How even the most expensive Brompton pays for itself

My Brompton, ready to go

“Oh, that’s a nice bike! How much was it?”

I’ve been asked this question on numerous occasions since I started to ride a Brompton two years ago.

I always feel queasy and try to dodge the question because most people would call me insane if they knew about the real price I paid for my bike.

“Well, it’s difficult to say. It really depends on the spec”, is my usual reply. Unfortunately, only very few people are satisfied with such a cagey answer. “You know, they start at about 700 Pounds”, is my second line of defense. People who don’t cycle themselves are usually taken by surprise. “Gosh, are they really so very expensive?!”

Well, I paid twice as much. I don’t think that’s too much money for a very good bicycle. Furthermore, if you look at the matter from a different perspective, the bike effectively comes for free. Even if you take the costs for accessories and maintenance into account.

Here’s the proof – my personal costs after 5000 miles and almost exactly two years of riding a Brompton in London:

In January 2010, I paid £1510 for my bike. I chose the ultralight weight version plus a Schmidt’s hub dynamo (An ordinary bike without the hub dynamo would have been around £500 cheaper). Later on I added a rack (£114 including Eazy Wheels).

Additionally, since January 2010 I’ve spent about £425 for accessories like a new helmet, the Brompton folding basket, different pedals, and so on.

Maintenance has cost about £135 in those two years (I cycled 5000 miles and service the bike myself.) On top of that, I estimate that I spend about £10 per month (or £240 in two years) on busses and the tube.

From London to Paris - on my Brompton!

If you add things up, my total costs of urban transportation in London in the last two years were £2310.

However, if I’d sell the bike tomorrow, I’d at least get £600 (probably more). Hence, the total costs of having ridden the bike for two years come down to £1720.

Without the Brompton, I would have spent at least £1000 per year on public transport – in the last two years riding the most expensive Brompton on sale saved me almost 300 Pounds.

This year, thanks to the brazen fare price increases of Transport for London, my savings will become much larger.

Of course, similar calculations apply for all other bikes as well. However, notice that I did not spend a penny for a lock because I take the bike everywhere with me and don’t have to worry about bike theft at all.

From now on, I might have a better answer to the question how much I paid for the Brompton: “Less than two annual travelcards for the tube.”

Update: Here’s an interesting article about the costs of car use: “Cars are cash sinks, point out bus company and bike orgs

“Take immediate action to improve the road layout” – an open letter by Deep Lee’s boyfriend

Kenji Hirasawa is the boyfriend of Deep Lee, who was killed by a lorry cycling at King’s Cross on 3rd October, 2011. Kenji, who gave a poignant interview to the “Camden New Journal”, wrote an open letter to Camden’s Culture & Environment Scrutiny Committee and gave me the permission to publish it on the blog.
Deep Lee's memorial bike at King's Cross

Here’s what Kenji’s wrote:

“My girlfriend Deep Lee (Min Joo Lee) was killed in a car accident at the junction of York Way and Gray’s Inn Road on 3rd of October, 2011.  I have submitted this email as I would like the council to consider this junction as extremely dangerous for cyclists and consequently needs some immediate improvements made to protect local residents to prevent a similar accident happening again.

The issue with the road where my girlfriend was killed by the lorry is that there is no cycle lane and the road is too narrow to share the space with both cars and cyclists. Therefore cyclists are forced to be extremely close to vehicles and it is difficult for them to be seen from large trucks.

My girlfriend was just in front of the truck and both her and the truck driver were waiting for the traffic signal to change.
The driver of the truck might not have been able to see her directly and he appeared not to have looked forward using
the mirror which is placed to see just in front of the car around bumper. Consequently Deep was run over.

I would like the Council to consider making the road safer and implementing changes such as providing cycle lanes like those used in the Netherlands or making selected roads safer for cyclists and informing cyclists to use these roads.

