Monthly Archives: November 2010

Guided busway thoughts, plus the Chisholm Trail

I think about my commute more than most people perhaps. I was thinking this afternoon about the guided busway (after reading the latest Cambridge Cycling Campaign newsletter) and how, when the southern section opens, I’ll be able to whisk myself from Trumpington to the station without having to use god-awful infrastructure (the Trumpington shared-use up-and-down nightmare that is the Trumpington shared-use up-and-down nightmare) and getting stuck behind eight-year-olds doing 10 kph weaving all across the path … and it’s a segregated shared-use path, so the (let me think …) western side is technically a pavement. It’s a horrible piece of cycleway and the worst part is is that (even though I know I don’t have to) I feel I need to use it. I do occasionally cycle on Trumpington Road itself but that’s only to overtake said eight-year-old shitcakes and their shitcake parents (CONTROL YOUR FUCKING CHILDREN and set a good example by cycling legally; thank you) …but I go back onto the cycleway afterwards. During the autumn, it’s mulchy; during the winter, it’s icy; during the spring and summer, it’s (only just) acceptable. The Cambridgeshire Guided Busway will hopefully change this situation—no side roads, no traffic signals and a 3.0 (or so) metre-wide unsegregated cycleway. Not a shared-use path; a cycleway: a piece of infrastructure I’m proud to call a cycleway.

Then there’s the Chisholm Trail which is a proposal to build a cycleway between the northern end of Cambridge station’s car park—I guess—and Milton Road (at the point at which the old railway would have crossed the road; now, opposite the start of the guided busway’s northern section). There’s a “spare” arch on the western side of Mill Road’s bridge over the Fen Line; I’m not 100% sure how much space there is under the Coldhams Lane and Newmarket Road bridges, and there’s also the problem of building a bridge alongside the current bridge which takes said Fen Line over the Cam south of Fen Road. (You know where I’m talking about; don’t lie.)

Cambridge cycleways (with annotation)

Travelling northwards: ...solid line next to A10: awful shared-use path that I never use. Dashed line crossing M11 northwest of 'Westfield' roundabout: proposed cycleway across fields and ex-PBI land. Dashed line curving smoothly into town from the south: guided busway's maintenance track, to be opened and surfaced 'shortly'. Dashed line between Cambridge station (blue square, south of Petersfield) and Milton Road: the proposed Chisholm Trail. Short solid line north/northeast of Kings Hedges: currently open (but unsurfaced) busway maintenance track. Base of image is CC BY-SA 2.0, contributors.

Now … the Chisholm Trail is, unfortunately, a long way off being built (I think) but—the southern section of the guided busway is looking increasingly ‘ready’ every day. Yesterday (Friday 26th) at Trumpington Park & Ride, warning bells (similar to the kind you find at some level crossings; see diagram 781 at bottom of linked image) had been hung from a bar that had gone in on Thursday(?) which had been installed onto two upright bars, which were installed on Wednesday(?). Warning bells have also been installed on the eastern side of the railway where the busway meets Francis Crick Avenue. These are relatively trivial busway features to point out to you but the developers are progressing with the construction of (at least) the southern section. The northern section of the busway looks finished and because of this, perhaps, many are wondering “just when is it going to open?” (by which they mean “when are buses going to start running?” and I mean “when are you going to surface the maintenance track?”).

The point of this post was to illustrate that if the Council upgraded the pathetic excuse for a shared-use path between the B1368/A10 junction (the northern of the two B1368/A10 junctions in the country) on the outskirts of Harston and the southern section of the CBG, and then if a route existed between Cambridge station and the end of the northern section of the busway, and then if the Council surfaced the maintenance track alongside the busway between Milton Road and Kings Hedges Drive … and then I guess if Cambridge Regional College surfaced what they term Railway Avenue, which is currently a sandy muddy track … if these four things were in place, I’d have an alright route to college. Never happy, am I?


Handmade & Bound

Do come down to Handmade & Bound on Sunday (Sunday 21st November) if you can: St Aloysius Social Club, central-north London (just Google it; you’ll find it alright) … 12:00–18:00. Have a Facebook event anchor. Here’s to a hopefully successful book/’zine fair of sorts … free entry, too.

