Monthly Archives: December 2010

Cambridgeshire and the humble FIXME

The tag fixme on OpenStreetMap is used to “mark objects […] that need further attention“. Using the XAPI, I’ve downloaded both nodes and ways within the bounding box -0.05, 52.03, 0.22, 52.25 which are tagged with the key fixme. When the two XML files are loaded into JOSM, they produce an unsightly picture of how much quality assurance work needs to be done. Below is an example of what I mean; the data being displayed in the screenshot is from 26th December 2010.

South Cambs fixme'd ways and nodes, 26th December 2010

Data copyright and her contributors; CC BY-SA 2.0

Busy-looking, eh? Just to bring this back to reality somewhat, here’s a similar screenshot with the outline of Cambridge superimposed:

fixmes, 2010-12-26 + outline of Cambridge

Data copyright and her contributors; CC BY-SA 2.0

If you are familiar with editing OpenStreetMap and live in the south Cambs area, this anchor will take you to Keep Right: an awesome “data consistency check[er]” for OpenStreetMap—just check the “fixme-tagged items” checkbox on the left. Each purple lightning bolt is a request for investigation.


A rather badly worded rant at oiks

I wrote a couple of weeks ago about the possibility of ‘dualling’ all singular cattle grids in Cambridge; I also mentioned in the first paragraph of the post that there was only one double cattle grid in Cambridge—a relatively new installation at the southern end of New Bit, kind of here-ish.

Pretty much the morning after I wrote that post, I stumbled upon another double cattle grid that I’ve been crossing regularly for the best part of two years and a half years. I thought it would be simple enough to find a picture of it on CycleStreets but I could only find one acceptable photograph; you’ll just have to put up with that woman’s backside. As awesome as I’ve made double cattle grids seem, there is one negative recurrence that happens at this particular double cattle grid: some people aren’t as civilised as others and insist on riding up the outside of the queue of waiting-to-cross cyclists (positioned where that lady and her backside are), and then these uncivilised oiks block one’s path when one’s crossing Maids Causeway (the road with the toucan crossing on it) from Fair Street (the road on the far side of the frame).

Now some people might say “Well … look what happens if you have double cattle grids; people resort to dangerous overtaking”; that’s unjustified drivel. What happens at the Fair Street crossing is a minority of cyclists (let’s not get into pedestrians not using the pedestrian crossing; grumble …segregation, road tax, etc.) jump the queue for the lights and piss everyone off—not just people travelling onto the Common but also people crossing Maids Causeway as well; there’s only room for two streams of bikes, not three. This is a problem with the Fair Street crossing, which is a heavily used crossing in its own right and I cannot think what it would be like to use if the double cattle grid was only one bike’s width wide.


Hills Road bridge roadworks

This is probably too preemptive of me but I’m going to state that roadworks on Hills Road bridge, Cambridge have finished—in so far as cyclists can enjoy reasonably-wide cycle lanes up and down the bridge inbound without having to share them with motor vehicles and motorists can go from the south into town without having to share a lane with cyclists (the case of the last fortnight or so). The roadworks on the bridge aren’t complete: some of the traffic islands haven’t been filled in and that ruddy build-out still hasn’t been removed … but from the point of view of “I won’t go that way because there are roadworks”, this is no longer the case and you have no excuse. Et cetera, et cetera; I’m trying to write a 500-word report right now. Just thought I’d bring you this news if you didn’t already notice it on your way in this morning.


Your Council is *this* incompetent

If you’re aware of the Cambridgeshire Guided Busway, you might be aware that certain lengths of the northern section‘s maintenance track flood. A logical solution to this ‘defect’ would be to raise the level of the maintenance track above that of the water table but this solution isn’t exactly possible or practicable. I now quote section 3.14 of an agenda item to Cabinet, dated tomorrow (14th December 2010):

There has been a considerable amount of informal use of the maintenance track by cyclists and pedestrians over the last twelve months. A number of these have opted to use the guideway past the flooded sections. This will obviously not be acceptable once bus running commences. It is therefore proposed to augment the small flood warning signs already provided with gates across the maintenance track, carrying appropriate signs, warning that the track is flooded and advising against trespassing on the guideway track. These can be locked open when not required and locked closed when the track is flooded. This will not prevent use of the maintenance track but will give the fullest possible warning. It should be noted that visibility on this section of the Busway is far in excess of stopping distance, nonetheless bus drivers will be advised to be particularly vigilant when the maintenance track is closed.

I’ll leave you to judge the Busway team’s near-awkward level of idiocity.


