How to get away with being a driver who is aggressive towards cyclists

[I mostly wrote this back in July, just finishing it now.]

Back on Sunday 16th June 2013 I was on my return cycle from the Bromley Cyclists camping weekend in Essex I was cycling along and getting ready to turn right at Langford to head north. After signalling to turn right and having 3 cars pass completely ignoring 2 cyclists with their arms stretched out to indicate that they wish to turn right, I gave out a scream to draw attention to the situation as the fourth driver was already starting to overtake, and I feared I was going to be frozen out and unable to turn, thus being stuck by the side of the road.

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Langford Aggressive Driver

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Langford Aggressive Driver 51.748820, 0.663214

The male driver wound down the window and claimed that I was frightening his child in the back, whom I couldn’t see due to the blacked out windows. He then got of the car and came round to my side and claimed that the road was to share, of which he didn’t seem to get, as if he did, he would have waited patiently behind us. He also said that you don’t scream to turn, though he obviously was blind to the fact I had my hand out as he suggested I should be doing.

I’ll let you watch it below:

I then reported it to the police, it was slightly complicated due to me living in Suffolk police’s area, and the incident occurring in the Essex police area, thus I had to give an initial report over the phone to Essex police, who then got Suffolk police to come and take a statement and a copy of the video above.

The police then had problems tracking the driver down as the vehicle was hired under the name of someone else and when they went to the address given to the hire company they found that the people who were there moved 3 months before and hadn’t left a forwarding address. The police had asked me if I just wanted them to talk to the driver for some driver improvement, or to take it to court, with them pushing the former. I foolishly accepted that, which meant that they didn’t pursue the case much further whereas had I said early that I wanted to go to court they said they may have pursued it further, but there wasn’t any point. However as far I was concerned they were failing to talk to the driver at all, which isn’t what I wanted. Ah well lesson for the future.

G4S van blocking cycle track in Birmingham

At the end of April I was in Birmingham for the Cycle City Expo conference. As part of one of the optional site visits and workshops on the first day I snapped the following G4S van to be blocking a cycle track on National Cycle Route 5 at a set of traffic lights on the return journey.

G4S Security van blocking cycle track in Birmingham outside Tesco

This was quite apt for the discussion about issues on the route.

I decided to quickly take the photo and to then send it to G4S to see what they would say. Seeing that their website had a section on social responsibility made me more interested in seeing what their response would be.

A day or so later I had short email to say that it had been forwarded to the branch manager. Then within a hour I had a call from the branch manager to confirm that it was definitely their van in the picture, and wanted to verify the date and time that the photo was taken so that they could find the particular crew involved. I also let them print the photo so that they could put it up in the depot as an example of how not to stop in front of a store.

About a week later I got the following great response from the branch manager explaining the situation:

Hello Shaun.

I have identified the crew of the vehicle and have interviewed the driver.

We have agreed the position of the vehicle is unacceptable and we both offer our apologies.

I’ve also spoken to other crews who service this particular customer as to where we should and should not park.

Whilst everyone here agrees this is a very poor place to leave a vehicle the reason for the driver parking in such a poor position was the drivers attempt at reducing his and the publics risk of an attack.

G4S Birmingham unfortunately has quite a high attack rate. Last year it was approximately one attack per week and at peak times up to three attacks per week. As well as our crews being injured in the past there have been bystanders injured also and one incident where a member of public was killed.

Crews have to decide on a site by site basis where the best and safest position to park the vehicle is and in this particular case we got it very wrong.

The driver had forgotten the risks and danger he was causing to traffic and he will be more considerate in the future.

Thank you for bringing this to our attention as it helps us all at G4S improve and maintain standards of driving and parking.

Also thank you for permission to use the photo for training purposes it will be on our notice board with an explanation of it.

If you have any further questions please reply or feel free to call either number below and I’ll be pleased to answer them.

Kind regards

Adrian

So it’s an extremely difficult balance to strike between parking in safe location and also parking in a location that minimises the risk of the crew dealing with the delivery or collection. With a decrease in parking and loading space, with the space in cities often being either pedestrianised or being reallocated for cycling does make it harder for these risky deliveries. It shows how hard it is create streets that cater for everyone.

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G4S Van Birmingham

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G4S Van Birmingham 52.473423, -1.895936

Does cheaper car parking really improve Ipswich town centre?

In the February 2013 issue of the Ipswich council newspaper, The Angle, which is delivered to local residents in Ipswich, they were proudly saying how the council was helping businesses by reducing car parking charges within the town. Ipswich Borough Council have reduced the parking tariffs in all of its town centre car parks “in a bid to boost retailers”.

