05/04/2016

I need your help & hopefully you can

Note: Updates to the blog are at the bottom if you like to get up to date if you have read the original blog already.

To all my followers; friends & relatives,

Many of you know some years back at around 2011 I returned to cycling after a 20yr gap to help overcome my disability & try to become stick free. And that the disability is fighting back & so far I am not stick free, just need it at times but still cycling to keep it at bay.


And since then I have used this to help promote #getfitgetactive campaign with English Federation of Disability Sport  to show we all can cycle & be active with disabilities (Something I wish I did more when I became disabled decades ago). Part of this was a video done with the EFDS.


Despite my disability fighting back, I still strive to keep pushing the boundaries of my cycling. Built Roadrunner & saved hard to by a new Cruiser style bike that is set-up to make cycling easier for my legs. As well as try do charities ride like I had done a couple years ago.


But the next goal is to try get an eBike to be able to cycle the 22 miles to work as the public transport really sucks & they aint getting better. Now I have spent quite some time looking in this, had to find a light one I can get up the stairs at an affordable price. Even took a day trip to the London Bike show to road test a few as I found most shops just don't stock them to try out in store. And I did find one at quite a reasonable price/mileage & weight I require, the Momentum Upstart.


And at £1350, it's not too badly priced & reviews aren't too bad too. So now just need to get the money, I was hoping to save up over the year & have it by Christmas. Unfortunately situations have changed in the new year & with needing to finance vet bills, new glasses, bed replacement, etc as well as limited hours at work due to disability, I'm finding finances just covers what's needed each month & I don't have any luxuries to cut out. On top of that, public transport is getting far worse & is now effecting my ability to get to work on time (or at all in some cases) & this affects my job & I really like to keep it. I have tried to look at other alternatives, cycle to work scheme that I cant apply for as I don't pay taxes on my wages as I'm part time. Financing isn't an option as if I cant save the money, I sure can't pay the financing. Oh & not to forget the repair costs to my Cruiser bike from a hit & run driver last week.

So this is where I need your help, it has been suggested I should try this by others to try it so I will put it here for you. Would you like to send me a gift of just a few pounds to a crowd-funding account to get the funds to buy this eBike? If only 2/3 of those that know me put in around £3 then that would be enough to get the eBike & make me so humbled & grateful to those who sent me a fantastic gift which will support me in continuing to keep on cycling.

I aint one to ask for money, this wasn't easy choice for me & I have been reluctant to do it in this way. But with the way things are with travelling to work, it's either get the eBike or try find work closer to home. And to be honest I love where I work & those I work with & that is why I have finally got myself to ask you all this so I can stay working where I enjoy to be. And if you do send me a gift to this link gofundme.com/taxakswk, then thankyou ever so much!

Update 11th April 2016

Well its coming up to the end of the first week & what a great start its been, the funding is at 27% & still slowly increasing & its all thanks to those wonderful people who believe in me & the power of cycling.


So as I'm updating this blog, I thought you would like to see the route I would do in the picture below.


I did this route back in 2014 when my legs were a bit better & went to watch the Tour de France on the other side of Chelmsford, as I have said before the route is feasible but not when I have to spend the day at work on my feet all day too.

01/04/2016

Not always riding...

At the beginning of the month my 18 month old Brooks Cambium saddle failed, the saddle hadn't moved in the seat post & was all tight when I went to remove it & it had not been changed in position in 18 months as it was perfectly set up. Thus it is clear to me it had failed after 18 months of use & as it has a 10yr guarantee I thought I better get it replaced under the old sales of goods Act & Distance Selling regulations as they were in operation when I bought the saddle.


Now I aint gonna go into a rant or point fingers & do name calling, I am just going to show the correspondences as screenshots between me & the shop & explain the actions taken.

I contacted Brooks & they requested I go through the shop I bought it from so I did.


And thus started the emails between me & the shop...



Here the shop agrees to replace the saddle...



So after I had emailed & was getting saddle ready, I decided I would return the saddle for a full refund as they weren't going to honour any future warranty. This way I could buy direct from Brooks & said so in a letter that went in box when I returned the saddle.

