycling. My estate went 20 a few years ago, but it was only when LA prevented rat running traffic last year that it became a much pleasanter and safer place to be.

Local authorities need to maintain cycle paths as they do roads,and sweep on a regular basis. In winter they need to be treated when icy similar to the adjacent road. Off road routes need to be treated where they are a parallel or key link in a network. Another issue is the limited and piecemeal investment outside of a few key cities.

All local authorities should be given resources to draw up cycle network plans that go where they are needed, and clear quick timescales to implement. And then given the investment to build. Investing in parallel cycling routes to major commuter routes would give many an alternative to cars and would ease peak traffic as a result and would be much more cost effective than spending millions squeezing an extra lane at a roundabout. My LA is spending a total of £16mn on 2 junctions on the A194. They are putting in shared paths beside, but not linking them up. This piecemeal approach to cycling and walking infra needs to change.

Q18. 2. The laws and rules of the road - view in consultation document Set out any areas where you consider the laws or rules relating to road safety and their enforcement, with particular reference to cyclists and pedestrians, could be used to support the government's aim of improving cycling and walking safety whilst promoting more active travel.

 Presumed liability is the first law that needs introducing. This is already the case in most of Europe, and places a hierarchy of responsibility on the more powerful road users. This would help pedestrians against cyclists and cyclists against drivers etc.

A close passing law making it illegal to pass a cyclist close than 1.5m. several police forces are already practicing this successfully and it needs to be enshrined in law. In addition all police forces need to accept and act on received 3rd party video. Not all forces do. I have been the victim of several scary close passes which have been so bad I have reported them, and only 1 was acted on.

Driving offences need have much stronger enforcement but especially punishment. The points system needs to have an automatic disqualification at 12 points. There are 10000+ drivers with more than 12 points. The UK need to get convicted dangerous drivers off the roads before they kill. There are many examples of pedestrians and cyclists killed by drivers with long history of motoring offences but still allowed on the roads.

Pavement parking needs to be banned across the UK backed up by online reporting so that vehicles parked on pavements can be reported and the drivers prosecuted. Police and LA enforcement officers cannot be everywhere, online reporting and action would be an excellent tool.

Q19. 3. Training - view in consultation document Do you have any suggestions for improving the way road users are trained, with specific consideration to protecting cyclists and pedestrians? 

I strongly feel that that the driving test should have a minimum number of hours of practical cycling or the bikeability training as a prerequisite. This would give more people a sense of understanding and hopefully empathy of cycling and they would learn the rules of the roads at a more human speed. This Australian study proved that people who cycle are better drivers

Bikeability should also be mandatory in all schools.

Q20. 4. Educating road users - view in consultation document Do you have any suggestions on how we can improve road user education to help support more and safer walking and cycling? 

A national media campaign about close passing and the dangers would be helpful, but it needs to be backed up by online reporting of offences.

Similar for pavement parking. This again needs online reporting and follow up by LA or police and then a media campaign.

Education can only go so far. It does not solve those who already have no regard for the law

Q21. 5. Vehicles and equipment - view in consultation document Do you have any suggestions on how government policy on vehicles and equipment could improve safety of cyclists and pedestrians, whilst continuing to promote more walking and cycling? 

Phone use in vehicles is a national epidemic with upto a third of drivers admitting to use smartphones behind the wheel.
A mandatory ban for phone use, including hands free would determine more. UK needs more enforcement though, although close pass operations by police have a high success rate of catching other offences.
Stronger education and enforcement of windscreen mounted equipment such as phones needs to be done

I would like to see smart card driving licences introduced and tech that does not let a person operate a vehicle without a valid licence or insurance. In the interim ANPR checks before a vehicle is allowed to refuel would tackle some of the many unlicenced and uninsured vehicles on the road. Drivers of those vehicles often present a higher risk to pedestrians and cyclists

Q22. 6. Attitudes and public awareness - view in consultation document What can government do to support better understanding and awareness of different types of road user in relation to cycle use in particular? 

As stated in question 3, mandatory bikeability for all school children, and also as part of the driving test process. Media campaigns about close passing, but only when police forces have introduced online reporting and enforcement.

