Commentary

Website by Andy Preece

This is an occasional commentary on cycling and unrelated issues - 'blog' if you must - and will be updated from time to time.


Posted 29 December 2007:
Why were all the Post Offices shut on Monday 24th? I had an unusual-sized letter to post and went to both a local and a main Post Office but they were both shut. I had to apply for a day's Annual Leave to be off work that day, but the Post Office treated it as a public holiday. And wouldn't it be good if Royal Mail had a flat-rate tariff instead of an increasingly complicated scale of weights and measures? Then I wouldn't need to go to the Post Office in the first place. How about if it fits through the slot in a post box then it costs X to post, otherwise its a parcel? Privatise the lot of them!

I went on my first long-distance train journey in a while recently. I had booked in advance and bought a reserved seat but no-one had bothered to put the seat reservation labels out on the seats. So it is as well I arrived early, unlike one young family who arrived at the last minute (as they are entitled to) and didn't get their reserved seats - one of them ended up sat on the floor for the first hour of the journey - and there were various minor arguments between other passengers over who should sit where. At least the destination screen was working (unlike on my connecting train into the city centre where the screens were blank) but the audible automated announcements consistantly omitted one station - Forres - from the stopping list, even though it was shown on the screens. I hope the blind passenger on board wasn't going there!

The return journey was worse. On arrival (again in good time) at Inverness station, the passengers for the train south were being kept on the concourse, while some woman shouted at us about a train that no-one else wanted to board. At ten minutes before the booked departure time, when the Edinburgh train finally made it onto the nearly unreadable departure board, she started letting us through the barrier and inspecting tickets, so we could form another queue to board the train. At six minutes to go, she gave up inspecting tickets and let anyone join the queue. At three minutes to go, we were allowed to board the train. The train left 5 minutes late once the passengers had scrambled aboard. Two of the five coaches had been sitting in the station for longer than I was there. Why weren't at least some people allowed to board them? Megabus doesn't treat you like that! The connecting Glasgow train at Perth wasn't even shown on the departure screens. The next train was showing as in an hour's time.


Posted 17 November 2007:
Today, once I'd negotiated the motorist double-parked on the immediate approach to a roundabout, I stopped at a Zebra Crossing to let a pedestrian cross. However, the pedestrian waved me across and said "Go on". Unremarkable at first reading, but then consider that this pedestrian was walking from a car park and was probably a motorist who'd parked there. Now reverse the scenario and put the motorist in a car approaching a Zebra Crossing, with me walking up to cross the crossing. Did she have a scoobie about the rules of a Zebra Crossing? Would she stop?


Posted 15 November 2007:
What is it with shops and plastic bags? After years of trying to avoid the supermarket bag-packers who will gleefully pack your shopping into twice as many bags as it really needs, I've now been doing my weekly shop using my cycle panniers, requiring one extra bag which then gets used as next week's bin bag. At least I've got the excuse that eight carrier bags won't fit on my bike. However, I've not been so lucky with city centre shops. One popular lunchtime sandwich shop insists you take a bag - even for one item - and will not allow you to have your purchase without putting it in a bag. I have taken my sandwiches (still in their plastic container) out of the bag and left the bag on the counter, but it hardly inspires me to use the shop in future.

Another shop is staffed by people who, almost as a matter of course, ask "are you sure?" when I state that I don't want a bag (again for one or two already adequately packaged items). Of course I'm sure, I wouldn't have said so otherwise! You would think I was costing them money by not taking a bag but actually it is the reverse.


Posted 5 October 2007:
Another trip to the Cowcaddens cycle route junction. Well, the road has reopened, with just a small section remaining barriered off. So why did it take this long? Who knows! The roadway is now covered in cobbles, two of the three cycle tracks have slippery paving slabs, one cycle track has been tarred. Two cycle parking stands have replaced the single stand outside the underground station, but the new ones are bolted to the ground, so are not secure for an unsupervised location. No signs as yet, and since the main cycle route (the Colleges Cycle Route) turns at the junction, it is important that cyclists are advised of the turning. Only the segregated use signs above the underpasses advise anyone that there are cycle routes.


Posted 13 September 2007:
I went to have a look at the Cowcaddens cycle route junction today. I found when I arrived that Dundasvale Road at that point has been COBBLED, with small modern trendy cobbles, including a sharp cobbled ramp up from the ordinary road surface. The cycle route to New City Road (that is on a slope and has been paved with slippery paving slabs) now has several skid marks evident. The cycle track alongside Garscube Road that has been tarred now has a 30 chicane in it at the point where it joins Dundasvale Road. Still not finished though.

I then wondered round to view another cycle route project nearby, this one at Craighall Road. This is basically the provision of a shared cycle/footway linking the Craighall Road to Sighthill Park path to the Dobbies Loan/Milton Street junction, and consists of Toucan Crossings across a couple of motorway sliproads where previously there were no formal crossing facilities, plus resurfacing (in tarmac, not cobbles!). However, there is no sign of any Toucan Crossings up at the canal bridge or at the Milton Street junction, which there would need to be for the scheme to make any sense, since it links the canal path to Milton Street and thence onward to join the Colleges Cycle Route at Port Dundas Road. Another oddity is that the Toucan Crossings of the motorway off-ramp (which obviously is one-way) do not automatically change to Green Man/Green Cycle when the road lights are at red. Instead, they will only change if you have pressed the button, which means you have to wait. So people will end up taking chances when they see the Red Man and cross if the traffic is stationary, not knowing whether it is about to start moving or will remain static for a while. There are also no Shared Cycle/Pedestrian Use signs, and I've not seen any Traffic Order up for consultation, for this footway conversion, which will be needed before cyclists can legally use it. Yet the Toucan Crossings above are already installed and working giving the impression that it is legal to cycle there!


