04/07/2015

Widening of the A12 & the knock on effects to non-drivers

As most will know the Government are planning to add a 3rd lane to the A12 in both directions & try make it a motorway like A road between M25 & Colchester. Now all the news about this has been focused on the destruction of buildings that are next to the road itself as well as if the widening of the A12 will actually improve traffic levels (IMO it will do nothing of the sort) & this is an issue to be discussed elsewhere but I like to highlight another more important issue that has been ignored. This would be the use of the A12 by non-drivers as in pedestrians & cyclists. You're probably asking how or where they use the A12, well if you ever travel along the A12, you might've seen paths along it between junctions. They are a mix of paths & shared paths creating what are safe links to towns along the A12 for those walking or cycling, relics of when this road was a typical standard 2-way road & when it had businesses along the whole length before it was dualed to 'ease traffic congestion' (that worked out well didn't it?) & forced cyclists off the A12 & onto these paths.

Now if you travel by bicycle along the A12 to & from Chelmsford you'll pop on & off the A12 with these shared paths to a 'reasonable' route to get to & from Chelmsford & these same paths link the towns to businesses along the A12 too so pedestrians can walk to them safely.


So where am I going with this, well these paths are right alongside the A12 & if a 3rd lane in both directions is constructed then these paths would disappear. Gone would be the link to Chelmsford from Colchester as well as other towns in between, gone would be the links between towns & businesses along the A12 for those walking & cycling. This would mean those cycling would have to seek alternative routes that would be longer, unsafe & undesirable for most.


This would result in those walking would more likely have to give up walking & use a car & the same for most who cycle, adding to the traffic on the already congested A12 & really would defeat the object of a 3rd lanes to reduce congestion on the A12. Though to be honest I am doubtful a 3rd lane would help ease the traffic on the A12 & reduce the problems on it daily, but that's another debate...

So what exactly can we do? Well the 3rd lanes on the A12 are looking to be done whether it is good idea or not, so we need to work with it to help encourage walking & cycling along the A12. As both sides of the A12 will be dug up to add these 3rd lanes, then this is the best time we can actually build even better segregated cycleways & foot paths to replace the outdated unmaintained unsuitable 2-way narrow shared paths on both sides.

 

 

There are plenty of examples of this where it has been done before. Netherlands have some great examples & even along motorways (now that would be cool to have here). It's even being done in London now so why not the A12 or any A road like it to be honest? As shown in the pictures I found on the internet.

 

 

And if we went with this idea then why not go along the whole A12 from Colchester to Chelmsford so then anyone can cycle along the whole A12 & not have to hop on & off it at every town.


It isn't that much further to travel & it'll be easier to stay on the A12 & do the whole distance, could even go around Colchester too with the A12 & give another alternative to travel to other parts of the town without having to go through the heavily congested town centre. Even drivers know what it is like to travel through a congested town with constant starting & stopping at every junction, its tiring with all that concentration.


We could even push the idea even further & do the 3rd lane & segregated cycleway & paths all along A12 right up to Ipswich. Would make getting there or anywhere along it more feasible by walking or cycling, works out less to travel to than to Chelmsford too.


And to be honest these routes as a segregated route would also be beneficial to drivers too as well as the 3rd lane, the more appealing the route is for those wanting to walk or cycle the more would likely others would walk or cycle than drive so less traffic on the A12. So it would be a win win for everyone in doing this. Having this done would give a choice for all who wants to travel & be able to in a safe convenient manner no matter what method of travel they like to use.

So we just need to spread the word on this & get the Government, Councils & Councillors to listen & supply the need for all & not just for those who drive.

09/05/2015

Lost the battle but not the war...

As many who follow me know, I've been using cycling to help get me stick free & over 18 months ago I managed it. But last year my knee decided to play up for no apparent reason despite finally stick free for some months, done 2 Charity rides, cycled to Chelmsford & back to see Tour de France & those rides were all over 50 miles each.

 


Then after thinking I had knee sorted out, started a new job which involved a lot of walking & standing, leg had improved greatly. In February, the knee went again & worse than ever & back I went to see specialist. Who had done tests before & with physiotherapist notes to back up results, he diagnosed I had Osteoarthritis. This meant changes are needed to improve the condition but it will never go away, mostly lifestyle changes which reduces strain on the knee like sit with knee straight as much as possible.


But the timing of the knee flaring up was at the worst possible time, it was 2 months before Pedal 4 the J's & 3 months before Nightrider London. And having spent over 6 weeks unable to cycle on the road, both my knee & my level of fitness has been severely reduced. I had done 30 days of biking in April, but it was more of a 5 min run daily on a gentle setting of the turbo trainer & a few short rides at the end of the month.


And now that I'm beginning to cycle again I'm finding it difficult to do, partly coz I dont want to aggravate the knee again & I just don't have the leg strength anymore. The bike is feeling heavy & hard work so looks like I will be looking for an alternative 'lighter' replacement in the near future.


