Tuesday, 27 November 2007

Shiny black stuff

Beech Street has gone from bone jarring, teeth jangling bumpy road to racetrack smooth tarmac strip. This is so much better than bouncing into the road across the lumps and holes that were there previously. Unfortunately it doesn't look like the adjoining Plane Street is getting a makeover, so we still have to endure a rough ride to get to Beech Street. Still, every little helps.

Monday, 26 November 2007

Don't forget to cast your vote

Remember to cast your vote in the people's £50m lottery givaway. It has four projects in the final, one being Sustrans' Connect2 bid.

By building bridges and new crossings over barriers such as busy roads, rivers and railway lines, Connect2 will connect people to the places they want to go.

The nearest project is the Padiham, East Lancashire Loop, which may eventually link up with the old railway line in Great Harwood.

Voting is now open, so make your views count and vote for one of the projects

Road works week 11

Lots of steel reinforcement was added to the roof of the culvert last week. I declined the opportunity to capture the sparks flying, as the boys from Bethell were cutting the steel, for fear of getting run over - not a good idea to stop in the one way traffic lane. I wondered if the concrete was under the covers on Friday evening, but as the temperature got down to around -5C it was obviously worth waiting until today as the overnight temp is going to be around 6C.

The last photograph shows the Intack Brook coming in from the left. This is an area of additional activity that will join up with the other side of the road at some point.

Thursday, 22 November 2007

Scottish man loves bike

WTF? Lubing his tube? Pumping his rubber maybe? Cranking his gear perhaps or handling his bar? Saddle sore takes on a whole new meaning.


It seems his privacy was invaded and a lot of other people think so.


Wednesday, 21 November 2007

School bus

No Chelsea tractors here. No massive queues or fighting parents. No 4x4s obstructing the way of cyclists. Just a walking bus coordinated by volunteers. So easy really.

Monday, 19 November 2007

Why not Eurostar?

Recently, I was perusing options for getting bikes onto the continent. I'd heard that it was becoming more difficult to get bikes on a plane. British Airways was reported as tightening regulations for carrying sports equipment and I know other low cost airlines are making it less cost effective to get gear abroad, charging around £30-£40 extra for a return trip. Whilst I was thinking about the options, I started looking at trains, thinking that was a great solution. The problem is the more I looked at it, I became less reassured of commitment to supporting cyclists among the companies that make up the transport industry.

Looking at some of the options over on the continent, it seems the world is your oyster, so to speak. There are ample facilities for cyclists in some countries to go by train. In the UK though, the situation can be less than optimal. Some stations have facilities for bicycles for parking but many are not secure. Train companies may advertise they allow cycles on the train, but sometimes only have room for two cycles. If there's three people wanting to take their bikes on the same route at the same time you're stuck. There is incentive to improve and the good guys get some recognition at the annual cycle rail awards.

I thought I'd come up with a cunning plan going completely by rail until I discovered some of the difficulties. I thought 'All I need to do is get over to the right place on the continent and then use local trains to get about in country. Eurostar!' 'Ideal', I thought - blast all the way to the south of France or over to Brussels or Berlin. And then I found, you can't easily take bikes on Eurostar. You can book them on board, but as a checked baggage service costing £20 and not on the same train as the passenger.

It seems I'm not alone in thinking this is not a very modern approach to a sustainable and integrated transport solution. About a hundred cyclists mounted a protest recently at the newly refurbished St. Pancras station, the day of the first non-stop high speed Eurostar trains to the continent. They were campaigning for better facilities at the station and better access routes in the vacinity of the station as well as pressing Eurostar to allow bikes on the same train as their passenger owners.

It seems to have had an effect. Around 100 bike stands were rushed in by Network Rail to improve on the inadequate stands that existed at the remote end of the car park. This seemed quite a decent number until I read Rotterdam's new station has 8000! The biggest breakthough has to be that Eurostar have promised to enable passengers to reserve space on the same trains they are travelling on.