With the number of cyclists on the roads increasing all the time (and with the college of Central Saint Martins, where Deep attended) recently having moved to King’s Cross, I am keen to prevent similar accidents happening again in the future.
This, combined with an increased number of trucks being used to construct the Olympics sites and prepare London for the games makes the risk all the greater.

I would like to urge the council to take some immediate action to improve the road layout for cyclists before more accidents happen and more cyclists are killed.

Your sincerely,

Kenji Hirasawa”

The junction where Deep Lee died has been heavily criticised by road safety experts and local pedestrian and cycling campaigners for years.  A 2008 report commissioned by TfL came to the conclusion that the whole area was highly dangerous and should be re-designed.

However, TfL did not heed that advice. Smoothing the traffic flow for motorised vehicles was deemed more important than the life of cyclists.

In an appalling statement, this was blithely acknowledged by a representative of Transport for London admitted in a hearing at Camden Town hall, as the Camden New Journal reported:

A TfL representative insisted that introducing a cycle lane at the junction would “cause considerable queues”, stressing that there was “limited time” to conduct a review of the proposed changes for the junction because of a “commitment” to make them in time for the Olympic Games.

Early next year, TfL plans to make some changes at the junction. However, they do not address the fundamental issues at all. James Thomas, the maker of the memorial bike for Deep Lee, had a close look at the plans and concludes that there are

“no improvements in safety for cyclists.”

This is where Deep Lee died - TfL plans no changes to the junction (drawing by James Thomas)

In an email to TfL, James wrote:

” Your proposals at that junction in the direction [Deep Lee] was travelling, amount to a decision to repaint the existing cycling box!

This completely ignores the problem that there are two lanes of traffic, including many HGV vehicles, entering that junction from Grays Inn road. At that junction the road narrows, so vehicles jostle for position and they also turn through 45 degrees, with the added distraction of many people crossing the road, cyclist end up being crushed under the wheels of HGVs.

That is what happened to Deep Lee.

In 2012 and foreward there will be many more pedestrians crossing the street, more and more cyclists and HGVs servicing the Kings Cross site for another 5+ years.

I warn you that the likely consequence is that more cyclists will be killed. If that is the case and with TFL ignoring their own study into the junction from 3 years ago, which suggested that real safety improvements should be made, then I believe TFL and the mayor are being negligent in ignoring this issue and should be wary of the case of corporate manslaughter that has already been suggested.”

Let’s never forget her – the ghost bike for Deep Lee

The ghost bike for Deep Lee

Tonight at 6.30pm, about 60 people gathered on a narrow pedestrian island at King’s Cross, central London. Surrounded by horrific traffic – I was really afraid that somebody might get hit by a car – we all commemorated Deep Lee (Min Joo Lee), the 24 year old cyclist who died at this spot three weeks ago after she was hit by a lorry.

James Thomas, who build the bike (left) , and a good friend of Deep Lee (right)

Deep Lee’s best friend gave a very moving speech. It was a poignant and sad ceremony that gave me the shivers.  I hope that the bike will work as a reminder for all road users to respect each other and take care. It might also wake up Transport for London that a human-friendly redesign of the roads in the area is urgently needed.

Many thanks again to James Thomas, a cyclist working a few hundered yards away and to Beth (I don’t know her last name) James organised the bike and painted it. Beth, a designer, worked on the sign.

James explained his motivation in an interview with Will Perrin that is available here. I was happy that I could help with spreading the word. The whole initiative was organised informally by people over the internet who did not know each other. (Big society, here we come!) I’m really impressed by this amazing civic spirit.

On 3 November, there will be a memorial service at On 3 November, there will also memorial ceremony for her at the university. It starts at 6pm at Central Saint Martins College of Arts and Design ( Granary Building, 1 Granary Square London N1C 4AA)

Here’s a blog post by Mark on “I bike London” on the installation of the bikeMore of my photos from tonight are available here.

