Sunday, 5 February 2012

The Ruts

Over the last few weeks The Times and now The Independent newspapers have been running campaigns to "save our cyclists", highlighting the growing numbers of deaths and serious injuries of cyclists. That admittedly has to be set against the vast increase in the cyclists and cycling in the last few years, so as a proportion of cycling miles travelled I suspect (though I don't know for sure) that the figures haven't changed greatly. However, campaigns like these, the general vulnerability I've felt on occasions, and the concentration of traffic on our roads, have all left me feeling a bit queasy about resuming cycling in the UK. It just doesn't feel right that people have to resort to wearing garments like this, as modelled by my great mate Mendi Prouleur:

I'm not saying I'm not going to ride again on UK roads - getting out into the hills either early or late on a glorious summer day is one of life's great pleasures - but I just can't see me planning or doing any routes that have even a modicum of A roads included. Now I'm spending a lot of time in London I've had the opportunity to observe cyclists there, and it feels like the balance of power between cyclists and motorised road users seems to be shifting there, as there are just so many cyclists on the roads at rush hour. It feels like they're crowding out the taxis, buses and white vans, and hurrah for that. It's a different story in most other places however.

The biggest danger I've faced this weekend has not been on road, but under foot. Yesterday it was the ruts caused by sodden canal towpaths freezing hard into uneven and evil little mounds of ankle-turning beartraps, and today it was the several inches of slippery snow. I managed 15.4 miles yesterday before the cold took me home, and today 4.5 of nearly slip-siding away into my nearest destination (an icy canal again) was quite enough.

Those 20 miles have given my mind plenty of time to wander though, and this week's grumpy old git thoughts turned to words that seem to be misunderstood or abused.  I think it was caused by a senior person at work this week describing something as a "mute point"; and he didn't mean one that couldn't talk. Other faux pas from people you'd think would know better include:

- another colleague announcing they were going to "change tact" in their approach to a problem, showing how completely they don't understand the nautical derivation of the term
- more folk than I can shake a dirty stick at using 'where' and 'were' interchangeably. Most of them do, however, have either scouse or north Walian blood running through their veins, so it can be understood if not forgiven
- websites or other announcements proclaiming they're giving "advanced warning" of an event. Is it a particularly clever kind of warning then? Or do they really mean 'advance'?

Ah well, enough eating, shooting and leaving. More nonsense next week.

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