Also in the same issue they were running a competition to win 12 months free swimming or a car parking season ticket for 3 months. The council also has a project called Travel Ipswich which is all about improving traffic management and promoting smarter and sustainable transport. I find it rather strange that one part of the council is trying to promote sustainable travel, yet another is doing the opposite of promoting more cars into the town centre. I’d be much happier to see one of the prizes to be a free bus pass for a family for 3 months. This is especially true if it went to a family who currently primarily uses a car, but could use public transport instead to try an encourage them to travel more sustainability.

I’m sure there are other ways that the council could help the local businesses such as with the business rates or other improvements to make it much nicer to cycle from the suburbs and out lying villages to the town centre. In some of the newer suburbs of Ipswich there is fairly high levels of cycling to school due to the road layout, with many cycle paths alongside the roads including past schools.

Here’s some photos of the relevant page in the newspaper:

P1100636

P1100637

P1100638

Update 2 April 2013: I’ve been contact by Ipswich Borough Council who have corrected some of the points in this blog post. Here’s what they have to say:

We’ve recently seen your latest blog post on cheaper parking and just wanted to clarify a few things you had mentioned.

The Travel Ipswich project that you refer to is led by Suffolk County Council, not IBC, and more information can be found here:http://www.travelipswich.co.uk/. One of the aims of the project is to improve traffic management, as well as improving pedestrian and cycle routes across the town.

Also, Ipswich Borough Council collects business rates but it does not set business rates in the town. The level of business rates is decided by the Government’s Valuation Office Agency, over which the Council has no control.

If you have any questions or want to check anything in future, please don’t hesitate to contact us.

The problem of closing toucan crossings for roadworks

Recently the junction nearest to where I live had some temporary traffic lights again for some roadworks. Unfortunately the toucan crossings on the junction had a sign added that states “Crossing not in use”. However the next nearest option for crossing requires going back on yourself and walking an extra 5 minutes. People who do come across the sign just ignore it as they aren’t going to do a big diversion as shown in the photo.

2013-02-26 14.10.11

In this case there didn’t appear to be anything elsewhere on the crossing that would cause an issue and it’s not a constant flow of pedestrians.

Surely it would be much better to use signage which turns the crossing into more of temporary zebra crossing where motor vehicles have to give way or at least slow down in case there is someone on the crossing? This would make the road safer than the motor vehicle drivers driving fast through the crossing as they assume that the crossing is clear thus making it more dangerous for pedestrians and cyclists. It would also reduce the annoyance of pedestrians and cyclists tripping over the sign and being rated as second class citizens.

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Junction of Stoke Bridge, Stoke Street and Vernon Street.

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Junction of Stoke Bridge, Stoke Street and Vernon Street. 52.051277, 1.153843

More cycle parking installed at Ipswich Waitrose/John Lewis

I was recently alerted to some new bicycle parking having been installed at the new Waitrose/John Lewis at Home in Ipswich after my recent blog post, so went to take a look.

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2013-02-04 18.41.51

They have almost doubled the cycle parking since the previous time I visited after I emailed as pointed out that it was well used. It’s great to see them take such swift action. I wonder how long it’s going to take Sainsburys to repair the cycle parking outside their central Ipswich store. After contacting Sainsburys via Twitter, who passed it on to the store manager, however Cycle Ipswich have been unable to get a response from him.

I also noticed another sign on the access roads which was added under the street names to say “These roads and footpaths are not yet adopted please refer to developer”. I presume that the council has had complaints about those roads, and has thus added them.

2013-02-04 19.09.53

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Ipswich Waitrose/John Lewis at home

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Ipswich Waitrose/John Lewis at home 52.033974, 1.203990

Of course I have updated OpenStreetMap. I used Vespucci to update the data while I was there so that I didn’t need to remember to update it once I got home.

