Musings on London CycloCommuting

ddraver
ddraver Posts: 26,593
edited January 2014 in Commuting chat
So tonight was my first commute to work on the bike, 6 years after leaving London after uni. I ve put some of my early thoughts below (No, I'm not sure why either really...):-

*6 years out of London (3 in the UK, then 3 in The Netherlands) and I'm amazed by the amount of cyclists on the streets now! I used to go round Richmond Park and if it was busy there might be 1 or 2 cyclists 100m in front or behind you. There are now cyclists 10m in front and behind you. Likewise it was a busy day commuting if there were 5 of us at a Traffic Light but now there are commonly 5 or so, and usually moreI like this! I'm not on of those people that thinks cycling should be restricted to those that pass some unwritten taste. Plus it's very hard to have a SMIDSY when it's not so much "didnt see you", but "didnt see 10 of you". London traffic was always reasonably good to ride in once you'd become accustomed to the various foibles and intricasies but people largely seem to be better than I ve seen elsewhere.

*It's insane! I mean seriously it's insane! it's dangerous, it's manic, and there is really is no reason for it. It is not a bike ride (for I'd guess 90% of the people I saw) it's a flat out race. At one point there must have been 10-15 of us full on sprinting down High Street Ken, weaving in and out of cars, road furniture and whatever else was in the way.

There is a lot of stuff on the internet about turning the UK into The Netherlands (something I would support) but as well as along overdue change in the attitudes of UK road users to other road users but for it ever to work there will need to be a change in cyclists attitude too. A peloton of riders treating Piccaddilly like the Carrefour d' Arbre is not the way to spread the message of cycling.

*It's fun, good god it's fun. Sprinting around that taxi to squeeze into that gap in Hammersmith was great. Dropping that guy on the trek in the white shorts made me feel like Tom Boonen when he broke away in Paris-Roub....ah crap

*I need a new bike, otherwise Ill just trash my nice one...as you can imagine, this is a major heartache ;) Any idea of getting a fixie with no brakes has gone right out the window, there were a number of times I had to order All Ahead Stop! I need a lot of practice before I go pure fixed

Anyway, tomorrow's a new day and a new commute! Whoop!
We're in danger of confusing passion with incompetence
- @ddraver

Comments

  • meanredspider
    meanredspider Posts: 12,337
    ddraver wrote:
    There is a lot of stuff on the internet about turning the UK into The Netherlands (something I would support) but as well as along overdue change in the attitudes of UK road users to other road users but for it ever to work there will need to be a change in cyclists attitude too. A peloton of riders treating Piccaddilly like the Carrefour d' Arbre is not the way to spread the message of cycling.

    +1 The UK is NOTHING like NL from a cycling point of view - they could hardly be more different
    ROAD < Scott Foil HMX Di2, Volagi Liscio Di2, Jamis Renegade Elite Di2, Cube Reaction Race > ROUGH
  • iPete
    iPete Posts: 6,076
    It's fun init? Mountain biking with moving metal trees.

    Think I'll take the fixie the longer route in via Embankment tomorrow 8)
  • ddraver wrote:
    There is a lot of stuff on the internet about turning the UK into The Netherlands (something I would support) but as well as along overdue change in the attitudes of UK road users to other road users but for it ever to work there will need to be a change in cyclists attitude too. A peloton of riders treating Piccaddilly like the Carrefour d' Arbre is not the way to spread the message of cycling.

    +1 The UK is NOTHING like NL from a cycling point of view - they could hardly be more different

    And the NL is nothing like the NL before the cycle revolution there ;)
  • notsoblue
    notsoblue Posts: 5,756
    Interesting observation, and I totally agree.
    There is a lot of stuff on the internet about turning the UK into The Netherlands (something I would support) but as well as along overdue change in the attitudes of UK road users to other road users but for it ever to work there will need to be a change in cyclists attitude too. A peloton of riders treating Piccaddilly like the Carrefour d' Arbre is not the way to spread the message of cycling.

    Spot on.
  • ddraver
    ddraver Posts: 26,593
    I suspect I differ with you lot by thinking that we SHOULD become more like NL - and that some of us are going to stop riding as we do...
    We're in danger of confusing passion with incompetence
    - @ddraver
  • meanredspider
    meanredspider Posts: 12,337
    ddraver wrote:
    There is a lot of stuff on the internet about turning the UK into The Netherlands (something I would support) but as well as along overdue change in the attitudes of UK road users to other road users but for it ever to work there will need to be a change in cyclists attitude too. A peloton of riders treating Piccaddilly like the Carrefour d' Arbre is not the way to spread the message of cycling.

