A Grim North

Musings from a northerner living in the deep south…

Posts Tagged ‘London’

Roadhug

Posted by Alan on March 24, 2011

Roadhug, originally uploaded by Alan Perryman.

Spotted this at lights on the way to Liverpool st tonight. I don’t know what ‘roadhug’ is yet, but I’m not sure I like the sound of one. It conjures up images of people flat on the road to me!

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Posted in Cycling, Transport Rant | Tagged: , , , | 7 Comments »

A greenway, a waterway and a motorway (almost)

Posted by Alan on March 20, 2011

Olympics and boats

Olympic boats

Having successfully managed to stagger across the finish line at Bogle, the next challenge booked in the diary is the c2c. At at the moment most of my cycling is relatively short utility trips (i.e. shopping and commuting) this is something else to ‘man up’ for.  With a planned completion date of June, it’s time to start training properly!  Yesterday provided a glorious day here in London so I took the opportunity to check out East London’s ‘greenway’, cycling down through the Walthamstow marshes to it’s start at Hackney Wick.  At the moment the Lea/Lee* valley paths are being upgraded for the Olympics so there are a few diversions but once onto the Greenway you start to see what London is capable of infrastructure-wise.

The Greenway

The Greenway - segregated running

The Greenway cuts all the way across the borough of Newham, I believe it’s the main sewer from Hackney to Beckton sewage works. (It certainly smells that way when you pass by a manhole cover!) It’s flat, wide and straight – potentially a very fast piece of cycling infrastructure.  Again due to the Olympics and Crossrail, there are some diversions in place.  There were particularly poor involving much pushing the bike and queuing to allow road traffic in and out of the Olympic park.  It would be nice if there’d been a few signs to as it’s really easy to miss where you should cross Stratford High St.

Anti-cycling gate

Anti-cycling gate

Further down the track there are many road crossings – each with a set of anti-cycling gates at each side.  In most cases they seem to have been vandalised to allow free passage (probably for a few motorcyclist too…) but the odd one remains intact. It does seem a bit odd to create some infrastructure for fast easy cycling and then add barriers to prevent take up.  I know the main target is to prevent people running motorcyclists or quad bikes etc, this really doesn’t seem like the best solution.

The main objective of the trip was to cross the river using the Woolwich free ferry.  A strange anachronism of London down in the bottom right hand corner, the ferry connects the North and South Circular roads.

Bike and Boat

Bike and Boat - from the southside of the water

Apparently there is some legislation meaning there has to be a free crossing here – so the small ferry carries lorries, cars, bikes and pedestrians the short hop between North Woolwich and Woolwich. I wasn’t the only cyclist either! Crossing the river is quick and relatively easy – I was very lucky with where I was put on the boat, opening up a familiar view but from the ‘wrong side’ of the Thames barrier.

A familar sight

A familar sight - but from the 'wrong side'

Once on the south side however, it was pretty obvious the unwritten law (‘south London must be less good than north London’) rang true with respect to cycling facilities.  The ‘Thames Coastal Path’ weaves between the riverside and busy roads with lots of ‘give up an push’ signs.  In the end I gave up trying to follow the path round the Blackwall Reach peninsula due to the lack of sign posts! The roads of between Woolwich and Greenwich did have some advisory cycle lanes but on a Saturday afternoon were as snarled up as a rush hour.  At least, I’m not sure how much worse the traffic could get at rush hour.

Snarling traffic

Snarling traffic

By Greenwich I was pretty knackered – a quick pit stop and a chance to ‘refuel’ before heading under the river again using the foot tunnel.  Currently under renovation, the lifts are closed.  This meant carefully pushing the bike down a spiral staircase and the back up the other side.  Apparently this is part of ‘National Cycle Route 1’ but I didn’t see any signs and you can’t cycle in the tunnel (probably for the best – it’s very busy with people walking). Even back on the north side of the river there didn’t seem to be any NCN1 signs – so I just hit the road and headed towards Poplar. There’s loads of interesting things on the back streets here so it was really cool to explore a bit, even if all of the roads did some how seem to lead to the A12, effectively a motorway. Eventually back to the Lea/Lee path and to the ‘stow.

With 29.3 miles (46km) on the clock it was a new personal best. Still a long way to go though – need to nudge that above 40 miles and cycle every day for a while to ‘toughen up’. Where to venture next I wonder…?

