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Monday, 12 May 2014
He never wants to stop at all!

He’s just having a good time. He’s having a ball. He’s like a rocket ship on his way to Mars.

I heard him coming up behind me and he announced his presence with a hoot of the horn (which is not a wise move because these are not always audible, especially on a windy day like this was). Prudently, I did manage to get out of his way moving to the edge of the road and pausing slightly.  Then after passing me he raced up the hill and at the next intersection announced his presence with a hoot. He then must have stopped somewhere shortly after that because I nearly caught up with him within five minutes but saw him racing off again, hooting at every bend and intersection. I know that this is how one uses the hooter in places like Italy (to let the others know you are there) but it’s the first time I have seen such persistent hooting on the country lanes of Kent and Surrey.

Posted by bigblue on 12/05/2014 at 05:00 PM
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Sunday, 11 May 2014
Do you really want to kill me?

On a blustery afternoon this week, the driver of this van almost took me out. 

I went back to the scene yesterday afternoon and took this photograph from a different angle to show the width of the road.


I also took some measurements.  I was cycling about 75 cm from the pavement. There is a metal drain in the road there which extends approximately 60 cm into the road. My bicycle handlebars are about 70 cm wide, which means that my right handlebar was about 110 cm from the pavement.  Using a still from the video, I can establish that the van was less than 150 cm from the pavement. The van was also coming closer to me as it overtook, so it would have passed me with less than 40 cm to spare. As I have stated above this was a blustery afternoon and I was struggling into a headwind.  I believe that the driver of van registration LG57WNJ was reckless and was driving dangerously.

Please see also the following video, a personal message from Quentin Field-Boden:

Update: (12/05/2014)
The original incident occurred at approximately 16:30, last Friday 9/05/2014.  I emailed Kent Police the following day, requesting an “allegation of bad driving” form. They replied that they don’t have such a thing, and requested me to call Kent police on 01622690690 quoting the assigned reference number 10-0913. This morning I did call them, and had a brief discussion. I gave her the details of the incident, the registration number of the vehicle (which she seemed to validate). I mentioned that I had not been injured, and that I had good video footage of the incident. She seemed interested and said she would pass on the details to the responsible unit, who would evaluate it and who may or may not get back to me. It looks like I will have to wait a few days and then follow up with them again.

Update (28/05/2014)
Last week I again phoned Kent Police to get an update on the case. When they phoned me back, the case officer said there was a note that I had “CCTV footage” of the incident. I confirmed this, and she asked me to send her the video files, which I did.

Today I have received a letter, dated 27/05/2014, with reference WD/070/14LAB as follows:

Dear xx

I write to provide you with an update on the allegation of poor driving standards that you recently reported.

Following a review of the CCTV footage it has been decided that there is not sufficient evidence which is likely to result in a successful prosecution. Accordingly no further action is being taken.

We have however written to the keeper of the vehicle to make them aware of the allegation, and to remind them of the increased risk to road safety when such offences are committed.

Thank you for taking the trouble to contact us.

Your sincerely
Case Review Officer

It seems that contravention of Highway Code #163 is not a serious issue for Kent Police.

Update (08/06/2014)
I was not satisfied with the above response, as I felt that Kent Police were shrugging me off.  I sent them the following email on 29/05/2014:

Dear xx

Thank-you for your letter dated 27 May 2014 and received today.

I note that in your letter you have referred to my allegation of “poor driving standards”, but I would like to clarify that I have actually alleged that the driver was driving dangerously, and illegally (in contravention of Highway Code 163). I believe my allegation was a more definite (and less ambiguous) allegation than the one you have ascribed to me.

In any event, at this stage could you please advise me of your appeals procedure so that I could appeal this decision. In case there is not option of an appeal at this stage, could you please send me your complaints procedure?

Kind regards,

I received the following reply later the same day:

Dear xx

Thank you for your email requesting to appeal the decision of ‘no further action’, i have forwarded your email on to the Case Review Team along with the file. The file will be reallocated to an officer for a second review, and they will contact you in due course with their decision.

Kind regards,
Traffic Caseworker
Traffic Summons Team
Central Process Unit
Strategic Criminal Justice Department
Central Investigation Command
Kent Police

Then on Friday 6 June 2014 I received the following letter from Kent Police.  It was dated 27 May 2014, which is clearly a mistake, as it was a response to my email on 29 May. The fact that they made this mistake doesn’t give me confidence that they treated my appeal with due care and attention.

