Thursday, 20 March 2014

BFTF loves cycling 2014

Following on from the "BFTF loves cycling 2013" post, a new year demands a new post for cycling related comment and tomfoolery....

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Luton-Dunstable Busway Cycle Path (Aug 14)
As someone who visits Luton quite regularly, BFTF has been following, with interest, the progress of the Guided Busway connecting Luton and Dunstable (or Dunstabubble as BFTF called it as a child). It finally opened in September 2013 and the feature that most interested BFTF was the cycleway that had been built alongside.

A guided bus !

Recently, as part of efforts on the GCC programme, BFTF rode most of the 13km cycleway from Luton to Dunstable and found the following:

Good:
* Gentle inclines make it a much easier ride than the current roads from Luton to Dunstable, and with virtually no stops for traffic lights etc

* The route has the potential to get more people commuting by bike from Luton to Dunstable, and vice versa.

Bad:
* While some small sections of the path are of supersmooth tarmac, the majority is of crushed limestone. It is uneven, rough and energy sapping. BFTF would have preferred to be on the road and saw at least one cyclist who preferred to ride on the busway - can't blame hime really.

*As currently constructed, there are numerous, very annoying, "A-frame" barriers that would force many cyclists to dismount and awkwardly wiggle their bikes through the frame (although these are apparently to be removed shortly.

In short - a huge opportunity missed. BFTF won't be riding it again unless the surface is improved.

Uneven, rough and energy sapping. Not Good At All.

BFTF happened to talk to someone from a cycling oriented organisation about the surface and was told that the council had failed to specify the surface in the contract, so, presumably, the contractor had taken the lowest cost option.

BFTF also cycled the NCN Route 6 from Luton to St Albans and the contrast could not have been greater. NCN6 is awesome!

The opposite of helpful - Barriers on the busway cyclepath

Sent this email to the Busway team (busway@luton.gov.uk)

"Really disappointed with the uneven, rough and energy sapping surface of the shared use cycleway next to the Luton-Dunstable Busway. I've been told that it is so bad because the Council simply forgot to specify a surface in the building contract. Is this true?"
and this to the transport section of Nottingham City Council
"Please, for the love of all that is good in the world, don't construct any cyclepaths in Nottingham as badly as they have done in Luton."
Slightly off topic, but this innocent looking roundabout has been the
nemesis of many a driving test candidate in Luton

Update : 18th Agug 2014
Received, very quickly, this response from the Busway Team:
"This is not correct. There has been a lot of views on the surface, those who love it and those that do not. The crushed limestone surface was used to try and keep in with the environment of the area - Blows Down etc.

The point about the surface is taken and we are in the process of testing sections of the route and will then come to a decision about what to do further. This is of course subject to funding."

Links:
Busway Cycle Path review by I'm Well Confused
Busway Cycle Path Review by The Cycle Hub (see also this)
Article in Dunstable Review
Luton Council Busway Site(see also this)

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NCN 6 Luton to St Albans (Aug 2014)
Recently rode the National Cycle Route 6 from Luton to St Albans - a really nice ride!
The beautiful surface of the NCN6

Cows on the right looking after cow on the left, who has no head

Eric Morcambe, Capability Brown and an early Scout Leader

Sent this to the strategy and sustainability officer at Luton Council (mytravel@luton.gov.uk)
"Recently cycled NCN6 from Luton to St Albans and have to say it was pretty darn awesome! Thanks for supporting this cycleway!"


Update : 18th Agug 2014
Received, very quickly, a response from the Council saying thank you for the positive feedback and commenting on how the route "has become popular with commuters and families."

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Jul/Aug : Pictures
Just some pictures taken while cycling over the last couple of months. Incidentally, most of the images in the "Pictures of the Sky" post were also taken while cycling.

HGV's on the Nutbrook Trial, Derbyshire

Several times each day, traffic on the Embankment has to stop for this....
Aug 2014

Very handsome indeed ! Nutbrook Trail, Derbyshire, Aug 2014

Swan taking off, Aug 2014

As close as BFTF could get to a rabbit when stopped.
In contrast, they would only move at the last minute if BFTF was actually cycling.
All a bit Heisenburg if you ask me...

Nottingham and Beeston Canal - Jul/Aug2014

Herons, Colwick Park - Jul/Aug2014

Lovely colours as bright sun behind BFTF plays on the fields and dark clouds ahead.
Near Beeston Weir - Jul/Aug2014

A mirror smooth river Trent -Jul/Aug2014

Another very quite day on the Trent - Jul/Aug 2014

Fields of Wheat, between Stapleford and Bramcote- Jul/Aug2014

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Jul : Construction of the NET Phase 2
A big benefit of cycling is that you can stop whenever you see something interesting. For example, there is no way BFTF could have taken these pictures of the construction of the NET Line 2 if he had been driving a car...

Laying concrete, Gregory St, Jul 2014

Cutting rebar to fit around shuttering, Gregory St, Jul 2014

Clearly a lot more to laying tram tracks than one might think,
Gregory St, Jul 2014

Gregory St, Jul 2014

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Jul : Tending Cycle Paths
Sent a Tweet to Notts Council to say thank you for this...

Was intending to complain to council about poor tending of foliage
alongside cycle paths near the Trent...

.... but they appear to have read my mind and this is how it looked
a few days later.

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Jul : Heading out East
Spent a few evenings recently heading out to the East of Nottingham, attracted primarily by its flatness!

The Domesday Villages

Of an evening, Gedling can have a distinct "28days later" look about it...

For some reason, this villlage hall in Burton Joyce
makes BFTF think about the TV sitcom "Dads Army"

Colwick Oil Terminal, connected, it seems,
to refineries on the North East Coast

Cycling past fields of wheat near the Trent
 

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June : Great Notts Bike Ride 2014
With BFTF and No1 Son currently sharing the only decent adult sized bike in the household, it was the sprogs turn to participate in the Great Notts Bike Ride. He took on the 25mile ride which he completed in a very creditable 1hr 45mins. A time that is, incidentally, embarrassingly shorter than would have been the case if BFTF had been in the saddle.

Good effort, small person!

No1 gets (another) medal !

Also, liked this :

"Statues" at the Great Notts Bike Ride

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June : Trent is a mirror by the Embankment

The Trent is a mirror (early on a June morning)
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March : Great weather forecasting by the Met Office
People who cycle to work pay close attention to the weather, and BFTF continues to be impressed with the accuracy of the forecasting from the Met Office (as taken via the BBC android weather app). On Tuesday 18th the app forcast a clear start, rain in the middle of the day, and dry weather by 4-5pm - which is exactly what happened ! Well done Met Office !

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March : Pro-upgrade to the bike for 2014
Got this great upgrade for the bike from BFTF's niece! Only trouble was that, in the somewhat chilly March weather, the horn was a little too stiff to squeeze, while BFTF's hands were a little too chilled to effectively do any squeezing! Hopefullly, it will be more effective as the weather warms up...
BFTF's new horn!

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Dear Cllr Urquhart,

I'm hoping you can reassure me that Nottingham Council would never be so insane as to install "Killer Armadillos" on the roads of our fair city.

Because that it what they have done in Salford and, as an occasional cyclist, they scare the living daylights out of me!

Details here :

http://salfordstar.com/article.asp?id=2471

They are manufactured by Cyclehoop, whose range of products is otherwise awesome - so its a bit odd that they have had such a brain-fail with the Armadillo.

Beezodogsplace talks about them here.


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