The “Camden New Journal” and the “Evening Standard” reported about the event. James produced this brief video about the work on the bike:

Corporate Manslaughter – is TfL a serial offender?

Unfortunately, this is how London streets looks only once a year. (Photo: ProfDEH via Wikipedia)

On Monday, 24 October the 14th London cyclist of the year was killed in traffic. A male rider was crushed by a tipper lorry in a roundabout near the Bow flyover in east London.

The media focuses on the fact that it was the first fatality on a so called “cycling superhighway”.

However, another fact is even more annoying and depressing.

Once again, there have been advance warnings to TfL about the the poor design of the junction where the crash happened.

As Wharf.co.uk reported yesterday:

“London Assembly Member John Biggs said he twice met with Transport for London officials over concerns with the Bow Flyover.

However, he was told there was no obvious solution which would not cause massive traffic delays. Mr Biggs said he had the same response in a written question to London Mayor Boris Johnson.”

(Diamond Geezer discusses the awful road layout at the Bow Flyover in detail here.)

This is at least the forth time this year that a London cyclist died on a road that was harshly criticised in advance. Continue reading “Corporate Manslaughter – is TfL a serial offender?”

A human friendly version of Blackfriars Bridge

Blackfriars Bridge has rightly become a symbol for car-centric planning in London and the utter disregard of Transport for London and Boris Johnson for the real needs of cyclists in London.

The redesign of the bridge and the planned increase of the speed limit for cars from 20 to 30 mph has been annoying cyclists for months. This comes despite the fact that two cyclists died on the Bridge in recent years and many more were injured by cars.

Human-friendly version of Blackfriars Bridge.

Two days before the next demonstration is going to happen – another “flashride” on 12 October, 6pmLondon Cycling Campaign has  revealed an alternative proposal for the road layout of the bridge.

From LCC’s press release:

Urban planner Richard Lewis, who led LCC’s design team, said, “Our layout is based on continental principles, which eliminate junction conflicts that put cyclists at risk.”

LCC chief executive Ashok Sinha said, “Our visionary design provides larger and better spaces for people on bikes and on foot, but also retains bus and vehicle lanes.

“We hope these graphics stimulate debate among cyclists, pedestrians and city planners, so together we can come up with a solution that’s fit for all Londoners.

“Our city deserves to be a global leader in sustainable transport and liveable public spaces, not an also-ran.”

From my point of view, LCC’s proposal appears very sensible. If you share this impression, please join the flash ride next Wednesday (riders meet outside Doggetts pub at 5.45pm).

 

Cyclist Killed at King’s Cross – A predictable death

Usually it’s great when you’re proven right. This time, however, it is utterly frustrating and appalling. In April I wrote a blog post about the dangers for cyclists around King’s Cross / St. Pancras and stated:

“It might be only a question of time until someone gets hit at King’s Cross / St. Pancras

On 3 October, unfortunately, this is precisely what happened. Around 11.40am Min Joo Lee, 24, was killed by a lorry on Pentonville Road at the junction with York Way. (The police report says it happened at the junction with Kings Cross road, but given this photo the cops got the location wrong.)

Few details are publicly known about the crash at the moment and we should not jump to conclusions. The police is looking for witnesses – if you saw something, please get in touch with the Road Death Investigation Unit at Alperton on 0208 998 5319.

Continue reading “Cyclist Killed at King’s Cross – A predictable death”

Death trap in Lambeth – TfL in full denial – help needed

This is a guest post by LindaH, who was the first one to write about the sad and fatal accicent in Lambeth last month here Johanna Bailey died. Although campaigners of  London Cycling Campaign identified the road where the accident happened as dangerous in 2008 and numerous cyclists on online forums share this view, Transfort for London (TfL) apparently does not see any need for action, as Linda reports. Let’s help to convince them. 

Help please!! Following the death of cyclist Johannah Bailey on 31 July, a meeting with TfL officials has been arranged to press for improved safety measures for cyclists in the area of Cycle Route 5 where she died. The meeting is scheduled for 12 September.

