Cyclists not seeing car door opened = Ouch!

When I ride through the city I give parked cars a wide berth because you never know when someone will open a door or someone will walk out. This morning I saw a stark reminder of why caution is the best policy.

While I was riding to work around Regents Park I saw a cyclist on the other side of the side of the road passing a parked car when the driver of the parked car opened the door without looking and knock the cyclist off his bike. From where I was it looked like the rider hit the door with his thigh and not his hand/handle bars. Luckily he wasn’t riding too fast but it still looked very painful.

I also found out today that the Transport for London website suggests that cyclists should look out for car doors being opened into your path. They should also suggest that cyclist should have reflexes of a cobra and the ability to read minds of other road users who don’t think looking is important.

  • Black cabs swerving to the kerb to pick up/drop off passengers
  • Pedestrians stepping out into the road without looking (and most of us do it on occasion)
  • Passengers hopping off or on Routemaster buses without looking
  • Vehicles turning left across you – even more serious if it is a bus or truck
  • Car doors being opened into your path
  • Vehicle creepage at junctions
  • Delivery vehicles parked in cycle lanes
  • Drivers failing to indicate properly leaving everyone guessing
  • Vehicles doing impromptu U-turns.

Isn’t Socialism Great

The socialist who run the unions that work on the London underground went on a 72 hour strike this week. In the end the union called off the strike slightly early after accepting the EXACT package that the Tube bosses offered them in the first place.

Why did they strike then? I have no idea. Maybe just to flex their socialist muscles.

One crazy spin off of the tube strike is that London’s buses and roads became way more congested. One Tuesday and Wednesday on my rides to work I saw some crazy stuff. The significant increase in traffic caused loads of extra pressure and I saw several vehicles do crazy things that you would normally never see. The worst of which was a car that cut across in front of an oncoming car when they both got green lights to go straight ahead. Crazy.

There were also loads of extra cyclists who were riding for two days. All those people who bought bikes and have rarely or never used them were able to dust them off and ride to work. The finniest part was that a lot of the “strike riders” rode in ways that regular riders wouldn’t, like all over the footpath.

There were reports in the news that the queues for the buses were so bad that fights broke out.

I wonder how many people got hurt or ended up in hospital so the unions could flew their socialist muscle.

Live Earth Consumption Orgy

Wembly Live Earth

Went up to Wembley Stadium to see Live Earth. I cannot think of to many things more inappropriate to bring attention to the state of the planet than an alcohol and rock fueled orgy of consumption.

The bands ranged from good to great but the highlights for me was seeing Wembley Stadium itself. It was awesome. It’s just a pity they don’t play rugby there.

My humour highlight was Thandie Newton’s small piece to air. She started by saying:

“Someone once said -“

At this stage I was thinking I bet she was too lazy to even bother to find out and credit the author of the quote she is stealing. She finished:

“- with power comes responsibility.”

Then I didn’t know when to laugh or cry. Not only did she steal someone else’s quote but she also butchered it. Everyone knows that the line “With great power comes great responsibility”? is by Spiderman’s uncle Ben. So I started yelling “Uncle Ben said it! Uncle Ben said it!” But it was still early in the day and people hadn’t drunk very much so everyone just edged away from me and looked nervous.

Dangerous roads

Earlier this year I wrote to a long list of local councillors about a stretch of cycle lane on the way to work that was blocked in several places by road works. In some places the road was genuinely dug up but in several other the cycle lane was blocked to provide storage space for road signs, equipment and – a portable toilet. I even took some photos (click on the image below to see more).I got a couple of responses about looking at danger areas etc a few weeks later but not much else.

Toilet blocking cycle lane

Yesterday on the same stretch of road I took the photo below of a toilet blocking a cycle lane. In the couple of minutes it took me to take these photos I saw two cyclists ride into oncoming traffic on the wrong side of the road to avoid the toilet blocking the cycle lane. While I admit this is an incredibly stupid thing for cyclists to do the fact that a high percentage of cyclists will do this makes the placement of the portable toilet here, dangerous in the extreme.

Toilet blocks cycle lane

My proposed solution is that the local councils should outlaw using cycle lanes for storage by road workers.

The Bomblers are at it again

It’s been 9 years since I last went to Tiger Tiger in Leicester Square. Sixteen hours before I was due to make a return visit for a friend’s birthday some evil bastard parked a car packed with explosives and nails outside it.

Luckily the bombers are once again as skilful as they are sane and the bomb never went off. Thankfully in the UK there seems to be a high correlation between being a sadistic terrorist murderer and being a bumbling incompetent.

When will the bombers learn? Horrifically killing innocent people doesn’t get you paradise and virgins. It gets you a little concrete cube to spend the rest of your life in with a guy called bubba who makes you wear lipstick.

POLICE CLAMP DOWN ON DANGEROUS RED-LIGHT-JUMPING CYCLISTS IN HOLBORN – REAL CRIMINALS LAUGHING

Police officers ticketing a dangerous red light jumper in Holborn

Every day when I ride to work I see people step out onto the road without looking. I guess they have forgotten the advice of their parents and are not looking “right then left then right again”?. And while ears might be useful for hearing cars and trucks they aren’t so useful for spotting cycles. This often results in the unobservant pedestrians getting a bing from a bell or a toot of a horn and usually a little scare.

