Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Addison Lee - Redemption?

So I was cycling along the same old boring road I always do under the grey, freezing cold skies which are always there whilst thinking about what it would be like if I had a turbo button on my bicycle, when out of nowhere a car overtook me using the WHOLE OTHER LANE FOR SPACE.

Yep, the whole other lane! I had ample room to wobble and jerk over the potholes as I pleased without fear of necking it into a passing car.

All thoughts of turbo buttons and hot days were dispelled as I looked ahead to catch a glimpse of this goodwill, safety driver and the set of wheels they were rolling in. And shock horror, it was an Addison Lee car ahead of me!

Addison Lee cabs got into hot water a year ago after big boss, John Griffin shamefully berated cyclists saying that cyclist deaths and injuries are largely the fault of cyclists and that drivers are not to blame. And what followed was a PR nightmare for Addison Lee with a protest and a boycott of their services. (Griffin obviously wasn't clever enough to realise that many of his customers are cyclists)

Addison Lee cabs have never been a favourite amongst the cycling community, they are like black flies on the road persistently buzzing around you waiting for a cheap move to cut you up. They are also enemies with fellow black cabbies after Griffin encouraged his staff to flout the law and drive in bus lanes.

With cyclists and black cab drivers uniting in April last year, it was evident that Addison Lee cabs were the most hated vehicles on the roads of London. So fancy my surprise to find that an Addison Lee driver had been considerate and careful when passing me on the road. It is such a rarity that a driver uses the other lane to pass me, even when they is no traffic on either side of the road, let alone being an Addison Lee taxi driver.

I have been aware that to improve their disastrous image, Addison Lee have been working with Cycle Training UK offering taxi specific cycle training for their drivers. I also can't remember the last time an Addison Lee driver cut me up on the road, which was a frequent occurrence in the past.

Coincidentally, in the last year Griffin seems to have accrued a bicycle (see below), but is having trouble getting out of the AddLee car park. Perhaps he's scared he might get cut up by one of his car drivers and be on his maiden voyage into the abyss.  Or maybe he's just waiting for his high-vis gear to arrive from Wiggle.

Mr Griffin 'takin' muh bike fo' uh ride Ya' know what I'm sayin'?' Source: Cab4now.com
So what does this mean?

Does this mean that Addison Lee really have improved their reputation and relationship with cyclists? Are they now polite, considerate road users, happy to share the tarmac with bicycles? Or was my experience just a one off? Either way, I'm still reluctant to hop into their cabs...

UPDATE: Hot of the Twitter press, Stagecoach West Ham bus drivers are also receiving cycle training with Cycle Training UK. Let the revolution begin!

Friday, 15 March 2013

Red Raw Thumbs

I know it's hard but nobody told me about this!

The skin on my thumbs has turned red raw from cycling in the cold. And nope, you can't see it on this picture and yes, I have been wearing gloves, I'm not a maniac for goodness sake. Nobody told me about this when I signed up to this cycling in winter malarky! 

As you all seem to be blissfully unaware of this horrific ailment one can get from cycling in adverse weather conditions, I guess I'll have to be the one to warn you all about it... SO COUNT THIS AS YOUR WARNING!

I have had to purchase soothing baby bum butter lotion to nourish my pitiful injury and recover my skin back to the softness of my baby years. I'll let you know once I have made a full recovery.

In the meantime....stay strong.

Friday, 8 March 2013

My Green Wheels - The Charge Hob 3

 Eagle-eyed HelpMyChainCameOff! wizard readers out there would have noticed that I have been sporting some serious green wheels. Are you green with envy?

Going by the famous formula adopted by bicycle crazies (n+1) with 'n' being the number of bicycles one currently owns, I realised that I didn't have enough bikes in my repertoire to call myself the Chief Cyclist of North London. However, I'm not failing nearly as bad as this guy who must think the formula is n-1.

Source: http://www.feizi-gallery.com/artist.asp?id=89 by Zhao Huasen

Somebody give him a bike please.

So continuing my bid to be Chief Cyclist of North London I thought I would present to you the wheels I am currently riding.