Johanna Bailey cycled this way – the spot where she dies comes after about 10 or 11 seconds, where the collision investigators’ markings are in the middle of the road. (video courtesy of “Origamist“)

TfL officials say their work is “data led” — essentially, not enough people have died or had life-changing injuries for them to take action. Having secured a meeting with them nonetheless, it is crucial that we present as much evidence as possible to show why changes here are essential. The police also have asked for copies of correspondence into safety issues here, which they will include in their collision investigation report. Police reports can mandate changes to areas deemed unsafe.

The accident site seen from the opposite direction, seconds 14 and 15. Again, the video was made by  “Origamist“.

We need to collect as much evidence as possible to strengthen our case. Have you – whether as a cyclist, driver or pedestrian — seen or experienced near misses in this area? Have you had or witnessed an accident which went unreported?

The area under discussion is the South Circular from the junction of Rudloe and Poynders Road SW4 through to the turnoff from Cavendish Road into Klea Avenue. It includes all the entry and exit points to the area: Cavendish, Hazelbourne, Englewood and Abbeville Roads, and Klea Ave as well as the housing estate entrance.

Continue reading “Death trap in Lambeth – TfL in full denial – help needed”

Bus kills cyclist on Holloway Road

Holloway Road, junction of Jackson Road: Paying tribute to Sam Harding.

Last night, I was at the spot where Sam Harding (25) died last Saturday. The Islington Cyclists Action Group, the local branch of the London Cycling Campaign paid tribute to the Sam.

It was completely heartbreaking and very unsetteling. Sam’s family and a lot of his friends showed up trying to cope with the unexpected loss of a loved one.

The Islington Tribune has published a long article about the gathering.

According to various press reports, Sam was cycling southbound on Holloway road. Right in front of Holloway Cycles  slightly north of the junction with Jackson street  a door of a parking car was opened (apparently by a child) and hit Sam. He came off and was immediately afterwards run over by  a TfL, as the Camden New Journal reports.

This is the second fatality in seven days. At least 12 cyclists died in the capital in traffic accidents in 2011, plus at least two more in just outside of the boundaries of Greater London  (details of all fatal crashes since 2006 here) ashes here: moves me especially because I live literally around the corner.

My personal lesson from this tragic incident is: Keep away from the door zone! I’m trying to pass parking car with enough distance so open doors don’t hit me.  I’m also trying to avoid busy roads like Holloway road as much as possible. Most severe crashes involving cyclists happen there. Cycling on quieter roads is possible most of the time. Sometimes, this means taking a slightly routes and  it takes a few minutes more. However, less traffic mean fewer vehicles that can possibly kill you.

The big lesson for drivers is: Do a shoulder check before getting off a car. And please, please, put the child safety lock in action when you’re driving around with kids.

The police is still looking for witnesses of the crash. Please  call the Road Death Investigation Unit at Alperton (0208 998 5319). The police wants to talk to passengers who were on the 153 bus involved in the collision.

Rest in peace, Sam.

And take care, guys!

Cyclists’ death trap on cycle lane in Lambeth?

I think a comment LindaH wrote in another post deserves more publicity. She’s describing a severe crash  on Cavendish Road in Lambeth on Sunday, 31 July around 11am. Apparently, this accident has not been reported yet. At least, neither Linda nor me were able to find additional information about the crash. (In the meantime, the Evening Standard published a brief story about the accident.)

Update: Sadly, according to this report, the crash was fatal. A female cyclist – later named as  Johannah Bailey, 49  was killed by a van. It raises the number of cyclists killed in Greater London this year to twelve, at least two more died just outside of the M25 (details about all crashes are available here)

The Met Police is still looking for witnesses of the collusion, as Detective Sergeant Philip Hames from the Road Death Investigation Unit at Hampton Traffic Garage stresses in a comment on this blog:

I would encourage anybody who has not yet given a statement to contact myself DS Phil Hames or DC Rob Hill on 020 8247 6985 or phil.hames@met.police.uk.

