Culture vs. Infrastructure

Everyone always talks about ‘Dutch Style Cycling Infrastructure’ being the benchmark cycling infrastructure and while it is clear that the town planning is more friendly to non-motorised travellers than in the UK, I feel that there are other factors influencing the vast numbers of cyclists to get on their bikes in The Netherlands.

The culture of using the roads that I observed in Amsterdam was much more tolerant and considerate than that of road users in the UK. For example, I was in a taxi when I first arrived in the city, and some cyclists entered the main carriageway to avoid a blockage in the cycle lane. Now if this had been in Leeds, the taxi driver would have been raging and honking his horn. I know this because I’ve been on the receiving end of this kind of behaviour. In Amsterdam, the taxi driver just quietly and patiently, slowed down to let them out. The tolerance amongst road users was clearly evident.

So my concern is, that it’s all very well to invest in improving our cycling infrastructure, which of course is badly needed, but we need to address the culture of how we use the roads. We need to embed tolerance and patience as values in our transport system, encouraging road users to respect each other, remember that they are people too and have a greater concern for each other’s safety and welfare. Wouldn’t that be nicer for everyone?

‘Transparent’ trucks with rear-mounted Samsung safety screens set to save overtaking drivers

The days of getting stuck behind slow-moving trucks on single-carriageway roads could be coming to an end with new Samsung technology

Have you ever experienced the frustration of being stuck behind a slow-moving lorry without a good enough view to overtake? Of course you have, but Samsung has come up with a solution.

The Korean technology firm has fitted cameras to the front of its lorries and video screens to the back. That way, any car following can see what’s ahead of the lorry and whether or not it’s safe to overtake.

Man escapes with minor injuries after crash with a broken down vehicle near Birmingham Airport. 

Emergency services were called to the A45 Coventry Road in Solihull, near Birmingham Airport (BHX), at around 3.30PM on Monday afternoon (15/06), following reports of a RTC. 

On arrival, Firefighters from Hay Mills Fire Station, Police and Paramedics found a Citroen Xsara Picasso with extensive rear end damage, which had broken down on a corner on the dual carriageway, after being struck by a flatbed van carrying tree trunks.

A spokesperson from West Midlands Ambulance Service, said: “Fortunately, the occupants of the Picasso were on the verge and were uninjured.

It is more than fortunate that they were out of the vehicle. Anyone who had been in the rear would have been very badly injured as everything up to the driver’s seat, essentially disappeared.

The driver of the van, a 20 year old man, was taken to Heartlands Hospital with burns to face from the airbag and chest bruising from seatbelt. Thankfully the injuries were relatively minor.

The van itself had suffered considerable front end damage from the collision.

If anyone ever wondered why you should get out of a broken down vehicle, this is it. You can see the level of damage involved. It doesn’t bear thinking about what would have happened to someone in the back.”

(Image: Hay Mills Fire Station) 

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Family taken to hospital after a collision involving a car and two HGV’s on the M5. 

Emergency services were called to the M5 northbound carriageway between J7 and J6 (Worcester), at around 1:15AM this morning (20/06), to reports of a collision. 

On arrival, crews found a car, with a family inside, and two heavy goods vehicles that had been in a collision. 

A spokesperson from West Midlands Ambulance Service, said: “Crews arrived to find a car and two HGV’s that had been in a serious collision.

Two children, a four month old boy and a two year old girl both suffered serious injuries in the crash. The two year old was trapped in the vehicle for around 50 minutes.

Both children received emergency treatment at the scene from medics and both were transferred by ambulance to Birmingham Children’s Hospital for further emergency treatment.
The hospital had been pre alerted to the children’s arrival and their serious injuries.

The woman travelling in the car, believed to be in her 20’s, suffered serious neck and pelvic injuries. The man also believed to be in his 20’s, suffered multiple minor injuries.

Both received treatment at the scene by medics and were transferred by ambulance to Worcester Royal Hospital for further treatment.

The two lorry drivers were checked over by ambulance crews but did not require further treatment and were discharged at the scene.”

The carriageway was closed for several hours whilst crews dealt with the incident and recovered the vehicles. 

Please call West Mercia Police on 101 if you have ANY information. 


Tuesday 6/2
After a restful night’s sleep in our Moby stateroom (cool ship!), arrived Olbia, Sardinia along with many big rigs, cars and motorcycles. We found out later that Sardinia is a favorite motorcycling destination, esp. for people from Germanic countries. Took taxi from the port to the Olbia airport to pick up our rental car (Fiat with manual transmission) around 9a. Got lost finding the right road heading south to our hotel in Bari Sardo, eventually getting to the dual carriageway and to what we thought would be the most direct route (SS125). Turned out the SS125 was an extremely narrow winding mountain road with many fast drivers (cars + motorcycles), perched on steep cliffs. After four hours in the mountains (top was around 1000m), we arrived at Bari Sardo, and got lost again trying to locate our hotel Domus de Janas Sul Mare. With the help of a kind ambulance driver, we located the correct turnoff to Torre di Bari at the Pharmacia sign- thank God for that sign, esp. when we returned late at night! Torre di Bari is about 3 miles east of town, right on the sea, and very beautiful. We were grateful to check into our nice room with patio, and immediately went to the beach, right next to the 16th Century tower. Swam in the crystal blue water of the Tyrrhenian Sea, and enjoyed the warm sun. Returned to our room for a picnic on the patio, and a good sleep.