Posted 29 July 2007:
Why is it that Tesco has its cycle parking in the smoking (taxi waiting) area? Surely the bosses there can equate cycling with healthy living, and hence the likelihood of not smoking!


Posted 27 July 2007:
An update on the Cowcaddens situation. The work appears to have halted, but the cycle track alongside Garscube Road has been completed with a smooth tarred surface, edged with flush kerbs separating from concrete paving, but the cycle track up from the underpass from New City Road has got concrete paving slabs which will be slippery when wet, especially as it is on a slope. Why not do both cycle tracks in the same surface?

The main section of Dundasvale Road at this junction is still fenced off with contractor's temporary fencing. I'm told that this section of road will be raised to kerb level, so there will be no need for dropped kerbs at the cycle route junctions. I'll believe it when I see it, and since there's been little or no activity within this area for a couple of weeks now, I might even take a guess that the contractor has quit.


Posted 14 July 2007:
What is it with Tesco that it keeps discontinuing items I buy? Now even the bread I buy has disappeared! Why should I buy cardboard white bread or bread so large it doesn't fit in my toaster?

On the way home I was cut up by a motorist driving a car... with a bike-carrying rack on the back.


Posted 24 May 2007:
Why is it that when someone does something they claim will improve the lot of cyclists, they end up making such a mess of the job that it actually achieves the opposite? Take the current Cowcaddens tarting up as an example. A repaving project is going on in the Cowcaddens area of Glasgow to brighten up the area outside some underpasses. However, high kerbs have been installed across two cycle routes, with no dropped kerbs, and slippery posh paving slabs are being installed on a ramp down to one of the underpasses. All this on one of the council's flagship cycle routes.

Why are people who don't cycle and who don't even know where cycle routes go employed to design schemes around such cycle routes? I will be keeping a sharp eye on the remainder of the scheme in case they block another arm of the cycle route junction with kerbs. Perhaps they'll install cobbles or something.


Posted 16 May 2007:
I think it is excellent how the new and prospective members of the European Union are embracing European traditions such as the Eurovision Song Contest so enthusiasticly. So why is it that so many western commentators are so critical of the eastern countries seemingly voting for each other? If Britain didn't treat the competition as a joke and actually entered a decent song, sung by someone interested in doing well, we might have a better chance. Instead we send Terry Wogan and his tired old jokes along with a group of no-hopers to fill the slot, and they return with nothing to their credit.

As for Serbia winning, it can't be because everyone likes Serbia outside of the contest. It wasn't that long ago that several of the other competitors were at war with Serbia, and only last year that Montenegro split up with Serbia, including a row than lead to Serbia & Montenegro withdrawing from the contest.

On the radio commentary, why is it that they play records instead of following the voting? Surely the voting is half of the excitement. And if Ken Bruce doesn't enjoy the competition any more why doesn't he let someone younger go? I'm sure someone like JK and Joel would find it an experience - Radio 1's Showbiz reporter (sorry I forget her name) certainly did - and would provide the listening public with a much better commentary that Wogan-sound-a-like Bruce, who wants to rebuild the Berlin Wall!


Posted 18 April 2007:
"SHOCK TRAIN FARE HIKE" Eh? The local train fares usually go up in May, and they've been going up at RPI+1% since the government changed it from RPI-1% some years ago. So no shock whatsoever.


Posted 9 April 2007:
What is it with the tabloid comics that whenever there is engineering work on the railways then they scream out "CHAOS ON THE TRAINS"? The engineering work this past weekend has been planned for months, has gone smoothly, buses have run as booked, and there has been no chaos. There is a need for the papers to inform their readers, but instead they choose to print alarmist nonsense. Don't buy them - that's my suggestion! Now, if only Google News Alerts had a 'No Tabloids' tick-box option.


Posted 5 April 2007:
I can't wait until the oil runs out. Neither, seemingly, can some motorists, who sit reading their papers parked, maybe on the footway, without any care in the world, with their engines running. The sooner we are rid of this menace the better! The council, meanwhile, has made a bylaw forbidding idling engines, happily accepting some environmental award or other, but does not actually go around fining motorists, even those that leave their engines idling around the corner from the City Chambers.

But is that a surprise when the same council happily lets motorists drive or even park in bus lanes, without taking any action? What is the point in making all these rules when there is no intention of enforcing them? Is it just a ploy to get money from the Scottish Executive's various public transport funds to spend on roads, the same money that wasn't spent providing Advance Stop Lines for Cyclists?


Posted 2 April 2007:
Driving to the recycling bins is never going to impress me but one such motoring self-delusionist had me speechless at the weekend. After emptying the newspapers from my panniers I held the lid of the recycling bin open for this person to deposit their... expanded polystyrene. EXPANDED POLYSTYRENE?!? Since when has expanded polystyrene been welcome in a paper recycling bin?

Is expanded polystyrene not made of oil, not trees? Why save up your expanded polystyrene, take it out to your car, drive with it to the recycling bins and put it in there when you could have simply dropped it into your dustbin outside your back door? What are these people like? Does the Council really need to start running courses to teach these people how to get through life? Will putting expanded polystyrene into the paper recycling bin save the environment? NO, IT WILL NOT!!! Get a grip!

And don't get me started on the people who put empty cardboard boxes out for the bulk refuse collection.


Website by Andy Preece