27/03/2017

I asked for your help & with many thanks you did!

Almost a year ago I wrote a blog asking for help "I need your help & hopefully you can" to help me get an eBike to try start cycling to work & with many many thanks a fair few of you did.

And with being so busy with life, work etc (the usual life stuff we all have to put up with). I have been neglectful in thanking everyone & updating as to what is happening so this blog is for you & anyone interested in how it all went & what is happening.

Well with all your help we raised £750 & with help of Cycling Made Easy in Coulsdon who had a customer selling a secondhand one in good condition & with warranty with the shop themselves, it was enough to go buy it.


And as soon as I got it home I used the remainder of the funds (& a bit more) to kit it out with new comfy Brooks saddle, mudguards, etc...



And I did try it out & rode it to work tho found the automatic gears a hindrance on the hills, so upgraded them to a nice Sturmey Archer 3 speed internal hub.

 


And this proved to help the bike & extend the battery life as not fighting the automatic gears. And I have ridden the bike to work a few times now but the route has been worked on in the time I was working on getting an ebike & Highway England made a right hash of it & made the route more awful than ever (A12 survey report of the incomplete & shoddy works between Witham & Marks Tey) which I am trying to get sorted. Anyway despite this I am using the ebike to get to work every now & then, unfortunately not as often as I like.


But I am using it when I would normally get the bus to town when not feeling up to cycling, to carry heavier loads & to do larger amount of shopping & proving an asset to get to work on bank holidays & other seasonal holidays where there is no bus available & trains are a mess.

 


Even used her to do a lovely 20 mile cycle ride on Christmas day to explore areas I haven't been around Colchester.


So the ebike is proving more useful even if the original idea was to use it to cycle to work hasn't gone quite to plan, which I have not given up on doing. And here is my ebike in her glory now after all the changes & now I call her Dutchess. And it's thanks to all of you who helped that made this possible.


But I have plans to still cycle to work & with my disability getting worse, I am now planning ahead by looking at building my own ebike using a similar bike to my Electra Townie which is quite comfortable to ride. So be looking at getting an Electra Cruiser with an additional 11 gear Hub Gear to replace what's supplied on the bike.


And I have already acquired the gear hub in the sales recently so need to get the bike next. Then I will sell Dutchess to cover the costs of the ebike Conversion kit & installation of it as I feel it be unfair to ask for help again.


I'm undetermined where to get the conversion kit from atm but likely go with Cyclotricity as the mechanic I use fits them on other bikes with no issues & would be good to use him for the warranty side of things. Then I will have a bike more suited to my needs & try again to cycle to work. 

It hasn't been as straightforward as I hoped it could be but it's been a learning curve & very productive. And again I like to thank everyone for their support in this goal, it may not gone quite how I wanted it but we knew it was a chance it wouldn't work but it is getting there & learning from it.

03/03/2017

Meet my lil Foldie...

As I have already done a blog about my Roadrunner & how it evolved from an idea to reality (Project: Roadrunner, the evolution of a personal bike). I thought I should introduce my other bikes, so here is 'lil Foldie' & her story...

Back in November 2014 I had posted a photo of me cycling to Active Essex on twitter as they had requested followers to do so with Essex County Council to promote cycling & I do like posting pics to help promote cycling.


So I was surprised to get this tweet as I didn't realise it was actually a competition & no clue on the prize...


So obviously I was gobsmacked to read that & it turned out the prize was a new bike of my choice. So I decided to go for a folding bike as I haven't got one & could be useful when travelling across the country by train, bus & underground. So went for a Bickerton as it was within their prize budget.

 

Unfortunately  Active Essex decided to buy the bike from Halfords & things didn't go well. It took weeks to get Halfords to get the bike in after it was ordered & told it'll be a few days & it wasn't until January 2015 before I was told it was ready to collect from Active Essex which they wanted a photo of me collecting it. So I popped over on my lunch break to get a photo taken as I collect it & that's when I first saw the bike & knew something wasn't right.