The biggest key to more cycle use though is more protected infrastructure as part of joined up networks that are convenient and feel safe

Friday, 29 December 2017

Roadworks and closures to cycling routes

This is the season for roadworks which are affecting various parts of the cycling network in South Tyneside.

The cycleway between the A184 and Downhill Lane, which is an important,well used link is still closed due to Northern Power works on the overhead lines which is for the new Wear Crossing. This is expected to be reopen early to mid January. The alternative route is to use Downhill lane itself between the A184 and the A1290
Follingsby Lane will be closed from 8th of January until March for Bridge repair works. At the minute there is no update whether pedestrian/cycle access will be possible. The closest alternative is use the shared path alongside the A184, and the cycleway when it reopens. To avoid the poor surface crossings at Testo, it is possible to use the farm bridge which links the old Newcastle road beside Enterprise car rental, with Boldon Business park, although it can get slippy when wet.

Further afield, Cherry Blossom Way is closed to vehicles at the junction with Nissan way, although there is fairly narrow access for pedestrians and cyclists. Use the road, and the path on the east side from the Adient gate

Saturday, 6 May 2017

Alfine 11 hub gear - It's first oil change

I bought and fitted the Alfine 11 to Thunderbird 2 (a Moulton non-separable ABP) back in mid march to replace the SRAM Dualdrive 24 which had been in since new back in 2002.

Now after a couple of months, it's time for the first oil change of the hub, which is at 1000km.

The procedure is fairly straightforward and easier than getting hold of the kit in the first place. Mine came from Estonia via ebay for just over Twenty quid. the contents are shown below and are (clockwise)

  • Plastic container for the old oil
  • 50ml of Shimano SG-700 oil (Green like washing up liquid) only use this for the 2 year warranty
  • Syringe
  • Protective gloves
  • Bleed tube
  • 3mm allen key
  • Instructions

1. Locate the oil port, and after wiping any crud off, remove with a 3mm allen key. Ensure that the o ring comes off with it and you do not lose it

2. Attach the bleed tube, and secure with a 10mm spanner (not included with the kit)

3. Attach the syringe to the bleed tube, then carefully rotate so the bleed tube is vertical with the port at the bottom and then leave for a few minutes to let the old oil soak to the bottom of the hub

4. Slowly and smoothly pull out the syringe plunger and draw the old oil out of the hub being careful not to get any air bubbles in, and once out unscrew the syringe from the bleed tube and then squirt the old oil into the plastic pot. It's a nasty greenish black

5. Now we need to inject 25ml of oil to clean it.

6. Hold the syringe to the bottle of new oil and draw 25ml into the syringe. This is quite fiddly as you need to keep the bottle and syringe tight together to prevent spilling any oil or getting air bubbles in the oil.

7. Rotate the wheel so the bleed tube is at the top this time. screw the syringe back on, and slowly and smoothly inject the oil into the hub making sure you don't get any air in.

8. Once all the oil has been injected, remove the syringe and tube, replace the oil cap, and then spin the pedals changing up and down through all the gears for a minute or two to ensure the oil gets everywhere inside.

9. Follow steps 1 to 4, and reconnect the tube and syringe. Spin the wheel so the oil port etc is at the bottom and after allowing the oil to settle, draw out the cleaing oil which will now be a dirty black green colour and dispose into the plastic pot.

10. Repeat steps 6,7 and 8 to inject 25ml of new clean oil into the hub. Remove the syringe an bleed tube. Screw the oil cap on, ensuring the o ring is there. Give the gears a few runs through.

Job done until the next 3000 miles is up

Sunday, 10 July 2016

Moulton TSR2 to 5 conversion

Last year for my 50th I managed to swing the purchase of a Moulton TSR2. It was bought on the cycle2work scheme as it's basically 12 months interest free with a hefty discount due to tax savings. That limited me though which is why I ended up with a 2 speed bike.

That has been used most of the time since delivery last October notching over 2000 miles in that time. The Sturmey Archer S2C supplied with the bike has never been a favourite as it makes odd noises and always felt like it had been lubed with treacle.  Also on windy days or days with extra loops, the limitations of a 2 speed made themselves known.