So after a week from posting the saddle at my expense, I get this email & was not what I was expected.


This annoyed me & responded.


The response wasn't any better than the one before...


Now I am being messed about, no refund, no replacement saddle & suggesting returning the broken saddle after I just paid to send it to them to try do it all over again after Brooks told me to do it through the shop I bought it from. As for the excuse of old pay system, it was PayPal & is a system they still use. So I made it clear I was not happy & I wanted the replacement saddle or refund, no other option.


Then I get accused of abusing the staff as I wasn't accepting their excuses or offer & after a few more emails, left it with me having nothing...




So this is where it was left with the shop, I had tweeted my disgust in Brooks warranty not worth a thing after being messed around & wasted my money & time on this & not ever going to buy them again after this & a previous disappointment of a leather saddle I bought. But Brooks got hold of me in response & we chatted via email & today I got my replacement saddle directly from Brooks. We are still discussing why it happened & see if it is an issue of the seat post or the saddle, once they get to look at the saddle from the shop. I have replaced the seat post as a precaution & Brooks has photos of the old seat post to see if it is that being the issue.


So thank-you Brooks in sorting out something that really was not needed to be dealt like this in this way for a simple warranty. Roadrunner is now back on the road & I'm gonna be taking her out tomorrow.

And as for the shop, if you're wondering who this shop was. Well before I name them I aint saying don't use them yourselves & just leave it to you to decide if you want to or not & no doubt many of you have used them for years without issues tho not sure if any of them have used the warranty of their goods with the shop. But after my experience I will never use Always Riding again!

22/01/2016

My views of the work to be carried out on the A12 between Witham & Marks Tey

Beginning of this year I got an email out of the blue in regards to work being carried out to 'improve cycling' along the A12 between Witham & Marks Tey, it was to start in 10 days at the time of the email & now should be started.

I asked for drawings to see what they're doing & eventually I got them despite claims they had sent them to me last year in November. So here's my views of what I have seen by looking over drawings, I will observe it in the stages they have drawn them but some comments are the same throughout the whole plan of works. There was no consultation with those who use or like to use it.

East Witham

The shared path on the slip road onto the A12 already exists, the work is to carry out small bit of widening of this path & a few signs. But due to existing lamposts this path will vary in width as no plans to move the posts.

 

Now to get on or off this path you have to navigate a busy junction & nothing has been done to improve this. Especially for those heading into Witham where you have to join a side road & then use the junction to rejoin the busy road heading into Witham, mixing with HGV's is a major concern.

 

A12 between Witham & Kelvedon

Not much being done here to improve the narrow shared path other than a bit of resurfacing & signs. Hardly an improvement to make it quality walking/cycling infra & below recommended width.

Main concerns are the junctions off the A12, there are no signs to warn drivers people cross here whether its walking or cycling & the speed the drivers be leaving the A12 on these junctions, there be no time to stop. This is the same for all junctions I've seen along A12 on these drawings too.

 
 

West Kelvedon

Again lack of widening, resurfacing of narrow shared path with a few more signs. And like East Witham, the shared paths stop as you head into Kelvedon & want you to join the busy heavy traffic going at speed as they're coming off the A12. Then we start to see paint cycle logos on the road & continues having them on the road into town, unfortunately as any cyclist can tell you they make no difference in the safety to those cycling. What makes them worse is they're going to paint them by the curb, so enforcing the false belief of drivers that cyclists meant to cycle in the gutter.

 

As the road head into Kelvedon, it narrows so cyclists will be given no room to cycle if they do so in the gutter as drivers will not give space when passing & definitely will not move over with traffic coming the other way. Cyclists are allowed to use the whole lane for safer cycling & the logos should reflect this as they are done in other places i.e. Colchester St John's St & Priory St.


There is a new section of path being added, this is to help those leaving Kelvedon to get onto shared path & head to Witham. Problem is you have to turn right onto this path as drivers behind are trying to get past especially if cyclists are made to cycle in the gutter & also the drivers would be picking up speed to match the speed of the A12 thus poorly designed & dangerous. Would've been better to put in an access point to the left to get off the road & prepare to cross it if traffic is bad, not ideal design but better than what been given here.

