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Virtual Commute

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   My daily cycle commute is shown by the black line. It is a little over 5 miles (4
   miles along the Bath-Bristol cyclepath) and takes 20-25 minutes. Though the
   cyclepath has its faults (some of which I'll point out), it's generally a pleasant
   and it certainly beats the alternative of A4174 - A4.
      Image produced from the Ordnance Survey Get-a-map service. Image
   reproduced with kind permission of Ordnance Survey and Ordnance Survey of
  Northern Ireland.

  I have to turn right onto the busy A420.
  This is a lot easier during the school
  holidays, when I don't have to contend
  with the extra motor traffic of the school

  This is what I'm turning into. The cars
  are queueing at 3-way traffic lights.
  Invariably I can only turn when they're

  After the lights I approach the Ring
  Road crossing. This is a very busy

  ... made much more difficult and
  dangerous by the bushes that some
  bright spark thought to plant on the
  approach, restricting views of traffic
  from the right. The alternatives are
  subways on either side - a great way to
  make the journey longer and maybe
  pick up a puncture.

  After the roundabout, I ride along
  Warmley High Street. It's slightly uphill,
  but with a clear road I'll do 26mph+
  along here. Usually cars get in the way
  and I'm lucky to do 20mph.

  I turn right onto the cyclepath at this
  toucan crossing, where the path
  crosses Warmley High Street. This is
  the one place where I'll jump a red light
  - I've suggested green filter arrows for
  cyclists, but the council wasn't

  There used to be barriers like this at all
  the major cyclepath access points.
  They were there to keep motorcyclists
  out, but caused much more
  inconvenience to legitimate users.
  Thankfully most, including this one,
  were removed towardsthe end of 2001.

  Cyclepath art. This sculpture is also a
  drinking fountain for filling bottles. It's a
  bit too close to home to be much use to
  me, but it marks the halfway point of the
  cyclepath and is a great idea.

  Approaching Victoria Road, and you
  might just make out another barrier
  coming up in the centre of the picture.
  This one is still there, forcing me to

  ... then another one on the other side of
  the road. I don't know how the guy I
  sometimes see on a handcranked
  recumbent trike manages. (Actually
  there are radar gates here for disabled
  access, but they're often chained shut.)

  The cyclepath runs along an old railway
  route. Part of the railway has been
  rebuilt by local steam enthusiasts and
  runs alongside the path. It starts just
  under this bridge.

  The path narrows dangerously for a
  couple of hundred yards when the
  railway starts. This section is also
  particularly bad for broken glass, with
  kids dropping bottles from the bridges.

  Speed bumps ahead. The path bisects
  a housing estate with 2 schools on the
  left. There's a crossing point here,
  heavily used by children on their way
  to school. Bollards were installed here
  on 9 October 2001, just to make life
  more interesting.
Bollards and dog.
  The bollards, complete with a traffic
  cone on the left (because the
  contractors damaged the path surface)
  and a loose dog on the right. Loose
  dogs represent the greatest hazard on
  the cyclepath for cyclists.

  When I reach Bitton Railway Yard, I
  have to cross the railway. The path
  used to have "Cyclists Dismount"
  painted on it (the resort of a local
  authority that can't be bothered to build
  or maintain a section of path properly),
  but it's worn away and I always ignored
  it anyway.

  I have to turn at a right angle on each
  side of the railway. The gates are a
  little over 3' wide. It's an interesting
  challenge on a recumbent where the
  front wheel (and hence the steering) is
  2' behind the bottom bracket, but I've
  got pretty good at it.

  Bitton Station car park, and the fourth of
  5 barriers on my commute has
  thankfully now been removed.

  As has this one, rejoining the cyclepath
  on the other side of the car park. Soon
  after this the local authority changes
  from South Gloucestershire to Bath &
  North East Somerset. The path is
  much better maintained from here on
  (the vegetation gets cut and the leaves
  swept regularly).

  This section was closed for 5 days at
  the beginning of the 2001 foot & mouth
  outbreak. When it was reopened, extra
  signs were posted asking people to
  keep to the tarmac and keep all dogs
  on leads. With their usual routes
  closed, people came from miles around
  to ignore the signs and let their dogs
  run free.

  This bit's along an embankment and is
  pretty exposed once the trees run out.
  The prevailing wind is from the right.

  Over the River Avon. On really windy
  days (maybe 2 or 3 times a year) I
  might have to get off and push across
  this bridge.

  The fields on either side are above the
  level of the path. There's a hump ahead
  to allow tractors and livestock to pass
  between them. Because there's a slight
  gradient, after heavy rain a deep puddle
  builds up on the far side of this hump.

  Like this one, in winter 2000/2001. This
  puddle came up to the bottom bracket
  on my mountain bike, making it 11"
  deep. The puddle lasted up to 2 weeks
  at a time and reappeared several times.

  The same puddle from the other end.
  At my suggestion the council laid a
  pipe under the hump at one side during
  June 2000, to drain the water. I
  suspected they may have positioned it
  too high, which was confirmed on

  Leaving the path at Saltford I have to
  squeeze through the gap at the left of
  this gate. It's not usually a problem,
  unless some thoughtless dog walker
  has blocked it with his car.

  Onto Avon Lane. Ironically this downhill
  section is the slowest part of the ride.
  Because it's down a narrow, twisty lane,
  I want to make sure I can stop if I meet
  something coming the other way. Pity
  the few motorists I meet along here
  don't seem to understand the concept.

  Under the bridge and up the hill, which
  is a lot steeper than you can see from
  this picture.

  I turn into the car park...

  ... and lock my bike up, out of view of
  the road and under the watchful eye of
  the office CCTV.

  Then sling the cover over it. I used to
  have to clean and relube my mountain
  bike chain 2 or 3 times a week in the
  winter. Then I bought the cover (5 from
  Argos) and this immediately dropped to
  once every 2 or 3 weeks.

  The view from my office window.

  This page was inspired by Simon Mason's
  Virtual Commute

Nigel Jones' Bath-Bristol pictures

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