Monday, 18 November 2013

Hit and Run: Time to Make London's Streets Safer

The tragedies of the five cyclists who lost their lives last week weigh heavily in my heart.  Like so many who travel around London on two-wheels, I am frustrated by the lack of safe road design for cyclists’ and the lack of urgency and action by the Mayor of London to act on this issue.

In the same week as those cyclists’ lost their lives, I was bullied off the road by a taxi driver and nearly hit by a private bus whose driver failed to stop at a junction and check if traffic was passing before pulling out. I encounter experiences like these on my ride to and from work and I know full well that other cyclists encounter similar near misses

Everyday I cycle I have the niggling thought that I could be injured due to circumstances beyond my control. In a morbid way I have been mentally preparing that I may one day be involved in a collision of some sort. It has always felt inevitable.

Last month that niggling thought became a reality when a speeding Range Rover driver in oncoming traffic took a right turn into me when heading north onto Gordon Square. The driver simply failed to stop to wait for me to pass before taking the turn. I was left lying in the middle of the road shocked and helpless watching the Range Rover speeding away from the scene.

My injured right side caused by an irresponsible motorist and poor road design

If I hadn’t have impulsively turned my handlebars left, I would certainly have been flung over the Range Rover. Instead, the right side of my body took the blow. My mobility in the weeks after was somewhat restricted and I had severe internal and external bruising and swelling. Even now, 6 weeks on I still can’t lie on my right side nor apply any pressure on the area without feeling pain.

Gordon Square (Source)
Unfortunately, it's of no surprise that the collision happened by Gordon Square near Torrington/Tavistock Place. A popular central cycle way connecting east to west, this segregated path has being lobbied by LCC Camden Cyclists as a ‘victim of it’s own success’ and has been renamed in bike forums as the Lane of Death’.

I cycle the Lane of Death everyday and I am all too familiar with its design flaws affecting all types of road users. It was only a matter of time that I became a victim of its glaring inadequacies and the dangerous driving of an irresponsible, senseless motorist.

In the days after it made me think about the amount of times I have been told by friends and colleagues to ‘ride safely!’ But no matter how safe and responsibly I cycle, collisions like the one I was involved in are completely out of my own control. The responsibility of travelling safely seems to always be deflected from motorists’ onto cyclists when in fact one can have no control over the reckless actions of others like the Range Rover driver who collided with me. Nor can one have control over the surrounding road design, which may have been a contributing factor to the cause of the collision. For this very reason, vulnerable cyclists need to be protected by adequate infrastructure and motorists need to be held accountable for their actions.

I don’t feel proud to live in London and in a society which makes me feel that in some twisted distorted way that by being injured in a collision I have ‘paid my dues’ just for choosing to cycle. I feel like I have been punished for the method of transport I have chosen and that I deserve what I am given. The prejudice and abuse of cyclists on the roads and social media is endemic and needs to stop.  

It is astounding that cyclists are still having to argue for safer roads.  I have to wonder how many more people need to die before our voices will be heard.  The Mayor of London needs to start listening and acting immediately. I am backing the London Cycling Campaign to urge the Mayor to take positive action to improve cycling infrastructure of well-known killer junctions. I encourage anyone who wants to live in a safer, healthier and happier city to do the same.

Please support the campaign and write to the Mayor of London here.

Thursday, 9 May 2013

HelpMyChainCameOff! has COME OFF

Ah my dear, dear, dear bicycle friends. HelpMyChainCameOff! has COME OFF and when I say come off I mean OFFLINE!

Yep, I'm officially signing off from this blog and would like to wish all you readers and supporters a bicycle GOODBYE. I'm not giving up my two-wheeled adventures and will continue commuting and leisure cycling forever. I'm just stepping down from the stage of bicycle blogging in pursuit of other hobbies I want to get started.

It's been a swell couple of years and all good things have to come to an end right? I see this like Fawlty Towers and The Office, I'm bailing out whilst it's still good because I'm cool.

Thank you to everyone who has commented and read all my posts and supported my work - The bicycle community are a vocal, inclusive bunch and we make the best team.

So, with the wonderful weather on the weekend, I went out on my bike to celebrate the last post of HelpMyChainCameOff! and took some pictures of my adventure to Richmond Park which I want to share with you for the last time.

Cruising through Hyde Park dodging the tourists on their Boris Bikes.

Winging it through Chelsea, darling.

Passing by the rowing clubs in Putney.

Waiting for the level crossing to cross the railway line.

 It's the attack of the MAMILs! They swarmed to Richmond Park in flocks.

Arrived at Richmond Park and observing MAMIL behaviour. Favourite quote I overheard was 'My glucose levels are down, I'M HUNGRY!' Ah vintage MAMIL saying.

Sitting back and basking in the sunshine.

And then it was time to go...
Over and out.x

Monday, 15 April 2013

SPIN London Bicycle Festival 3rd - 5th May

Ahoy there fellow cyclists and trendsetters, did you get out and about on the weekend? Did you? Did you?

Because I did, and look what I saw.
Picnic on Boris Bikes
Turns out that Boris Bike docking stations make the perfect setting for a Brick Lane picnic. There's nothing like the idyllic scenery of Bethnal Green Road and the lorries and buses which rampage through it. Whatever you do, don't tell the Mayor of London otherwise he'll probably introduce a hefty rental charge for the picnic pleasure and these guys will have to sit on the littered street corner next to the Saturday night vomit to eat their Brick Lane bagel instead.

Enough of that, because I'm here to offer you guys a treat. It's competition time!

For all you scenester cyclists who wish that you could hang out in the Old Truman Brewery off Brick Lane with all your favourite cycle apparel brands at arms distance, well your wish has come true. I'm giving away 2 free tickets for the SPIN LONDON Urban Bicycle Show taking place on 3rd - 5th May.

And now let me tell you  bit about it because what's the purpose of giving away tickets if I don't?

Spin is 'the world's first urban focused bicycle show and festival' featuring progressive, forward thinking cycle brands such as Vulpine, Mango and Tokyobike.

Haven't got any money because you squandered your last tenner on the overpriced burgers at MEATmission? Well hey guys, this is a culture thing as well.  You can:

+ Race your friends at Rollapaluza static cycle racing
+ Scoff some food at Jimmys' cycle bistro
+ Watch a film or talk at the pedal powered cinema
+ See the themed Bike V Design exhibition
+ Watch bikes being built
+ Go to some talks or demonstrations and cycle-art installations

You can buy tickets here for £7 or otherwise, ENTER MY COMPETITION TO GET A PAIR FOR FREE!

Enter to win the tickets by tweeting or liking the HMCCO Facebook page using widget below! Deadline to enter is midnight on Monday 22nd April. A winner will be selected at random through the Rafflecopter widget.

a Rafflecopter giveaway