    +1 The UK is NOTHING like NL from a cycling point of view - they could hardly be more different

    And the NL is nothing like the NL before the cycle revolution there ;)

    I'm not against doing it - I just see it really hard to see how CYCLISTS could change to be more like Dutch cyclists: ditching the road bikes and MTBs and buying big heavy clunkers, ditching the helmets, ditching the HiViz (ditching lights and learning to text whilst we cycle) and cycling at half the speed.
    ROAD < Scott Foil HMX Di2, Volagi Liscio Di2, Jamis Renegade Elite Di2, Cube Reaction Race > ROUGH
  • veronese68
    veronese68 Posts: 27,570
    Whilst a more Dutch style wouldn't affect the amount of riding I do it would have a marked effect on the amount of cycling my wife and daughter do, so overall I can only see it as a good thing. I accept I would have to change my cycling style at times and there would still be some minor frustrations, but I'd gladly accept that trade off. I don't know if I could carry a few 8'x4' sheets of ply on my bicycle like the Dutchman round the corner can though.
  • rjsterry
    rjsterry Posts: 28,558
    Veronese68 wrote:
    Whilst a more Dutch style wouldn't affect the amount of riding I do it would have a marked effect on the amount of cycling my wife and daughter do, so overall I can only see it as a good thing. I accept I would have to change my cycling style at times and there would still be some minor frustrations, but I'd gladly accept that trade off.

    I'd agree with that. If you only need to ride a handful of miles to work, then Dutch style pootling is attractive. The bit where Go Dutch falls down for me is for those of us who need to ride 15 miles or so each way. Bimbling along at 10mph isn't really practical, and much as I love cycling, spending 3+ hrs a day commuting is a bit silly.
    1985 Mercian King of Mercia - work in progress (Hah! Who am I kidding?)
    Pinnacle Monzonite

    Part of the anti-growth coalition
  • Veronese68 wrote:
    Whilst a more Dutch style wouldn't affect the amount of riding I do it would have a marked effect on the amount of cycling my wife and daughter do, so overall I can only see it as a good thing. I accept I would have to change my cycling style at times and there would still be some minor frustrations, but I'd gladly accept that trade off. I don't know if I could carry a few 8'x4' sheets of ply on my bicycle like the Dutchman round the corner can though.

    Pretty much how I feel. As things stand, when my little girl reaches cycling age, I'm fairly sure the wife will be very reluctant to allow her to cycle anywhere but parks and dedicated (leisure) cycling tracks. It'd be lovely we had the kind of infrastructure that would allow us all to get around by bike and feel safe, rather than having to pack the bikes in the car and go somewhere to cycle in a dedicated, safe environment.

    From a purely selfish perspective, while there are aspects of the status quo I'm not happy with, I don't feel unsafe cycling on the roads and I am able to use them to get to work quickly. I would be worried about that changing. On the whole though, I'd probably cope with this freedom being slightly curtailed if it meant cycling to get around became viable for the rest of my family.
  • kieranb
    kieranb Posts: 1,674
    I agree with the cyclist attitude, I used to 'race' into work every day but a few years ago after one or two scares due to stupid moves, I now resist doing them as the risk/benefit ratio is absuredly high; risk: killed or seriously injured equals major impact on wife, children and family, benefit: into work/back home or reach the next lights a few seconds/minutes quicker. Really its a no brainer. I still like the speed but will leave the race for herne hill or somewhere more suitable.
  • mroli
    mroli Posts: 3,622
    Ddraver - what's your commute then? If you're in Hammersmith, I'll keep my eyes out for you...
  • Southgate
    Southgate Posts: 246
    Provided you are a reasonably competent cyclist, in general terms the faster you ride the safer you are because you are keeping pace with motor traffic. The ability to comfortably move from 15mph to 30mph allows you to hold primary position and dramatically reduces the incidences of loony drivers attempting dangerous overtakes or other manoeuvres at junctions, roundabouts etc.

    Obviously how fast you should ride in specific circumstances is dependent on all kinds of factors, e.g. filtering at high speed through congested roads is high risk. I have the skills to do it better than most people I see actually doing it - I just don't have a death wish. I tend to overtake these guys anyway as soon as the road is clearer.
    Superstition begins with pinning race number 13 upside down and it ends with the brutal slaughter of Mamils at the cake stop.
  • That's the point that our cycling culture of fast and furious has grown up around the conditions we have on the road - for the most part you need to be fast to get out of trouble.
  • dyrlac
    dyrlac Posts: 751
    rjsterry wrote:
    If you only need to ride a handful of miles to work, then Dutch style pootling is attractive. The bit where Go Dutch falls down for me is for those of us who need to ride 15 miles or so each way. Bimbling along at 10mph isn't really practical, and much as I love cycling, spending 3+ hrs a day commuting is a bit silly.