Bought through the Bike2Work scheme whereby I pay my bicycle off every month through my salary (because I am poor) and omit paying a pension because.....well...the economy is screwed, so why not? I selected the Charge Hobb 3 bicycle for it's handsome characterists and Britishness. The Olympics may be a distant memory but I can at least pretend that I am a GB rider everyday, especially as it is plastered on the frame in case you forgot.

I even managed to shove my slightly rusty back rack from my vintage bicycle onto the bike and invested in a 'proper' lock. And don't worry! I have two locks so do not fret..

There is no battle of the sexes here, this bike is made for both men and women. Being unisex doesn't make it any less comfortable, I find it easy to hop on and off the bicycle, even wearing skirts. And it is is remarkably nifty and perfect for nipping in out of traffic.
Being used to women's bicycles with seats more soft and cushioned than my sofa, this seat looked pretty scary when I wheeled it out of the shop, but actually it's the most comfortable bike seat I have ever had the honour of sitting on.

Thankfully the striking, glittering green paint hasn't encouraged me to become a Frogger cyclist yet and my seat remains at the appropriate height for legs to push the pedals down. 

I have fallen in love with smart features such as these:

And the three gears is plentiful for my city riding. The other day I even managed to overtake a MAMIL, which is truly a remarkable acheivement seeing that I don't wear skin tight fabric exposing inappropriate lumps all in the name of reducing my air resistance by a fraction.

Having sturmy archer gears, I can change gears when stationery meaning I win the race of setting off quickly at traffic lights. This bodes well for my Chief Cyclist of North London bid.

I have even spotted a couple of men eyeing my wheels up which is a first in my cycling memory. Shame that I am a galumpher and have already got some major chips and scratches, dust and rust forming. But hey, that's what happens when you cycle in potholes and grit and ugly British weather. Still I need to learn to give this darling bicycle a bath every now and then if I want to avoid maintenance problems. Ideally I would have liked it to have a chain guard but I understand that it would have reduced the sleek, chic appearance of the bike and obviously I'm too young to be 'practical'.
I haven't migrated my burger bicycle bell to this bicycle yet so I am currently *bringless* when it comes to turfing pedestrians out of my path. I'm sure this isn't really a problem seeing that the high-viz brigade clear the paths before me in the mornings from any unyielding pedestrians. Thanks guys!

I am a big fan of this bicycle so far and I hope to take him out for some romantic bicycle adventures this year and engage in a mutual marriage of appreciation.

Saturday, 2 March 2013

Holy Sunday cycling

Apart from commuting like crazy on my two wheels, I haven't had much time to bike ride purely for pleasure. I can now say HALLELUJAH because in the same week we said goodbye to the Pope Benedict XVI, I found myself free as a frog on Sunday, so I hopped on my bike to see what was and wasn't going down in the great London pond. And I thought you guys would want to know because why else do you check in here?

Off I shimmied to the wonders of Soho hoping I would catch the Pope celebrating his retirement outside G-A-Y with a Jagerbomb and a dayglo stick in hand. That was not to be.

But hey, Chinatown was HAPPENING instead!

 And when I say 'happening', I mean HelpMyChainCameOff! has turned into a Chinese lucky cat. Happy as Larry.

But uh oh....My ride to Soho and China town wasn't all lucky....
My favourite bike crossing button has been vandalised in the worst act of football hooliganism we have seen since the 80's.

Surely there are so many more important things to politicise than Arsene Wenger?.....Like will I ever wear high-vis? Or will Andrew Mitchell (aka Plebgate victim) EVER get back on his basket bike again?

Source: Thesun.co.uk

WHO KNOWS? But never mind, I was on the look out for a partying Pope...and yes, I do indeed love London.

 Just as much as I love Torrington Place when it's free from on the crazy weekday traffic.

And popping to the Oxford Street Topshop to stand in the refunds queue for half an hour.

 But I am blessed because all is forgiven when there are Japanese noodles to nourish my Sunday bicycle woes.

But where is that Pope Benedict now that he is a free man??

Why he must be catching up on his favourite blog HelpMyChainCameOff! instead...
'Oh, high-vis just sooo isn't Godly'                Source: Catholic Sensibility