Dear xx

I write in response to your request to appeal the decision of ‘no further action’ for the report of Allegation of bad driving, case file WD/070/14.

The file has been reopened and viewed by the Case Review Team, however it has been decided that on examination of the CCTV footage, that there is insufficient evidence which is likely to result in a successful prosecution. Therefore the decision of ‘no further action’ remains.

Regarding our complaints procedure you will need to write to the Traffic Summons Team at the address shown at the bottom of this letter outlining your concerns.

Thank you for taking the trouble to contact us.

Yours sincerely,
Case Review Officer

The letter is signed pp (per procurationem) by the same Caseworker who corresponded with me previously, and the Case Review Officer is not identified, nor are any contact details for her/him provided.

Posted by bigblue on 11/05/2014 at 09:01 AM
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Saturday, 10 May 2014
Boating on the River Avon


I took this photo outside Bath over the last weekend.

Posted by bigblue on 10/05/2014 at 07:34 AM
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Friday, 09 May 2014
Surrey Council have admitted lying

In a response to a freedom of information request, @SurreyCouncil have admitted that contrary to their claim that as part of Operation Horizon Barrow Green Road had been resurfaced, it was done as part of a different program, but contained in the Operation Horizon report “for information”.  I will leave it for others to judge whether it is a bare-faced lie (a lie of commission if you will) or “simply” a lie of omission, an attempt to mislead by providing incomplete information.

Operation Horizon came to my attention as the road surfacing programme that Surrey Council announced the launch of at least three times over an 18 month period.  Normally when a programme has been in operation for a year or more, you are no longer announcing that you are launching it, but you are providing progress updates.

Roads resurfaced under Operation Horizon are supposed to have a 10 year guarantee. (The conditions under which this guarantee will be honoured are not specified).  Now it turns out that Barrow Green Road in Oxted, although listed as part of Operation Horizon in the report, was funded by a different stream, and will only have a 2 year guarantee. 

Analysing the above video footage of Barrow Green Road, taken in May 2013, September 2013 and May 2014, I notice the following:

  1. The surface has deteriorated in the past 12 months.  This is despite the fact that the road was resurfaced in September 2013.
  2. It appears that some parts of the road have improved as a result of the September 2013 resurfacing,
  3. At the same time other parts of the road seem to have deteriorated as a direct result of the bad resurfacing work done in September 2013 (see the road I have labelled as Section 5 in the video).  Disclaimer: I am not an expert, but this section of the road was good in May 2013 and September 2013, and the damage visible in May 2014 appears to be the result of the resurfacing work that was done in September 2013 coming apart.

Other facts that are evident from the FOI request:

The FOI request asked:

in connection with the “Surrey Road Maintenance / Operation Horizon” report for Tandridge (available on your website - dated 17/02/2014, retrieved 13/04/2014). This report concerns infrastructure spending, and makes the following claim: “Savings in excess of £2 million have already been achieved through contract savings and value engineering, which is being reinvested into the reconstruction of more roads”.
Please provide a detailed explanation of this “saving”, how it was calculated, and why you have allocated/ascribed this saving to “Project Horizon” (rather than any other measure)?

The reply was:

There is an agreed mechanism, specifically in the Project Horizon contract with Kiermg, that specifies a starting discount on 12% on schemes, dependant on tonnages of material, value of scheme, use of Chertsey depot, and continuity of work.

So the “savings” are basically a bulk discount based on volumes and cost (i.e. based on increased expenditure) without any clearly defined improvements in quality control. Thus, the risk remains that Surrey Council (with their horrific record of maintaining the roads) continues to throw good money after bad.

The FOI request asked:

Further, according to this report, the 2000 metre section of Barrow Green Road, Oxted, between Oxted Road and Gordans (sic) Way (road ref C74) has been completed.

The reply was:

This road was actually under a Surface Treatment programme, a different funding stream from Project Horizon. The surface treatment schemes were in addition to the Project Horizon schemes, but contained in the report for information.

Right - your report contained misleading information, also known as a lie or deception.

The FOI request asked:

Date on which resurfacing work was completed?

The reply was:

11 September 2013

Given the poor state of the road today, this work has lasted less than 8 months!

The FOI request asked:

How long is the “Project Horizon” surfacing expected to last? i.e. when would you expect to redo the work or provide further upgrade to the road surface.