Wednesday 6/3
After breakfast with our fellow hotel guests (mostly motorcyclists from Austria, Getmany, Switzarland, etc), decided to head south for the beaches of Costa Rei today. Immediately got lost again leaving Torre di Bari (should have “stayed straight”, rather than turning left). After about a half hour and a dead end at a small beach, we found the SS125 and continued south. Thankfully, this section of the highway isn’t too windy, and there are many tunnels (Galleria) through the hills. Arrived at the 8km long Costa Rei beach, and located the gorgeous Scoglio di Peppino beach. Soft white sand and blue blue water. Swam for a while, and tried climbing on the rock that looks like a turtle. An Evil Turtle, that is, as Elena slipped and fell face first, hitting her nose quite hard. There was bleeding, unfortunately, and 2 black eyes for her trouble. She gave up on climbing that turtle, and sat in the sun while Edward climbed that infernal rock to take pictures. After more swimming, we had beer at the cafe on the beach and headed to another, more remote beach further north on the Costa Rei. After more swimming, headed into town, found a Pharmacia to buy antiseptic for Elena’s poor nose, and looked for s restaurant. Found a great seafood place, rather fancy, and had delicious mussels and other tasty swimming creatures, along with a nice bottle of Sardinian Vino Rosso. Drove back to our hotel quite late, ready for sleep.

Thursday 6/4
Drove north a different way (directly west into the mountains, through Lanusei, and then straight road to the dual carriageway back toward Olbia), intending to hike at Capo Testa. Took so long to get north of Olbia, we abandoned our hiking plans and headed for the beaches of Costa Smerelda. Unfortunately they should probably be called the beaches of Costa Smellerelda, as they had a very unpleasant odor from rotting seaweed. Not inviting for swimming. Gave up on these beaches, heading to a beach near Siniscola. Also not very pleasant for swimming, so we found a gelateria instead. Drove back to our hotel, defeated, and drowned our sorrows in good Sardinisn wine. An experience for sure, if not a positive one. But we’ll be back tomorrow, stronger than ever!

Friday, 6/5
Taking no chances, we repeated our Wednesday itinerary, spending the whole day at Scoglio di Peppino, swimming & sunning. Had beer & ice cream at the beach cafe, and again headed into the Costa Rei town for dinner. Found another great restaurant, had Long Island drinks while we waited for the dining area to open at 7p, and ate another delicious dinner. Had a huge dish of spaghetti with assorted seafood, along with grilled veggies and another fine Sardinian red wine. Headed back to Torre di Bari happy and sunburned.

Saturday 6/6
Not wanting to say goodbye to Sardinia, we packed our car after breakfast and walked to the beach for one last swim at our beautiful beach. Left around noon, drove again through Lanusei to the 4-lane highway on our way to the airport in Olbia. Edward got confused and put a few gallons of gasoline in the tank of our diesel Fiat (yikes!), but returned the car without incident. Hope it didn’t cause a problem for the next renters. Checked in for our Air Baltic flights to Oslo (via Riga), finally arriving Oslo around 1am on Sunday. All trains closed at that hour, and got ripped off taking a taxi to our Hotel Thon Munch (>$200 for a ~30 minute ride!). Finally hit the rack in Oslo, and we do mean rack, as it was the worst bed of our trip. At least the depression in the middle kept us snuggled together!

Cargos of Fate on Destinys Carriageway.

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The Glasgow Miracle | Three Glasgow Poets, Alex Hamilton, James Kelman, Tom Leonard, Poetry Reading 1976
Video of poetry and prose reading, The Third Eye Centre, Gla

Readings from the three writers, prose from Alex Hamilton and James Kelman and poetry from Tom Leonard. Starts with introduction from Hamilton standing in front of a mostly unseen audience with the location unclear. He talks about writing in a Glasgow cadence and sets the scene for his 1st reading, which regards a fight between two young boys. He then talks a little about transcribing Glaswegian dialect (for example, writing ‘jum paff’ instead of ‘jump off’) and then reads his 2nd story about some children who can’t cross a dual carriageway. About 24 minutes in Tom Leonard takes over and reads some of his poems, talking about reconciling narrative with phonetic poetry. He considers how the Glaswegian dialect might be deemed unsuitable as a language of intellect and the way that people change registers as they speak…

That car post reminded me i need to go move my car off the drive, but I forgot to tell you guys, earlier I overtook someone on the dual carriageway (he was going 40, it’s a 60 speed limit, dude) and it was the first time since the accident I was so damn proud of myself. Honestly it really is the small victories.