Some of these sharp eared walkers have taken offence to cyclists binging them and the local police have been called into action to sort out the silly cyclists. A group of them now regularly patrol the intersection next to Holborn police station issuing tickets to any cyclist who stupidly runs a red light while they are there.

My point is that I don’t think that a lot of pedestrians are getting hurt. But London roads are putting at least four thousand cyclists in hospital each year.

Now if I were in charge of the police (and why not?) I might target my limited resources at minimising death and injury on the roads. Or I might be looking into why thousands of bikes are stolen in London each year. Quite possibly I might send an office down to Brick Lane where rumour has it you can choose from several cut price stolen bikes any day of the week.

That’s just me though. I have crazy ideas for common sense use of limited police resources.

Booking nightmare

We were supposed to spend the day house sitting the other Kiwi boys place on the beach while Woza took them for a one or two day sail. The morning got off to a bad start when Beige, Wendy and Woza had “communication difficulties” until Woza eventually called the sail off for lack of time. Toddie and Judge didn’t seem bothered by proceedings. I tried to iron it all out with f*** all success. Hummus predictably slept through it all as he was out all night drinking.

Instead we spent the better part of the day trying to get flights to the semis and finals. The team worked well together and it was as if all the toy trowing on the boat had never happened. That is one of the beauties of this group, everyone has their moments but sulks and foot stamping never last long.

There is a lot of rumour and speculation surrounding the different methods we can use to get to the semi/final. The best one was that we could charter a plane that would get us there in just 40 minutes for only US$3000 each. All I can say is that it must have been a bloody flash plane. Air Jamaica seems to be our best hope and we struggled to get two answers that were the same from them or their website.

By mid afternoon we had flights to Jamaica for the semi booked and a flight to Barbados immediately after the semi final penciled in. The flight to the final is US$330.

Am I A Betting Man?

Now I know I am a betting man. We all are on our yacht. At the 30th over of every game we hold a pool on what the final score will be. $5EC (five Eastern Carriean Dollars equals about one pound) buys you one guess. Usually we get all the crowd around us involved and the total prize has gotten as high as $400EC. Sadly for the boys we have only won it twice. Woza picked up $300EC at the Sri Lanka game and I scored a measly $50 for my efforts when we watched NZ v Ireland in a bar in St Vincents.

The big question is are any of us prepared to bet US$330 by booking a flight from Jamaica to Barbados after the semifinal against Sri Lanka. If we win the semi the bet is a great one because flights are as scarce as good English cricketers. If we loose it is more than likely US$330 down the drain as we all go our separate ways home.

A Very Local Dinner

We have been befriended by a local lady called Dorothy who lives in a badly damaged house just down the beach from the other boys flat. She has been homeless since the category 3 hurricane Ivan slammed into Grenada at 260 kilometers an hour on September 7th, 2004. Ninety percent of their homes were wrecked along with their economy and pretty much everything else. This is what the island looked like after Ivan left:

Hurricane Ivan

Dorothy lives on the bottom floor of half a house with her eleven year old daughter. The couple in what is left of upstairs dabble in dealing drugs, prostitution and domestic violence. Some kids grow up faster than others I guess.

Tonight Dorothy is cooking all twelve Kiwi boys dinner. For $20EC each we get some great value authentic home cooked local food and Dorothy makes a bit of money on the side. A pretty good deal all round.

Dinner was deliscious.

GOVERNMENT INCOMPETENCE GETS MY GOAT UP

Two weeks ago I was rudely awoken at 6am by two burly bailiffs who wanted to remove our electronic goods because a previous tenant at our flat owes money to the DVLA (Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency). We explained to them that we were not the droids they were looking for and they said we had to contact the DVLA to get the matter sorted out. So I wrote a nice letter clearly stating that we had never met Mr A. Hussain and to stop bugging us.

Yesterday I received a letter from the DVLA asking for the vehicle registration number. Eh? How the hell am I supposed to know that?!?!

This morning I rang them and a very unhelpful lady said that the only way I could resolve this matter would be to send in the registration number. I asked her how I should get that and she said from any correspondence to my address. In short she said that I had to illegally open another person’s private mail if I wanted the DVLA to stop sending the heavy squad to my house to threaten me.

I cannot be the only person with this exact problem. In fact I must be one of many thousands of people who face this scenario every year. The fact that the DVLA does not have a system in place for dealing with it is laughable and borders on incompetence.

And don’t get me started on their staff. It just reinforces what I suspected all along about large bureaucratic government organisations being there solely for the purpose of providing mass employment for people who show absolutely-no-initiative and might be ‘a bit fick’.

DAY 6 – KRAKOW

Took an excellent bike tour of Krakow which included a visit to the factory owned by Oscar Schindler the Nazi made famous by Steven Speilbergs movie Schindlers List. This is easilly the best way to see the main sites of Krakow in a day. The highlight was when the guide recounted the story of a “valley girl” from California who asked if the Krakow castle moat used to have sharks in it. Priceless.

Ended the day on the overnight train to the Polish beach resort of Hel.