So please, please – if anyone saw something and did not already talk to police, get in touch with them.

Philip Hames also writes that  the Traffic Management Unit from Merton Traffic Garage will be examining the junction and making suggestions regarding road safety to the local authority. This really sounds like encouraging news.

Update II: Following a discussion on Cycle Chat, a cyclist (“Origamist“) made two videos of the location where the crash apparently happend. From Nigels’ comment I glean that the cyclist was travelling southbound. Hence, this clip probably shows here way.

After about 10 or 11 seconds, you can spot the collision investigators’ marking in the middle of the road.

Here’s the scene seen from the opposite direction, the markings in the middle of the road can be seen at seconds 14 and 15.

A sad irony is that cycling campaigners identified the street where the accident happened as particularly dangerous three years ago:

An inspection ride that took place in 2008, attended by local London Cycling Campaign members, identified the section of London Cycle Network+ Route 5 (LCN+ 5) between Poynders Road and Abbeville Road as a major problem.

A full review “to determine how the junction should be redesigned” was recommended (CRISP, 24 June 2008).

LCC’s Mike Cavenett lives nearby: “This is a junction I avoid because it includes dangerous right turns in both directions. It’s long needed a major redesign to reduce danger for cyclists.”

In extremely poignant comments to this post, several eyewitness – Sara (here and here), Tania and Nigel – gave more details about what happened on Sunday.

Sara wrote:

This horrendous accident happened about 25 feet in front of my car and unfortunately the woman died instantly, although paramedics continued to work on her for 30 minutes. She was hit by a large white van just after the bend before Englewood Road which threw her up in the air and then ran over her – she didn’t stand a chance. Please please be careful cycling as what I witnessed will never leave me.

Tania, who was behind the white van, wrote:

I just don’t understand what the white van was doing in the middle of the road; well it’s a bit of a blur. I don’t think he was speeding, we weren’t, and he couldn’t have been doing more than 30. It’s very confusing as to why he drove over the island. When we re-visited the scene yesterday I did notice when cars turned the corner they did drive over the white lines in the middle (island).

We were clueless on what to do – in shock, there was this lady and man, they totally took control of the situation before the medics arrived, my husband just ran up and down, at first she had a pulse and was breathing, which was a relief, but then, well…

My thoughts are with the driver, I know he might have been in the wrong, but as a driver, I know how easy it is to be distracted (no excuse though). To look at his face and see the horror of what he had just did will stay with me, his first reaction was to cover her modesty, by taking off his tshirt and putting it over her, I was touched by this. He looked sooo lost, tears come to my eyes just remembering his moments, some kind lady was sitting down with him and talking to him (I had to stay in my van as I have a 10month old baby).

This is what Linda wrote:

Yesterday morning, yet another cyclist was the victim of a horrific accident, this time on Cavendish Road SW4. The accident took place just after 11am on Sunday 31 July. I cycled by minutes later, as passersby were applying emergency chest compressions, and as ambulance and police crews arrived on the scene. I have not been able to find out further details, so do not know whether the woman cyclist survived. I do know, however, that the South Circular was closed off until at least mid-afternoon.

The accident happened on a particularly dangerous section of the South Circular for cyclists in Lambeth. It is just east of Clapham Common, where Cavendish Road curves and then turns into Poynders Road. Traffic moves through here often at ridiculous speed and, because of the turns, drivers are less likely to see cyclists than elsewhere.

I have pointed Ross Lydall, Chief News Correspondent with the Evening Standard and an avid cyclist himself, on Twitter towards this horrific accident. I hope the Standards picks it up (they did, albeit very briefly)

Since I live in North London, I’m not too familiar with the area and the road design.

However, what Linda writes really sounds hair raising:

Continue reading “Cyclists’ death trap on cycle lane in Lambeth?”