MJR's slef-reflections

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travel Entries

Back from Cuba

Mon, 12 May 2008 15:58:47 +0100

I'm just back from a trip to Cuba. Sorry for the abrupt disconnect. I expected to have limited connectivity there, whereas I actually had none at all except for 23 minutes! I hope the other members of the cooperative and the editorial team stepped in suitably well. I'll check in with them now and then start on the emails, but I wanted to put this broadcast out first for those who are watching closely and wondering...

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Tags: cooperatives, cycling, life, travel.

Another Toll Road Crash

Tue, 20 May 2008 14:07:44 +0100

I'd not long written about lunching at the other end of Kewstoke Toll Road yesterday when I read this news of another Toll Road crash. I hope the three people carried from the wreckage recover.

I fear the press will have another field day about how dangerous the road is, instead of primarily blaming whatever caused the accident. (The fishmonger crashed while avoiding a loose dog, by the way.) That road is not up to modern standards and I don't believe it was designed for the volume of traffic that's been using it since they stopped collecting the toll, but there is a very low speed limit (25mph) and warning signs all over it. Neither car left the road this time, as far as I can tell from the reports.

I hope the press proves me wrong.

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Tags: life, toll road, travel, wsm.

Fuel Price Bleating and Biking

Tue, 27 May 2008 10:17:26 +0100

[Photo of Cyclists]
England swings like a pendulum do!

There's another fuel price protest and the coverage in the London press is pretty biased, with occasional balanced reports and very rare dissenting opinion.

One of the favourite whines on news-and-nutters phone-ins is "waah, I live in a village, I need my car". While that's true for some people, most villagers could switch to bicycles for many journeys without problems.

At the moment, the biggest problem with cycling to town is the number of cars on the small lanes, followed by the number of potholes. Switching to cycling or walking will have a triple benefit: fewer cars on the road will free up space for cycling, wear the roads out less and reduce fuel demand (so petrol should become cheaper for those who really need it).

Over the last few days, I've been happy to read Bike The Drive 2008 [Dirk Eddelbuettel], Mountainbike, By Joerg Jaspert and How to Start Bicycling to Work, by John Goerzen.

A couple of tweaks to that last one: in England, I don't think that a cycling helmet is necessary. I've not worn one for the last few months (it went mouldy after a rain storm) - I find I can hear traffic better and many drivers seem to give me more room on the road. I wonder if helmet-wearing "dehumanises" cyclists to drivers? The safety data seems rather confused, but it's a personal choice. If you feel safer with a helmet, wear one. I also wear ordinary business or casual clothes, relying on a good quality commuter saddle rather than cycling shorts. I suspect that drivers here are developing a sort of blindness to the "screaming yellow" hi-vis jackets, so I don't wear those - but sometimes I wear hi-vis reflective armbands if I'm wearing black in the dark. I agree completely with the comments on that page about being predictable, Cateye lights and pannier bags.

Finally, Bike Week 2008 starts on 14 June, which would be an ideal time to try a group ride - or just get a free breakfast for cycling into town.

Update: Wheelism: How To Commute By Bicycle and Drake.org.uk: The Pushbike Song - it's a veritable wave!

9 comments.

Tags: cycling, life, travel, wsm.

World Environment Day

Thu, 05 Jun 2008 15:04:16 +0100

Today is World Environment Day 2008 and also Recycle Week in the UK.

Locally, our poor recycling record has attracted attention. The main Somerset CC area averages 50% recycling and composting, while North Somerset only does 36%. This will cost us money, as explained under the subtly-titled local newspaper article 'REDUCE WASTE NOW OR FACE A £12M FINE' It's very annoying to read a Conservative councillor say

"The message we really have to get out to people is that this is their problem too."

We know it's a bloody problem. Have you tried to use your stupid recycling system?

Criticism of the stupid collections is strangely absent from the local Lib-Dem's Mid table place shouldn't be good enough when it comes to recycling (Mike Bell) and I can't even find recycling mentioned on local Labour sites - I think those two groups may have been in coalition when the stupid system was introduced. It's left to local residents to explain the problem.