Unfortunately Active Essex team weren't experienced in buying cycles & didn't notice the bike was damaged & missing the rack, wheel reflectors & bell, something Halfords meant to make sure was there & I spent months trying to get Halfords to get the missing parts & thus soured the experience of winning the wonderful prize which I wasn't able to use until it was complete.

 


So after months I finally got the missing parts & fitted it all myself as I will never let Halfords touch it or any other bike of mine ever, only to find the rack was damaged but usable & looked like it was the rack to this bike in the first place. So I put my panniers on the rack & found a problem, rack was too low & panniers were catching on the gears as well as my heels & this was the smaller pair of panniers I've got.

 

Thankfully I knew how to sort this as I have got a Axiom Streamliner Disc rack on other bikes which would do the job so started making the first of a few changes to make the bike better for me & easier to use my panniers on this bike by raising the panniers from the ground & further back from the pedals like this rack had done for Roadrunner when I had fitted one.


But even after sorting out the bike, it still didn't cycle right with the new build being a mess thanks to Halfords & after trying it out for a run to Brightlingsea in February & getting it on & off the bus proved it's worth it was put away in the corner. I did pull it out now & then to try get the bike to work right but in the end it didn't get used for another year as didn't need to & had other working bikes which were working OK.


So mid 2016 I needed to get to Hampshire & lil Foldie was now needed, so it was pulled out from its corner, dusted down & I got on with trying to get the bike to work correctly. And despite the bike still refusing to go into 7th gear, the bike was ready to travel with me on the train & underground.



And lil Foldie did OK, still didn't feel right but better than before & starting to wonder if I just can't get on with it coz it's been messed up by Halfords... Also found wheeling the bike across platforms & using the escalators on the underground with full panniers to be really difficult with seat post down as it is used to hold bike upright. So I had a look around to find a way around this & I discovered folding centre stand which I bought & fitted & also a new leather saddle for lil Foldie too.

 


It however did take a few months to find the right centre stand that folds & an affordable Brooks type leather saddle but it was worth the search, eventually I got the chance to take lil Foldie out for another trip to Hampshire via train & the underground at the beginning of 2017 with the new stand & saddle.



And this time it was a joy to ride lil Foldie, the centre stand & saddle was definitely something this lil bike needed & it was a joy to ride for the first time in 2yrs with the additions & gears that now finally work properly. The mess Halfords had done was slowly being eradicated & since then I have now added new brake levers onto the bike with built in bell so to declutter the handlebars & make easier to fold without the bell getting in the way.


So for now lil Foldie is how I like the bike atm, there are a few tweaks I still like to do but that's more coz of my preferences than issues with the bike. So next on the list it to get twist grip gear selector replaced with a rapidfire gear selector as I hate twist grip shifters & at the same time get some better grips which will be required when shifter is replaced.

So what started as a nightmare bike that was built badly by Halfords, lil Foldie has now grown into a lovely folding bike with the additions & fixing what was done by Halfords & no doubt will improve with more tweaks & improvements. And I have wondered why Bickerton haven't put racks & stands on their bikes like I have as it has made the bike even better.


30/01/2017

A12 survey report of the incomplete & shoddy works between Witham & Marks Tey

In January 2016, I wrote this Blog regarding the work about to be carried out & sent it to Highway England: http://the2wheeledwolf.blogspot.co.uk/2016/01/my-views-of-work-to-be-carried-out-on.html

After the work was supposedly done I made a complaint & sent this copy of the Survey Report I did on the works carried out by Highway England on the 'cycling infra' that goes between Marks Tey & Witham as they really didn't want to go do a proper inspection & were gonna sign it off as completed back in September 2016 & Highway England passed it onto the Safety Auditors to carry out an independent safety audit of the scheme.

Sorry it took a lil longer to write this up, I have a paid job to do & do not get paid to do the job of those at Essex County Council who are supposed to inspect the work before signing it off. Not just sign it off & sod those who have to use it at their own peril. I was really Gob-smacked that was going to happen.

So as I had said I will point out the problems created by the works carried out & I do expect them to be corrected before signing off the works. I will go in order of the drawings from Witham to Marks Tey.

Starting with east Witham as you exit the town. Why is it Highway engineers for councils feel bicycles can turn on the spot at speed as if it is a Tron cycle?