Videos of the talks at Wherecamp.eu Rome 2013

In January I was at the Wherecamp.eu in Rome, and recorded most of the talks that happened. I have now uploaded those talks to YouTube for the wider community to be able to watch. Here’s the videos in the order they were recorded:

Friday 18th Jan 2013

Tariffa and problem management in Africa

A demonstration of CartoDB

World Food Programme using OpenDataKit

GeoNode

FOSS4G conference introduction

37 Things you didn’t know about ESRI

CityMapper

Topology with PostGIS

An introduction to R for spatial analysis

The OSGeo Live CD and Virtual Machines

 

Saturday 19th Jan 2013

GeoAvalanche

GRASS

A Linear Sense of Place

Updating to the latest Carto in Tile Mill when running on an Ubuntu service

Currently there are some bug fixes in the Carto code base which isn’t in the currently released Tile Mill which I was wanting to make use of. This is the commands that are needed in case someone else needs that info when running Tile Mill as an Ubuntu Service.

cd /usr/share/tilemill
sudo npm install carto@latest

If that fails, read the error messages as some files may be in the way and npm isn’t wanting to overwrite them:

sudo rm /usr/share/tilemill/node_modules/.bin/mml2json.js
sudo rm /usr/share/tilemill/node_modules/.bin/carto

You then also need to restart Tile Mill, which if you are using the Ubuntu service, you can use the following command.

sudo restart tilemill

Lack of cycle parking at the new Ipswich Waitrose & John Lewis at Home stores

Last Sunday I headed out to map the new Waitrose and John Lewis at Home stores in Ipswich that recently opened. I also took a look at what the cycling facilities of the new store were like and got them mapped into OpenStreetMap. The building outlines were in OSM already, as were the roads that were previously in OSM as being under construction had already been converted to active roads by someone else already.

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The access roads all have shared legal cycling on the pavement that are a reasonable width, which is a great start. There is however only 2 sets of 6 spaces for parking bicycles at opposite ends of the store.

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When I visited, there had been so much demand that people were tying their bike against the sign telling them where the bike park was on the currently more obvious one to park at due to it being nearer the entrance.

2012-11-11 14.10.32

I’d have expected there to be more cycle parking especially when the car park was over flowing and encouraging more people to cycle would reduce the demands for their over full car park.

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Ipswich Waitrose/John Lewis at home

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Ipswich Waitrose/John Lewis at home 52.033974, 1.203990

Fix for being unable to connect to devices on Sky FTTC router

I’ve recently upgraded from Sky’s ADSL2+ product to their Fibre to the Cabinet (FTTC) internet package. This has a dramatically improved data speed from about 4Mb/sec downstream and 0.4-0.6 Mb/sec upstream, to just under 40 Mb/sec down and 10 Mb/sec upstream.

After the new router and BT Openreach modem had been installed I found that I couldn’t connect to devices that were connected to the Sky modem via ethernet, however connecting to them over wifi worked fine. Sky have setup their modems such that they can auto detect whether it’s a Fibre connection via a BT Openreach modem, or via ASDL and choose the right configuration.

I spent a week or so wondering what was going, and why I couldn’t connect to other devices on the local network even by ip address and port number, however if they had a service that had been setup through UPnP, then I could access them from  other external networks fine.

After some prodding around in the Sky router settings, I came across the page for the router mode http://192.168.0.1/sky_wan_setup.html:

I thought I’d take a further look and see how it affected things. Simply changing it to “WANoE only” mode for FTTC and ensuring that the BT OpenReach router was plugged into the correct ethernet port as shown in the picture under the setting fixed the issue.

 

It seems that in auto mode the firewall is setup for all ethernet ports rather than just the one that the Openreach modem is connected to, until you change to the specific setup.

Hopefully this info will help someone else if they come across the same issue.

Update 22/11/2012: I’ve found that the router can seeming forget the above setting, even so being set to it, thus forcing the setting again is needed. Hopefully Sky will resolve the issue at some point.

My Talk at State of the Map Scotland 2012

This year at State of the Map Scotland 2012 I spoke about the ITO Map tool to highlight the more detailed OpenStreetMap data available, which generally isn’t shown on maps. I’ve mentioned a few other services that I find interesting that maybe aren’t so well known. This blog post is a summary of that talk. You can click the map images to see a bigger image.

State of the Map Scotland

First up, was the building classifications and building addressing ITO Map layers. It’s really useful to have address information on buildings as then you can find the specific address rather than just the street.

A lot of the buildings in OpenStreetMap at the moment are simply marked as building=yes, (94% of buildings don’t specify the building type), however if the buildings are marked with what they are used for then more interesting maps showing the building classification can be created, and you have information that can be useful for planning things.

Not many people have come across a speed limit map, as it’s very rare that this information has been readily available until people started adding it to OpenStreetMap. The ITO Map layer is great for showing the current data, and also highlighting where more data is needed, particularly residential streets and smaller roads. Most major roads in the UK already have speed limit data.

