January 27th - I was stood on platform 5 waiting for a train at New Street Station. I looked up at the odd, tube-like access bridge hastily added as a second access system here in the early 1990s, in the wake of the Kings Cross Fire; because New Street was classed as a subterranean station, it had to have separate access. So cranes added this monstrosity, now out of use.
Looking up in my early morning fug, I noted the arrangement of walkways, barriers, rails and safety harness mounting points spanning the top of the structure.
The only purpose to be up there is to clear the skylight windows.
If you design something, and most of the complex steelwork is to ensure the safety of a window cleaner whose job is to clear less than 15 square meters of glass, you’ve failed as a designer.
Sadly this monstrosity looks set to survive the renovations.
December 28th - Up on the Chase today for the first time in ages, and oh boy, it was good, but very, very muddy and the trails were treacherous. Be careful if you’re up there yourself; some quite popular tracks are blocked by fallen trees following the high winds. It could be very easy to plant into them if not paying attention.
Take care everyone.
November 24th - These little sets of steps near bridges are a mystery to many folk. They’re horse mounting blocks, intended for equestrians to easily mount or dismount their steeds as they use the bridge nearby, and rein their horses over.
This one, dedicated to the memory of great CTC cyclist Alan Woollat, is by the pedestrian bridge system over the A38 at Weeford. Before this bridge - which Alan campaigned tirelessly to get - cyclists, walkers and horse riders used to have to negotiate the A38 which was dangerous, even on a quiet Sunday like this. As a fringe benefit of the M6 Toll/A5 by-pass work, we got a few good bridges like this over local danger spots, and now we can all cross in safety.
Alan was a good man, and a fine cyclist. I think of him every time I use the bridge dedicated in his name.
April 4th - Time for my usual post-snow warning. The roads are murder at the moment, especially ones where snowploughs have been used. What’s happening is that melting snow that collected grit, marbles and detritus from the road, is concentrating the horrid payload and depositing it on the surface where many cyclists ride.
Hitting the polished gravel - known as marbles to motorcyclists - that gathers over junctions, on cambers and in gutters can be like hitting black ice. Silt and mud can conceal deep potholes and steal your wheels from under you. Debris like sticks, branches and littler can jam your wheels. Until the wind, rain and local authorities have done their cleansing thing, be careful out there.
November 17th - Winter, cycling in darkness. I really can’t stress this enough, but lights, folks, lights. Lights are about being seen - creating a moving point of highlight in a dark world. In an urban environment, that’s all you need: to this end cheap LED blinkies and such are perfectly adequate. In rural environments, and for moving at speed off road in the dark, good forward illumination is essential. The better the light, the sooner you see hazards, the faster you can potentially go. I use an LED light by Hope, of Barnoldswick in the UK; it’s their flagship R4 model, and is very bright indeed. This is a non-assisted photo and shows the light spread on a medium setting. I have a very bright rear light from the same company. I love Hope’s stuff. They keep me safe at night.
October 18th - Road safety in a time of austerity? Too expensive. Here at Station Road in Harden, there used to be a pedestrian crossing where National Cycle Route 5 crosses the road. This is a busy trail is a recognised safe route to school that takes a heavy cyclist and pedestrian load. Station road is busy and quite fast. Up until six months ago, there was a pedestrian crossing here, which was damaged by vandalism and taken out of use.
Solution? Remove it. Well done Walsall Council. Victory for common sense and safety there - not.