Thursday, October 15, 2015

cambridge goes west

so i've dipped my toe into cambridge (including the river) twice in 5 decades -

first time was traditional experience of being at Trinity College, living right in
the middle of it all surrounded by the full on college and university expeirences of social and academic life mingling via the rich, messy ways they do.

the second time has been very department-centric, in the computer lab just after (15 years ago) it moved to the newly occupied West Cambridge site.
At first, this was a great experience, still zooming back to town for events in college(s) and doing formal halls here there and everywhere, attending seminars on everything under the sun (and the far side of the universe). Excellent.

However, in the past few years, West cambridge has gotten more and more distant from town, and has become more and more of a hi-tech island, isolated from the University, indeed, from time to time, almost cut off by buidling work As I type, the normal cycle/footpath route into town is blocked (and has been for months) by annoying building work o nthe new physics of medicine building. Plans for new bus ways to Cambourne look all set to massacre the area again. The proposal to fill in the Paddock in front of the Vet School threatens us with a wind tunnel (without recourse to the nearby Whittle lab) and no greenery to stare at when lost in thought, and yet more glass/metal buildings, hey, we might as well be in downtown Cambridge Massachusetts, not rural Cambridgeshire, England. West Cambridge, 15 years in, still has zero shops, zero restaurants, zero social spaces worth talking about, zero pubs, zero Cambridge style. It is pretty terrible.

The treatment of the (I believe) 3000 or so people that work and study here is 2nd class - I do not hold out a lot of hope that future developments will prioritize people - they will be about "impressive" builds (stupidly, given we don't have the money to compete on that basis with the likes of Harvard or MIT), rather than nurturing the social, the heterogeneous, messy, cultural weirdness that makes Cambridge University what it is (or should I say was, as it is vanishing).

This is not a good thing. And I am not saying this coz I am unhappy here - its great. It is just not as great as it was in several ways.

Thursday, October 08, 2015

True Cycling Advice

1. turn left on red at 4-way (take a cue from the US) -
i) make sure no cyclists are trying to cut on your inside
ii) make sure no cars going across (it is their right of way)
(check there's no filter light for oncoming to turn right!)
iii) make sure no pedestrians, pets or children within 10 meters
iv) make sure no boy racer nutter is acccelerating behind you to turn left the nanosecond the lights go amber
v) just go.

2. going ahead a t a junction when light is red -
i) Make sure no pedex action
ii) make sure no trucks with extra wide loads crossing
iii) if green box, go to far edge
iv) if yellow box, go about 20% into it
v) when no traffic crossing, just go

3. there are laws, then there's reality:
90% of car drivers ignore green box (its same as yellow box for them)
50% of car drivers turning turning either way fail to signal

this doesn't justify anything, but sure makes you feel less bad:)

4. always have good visibility clothes,
and reasonable (not ultrabright) lights.

and make sure your brakes work.

and own the road space (lane) you are in,
don't hog the kerb, or the parked cars.

everything else on the bike is optional.

5. if you see bad car/bus/taxi driver behaviour
and have a camera (phone)
and feel like you want to take a picture to have evidence
to give (to police, or your mum or your pet cat)
check your escape routes, as some drivers become violent
when their evil is being outed.

cycle carefully.