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TOPIC: Cycling in Enfield - the view from the saddle - Episode 1

Cycling in Enfield - the view from the saddle - Episode 5
14 Dec 2014 18:55 #580

David Hughes David Hughes's Avatar Topic Author
Now for what I expect to be the last of my summary bulletins from the saddle; henceforward it's likely that there will be stories from my latest sortie into the great, wide cycling world.

The first thing to emphasize is that I've enjoyed my biking immensely. For a start it's been a liberating experience to travel so efficiently, and in the knowledge that I'm doing so little to warm the climate or sully the air we breathe. On the other hand I can't have been doing my lungs any favours sitting in a stream of diesel exhaust in a traffic-light queue. This must be the most dangerous aspect of cycling though you don't get the same rush of fear as you do from the car which passes so close that it seems it will brush your shoulder. And in turn this lack of the fear factor must be the explanation of why drivers don't seem to care about the poison their often over-large car emits, nor do the public at large rise up at the 4,500 London deaths a year caused by rank bad air quality. Imagine the outcry if that many people a year died in accidents.

Note that all of the above arises from the thinking mind, but deep down in the more primitive part of the mind lies the fears engendered by the swoop and swish of cars passing; unpleasant enough if you're a pedestrian, but really nasty if you're a cyclists who has this stuff constantly passing your right shoulder.

I suppose it could be argued that if it doesn't kill or maim it's not that serious, but the plain fact is that we're living cheek by jowl in a crowed city where consideration for the lives of others matters enormously to quality of life. In this respect drivers have a lot to answer for because nothing is gained by accelerating away from a traffic-light only to brake hard at the next pedestrian crossing. Frankly a steady 30kph (20mph) with no harsh acceleration and consequent harsh braking would make for similar journey times, and important savings in fuel and emissions. It's not going to happen though unless local politicians recognise that our health, our fitness, the future freedoms of our kids to exercise, is mandated by streets organised to make city life more equal, and not unnecessarily dominated by traffic.

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Cycling in Enfield - the view from the saddle - Episode 5
18 Dec 2014 09:45 #616

Totally agree with you David- keep cycling and keep writing - and keep safe.

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Cycling in Enfield - the view from the saddle - Episode 5
18 Dec 2014 14:39 #618

Amazing just what you can do on a bike.
From the very strong PG links behind this one I can say only the 3rd take achieved perfection.
Eat your heart out Mr Hughes.
Happy Christmas to all the bikers out there

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Cycling in Enfield - the view from the saddle - Episode 6
18 Dec 2014 22:24 #623

David Hughes David Hughes's Avatar Topic Author
I've already given my age away: 77, and as I set out on an errand from my home in Southgate Green to The Grange area today I was reminded again how useful a bike can be - I have the recurrence of heel pain which prevents me from walking on hard surfaces, but on the bike there were no problems because pressure on the pedals is applied with the ball of the foot. You might say I could have driven or caught the W9 which is true of driving, but not not true of the W9 because I couldn't walk to the bus stop. In any case, had I done either of those things, I would have deprived my body of exercise as well as unnecessarily adding to London's poor air quality.

And despite the headwind and the need to climb Wades Hill, Winchmore against it on the way back, I enjoyed the ride, arriving home refreshed.

Refreshed, and more than ever surprised that there is such a high proportion of people who feel a need to take a ton or two of metal with them every time on short trips, even trips of a kilometer or less. A thought that was even more timely today as the European Court ruled that obesity could in certain circumstances be regarded as a disability.

And the issue isn't only one of exercise and air quality. London is fast becoming saturated with cars - cars which seem to getting bigger at that - which can only lead to increasing congestion. Congestion which could well cause Enfield to seize up. No wonder the council is striving hard to promote space-saving cycling.

And now cover your eyes please, I'm going to reveal my thighs. Which are beginning to acquire muscles again so that I don't have to think I'm walking on stilts.

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Cycling in Enfield - the view from the saddle - Episode 7
19 Dec 2014 23:49 #629

David Hughes David Hughes's Avatar Topic Author
Today I contented myself with a short ride in the sun to collect some medication. For a time with the breeze at my back, the sun in the sky, and the carriageway more or less level, I felt like bird: master of the environment I was in - or less poetically - master of the carriageway I was on. Truly it was a fantastic experience.