    This. I've seen a "refutation" of the point with respect to (a) typical Dutch commute lengths, apparently an appreciable % is in excess of 15km, but this may involve cycle-train or cycle-train-cycle and (b) assertions than 10mph is plenty fast when you don't have motor traffic, obstructed cycle lanes, etc., etc. to contend with. But the fact is that I have 11 miles each way; front door to desk takes less than an hour by bike, including a shower @ work. Door to desk on the train takes me 45m. Train for me isn't even particularly unpleasant (I get a seat every day and the service is reasonably reliable). Setting aside the joy that SCR brings, convincing the missus that cycling is sensible depends heavily on establishing that cycling does not require me leaving earlier or getting home later than usual (and hence dodging breakfast and bedtime duties with the kiddos).

    Would not oppose "Going Dutch" (provided it was a reasonable use of public funds as compared to the alternatives, i.e., not the cycleways in the sky proposed by Foster), but I suppose I feel no need to "spread the message of cycling"; it's a fun means of transport, not a religion.
  • going dutch would likely only affect the centre anyway to any great extent- those of us who cycle from the suburbs (over 10 miles say) will still be able to do the majority of that at a decent pace.

    When we hit the 'dutch style' cycle paths the pace will drop but they'll be a lot less stopping at traffic lights and getting caught in traffic etc - the point is that dutch style lanes are not second class citizens - they have priority over side streets and so on much of the time...so it'll make little difference to your overall time and may even speed your commute up.
  • rick_chasey
    rick_chasey Posts: 74,772
    Apologies for not making the run on the weekend mate.

    Two punctures on the way in made me miss the start so I called it a day.
  • ddraver
    ddraver Posts: 26,593
    To the "long commuters" - In NL now the main roads (i.e. roads between towns/cities) have seperate bike paths that are more designed for fast tiding. For example i used to go on club runs with 20-30 others (on a good day) at 35kph average (not so hard on the flat) and we would never stray off a bike path.

    What tends to happen is that "pootlers" use more residential roads/paths and faster riders take longer but faster paths next to the bigger roads. What changes is that you'd get a constant commute at say 25kph for all 20k rather than a sprint at 35kph, stop, sprint, stop that happens now.

    Rick - a fair excuse, I will withdraw my curse ;) My garmin took me from Barnes to Putney in order to get to Kingston (I think becasue it thought the S. Circular was a "highway") so by the time I'd realised I was pretty late too but just made it.
    We're in danger of confusing passion with incompetence
    - @ddraver
  • meanredspider
    meanredspider Posts: 12,337
    My experience is that the Dutch don't commute too far by bike. If I mention that I used to commute 25km, they look at me if I was some kinda lunatic. They will, however, do absurd commutes on other transport. Out of town the bike paths are plentiful and excellent and it's easy (wind allowing - it's brutal because there's no protection) to do really good speeds - you just don't see many people do it. I work in a tower block of 22 floors. There are 3 showers and I've only seen one being used when I've been there.

    You don't need to be fast because you're pretty much never in traffic. It helps that Amsterdam is tiny by city standards.

    If you want to get some idea of how well served NL is by bike tracks, turn on the bike path feature on Google Maps. Rather than HS2, they'd do as well to spend the money on bike infrastructure for the whole country (in my dreams)
    ROAD < Scott Foil HMX Di2, Volagi Liscio Di2, Jamis Renegade Elite Di2, Cube Reaction Race > ROUGH
  • PBo
    PBo Posts: 2,493
    Dyrlac wrote:
    rjsterry wrote:
    If you only need to ride a handful of miles to work, then Dutch style pootling is attractive. The bit where Go Dutch falls down for me is for those of us who need to ride 15 miles or so each way. Bimbling along at 10mph isn't really practical, and much as I love cycling, spending 3+ hrs a day commuting is a bit silly.

    This. I've seen a "refutation" of the point with respect to (a) typical Dutch commute lengths, apparently an appreciable % is in excess of 15km, but this may involve cycle-train or cycle-train-cycle and (b) assertions than 10mph is plenty fast when you don't have motor traffic, obstructed cycle lanes, etc., etc. to contend with. But the fact is that I have 11 miles each way; front door to desk takes less than an hour by bike, including a shower @ work. Door to desk on the train takes me 45m. Train for me isn't even particularly unpleasant (I get a seat every day and the service is reasonably reliable). Setting aside the joy that SCR brings, convincing the missus that cycling is sensible depends heavily on establishing that cycling does not require me leaving earlier or getting home later than usual (and hence dodging breakfast and bedtime duties with the kiddos).