Its no joke but you should try it with fast moving traffic up your rear. The dropped curb is not wide enough to cater all forms of cycles & expecting them to turn that sharp will result in being hit by drivers from behind. This should be a tapered/angled entry to the shared path in fast moving traffic trying to get to the A12 faster than a cyclists does.

Then there's the resurfacing, when you resurface are you not meant to keep it flush with manhole covers?

 

Coz they have not done this & it is a trip hazard to pedestrians & cyclists as well as the uneven surfaces where the resurfacing was done in stages.

 

Then the dropped curbs at the junctions, most are too steep, uneven & not flush to the road.
  
 

 

 

This is apparent along the whole route along the A12 & already I have had my wheel repaired due to these appallingly done dropped curbs & having to again this week. I sure wouldn't like to see how a wheelchair user would cope with them.

 

Also noticed my concerns were ignored of these side junctions with fast moving traffic turning off, there are no signs to warn drivers or any form of speed reduction been put in to make sure those already crossing are able to safely. Instead they look at the motor traffic on the road & not look at paths. This has been pointed out now in the Gazette by business The Empire Diner along the A12.

Coming into Kelvedon, again you're expecting cyclists to do a sharp right & then left turn to leave the shared path.


Yet again this is dangerous as it make the cyclist slow to a crawl & try get onto a fast moving traffic coming off the A12. It should have been tapered to feed the cyclists onto the road & maintain a reasonable speed. As usual its to benefit traffic flow & not those trying to cycle.

And as for the painted logos on the road thru Kelvedon & Feering, I see you just totally ignored what I had said to put them in the middle of the road & as a result I have a number of drivers try push me into the gutter when cycling.


Here's a video to show my disgust with this: https://youtu.be/UgkiFzZn9Yw. And we have Highway England & Essex County Council to thank for that!

And what the Hell is this as you leave Feering towards Marks Tey?

 

Are you really expecting cyclists to turn into approaching traffic on the side road to access the shared path? Are you really trying to kill cyclists? Why did you not fix & use the dropped curb further along to safely access the shared path without trying to kill them.


Then there's section of the shared path along the A12 that have not been touched as per drawings, as in 'apply weed killing & asphalt crack sealant on existing footway'.

 

 

I can definitely say this was NOT done & with winter coming along it gets very dark due to lack of lighting so is a risk of tripping pedestrians or knocking a cyclist off & more likely into the traffic on the A12. And talking about lighting, do you expect pedestrians & cyclists to use the shared paths along the A12 in darkness but happily light the roads for the drivers? If this is to be a route to increase walking & cycling (highly doubtful in this state) then it requires lighting to help see the paths & drivers to see those on the paths.

Finally at Marks Tey, do you really think this is acceptable access from the path to the road. Unlit dark lil corner with fencing. Why is it not tidied up & made clearer where to go & more visible in the dark?

 

Then as mentioned before, stopping it at the end of the road as you just come off the A12 is just stupid & dangerous & despite pointing this out, it was just excused as not part of the this scheme so cyclists now have to put themselves in danger trying to cross a busy fast moving A120 & I can tell you I have had myself almost on a car bonnet thanks to the actions of a dangerous driver & Essex County Council & Highway England buck passing excuses to not supply a safe route for cyclists going over the A12 towards Colchester. Which I have reported to Essex Police but as usual they don't give a damn!


This is a brief report as I have limited time to do your job & if you're unhappy to what I have to say I aint sorry as I am sick & tired of the appalling works carried out on the claims of 'better' cycling infrastructure that we will never get at this rate. I for one see what has been done has made it worse, uncomfortable, damaging to bikes & dangerous to use.

And I am still awaiting drawings for the section between Witham & Chelmsford.

Regards

Since sending this email in September I have compiled a video which I had also sent them (https://youtu.be/Hp4WBJ5vZGQ) to back this report & had to chase up to see if the safety Auditors had completed their work, only to find out they haven't even started. It is supposedly meant to be done this January 2017, despite my safety concerns many month back they are really dragging their heels on this & I will keep putting the pressure on them.