Three years

Today (11 December 2010) marks three years since I signed up for my OpenStreetMap account … according to my user page—and, in the years leading up to 3rd December (I’m writing this post early so I don’t forget this non-anniversary), I’ve submitted 1,989 changesets.

    The dualling of cattle grids

    I drafted this post a few weeks ago (late November) but having mentioned this yesterday (7th December) at the Cambridge Cycling Campaign monthly meeting, I thought it would be a good idea to write up my proposal. Across Cambridge exist areas of common land: these areas are open to the public and all (that I can think of) have cycleways and footways stretching across them. At all but one site in Cambridge (the exception being the northwest portion of Coe Fen), cattle grids are available for cyclists to use to gain access to the cycleways and footways that cross the commons. Again with the exceptions: apart from one location in Cambridge if my memory serves me correctly, each cattle grid is a single cattle grid—permitting only one vehicle to cross at any one time. It’s a textbook source of congestion (yes: cycle congestion) and a textbook problem warrants a textbook solution: dualling. Yes … my proposal is to dual the most-frequently-used single cattle grids in Cambridge.

    According to the Campaign, the installation of a single cattle grid costs £4000—though I’m not sure when that quote dates from. Cattle grids at the entrances to common land are “one of the most popular innovations made in Cambridge”, though that quote is probably only true because alternatives include the universally-hated pram handles. Using my U grade in Maths, I can work out that 2 × £4000 is £8000; I do understand it doesn’t quite work like that but then-again: some additional costs could well be offset by the savings made by doing two lots of works at the same time—if you get what I’m hinting at. I haven’t done any censuses or premedial work—yeah, it’s a word—but I guarantee that the dualling of at least the cattle grids around (and also on) Midsummer Common will make commuting by bike in Cambridge just that little bit easier (though commuters will talk to each other just that little bit less).

    Before you ask, I *am* joking with the right-hand one


    You know what cattle grids look like; also note that it’s an unaccompanied horse on that poorly-Illustrator’d sign. Yeah: attention to detail (that I had to point out but, still; yeah).

    Apologies in advance to Andrew Price

    This post is about a picture that appeared in the Daily Mail, of all places, back in 2007; titled ‘Signs of the times‘ (oh ho-ho), the article was reporting that Cheshire County Council had installed a couple of signs in a language other than English and, boy: …did the racism flow in the comments. Here’s the picture that got so many bigots riled up:

    British traffic sign in Polish and metric units

    Photograph © Andrew Price; fair use, justified under "news reporting" and "purpose of reviewing bigoted people" clauses of CDPA 1988

    The County Council claimed that “the eight temporary signs [were] needed because there are large Polish populations in Crewe and Whitchurch”; the Mail claimed that “they [were] put up to prevent immigrants who cannot speak English from getting lost in a diversion”.

    Look at the picture above; apart from the lack of English text, what’s the other thing about the sign that’s just a little off?

    Yeah. 600 m.

    If you ignore a small loophole in the RTRA and the fact that traffic signs are designed, constructed and installed in metres, a distance on a British road sign cannot—under the imperialistic TSRGD—be signed in metric units except in exceptional circumstances. Bloody ridiculous; why on Earth shouldn’t we have metric units? Every time a bridge gets ‘bashed’ or a van fails to squeeze through a 6′-6″ restriction, the media and the public blame the lack of clear signage; …clear, internationally-understood, metric signage. I support metrication.

    Going back to the image for one final thought: how wordy is that sign?; seriously? English or Polish, that sign is still bloody wordy. There has to be some way of symbolically displaying “DIVERSION: A49 to Whitchurch and nearby villages”.

    Intellectual property and Core Radio

    I feel passionately that quotes should be published; …for reasons not limited to damage protection, accountability, and general opennessment. I also feel passionately that an author should be able to review his or her quote before it is published; only sexually frustrated people misquote. I hope to be at Cambridge Regional College for the remainder of my two-year ND Radio course and so I feel that this statement from lecturer Phil Pethybridge is significant enough to publish here.

    In the context of Core Radio, the recordings of live broadcasts belong to Core Radio […] but Core Radio is happy for you [Kevin Steinhardt, et al.] to use originally-produced content [within said recordings of live broadcasts] for […] career development but not for direct financial gain.

    Phil added that, for example, “[one] can’t make a package [using our booths, etc.] and sell it […] because [one hasn’t] paid to use the facilities”—he defined “sell” as “receive money [in exchange for said package]”. Phil also added that pre-production material (e.g. scripts, documentation) is the author’s.