I had to drop out of Pedal for the J's last w/e as I just wasn't ready to cycle that course, but I needed to get things moving so I could do Nightrider London. So this week I decided I needed to start cycling further, so with a friend we went for a long ride around town to clock up the miles & it didn't go as well as I hoped. I really struggled to do 10 - 20 miles easily. This didn't bode well for me to be able to do Nightrider London let alone complete it, so after a few days of deep thought on the mater & a heavy heart I have decided I am unable to do it this year. The risk of doing more harm than good to the knee just wasn't worth it.

So I had emailed the organisers of Nightrider London to see if I can have the booking postponed to next years event so to give me time to get back to the level of fitness required & unfortunately they will not allow that. So on that premise I had to make further decisions as I now lost a good chunk of hard earned cash on an event I pre-booked to ensure I get a spot. It's not something easy to decide or I really want to do but I'm afraid I am no longer going to be doing the Nightrider London ride in the foreseeable future & I will not be pre-booking any similar charity event too as I can't guarantee I am able to do them on the day.

As for now I have to focus on my knee improving & able to manage it to avoid any further stick use if possible. The specialist has made it blatantly clear that I will never be stick free, but with the right management I can minimise the need of sticks. And until I know I can get the knee to be OK for more than 6 months, preferably over a year I think I will need to just work on my cycling distances on my own goals of getting the distances than try raise cash for charity on sponsored rides. Events like Pedal 4 the J's is still open for me to do as I can just turn up on the day & pay before I do it. Those sort of rides I will look out for to do in the foreseeable future.


So for now I may have lost the battle of going stick free, but the war to achieve it as much as possible as I have done for a decade isnt over. I'm just going to need new tactics & equipment as well as support to keep pushing forwards even if it is doing it slightly out of breath...

 

02/08/2014

Tale of 2 charity rides...

Ok, it's been a hectic few months & I've not been keeping my blogs going as I should. So as I'm having a quiet few weeks atm I see its time I should update on the charity rides I've been doing.

So to start with Pedal for the J's in Chelmsford, it was near the end of the 30 days of biking & it was touch & go if I was going to get there due to rail engineering works. I had an early start to get to Chelmsford to start the ride by 9am as I was doing the 50 miles route this year & wasnt sure how long it would take. So started with a short bit of cycling to nearest station & managed to get a train without any issues.


Then another quick run through the park to the starting point & even had time to have a coffee before I started with my cycling buddys Pete & Dave who decided to come do the ride with me.


So off we went & the ride went pretty smoothly with a few stops around the route for a cuppa & refuelling.

 

And eventually we completed it & in under 4hrs tho we had lost Dave as he wanted to go ahead & faster than the nice gentle run I was doing with Pete, hey ho each to their own ways...


After that the 3 of us went to have a nice ride along the park to get a coffee at my fav Cycle coffee Shop Athlon Sport. Refuelled with some more food before heading back home & the ride from the station to home was the hardest part. lol

 
These 2 pictures are thanks to Pete & Dave who took them

The next day, I was saw but I did continue the 30 days of biking & after recovering from that ride I had just over a month to get ready for my next one & this one was going to push me even harder than Pedal for the J's, the Nightrider London.

The Nightrider London is slightly different than the Pedal for the J's I have done twice now. For starters as the name kinda gives it away, its at night & starts at 10pm & my starting slot was 12.30am. The other bit is that it is 100km (63miles) around London. All this is definitely putting me out of my comfort zone & to top it all I was riding my latest bike the Roadrunner which I have just had built with help for this sort of ride & is her maiden voyage out. I have ridden Roadrunner around town to get used to the handling, but this was totally different.


So off I went cycling as the sun was setting to catch the train to London with another cycling buddy Leon & what a nice start that was to see the Sun set as I rode along Hilly Fields.


So after a few hours of train time, we got to Alexandra Palace starting point just before midnight.


 

So off we went at 12.30am & took a nice gentle steady pace & right from the start we had hills & I hate hills. But Roadrunner was light & took them in its stride even if it was a bit slow. lol


We stopped when we felt like it to have a break, refuel or just snap some pics along the way as there were some nice views on the route.


 

 

 

 

 

 

And just around 9am we finally made it back to Alexandra Palace to receive a medal & as well earned breakfast.


I might not look it in the pic, but I was happy & overwhelmed that I had managed it & that Roadrunner had proved herself on the road. After we had eaten & rested for a bit, we then headed down the hill towards the station & stopped at a nearby cafe for more refuelling.


And after another few hours of travelling by train, another stop at a cafe in Colchester & then a very slow cycle ride home, I was & still am chuffed I was able to do this one despite my worries.

So after doing these 2 charity rides, how did I do? Well the stats shown below show how well I did.



I am pretty happy in the times I did in both rides & after a couple days I had recovered from the rides with no issues. So I am hoping to continue with these sort of rides in the near future. But due to reoccurring disability rearing its head up again atm, cycling is on hold so might not be until next year & if that is so, I'll be trying to do both again & with my trusty steed Roadrunner with hopefully with a new paint job & additions by then. :)


Oh if anyone want to come along on these rides with me, I be more than happy to cycle with a group as it's much more fun than alone. :)