But only for a moment. I came down with a bump, not on the carriageway, but in terms of the experience. Because I ran into traffic, and was faced with that aggressive car-tyre noise, and worse: foot-down acceleration. And the sad thing is that there is no need for it on an urban road - usually the next move is hard braking behind a traffic stream, at a traffic light, at a pedestrian crossing.

Questions: in cities, towns, and villages why don't drivers just drift along (at 30mph if they must), and what does charging a red traffic light achieve, especially when they've seen it change to red, and know it won't change again for many seconds?

If drivers did just drift rather than snarl with acceleration half the worries of Mums and Dads about the offspring cycling would disappear.

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Cycling in Enfield - the view from the saddle - Episode 7
20 Dec 2014 17:31 #636

Seems I owe apologies to the immense cycling talents of Geriant Thomas who managed "Jingle Bells" on the first, rather than third, take. Some subsequent "failures" were filmed so the rest of us wobbly two wheelers weren't put too much to shame. Big respect and I'll certainly be keeping both my hands firmly on the handlebars.

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Cycling in Enfield - the view from the saddle - Episode 8
31 Dec 2014 18:14 #673

David Hughes David Hughes's Avatar Topic Author
Perhaps it was the advent of a new year, but as I set out on my bike today to do some shopping my mood was pensive (I was so keen to choose the right word that I looked it up: plunged in thought, meditative, reflective, often with a tinge of melancholy) and perhaps a little angry. A state-of-mind not helped by a long stretch of cars, many of them two-tonne Chelsea Tractors, parked by one of the side entrances to Grovelands Park. I couldn't know for certain of course, but I'd take a bet that most of families who'd come for a walk in the park would have travelled only a kilometre or two; journeys easily done by bike or on foot with important savings in cancer-causing emissions, and, potentially, unnecessary congestion. Alternatively, and especially if they had travelled more than a couple of kilometres, public transport is available to Southgate Tube Station by either Tube or several bus routes - also the W9 bust route actually passes a main Grovelands Park entrance.

On the other hand the exercise on a nearly still and sunny December morning was a delight, and as I knew it would be relatively unsullied on this holiday morning by the killer carbon particles which spurt from traffic exhausts, especially diesel traffic, I felt free to inhale more deeply than usual. Which brought me back full circle to the Cheleas Tractors parked alongside Grovelands Park. Because car drivers, in full force of their car's fan-driven air intakes, are probably in the most air polluted place in the country. Why do they accept, even welcome, it when 4500 people in London die of it every year, and many tens of thousands of others, especially perhaps asthma suffers, are made ill. Suppose these figures applied to car accidents; there'd be an enormous outcry......................though probably not much change in driver outlook.

After completing my shopping mission I took to the residential streets between Green Lanes and the Great Cambridge Rd (A10), which is where the Council is suggesting bikers-to-work might like to venture rather than travel on Green Lanes. Well, I enjoyed it. And I doubt that more than a handful of residents even noticed my passing, which is probably more than can be said of many of the cars which sped by me. On the other hand quite a few drivers demonstrated their thoughtfulness and good nature by not harrying me at junctions or when space between lines of parked cars was tight - just another clue to the fact that most drivers are not ill-intentioned, just blind, or choosing to be blind, to the negative sides of their car-habit.

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Cycling in Enfield - the view from the saddle - Episode 10
01 Jan 2015 20:39 #675

David Hughes David Hughes's Avatar Topic Author
Today, just a short domestic tale to confirm that shopping at a supermarket doesn't always need a car.

First some background. My wife - name of Myrna - has the sort of mind you need to be a proof reader: absolute concentration, steely devotion to accuracy. I like to kid myself I'm the creative one of the team........which tends to go with, well, sloppiness. Which means she doesn't trust me to buy a loaf of bread let alone follow a shopping list.

However she doesn't drive which means she packs our shopping in a canvas trolley (liberally labeled with Spurs badges; note it was 5-3 against Chelsea this evening). And this morning the list was long, so she rang home from Winchmore Hill Sainsbury's: "Can you help me......bringing the car perhaps?

Well the surplus didn't sound enormous so I took the bike instead. Exercise for me, a car off the road, no carbon emissions or effect on air quality: perfect. The booty just filled my panniers though they are rather compartmentalised and not as good for this purpose as some others.

And I was home a long time home before Myrna who had buses to contend with.

And the moral? Bikes are flexible as well as good for your health.

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