Local waste collections have been simplified recently but it still seems bloody awkward, taking different types of waste to different places. The most recent edition of the council's North Somerset Life magazine explained that they don't collect plastic bottles from the doorstep because it would add £10 per year to our local tax. I'm damn sure it already costs me more than that to store them and ferry them into town over a year. The only people rewarded by saving that £10 seem to be those who live near the town centre collection point, drive to that Tesco anyway, or don't recycle plastics. Why reward them?

Speaking of Tesco... those national and local favourites have applied to build Two more Tesco stores for Weston [The Weston Mercury] including one directly opposite another supermarket. The application number is 08/P/1230/F if you want to respond.

The planning system seems my main chance to protect my local environment at the moment. Next Monday evening at 7.30pm, 08/P/1070/F - Erection of 5 storey building to provide 14 flats, restaurant and office with basement parking following demolition of restaurant will be considered by a Kewstoke village council planning meeting in the village hall. As I understand it, the public may make statements at the start of the meeting and 2 Kewstoke Road is currently the Castle.

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Tags: cooperatives, life, statistics, travel, wsm.

More driving and cycling

Wed, 11 Jun 2008 18:17:56 +0100

Jeff Bailey asked:

"Heya Brits! Any of you still driving cars at ~ 1.15 according to the Daily Mail"

Yes, I am. I drove on Monday (at 1.18/l) because it was the least bad option for the journey. I try to avoid it and I felt bad afterwards (literally - it was too damn hot and each part of the journey was too short for the cab to cool down), but the car was available and the other choices involved not attending some events.

On Sunday, I used my bike instead, but I was I wondering if the world is full of Sunday drivers today or whether I was really riding that badly. You name a junction on my route and I seemed to get into a conflict with a car at it.

Today's bike trip went much better, even getting thanks from a coach for pulling aside halfway up an incline, but I had to take avoiding action as I re-entered the village because of a police car. I'm pretty damn sure that wasn't my fault, but I do wonder when it's the police.

I'm still riding without a helmet, without ill effects. Gunnar Wolf was getting a breeze through a different kind of helmet but I think it's telling that cyclists "feel naked" rather than actually being naked (usually, at least). Have we got too used to being cocooned in metal boxes while out on the roads? I've always ridden and walked a lot - is this why I don't miss the hat much? I must remember to drink more in summer without it, though.

I share Criag Sanders's scepticism about the protests and Chrisitan Perrier's enthusiasm for bike-pools. I don't agree with many of Russel Coker's views on oil prices but they are interesting reading, even so.

I'm taking part in JamBustingJune for the West of England region and BikeWeek 14-21 June 2008

3 comments.

Tags: cycling, life, toll road, travel.

Forthcoming (and past) Events News: LUGoG, BikeWeek, HacktionLab, SPI

Mon, 16 Jun 2008 15:05:41 +0100

LUG of Glastonbury meets at Tor Leisure in Glastonbury at 7pm tonight (Monday). It will be a general planning meeting, maybe with some GPG-key-signing and other tasks. If you want the LUG to show you something in particular, this will be a good event to attend.

This week is BikeWeek 2008 and there's a free cyclists breakfast at the Victorian Cafe on the Weston-super-Mare seafront about 8am Wednesday morning. For events in other areas, stick a partial postcode into the BikeWeek event search.

Someone from The Doon Of May was at Hacktionlab 2008 @ Highbury Farm this last weekend, as were Bristol Wireless, who were running the wifi.

I've not seen an official announcement, but SPI's board meeting will be on Wednesday at 8pm UK time (1900 UTC), according to my last meeting report.

I've heard through BBLUG that the notorious Shevek is co-organising an event called "An Adventure in Technology" at Trinity Community Arts in Bristol on 28 June 2008. It's a follow-up event to the 2003 Bristol Linux and will be an all-inclusive event where everybody is encouraged to bring something along, talk about it, swap ideas, and build things on site. It doesn't have to be Linux-based, but a lot of things will be. The event web site is http://www.techadventure.org/ and you should post there if you have an idea or want to run a session. There will also be a list for people who decide on the day that they want to give a talk.

1 comment.

Tags: cooperatives, life, spi, travel, web, wsm.

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