Well done London Cycling Campaign, keep the pressure on! I'll get back to my planning now...

Time to say goodbye

No, not to the blog, but to this part of the Blakewater. Work on replacing the Blakewater culvert on Philips Road is progressing at a significant pace. Last week, the walls of the culvert were built up with reinforced concrete and now the downstream end of the culvert is getting the roof replaced. Fresh steel beams have been laid out spanning the gap and by Friday evening the covering was already starting to be fitted.

Further upstream the excavation of the next section is under way. The meeting of Little Harwood brook and Knusden brook is roughly where the digger is.

Raised Manholes

Or should that be person holes to be PC about it? Beech Street is getting a makeover. I'm always glad when a road I cycle regularly gets new tarmac. Beech Street was rather bumpy. The bit you see here is the best bit, but elsewhere along its length, instead of it being a continuous surface, it was more a combination of joined up patches. Mind you, it wasn't quite as bad as the adjacent Plane Street, so I hope it is going to get the resurfaced too.

Thursday, 15 November 2007

Bike night review

Last night was bike night 'Wheels within Wheels' at the Kendal Mountain Film Festival. The evening was introduced by Andy Miles, Sustrans' North West England representative.

The action kicked off with a film Freeride Alta Rezia, a 6 day downhill tour in the Italian Alps featuring Hans 'No Way' Rey and Thomas Frischknecht. Excellent and humorous insight into touring the singletracks of the Alta Rezia region using the skiing infrastructure in the Alps and having some amazing downhill experiences. http://www.alta-rezia.com/ contains galleries and links to gps data.

The main feature was a talk by Greg Yeoman who, with Kate Leeming, toured over 7500 miles around Australia. An amazing feat crossing this huge continent and surviving hazardous conditions to promote sustainable development. More at: http://www.gracexpedition.org/ and http://www.red-line.moonfruit.com

Sponsored by Buff the event included a quick demo of some of the many ways to use a Buff.

Heavy Fork - short showing bikes stunts (not) performed by a 12 year - quite painful to watch but fun.

The last film of the night was a downhill epic. Anti Gravity Unhinged, is the latest in the Anti gravity series by Reflex films featuring lots of fast and furious downhill action filmed in impressive locations around the world.

More mountain events are taking place at the Brewery Arts Centre, Kendal town hall, Kendal Leisure Centre and Rheged each day until Sunday.

Saturday, 10 November 2007

Pouring Concrete

Events to report from my commute this week have been thin on the ground. Mostly I've focussed on traffic, making sure I can be seen in the darkness and trying to anticipate what others are doing. Whilst I've been doing that, work continued on the culvert replacement. Despite some poor weather (the leaves on the tree in last week's shot are all but gone), the renovation of the downstream end of the culvert has got to the stage of pouring concrete to reinforce the walls. This is week 9 and things seem to be moving along nicely.

Friday, 9 November 2007

Quicker by bike?

Find out when the Top Gear team race across London by different means. One of them will be on a bike.

8pm Sunday 11th November BBC2
7pm Wednesday 14th November BBC2

Update: Bike wins! Yes, Richard Hammond beats off the challengers in James May in a car, The Stig on public transport and Jeremy Clarkson in a power boat. Great stuff.

Bike Night

Here's an event for your calendar if you can make it to Kendal next Tuesday, 13th November. You could be in for a cycling treat. All you have to do is sit and watch others on their bikes, as Tuesday is the 'Bike Night' of the Kendal Mountain Film Festival. Tickets are £9 from the website or the Kendal Brewery Arts Centre (01539 725331). Kick off is at 7pm

Friday, 2 November 2007

Blakewater turns a corner

Week 8 of the culvert replacement has seen a turning point in the renovation in moving from removing material to adding it. Workers from Bethell are now reinforcing the walls of the culvert. In the shot from this morning, you can see steelwork being added to the side walls ready for filling with concrete. This suggests this section is being repaired before moving upstream towards Little Harwood.