Lit ways, November 2010

The image below is how Cambridge and its southern surround looked from the air, at night, at the beginning of November 2010:

Lit ways southwest of Cambridge

Yellow highlighting for roads, et al. lit at night; dark yellow for unlit roads. Mapping data CC-BY-SA and its cronies; rendering published under an unknown licence, possibly CC BY-SA.

It’s not exactly the best rendering ever, but this is the thing: if this lit=* map was (let’s say) the fourth layer on the OpenStreetMap website (along with Mapnik, Osmarender and OpenCycleMap), coverage of lit and unlit ways would be different. People tag information they know will get rendered; maybe it’s a “here’s some visual/cartographical proof of what I’ve done]” thing. OpenCycleMap is a good example of this rendering-uptake effect: people heard about and went to see OCyM, people went and surveyed national and regional cycle routes, the routes got rendered, people went to see OCyM, … I could insert a weak cycle/(bi)cycle joke here but I won’t; it’s a cycle. You get the gist of what I’m trying to say …right?

Coverage of lit=* is not great in the East of England but I do enjoy night cycling and going for walks at night, though the latter option doesn’t exactly get me very far from home; hopefully by combining night cycling and remembering to take my Garmin out on rides, I can improve the coverage somewhat. So that would be bus routes, farmland and street-lighting; you’re welcome, OpenStreetMap.

Why the United States sucks arse (I): Unstoppable

Logotype for the film 'Unstoppable'

As far as I’ve already understood the plot of the film Unstoppable, a freight train is travelling at 100-odd kph and some geezers are deployed to slow it down before it reaches a severely restrictive curve. According to Wikipedia, the film is “loosely based on [a real-life] unmanned train incident in 2001″—yeah; seriously. An unmanned train in real-life, speeding out of control.

Here in the United Kingdom, we have a number of solutions to Unstoppable: the main one being something called a train op—s/he sits in the cab and controls how fast the fucking train’s going. We have things called signals, which when red, will force a train to brake sharply by means of a train stop, and then we have timed train stops which limit how fast a train can travel over a certain length of track. And ATP, AWS, TP&WS and ETCS to make sure everything runs smoothly with regards to stopping ‘runaway’ trains. America: looks like your rail infrastructure’s shit. Whilst you’re fixing your pre-1950s railway network, have a glance at this trailer showing how painfully incompetent you are:


And all because I saw a Citroen ad in the newspaper with one term I didn’t agree with

Citroen ad from the Cambridge News

A classic car advert—”nothing wrong with that, ey Kevin?” one might wonder. Take a slightly closer look; in fullscreen Steinhardt-vision:

Citroen ad: mention of archaic 'road tax'

What’s this ‘road tax’ of which the ad typesets?; why, … that was abolished near seventy years ago. Roads are either paid for by a local authority or the Highways Agency; the revenue from vehicle excise duty goes straight to the government’s big pot o’ money. The money one pays for one’s tax disc (which is a perfectly acceptable term, unlike ‘road tax’ or the even more skewed ‘road fund licence’) (and I’m skipping over the fact that a significant number of motor vehicles have VED discs reading “£0.00”) pays for hospitals, the guided busway, Cameron’s personal photographer, etc.

I wouldn’t make such a big deal about this (I wouldn’t need to) if it wasn’t for arsehole drivers thinking they own the road they throw juice bottles onto. I wouldn’t be making such a big deal if drivers just comprehended that I’m subsiding every single one of them with little personal gain. I’m also putting physical effort into my transport: a premise which is lost on 50% of people, with the other half saying something along the lines of “just get a car then, and stop complaining [if we fuck your momentum up by doing something pathetically dangerous because we have small penises]”. Now let’s look at the small print:

Citroen ad: small print

The small print shows that Citroen do actually know the difference between ‘road tax’ and VED … but it also shows that they’re being ignorant (or a word like that that I can’t be bothered to think of). The excuse of “Well… everyone calls it road tax” just isn’t valid—a lot of people call travellers gypsies; doesn’t mean reputable companies like Citroen should.

By the way, Citroen make very good cars and this post is nothing against the car manufacturing division of Citroen … just their department de relations publique.