After plenty of online research I decided to that I would embark on a popular conversion which is to drop a SRAM P5 5 speed hub with coaster brake in. Finding a german bike shop on Ebay with a few P5s at a decent price was the final push I needed.

The P5 hub is the same width as the SA at 120mm so doesn't need any frame mods. So once the hub was built into a new wheel it was a straight drop into the frame. The rim is a cheap one from SJS, but is actually identical to the stock factory rim. It's been built up 2x with stainless Sapim Leader spokes. The strange red thing is a hub cleaning strip from ebay, which keeps the hub clean (as they're a bugger to clean on a 20" wheel).

New hub and clickbox
 As the TSR2 was designed to be cable free there are no fitted cable stops. I've used 2 seatbolt mounting cable stops with P clips. I was intending to use the front rack mount, but the bolt was too large, and the cable line didn't look as neat, although the P clips are hardly neat either. The bit of black tape is to prevent scuffing of the paint and will be replaced by helicopter tape.

Detail of the front cable stop
 There is a similar P clip and stop mounted on the spaceframe behind the chainset, and there's a cable splitter for frame separation.
Shot showing both stops and the splitter for frame separation
 The SRAM shifter is a standard twist affair, although a little clunky and not the most elegant.
SRAM P5 shifter 
The finished bike still largely keeps the elegant clean lines. The new hub gives a much more useful range than the old 2 speed, and is silent and silky in operation. Even with tight and new it feels that it rolls better than the old hub did. The braking from the rear coaster is also more powerful as well
Full conversion still keeps the clean looks 

Sunday, 20 March 2016

(Lack of ) Fog on the Tyne

Riders gathering at The Bike Park for a Saturday Social
Given we had high pressure in charge blowing cold damp air in from the North sea for the last week, I was expecting fog  and mist on today's ride around the coast. Luck held out and although it was cool and cloudy there was a distinct lack of fog.
Ten of us set off from The Bike Park and headed off down the Westway and crossed the A194 before connecting up with NCN route 14 heading towards South Shields centre.
Once down at the Tyne a quick photo call beckoned near the Shields ferry landing before cycling along Long Row, and then Wapping Street
When we joined River Drive, Doug suggested zig zagging up to Green's place as it was to be improved and used as the recommended cycle route. Once we got to Green's place, there was a road crew already busy resurfacing was was a badly holed  road. 
From there we headed to the  Lawe top, and then down through North Marine Park all the way to Haven Point. A quick hop over the zebra took us into South Marine park where we skirted the boating lake  and miniature steam railway to Beach road.
From there it was an easy ride along the prom to Gypsies Green, and then along NCN1  to Marsden bay, where we then used a cut to link up to Lizard lane. We quickly crossed and then headed along Quarry lane back to Temple Park
The ride was approximately 10 miles, but some silly fool forgot to start their Garmin for a mile or two.

the next Saturday social will be on the 2nd of April

Wednesday, 30 December 2015

Dynamo lights on a budget

So do you want bright reliable lights that last forever (almost) for about 60-80 quid? Here's how
Battery lights are everywhere, from the cheap pound shop specials that are worse than useless to mega lumens USB chargeable artificial suns from Ebay & beyond.

They all have one disadvantage. At some point they will either die on you mid ride, or you forget to charge them. So you either carry multiple lights, or spare batteries or both.

There is an alternative - Dynamo lights, which seem to be forgotten secret amongst UK cyclists
Most people only remember the horrid bottle dynamos of old that slipped as soon as the tyres became damp and were like riding with the brakes on and were about as effective as a candle in a gale.

Both my bikes which I alternate between for commuting have dynamos which give out reliable bright light without any noticeable drag. I actually run with the lights on permanently during the winter months as there's no gain from turning them off.

Most battery lights are quoted in terms of lumens. This is just the total amount of light put out by the light. Most of them though have no directed beam, so the light shoots everywhere. Dyno lights are made to german SvTZO standards and have directed & focussed beams. It is the focussed area of the beam which is measured in Lux. Sadly there seems to be no direct comparison between the two measures.

This is about dyno lights on a budget though, hence no mention of SON dynamos, or expensive front lights.