*Lea/Lee – it is spelt differently in places. No idea why.

Posted in Cycling, Transport Rant | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Geek Like Me

Posted by Alan on March 12, 2011

 

Geek Like Me, originally uploaded by Alan Perryman.

On Thursday this week I went along to Geekpop, in the fabulous space of Wilton’s music hall in the East End. This was a fun celebration of all things geek – some music, some science in a part derelict, serious piece of history. (Wilton’s is being restored of course).

At the end of the event I could even indulge my love of shiny media with this very nicely packaged CD. It’s also available on spotify

You can read more about geekpop at http://geekpop.podbean.com/

Posted in Music | Tagged: , , | 2 Comments »

Bogle Training Part III

Posted by Alan on March 2, 2011

With the event fast approaching, opportunities for training were getting thin on the ground.  So on Monday I walked home from work.  With the GPS tracker rolling I was extatic as I passed Dalston Junction station – apparently bob on 5 miles in 62 minutes. (Would have been 60 were it not for me having to wait for motorists at a few crossroads!!!)

Sadly plotting the map on google later… meant that I realised the gps is really quite inaccurate, especially when travelling through dense concrete spaces.

Nevermind. 4mph is still respectable for walking along in a suit!

Bogle is finally with us on Friday, which means you have just a few days to sponsor me before the event itself.  The bogle team themselves are setting up for a live news feed from the event – take a look at Bogle Live or follow them on twitter.

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No monopoly on borisbikes

Posted by Alan on February 25, 2011

So the real reason Mr C visited London was to play about on the Boris Bikes. Being the scheming planning type I thought – why don’t we try something a bit different. How about trying to visit every square on the monopoly board using only Cycle Hire? Great idea. In their glory, here’s the map of all the points:

 

The docking stations of Monopoly

Starting at Angel there were two bikes in the dock – only one would undock. Stop. Walk to the next docking station halfway down Pentonville Road.  Undock. Get distracted and cycle to Marylebone via the segregated route parallel to Euston Road (in doing so miss Euston Road & Kings Cross station).  Due to roadworks even this didn’t go well as the eastern end was closed!

Access Denied

Access Denied

Docking at Marylebone, we then struggled to find another two bikes in the same rack. Which resulted in a walk to Marble Arch and ultimate abandonment. Having not really planned a route between the docks or really thought about it past potting them it probably wasn’t ever going to go well. However, we did then cycle all the way across Hyde Park and back again. And the further east eventually finishing at Liverpool St. So it wasn’t an entirely wasted day.

Jelly family

Jelly family at Marble Arch

Ideally I need to find someone adept enough with computers to run a travelling salesmen algorithm across the points to get the most optimal route.  The two main outliers (Old Kent Road / Marlborough St) might cause you to spend a quid but otherwise everything is easily within 30 minute cycling distance of Charing Cross – but even then I’m sure with a bit of gusto and traffic lights in your favour it would be possible.

For anyone who fancies a go – here’s my Boris Bike Monopoly spreadsheet listing the squares, docks and co-ordinates of the docks.

Enjoy!

Posted in Cycling | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments »

A real cycle superhighway

Posted by Alan on February 24, 2011

At speed - on a bike

At speed

A few weeks ago Mr C of MCR Cycling came to visit, mostly to play on the BorisBikes (more of that later) as well as drink scotch at WhiskySquad #11 and buy a shiny Brompton.  As part of our day on the cycle hire scheme we took in what I would call a proper cycle superhighway.  Straight and segregated, the paths across Hyde Park stretching from Marble Arch to Hyde Park Corner and onto Kensington are absolutely fantastic. They aren’t quite wide enough for really comfortable passing at speed but it was easy enough to pass with care.

In 30 seconds we pass 4 bikes coming out of town – if there were more lanes like this maybe more people might be persuaded to use pedal power to commute regularly.  I haven’t got to commuting myself yet but after Bogle is done, I’ll be onto training for the C2C so I’ll need to build up some stamina and ditch the final 10 kgs before I hit ‘normal’.  10-11 miles each way will be hard to start with but having cycled into town once now I know it is at least not beyond my capability.

Talking of Bogle – sponsorship is now open. I hope you can spare a few quid and gift aid via http://www.justgiving.com/AlanP-Bogle2011! There’s just over a week left before the epic overnight walk begins. Exciting times!