Next up I showed the Highway lanes map, which gives an idea of how busy or wide a road is. This data can be used by navigation devices to give advice on where to change lane on approach to a junction if it is required for example. I’ve also had someone suggest that it could be used by pedestrian and cycle campaigners to show how easy it is to cross a road, especially when used in combination with a map showing the pavements/sidewalks.

Having the barriers in an area mapped can be useful in some cases as it can for example explain that two roads don’t join due to a wall being in the way, thus someone who is looking at the data remotely thinking there is a connectivity error won’t try and fix it.

Barrier information is used by routing engines, for example CycleStreets will avoid  taking you across some types of barrier.

Many of the ITO Map layers are specifically aimed at helping OpenStreetMap Mappers to improve the tagging. For example the Building entrance fixup map layer highlights maps that are based on an older style of tagging building entrances. There was a change from simply say that there was an entrance to being able to specify the type of entrance. It’s also useful when people add other info like whether that particular entrance to the building is wheelchair accessible, which can then lead to wheelchair specific routing, and routing to a suitable building entrance, rather than the opposite side of the building which might mean a 5 minute walk.

How good are you at counting? Having the number of steps in a staircase can mean that routing engines can avoid long sets of steps for example. This could be useful for elderly  people who struggle walking up or down large flights of steps. I’m not sure OSM has come up with a consensus yet as to which direction is up or down, so that the routing engine could for example say go down 10 steps, walk 500 metres turn right and up 50 steps.

CycleStreets take the view that dismounting and walking your bike up or down a few steps may be preferable to huge diversion.

Another useful map for walking campaigners is the map showing where the pavements/sidewalks are. This more detailed information of roads is probably not so useful in towns and cities, but more so in more rural areas, where pedestrians will often be expected to walk along side motor vehicles travelling at 40 or more miles per hour, which can be a pretty daunting experience. There can be parts of towns and cities where there are urban motorways where there is no pavement, or only one on one side of the road.

The OpenCycleMap has shown cycle parking in OpenStreetMap for many years now, however it doesn’t highlight the data in OSM that is lacking the capacity of each cycle parking place so that you know how big the cycle park is. The ITO Map of cycle parking specifically highlights data that could be improved with a red dot or area. Gregory Williams from Spokes East Kent has created a heat map of cycle parking.

Do you know where your nearest cash machine is and does it charge a fee?

OpenStreetMap has some data for the ATMs, however I’m sure there are more out there.

 

 

Is your local school mapped with buildings, and the schools grounds? ITO have a map for the schools.

Next up I showed some of the Vector Map District comparison maps.

I started off with the main roads VMD comparison highlighting that it can help with showing where there may be some differences that need fixed. Sometimes the Ordnance Survey data sources can be out of date, thus shouldn’t be copied without thinking. The example above highlights the new M74 extension, which opened since the OS VMD data was released. The map highlights a lot of discrepancies in the tertiary roads (what used to be commonly C numbered).

Similarly for the railways, OpenStreetMap is more precise, having more railway types defined, and also having new rail lines, such as the Shotts Line between Edinburgh and Glasgow now open.

Recently at work I’ve been looking at what interesting things that I can do with ITO Maps. It turns out that having a random colour based on the road number works well at showing where there road numbers changing where I wouldn’t expect them, or thin black lines showing where there is a missing road number (or ref in terms of OSM tagging). Someone has gone and fixed up most of the references that were missing in Central Scotland since the talk.

Similarly for railways you can easily see where they change name. In many cases the rail line doesn’t have a name.

Or how about random waterway names? Do some of the names change unexpecedly?

Finally I covered various questions and highlighting other things from the floor. ITO’s OSM Analysis tool is useful for spotting differences between OpenStreetMap and the Ordnance Survey’s OS Locator dataset. OSM Mapper is great for showing what has happened recently in an area, or highlighting the types of data that has been mapped in the area.

ITO are able to create new map layers to support the validation of OpenStreetMap data. The best ways to get in touch are to either add a message to the ITO Map Ideas wiki page where it can be publicly discussed, or to email support@itoworld.com.

Some other OSM tools that you may be interested in:

Who did it? which highlights recent changes that have been happening, and whether you should take a closer look based on some heuristics.

OSMstats shows charts about the OSM data and how it’s changing over time with daily updates.

Richard Mann has come up with cycle map style that is distinctly different from the original OpenCycleMap. It highlights main roads that have residential roads along them as they are likely to be”nicer” for cycling along compared to more rural main roads.

And finally you may not have yet come across the Live OSM Edits site. It can be quite addictive to sit and watch where there are edits happening in the world.