Monday, April 28, 2008

Bike Safety

A couple of nice little links I found today:

Dave Moulton, former frame builder, takes a look at some of the statistics on bike safety and why Cyclists Live Longer.

Meanwhile, Kent Peterson talks about why he wears a bike helmet, but is against laws to make it compulsory.


cllr. mark burton said...

Well… I now have my bike, but no helmet. I was asked if I would like one, but said I know I would never use it… which I wouldn’t. I’ve got a lock and lights though!

I biked back from the town to Harrowgate Hill, and gasped in to see Anthea (Paul Thompson’s carpet shop) to catch my breath before cycling the remaining 500 yards or so home.

During this first ‘event’ a passenger of one car yelled out the window to put the frighteners on me, it worked… but after I inevitably caught them up, the sheepish lad had his back turned and the window well and truly up tight!

Then on Saturday I cycled ‘all’ the way to Harrowgate Hill school for the Talking Together event and afterwards on to a friends at Harrowgate Farm to watch Darlington sadly loose, then home once more. That’s it so far as I was at work this morning.

I have the bike in the hallway gleaming at me panting to hit the road… not tucked away in the garage gathering dust!

And now I would like to join a not too overly mad bike club who can gently encourage me to do more - teach me ‘better’ road safety skills and all the good biking tracks… plus where to lock my bike up in town and know it will be there on my return!... any suggestions?


An Inconvenient Truth said...

A great start, Mike. I'm impressed by your response to that first "event". My daughter has also just started cycling on her new bike - but it is a Dutch bike (sit up and look cool), so she looks for the quiet routes. Any danger of mixing with mad car drivers and she takes to the pavement.

The bike club you seek may in fact be two clubs - one for the training re road safety, the other for the best routes/parking. The former is probably best done via the local authority's bike team, the latter via membership of Darlington Cycling Campaign and the occasional "briefing" in a local hostelry!

cllr. mark burton said...

Thanks for that… I’ll give them a try.

Not a good start so far. I stumbled across the Darlington Locomotion website a while ago and now that I’m planning to use my bike in place of my car for cross town journeys, I thought I would put the sites directional map ( to the test… in put; my home postcode ‘DL1 3DJ’ and input Darlington College postcode ‘DL1 1DR’ result… ‘No Results!’ Obviously the system is not up-to-date with the new college address… o well.

miketually said...

Congratulations, Mark. Very brave not getting a helmet; not from a safety point-of-view, but from the "Helmet Police". Expect some comments...

I'm not sure if the local bike clubs do rides for beginners. We were thinking of organising some rides for Cycle Campaign members; I'll let you know if/when we organise one.

miketually said...

The journey planner looks like it might be broken at the moment. It just recognised my home and work post codes, but I got an error message at step 2.

But, unless it's been modified since its launch, it doesn't give bike route suggestions anyway, just bus and walking.

There isn't really a direct bike-friendly route from your house (The Leas?) to the college. Going down Pendleton Road to Albert Road, then through to Haughton Road and joining the bike path there, though I'm not sure what state that's in with the ETC work going on. If it's a mess, you'll need to turn right onto Haughton Road itself.

cllr. mark burton said...

Thanks Mike… I’ll bee looking forward to the clubs rides for beginners. Was I was expecting too much when I searched for a route? I thought it would show a map of the route via bike paths only… may be this is something the council could develop?

miketually said...

I thought it should include bike routes 15 months ago when it launched.

Still no sign of the bike-specific planner I was told was in development, or the single safe, direct and convenient cycle route that actually gets you from A to B that Richard mentions.

An Inconvenient Truth said...

I got the error message as well, so the journey planner must be down right now.

The lack of a bike-specific planner is, I think, symptomatic of the way the issue of cycling is still compartmentalised into "healthy living" or "sustainable travel", but is not yet part of mainstream thinking.

I found the same problem on the Tees Valley tourism web site - not a mention of getting around Tees Valley on a bike, but plenty about public transport or car.

Copy same problem to traffic engineering, and you can see how far we still need to go.

Cllr Mark Burton said...

I went to Hundens Lane Depot today on my bike, and allowed the normal time of around half an hour to get there and find a parking space as I would for my car.....guess what? It only took me 8 minutes there and back!!!!!

cllr. mark burton said...

[quote]The lack of a bike-specific planner is, I think, symptomatic of the way the issue of cycling is still compartmentalised into "healthy living" or "sustainable travel", but is not yet part of mainstream thinking.[/quote]

I’d like to take this under my wing for a little while… I’ll be in contact with fellow Councillors and see what help I could offer here. I’d like to see much better online facilities for biking in Darlington.

cllr. mark burton said...

I’ve spoken to the portfolio holder and awaiting an introduction to the team. Have you any suggestions or ideas you would like me to take forward?

miketually said...

Thanks for looking into this Mark.

We have fairly frequent meetings with the cycling team (I assume it's Sue and Louise that you'll be meeting), so they know our thoughts on most things. I'm sure that they'll be pleased to hear that we're in communication with another Councillor though :)

The journey planner isn't something we've brought up with them since it first launched (if at all), so it's good that someone is bringing it up. If you could let us know what is happening with it, that'd be great.

The 'core' members of the cycling campaign have been cycling for a while, so it's useful to get to hear about your experiences as a new cyclist in town. It would be good to get together for a ride and a natter (and maybe a drink) sometime.

An Inconvenient Truth said...

Great that you're taking this one up, Mark.

If it's any help, I would reckon a key component of a bike-specific journey planner is the safety/quality of each stretch of route - but also the directness/convenience.

As some cyclists want the direct/fast route, no matter how much busy on-road is involved, whilst others want the "pleasant cycling" route, even if it requires dodging around back streets, I suspect a mapping of Darlington would require the grading of streets/roads according to these criteria.

Another interesting issue that good at last be resolved via this exercise is the Pedestrian Heart. We all know that cyclists are "allowed" to travel through the PH. And any journey planner across town should consistently use this fact.

But when you actually look at how best to get from, say, the Town Hall to Bondgate, the picture becomes extremely unclear. The one-way section of Prebend Row and round the corner, the market square (not least when a market is running), inappropriately placed drop kerbs, all question the simplicity of through routes in the PH.

The Campaign has already raised this as an issue to be addressed, but we have had to spend most of our energies simply defending our right to cycle in the PH.

Any other help needed, please ask, Mark.