    Would not oppose "Going Dutch" (provided it was a reasonable use of public funds as compared to the alternatives, i.e., not the cycleways in the sky proposed by Foster), but I suppose I feel no need to "spread the message of cycling"; it's a fun means of transport, not a religion.

    BURN THE HERETIC!!
  • ddraver
    ddraver Posts: 26,593
    mroli wrote:
    Ddraver - what's your commute then? If you're in Hammersmith, I'll keep my eyes out for you...

    Barnes to Hammersmith over the bridge. High Street Ken, Hyde Park, Green Park. I'm the fat guy on the black ribble in the red Gore Jacket and the total fakenger messenger bag ;)
    We're in danger of confusing passion with incompetence
    - @ddraver
  • iPete
    iPete Posts: 6,076
    I'll keep an eye out too, red trek fixie with crud guards..
  • My experience is that the Dutch don't commute too far by bike.

    I guess you need to look at how far people are commuting in the UK too? Perhaps taking London as a special case as it always skews the results.

    A reasonable commute time is 30 minutes each way, even on cycle paths you can reasonably do 5 miles. So how many people commute to a job within 5 miles of home, but do so using a method other than walking or cycling? I submit that it's these people who we should be looking at.
  • guinea
    guinea Posts: 1,177
    There is almost nowhere within the M25 that it's quicker to take public transport than cycle.

    I live in Epping and commute to Angel daily. It takes between 60 and 70 minutes by bike depending on traffic. With a perfect run on the tube with no waits it takes 85 minutes on the tube. Every minute spent waiting at the station or changing (at Bank, ugh) is added to this time.

    Sure, a 55km daily commute isn't for everyone, but given how packed the roads are and how busy the tube is, the system should cope with guys who want to ride a little quicker.

    My current best bike is pieces after being smashed by a SMIDSY on her beloved's school run on Monday and the last two days on the tube are pissing me off no end.
  • My experience is that the Dutch don't commute too far by bike.

    I guess you need to look at how far people are commuting in the UK too? Perhaps taking London as a special case as it always skews the results.

    A reasonable commute time is 30 minutes each way, even on cycle paths you can reasonably do 5 miles. So how many people commute to a job within 5 miles of home, but do so using a method other than walking or cycling? I submit that it's these people who we should be looking at.

    Good point - cycling in the UK is still a pretty minority activity. If the same proportion of Londoners cycled to work as Amsterdamerinos (I believe that's the correct term), you'd see a big increase in short journeys by bike. Not sure if you'd see an increased proportion of short journeys, but I'd expect so - not everyone lives in the suburbs and works in the centre - a lot of people work fairly locally and currently travel by bus or car (or perhaps foot). As it is, my perception is that there actually aren't that many people commuting by bike from my neck of the woods to the centre of town - the cyclist density* goes up markedly once you get within 5 miles of the centre.

    *In all senses, heh heh
  • Other thing is cycle paths at the moment at least aren't always the slowest option, Due to stop start traffic I found that joining the shared path at Hampton along to Hampton Court with a short spell on the road then back on a shared path to Kingston, out of rush hour yes it's slower, but during traffic will normally hold you up.

    I would agree with the idea that their are shorter commutes I have the longest commute at work, and it's not quite 4 miles to work. This said you only have to see the commuter trains at rush hour to know that a lot of folks do work central and live out in the suburbs, And it probably applies to most cities on the whole, though most uk cities bar london are comparable in size to dutch cities.
  • iPete
    iPete Posts: 6,076
    guinea wrote:
    There is almost nowhere within the M25 that it's quicker to take public transport than cycle.

    Indeed, check this out!
    http://www.findproperly.co.uk/faster-by ... r-bike.php
  • A typical NL road http://goo.gl/maps/ea06j it's going to be just as quick to use the cycle path here!
  • mroli
    mroli Posts: 3,622
    ddraver wrote:

    Barnes to Hammersmith over the bridge.

    Ooo - I'm Barnes too - in the estate between Castelnau and Lonsdale Road. Will keep my eyes peeled as that's the way I go. I'm on a black Deda Pista with white forks, a roll top Ortleib bag (silver) and normally some form of Rapha hi viz Gilet on. That's pretty much my route in. No scalping!