Kelvedon Town Centre

Unfortunately it looks like Highway England still wants all those using the path along the A12 have to get off at every town & rejoin on the other side of town, again this is poor forward thinking or should I say none at all.

So what are they going to do to make it safer to cycle through these narrow historical streets that were the original route of the A12 & as I know is still used like it was. Well it is yet more gutter cycle logos, that's it & I've already explained this dangerous design.

 
 
 

 And just to prove the cycle logos be even more useless, how would you see them under all the parked cars? Is Highway England really expecting cyclists to cycle along the curb & go around parked cars? This was taken this week on a normal week day on the bus I was on & the bus drivers has problems with drivers giving way to them, so what hope drivers will be safe around cyclists?


This video just proves the mentality of drivers when going through these towns & their narrow historical streets.



East Kelvedon / Feering

Same as through Kelvedon, more painted cycle logos by the curb. Even in Feering on a pinch point they expect you to cycle in the gutter, sorry but this is where you need to take the whole lane if you're brave enough.

 

East Kelvedon

Again we see more painted logos by the curb & where you rejoin the narrow shared path the only improvements are resurfacing & a few signs. Nothing to make it safe to use the infra & have you mix with the heavy fast flowing traffic like it does on West Kelvedon & East Witham.

 

A12 Kelvedon - Marks Tey

This section is getting next to nothing to improve it, a few signs & barely any surface work. Sure haven't made it safer to use as I'll explain, starting with the lay-by for drivers to stop. You have a narrow path right by it, as I'll show in the next pictures its often blocked by those drivers parking on it so others can get onto the lay-by.

 

 
 

Then as you approach Marks Tey, you've got to get onto the Old London Road & again you see those painted logos by the curb. But this road is a single lane so why not paint them in the middle of the road as cars will be parked on the logos & unsafe on this road to cycle in the gutter, often seen HGV's on this road. Even better if we saw actual cycling infra on the grass verge on the right to take you to end of the road & over the bridge to Marks Tey on other side of A12.


 
 

I mean would you like to cycle on this part of the road where even motorcyclists have to mount the path to avoid HGV's?

 

Marks Tey

Finally at the end & you're thrown onto the very busy fast moving traffic filled with HGV's, buses, vans & cars all fighting for space to get where they are going on the A120. Getting out of this junction is practically impossible by bike.

 

Just love the insult of the 'End of route' sign that's meant to be for cycle & shared paths. Obviously proves there is no space for cycling on the adjoining road & good luck in surviving it when you try cycle from here.

Would you honestly like to cycle on the A120 & towards Colchester in this traffic?

 

Conclusion

Well I sure am not impressed, I see nothing here that says Highway England are building forward thinking 21st Century 'Dutch quality' cycling AND walking infrastructure. Again Highway England are proving they prioritise motor traffic against walking & cycling, again they prove it's about funding minimum as possible when it comes to cycling & walking & not bother with functionality.

I've not seen anything to make cycling easy & convenient along the A12, forcing cyclists & walkers to get off at every town & use the narrow historical roads that aren't suitable than have infrastructure along the A12 to go around these historical towns as they add the 3rd lane for motor vehicles. Definitely not suitable for all ages & abilities to cycle on that is for sure! Definitely not suitable for inclusive access & cycling for the disabled! Definitely NOT 'Dutch quality' infrastructure! Would you allow an 8yr old cycle/walk this route? If not then it's not fit for purpose. Again Highway England is showing that they see cycling as a hobby, a leisure time event & not a form of transport.


They sure did not listen or pay attention to my blog I handed to them last year. "Widening of the A12 & the knock on effects to non-drivers" & the whole plan doesn't meet the so called proposed Essex Cycling Strategy. I see the 2 million allocated for this & the other side from Witham to Chelmsford is going to be completely wasted, I sure am not looking forward to seeing how Hatfield Perevel road to Boreham going to be as it's bloody terrible as it is. A narrow road with National speed limit in places & drivers passing far too close, especially the HGV & Bus ones.

One phrase comes to mind in this job & I feel many others Highway England are botching up in the UK & I feel is appropriate, "no matter how much you polish a turd, it is still a turd".