The Reply was:

The contractor gives a 10 year warranty on Project Horizon schemes. However, as Barrow Green Road is surface treatment scheme, the guarantee for materials and workmanship is 2 years.

No such distinction is made in your report on Project Horizon. As stated above you are wilfully misleading the public.

The FOI request asked:

What was the cost of resurfacing this stretch of road?

The Reply was:

The preparatory patching was £12,951.21, and the surface treatment was £34,902.44.

A bargain! Oh, except for the fact that the road surface is now worse than before.

The FOI request asked:

To date, how has Surrey Council inspected the work done, and on what dates has it done this?

The Reply was:

The scheme was inspected and “snagged” prior to payment.

I note that this reply is incomplete.

The FOI request asked:

What future inspections are planned and on what dates has Surrey Council scheduled inspection of the road condition and the works undertaken?

The Reply was:

The scheme will be reinspected on it’s 2 year anniversary to ensure that the condition is still good and within the 2 year guarantee period.

No need to wait two years - why not trundle along there now and see what a shoddy job was done?

The FOI request asked:

What event or events would invoke the “10 year guarantee”, in case the Project Horizon work proves to be substandard and needs to be redone.

The Reply was:

(this would not apply to Barrow Green Road as this is surface treatment) With regards to a Project Horizon scheme, if the road showed signs of potholing/failures, then the remedial work would be at the cost of the contractor.


The FOI request asked:

Are there any instances when Surrey Council will be liable for the costs of such rework? (For example, if it has provided an incorrect specification to the contractor as to the nature of the work required).

The Reply was:

If a third party excavated the road once the scheme had been completed, the contractor would not be liable for the cost of the repairs, or in extreme weather events.


The FOI request asked:

Finally, please provide me with (t)he specification from Surrey County Council to the contractor requesting that the work to C74 be carried out.

The Reply was:

This surface treatment scheme was on the SCC Asset Management plan, due to historical condition data. We do not have a specification request as such.

OK, “as such” -  but what specification do you have then? (Your answer gives the appearance of being deliberately evasive - in that someone must already be “in the know” to understand your reply). Compare this to your reply to the next question.

The FOI request asked:

The report/correspondence from the contractor confirming that the work has been carried out to the agreed specification/standard.

The Reply was:

That is in the form of a date and electronic signature on the Completion Certificate (attached).

Which can be viewed here.

The FOI request asked:

All inspection reports on the completed work, including any that may have been done during the period the work was being carried out.

The Reply was:

This would have to be provided by the contractor in the form of site check documentation.- have requested this from Kier.

It is interesting that the contractor appears to do the work, without a specification “as such”, and is responsible for inspecting the work themselves, and Surrey Council keep no copies of inspection reports. I wouldn’t want to make inferences with little information, and conclude that Surrey Council has a rather laxidaisical approach to managing its suppliers, but I don’t have a good feeling about this.

Link: FOI request to Surrey County Council concerning Operation Horizon and Barrow Green Road, Oxted.

Posted by bigblue on 09/05/2014 at 08:32 AM
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Flowers alongside the Bristol Bath cycle path.

Posted by bigblue on 09/05/2014 at 07:16 AM
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Thursday, 08 May 2014
Tips for the Council

According to @Strava, this is where @SurreyCouncil should be building the cycle lanes in and around Oxted. This is a heatmap, which shows where cyclists actually ride. Well, the experienced ones anyway.

Although one might not want to design one’s infrastructure only around those who are already cycling, the routes in red and blue on the map would serve well the target “8 to 80 year old” population (including schoolchildren, pensioners, disabled residents, etc) who would like to cycle today, but are unable to do so because of the absence of the neccessary infrastructure, and vision, from Surrey County Council.

Posted by bigblue on 08/05/2014 at 08:42 PM
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The River Avon


This photo of the river near Bristol, but also within the tidal zone, suggests (like yesterday’s one) that the tides scour the river bed. I believe the tidal surge on the river is 12 metres, so I regret not seeing it. Next time I might plan my times in order to witness the surge.

Posted by bigblue on 08/05/2014 at 07:16 AM
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Wednesday, 07 May 2014
Bath - Two Tunnels Cycle Way

On Sunday I rode the Two Tunnels Greenway shared use path, and here are some of the bits and bobs that I saw along the way.

Posted by bigblue on 07/05/2014 at 05:11 PM
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