On a lighter note – during the quiet spell mid afternoon, Mr C managed to perfect a wheelie technique. Well, it isn’t specifically banned under the code of conduct!

Wheelie

Oh look a wheelie

Posted in Cycling | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments »

Highley commended Hackney

Posted by Alan on February 1, 2011

Cycle parking, Dalston

Cycle parking, Dalston

Possibly the first time I’ve ever seen this – cycle parking, within a car park. Taking up around 2 car bays worth of space, you could probably squeeze up to 24 bikes in here. But I didn’t leave mine here, due to the strange people loitering and incredible quiet. Instead, I opted for the racks within Junction station: busy, among many secured bikes and covered by CCTV.

Cycle Parking, Dalston Junction

Cycle Parking, Dalston Junction

It’s a very promising sign though – more parking please!

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Bogle Training Part I

Posted by Alan on January 23, 2011

This year sees the 50th anniversary of Manchester RAG’s Bogle. Since getting involved with Manchester RAG as a student and running their 2006 beer festival, Bogle has been one of those events on the calendar. I’ve helped a few times as a marshal, driver, co-ordinator and in 2009 I tried walking. Sadly that time I neglected to do any training so after 29 miles, at the 5th checkpoint I gave in.

This time I am training… alongside one of my team mates for this year, Richard.

St Stephen's Tower

Angry skies above St Stephen's Tower

So the basic premise was this – we walk from our flat to Cask, Pimlico. (You seriously thought beer wouldn’t be involved somewhere right?). This took us across Walthamstow marshes, through the back of Hackney, right through Smithfield Market onto the Embankment finally widing through the back streets behind the Catholic Cathedral to the pub.

Bus Abbey & Protest

The protesters were apparently not evicted on Friday as decreed by the media...

Cask is a fantastic little pub, serving a wide selection of food and ales.  Sadly for us we had essentially booked in for a (well-deserved and required!) pitstop for some food. And 2 half pints each. (It would be rude not to!)

Cask, Pimlico

Cask, Pimlico formerly Pimlico Tram

From here we headed south of the water to the places where Taxi’s infamously don’t go. Through Vauxhall, across to Elephant and Castle finally reaching the Draft House at Tower Bridge just as the sun had set. Cue more beer! Just the one pint though as after c. 17 miles we were both pretty tired. The calorific value of beer is probably helpful, but I am sure the alcohol isn’t!

Sadly recording all of the journey was a leap too far for my Nokia (it’s almost 2 years old now) – Sports tracker made it almost to E&C with us – it’s stats are below.

Statistics – recorded by Nokia Sports Tracker…
Distance recorded by GPS Average page Steps kCal burned
12.97 mi 16:01 min/mi 23995 1598
2.67 mi 15:00 min/mi 4707 328

Bogle is the first weekend in March so much more training required if I am to get around the full 55 miles.  Of course, sponsorship information will appear in due course… 🙂

Posted in Charity starts at home, Travelling around | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

BorisBikes in the snow

Posted by Alan on December 27, 2010

With the recent snow across London and the South East I think it will be interesting to see the impact on the cycle hire scheme. Certainly the bank of bikes at Euston Underpass on Sunday (19 Dec) was full and most bikes bearing some snowy evidence of not having moved anywhere for a while! – Personally I’ve avoided cycling too, though after Christmas with luck the snow will recede and I’ll be back on the saddle… For now, here’s a few pictures of bikes in the snow!

IMG_6287

Boris Bikes sleeping by the Euston Underpass

Frozen controls

Frozen controls

Cold seat

Cold seat

Unlike my last evening sojourn onto the streets with the camera I found just one brave soul cycling along.

Brave soul

Brave soul

Posted in Cycling, Photography | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Paint no action

Posted by Alan on December 24, 2010

Painted cycles on the road

Painted cycles on the road

Oh goody, it’s been ages since I wrote about any crap cycling infrastructure.  I really don’t get what is going on above – this is Storey St, Bankside (just behind Borough Market/Vineopolis). Cycle lane, sure  can understand that but why have the other bikes in the road and why going both ways? Just seems like a bit of a waste of paint to be honest…

I can only guess that whoever instructed the painting of those cycles doesn’t ever ride one…

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