My setup

Wheels & the generator

Both bikes have budget Shimano DH-3N31 hubs. I bought mine ready built into complete front wheels from Taylor Wheels in Germany at about £40 a wheel, which makes them a quick drop in replacement. Rims are basic but hard wearing and functional. My first wheel now probably has about 6000 miles on it through all weathers and is still true. Wheels are available in all sizes and with nuts/quick release, and with disk brake mounts. I use the hub with wheel nuts to increase security. As I run hub gears anyway which are nutted not having QRs is not a major issue for me.

Taylor Wheels 20 inch bike front wheel Dynamic 4 DH-3N31 hub dynamo silver...

Front lights

I originally bought ultra budget Secu-sport LED front lights and broke both.
I'm now running a 75lux Herrmans H-One-S lights on both bikes which is wonderfully bright, and about £25-£30 from EU web shops or Ebay

Each light comes with a long length of cable for connecting to the generator, and female spade connectors for connecting to a rear light. There's an on-off switch, but I just leave them on all the time

Rear lights

My rear lights differ more, but both are rack mounted.
The first is a Herrmans H-Track which was about £9, and projects a ring of light from central LEDs around a large rear reflector. the second is a B&M Toplight Line Plus (£18) which has a bright horizontal line of light above a large reflector

Herrmans H-track

B&M Topline Plus
Both are bright from a distance, and little to choose between them on the road.both of these lights are designed to fit a rear rack with a light bracket with 80mm spaced holes.
For the bike with the Herrmans, I needed to buy a Topeak adaptor for a couple of quid as the rack had a bracket with 2 vertical holes.

Putting it all together

It's very simple to put all this together and make it work. the front lights are pre-wired.
You'll need some 2 core speaker/auto cable & some 2.8mm male spade connectors (Halfords calls them audio connectors) and a crimping tool if you want to make your own wiring to the rear light, or you could buy a ready made cable with connectors. Crimpers & connectors are cheap though.

  1. Fit a rim tape (velox cloth is best) and tyre/tube to the wheel and fit to the bike.
  2. Fit the front light to the bike.
  3. The hub comes with a plug in connector remove it & push the wires in from the front light into it and plug into the hub.
  4. Spin the wheel & turn on the light and bingo!
  5. Measure a length of cable, and crimp male spade connectors to each core at each end ( 4 in total)
  6. Connect the cable to the short tails on the front light, and to the rear light, carefully making sure you keep the polarity (+ to +. - to - )
  7. Spin the front wheel, and both the front and back light should light. If the rear doesn't, then carefully check to make sure you haven't crossed the connections.
  8. Once it's working fit the rear light to the bike, and secure the cable with cable ties. Electrical insulating tape will do a fine job of weatherproofing the connections.

Link to the Shimano generator fitting & wiring instruction (PDF)

This is a really comprehensive guide to dyno lights with shots of the lights in action

Any questions, ask away in the comments


Friday, 13 November 2015

John the Seatpost Man and bicycle frame savior

Below is a cautionary tale of unnecessary woe and appearance of a savior

When stripping my beloved Moulton down for a repaint when it needed the rear triangle replaced,, I was horrified to find that the seatpost was seized. None of the usual remedies worked including twisting, heating, freezing, cursing, and so for the first time close to 25 years, I had to resort to handing something over to a bicycle repair man.

After a couple of months & a couple of gallons of penetrating lube even they admitted defeat. So once again I was left with a stuck frame. Another month and a bin full of hacksaw blades, saw me contemplating writing the frame off. The white tape on the fram in the photo below is the depth of the post inside the frame

Somehow my desperate google-fu finally fished up the website of John The Seatpost Man. A couple of emails followed and John seemed confident he could succeed.

The rub is that he did remove it. I have no idea how, presumably black magic or other dark arts, but he saved another valuable and loved frame. The seat tube inner now looks factory fresh. 

Had I found John's service sooner I would have saved months of wasted effort and heartache.

If your post becomes stuck, just go straight to John. Don't mess about with any other "remedies" or workshops.
I cannot recommend his service strongly enough. the man is a genius and a savior

On the bright side, the missus thought the Moulton was a write off so let me buy a new one and I now have two, although one still needs painting & rebuilding at this time