Archive for the ‘Transport’ category

New TGV service to Barcelona

February 19th, 2014

It’s long been possible to get from London to Barcelona by train. We’ve already written about the well-established option of getting a Eurostar to Paris, then a sleeper train from Paris to Barcelona.

But now there’s a second, quicker option for that London-Barcelona journey: a high-speed daytime service. As rail blogger The Man in Seat 61 explains, there is now a train service going from Paris Gare de Lyon to Barcelona at speeds of up to 199mph. This means you can do the Paris-Barcelona leg of your journey in about 6 hours 25 minutes. That’s faster than the sleeper, which takes nearly 12 hours, and it will probably be cheaper too. (Sleeper prices tend to reflect the fact that you’re getting a bed for the night as part of the deal.)

Booking London-Barcelona

The actual train options for the London-Barcelona journey are pretty limited: a Eurostar to Paris, then from Paris to Barcelona it’s either the overnight sleeper or the daytime TGV. But there is a fairly confusing set of options when it comes to deciding which company to use for your booking.

A year ago I wrote a blog post describing all the options for booking your London-Barcelona trains. I said that Loco2 was my favourite option – and it still is. Loco2 allows you to book a journey starting with the UK station of your choice. My partner has just booked an Oxford-Barcelona journey, and we could just as easily have booked Cardiff-Dublin or Birmingham-Brussels. The journey will obviously still be in several stages (London-Paris, then Paris-Barcelona, plus your initial journey to London) but you can book it as a whole rather than using two or three separate websites.

I wrote last year that anxious travellers might prefer to book their journey stages separately in order to allow lots of time for changes, but this is no longer necessary – Loco2 allows you to specify the changeover time required. (Click on the button that says “Add via/stopover”.) loco2 screenshot

Prices for the Paris-Barcelona TGV start at €59 one way, but as ever the cheaper tickets sell out quickly and of course you have to add the cost of the Eurostar on to that. Realistically you can expect to spend around £200 per person for a London-Barcelona return.

This service only started running in December 2013, so it’s early days. But I’m looking forward to trying this new option for reaching Spain by train and I’ll report back after my first journey.

Why is eBay making life easy for bike thieves?

February 12th, 2014
Photograph by Matthew McVickar showing attempted theft of his bike.

Photograph by Matthew McVickar showing attempted theft of his bike using a car jack. Pic released under a Creative Commons licence.

Most cyclists know about bike marking: the police carry out free public sessions where they indelibly mark your bike with your postcode. You can then add your bike’s details, such as the frame number and model, to the National Cycle Database. This means that if it’s stolen, you can mark it as stolen on the database.

This all sounds good, but will it really help you get your stolen bike back? Most bike thieves are stealing to sell – and the internet is a great place to do it. Smart thieves will avoid adding too much identifying detail to their online seller listings, so they won’t list the frame number and they may even avoid giving the correct make and model.

But what if sellers had to give the frame number? It wouldn’t stamp out reselling of stolen bikes – but it would make online selling less convenient for thieves. That’s why cyclist Richard Biggs recently created a petition asking eBay, one of the world’s biggest online marketplaces, to make frame numbers mandatory for bike seller listings. The petition gained 5,989 supporters before closing. Then Richard came up against an unexpected problem – he couldn’t actually deliver the petition to anyone at eBay. This giant online marketplace is distinctly lacking in human beings to communicate with. After several “return to sender” responses he did a bit of digging and found personal contact details for John Donahoe, the CEO of eBay.

The response? Making frame numbers mandatory in bike listings would be “too difficult”. If you know a tiny bit about web development, you’ll know that adding an extra field to a seller’s listings is actually quite easy. In fact, eBay already makes it compulsory for car sellers to add registration numbers to their listings.

Maybe it’s time for more cyclists to get in touch with eBay to express their wish for this very minor change. The postal address for eBay UK is:

eBay UK Ltd, Complaints Department
PO Box 659, Richmond-upon-Thames

They’re on Twitter too, as @eBay – but they never seem to respond to any attempt to contact them on there.

If more cyclists get in touch, perhaps we can persuade eBay to change its policy and stop making life so easy for bike thieves.

Witney Oxford Transport Launch

January 13th, 2014

Witney Oxford Transport Launch – A solution to congestion on the A40.

7pm Wednesday 15th January, Methodist Church, High Street, Witney.


Barn dance in support of community path

January 10th, 2014

There will be a barn dance at Eynsham Village Hall on 1st February to raise money for a much-wanted community path. The planned B4044 Eynsham-Farmoor-Botley Community Path would provide a safe, off-road alternative to the busy B4044 for walkers and cyclists. Lots of money has already been raised and last year’s barn dance, also in aid of the proposed path, sold out early – so book your ticket now!

The event will feature the Mouse & Trousers Ceilidh Band, a raffle and a bar.

Tickets cost £10 adult, £6 child, and are available from the following places:

  • Eynsham DIY
  • Farmoor Stores
  • Aloha Cafe, Botley
  • Cumnor Newsagents


Are Home to School transport proposals unsustainable? what you can do

January 6th, 2014

Oxfordshire County Council (OCC) is consulting on new Home to School Transport Proposals that aim to remove many school bus routes. OCC plans to drop support, presuming that bus routes will be replaced with less efficient, more congesting private motorized transport.

This could lead to increased congestion and emissions across the county, as many more car miles are generated on the school run every day. Campaigners at the Oxon School Bus Action Group have also identified some of the more damaging aspects of these proposals. Environmental impacts through increased emissions and congestion are not even mentioned in the Draft Service and Community Impact Assessment that OCC have provided for these proposals, but it’s clear there’s likely to be serious environmental impacts from these proposals.

The real irony is that OCC is a member of the Oxfordshire Environment Partnership, which has committed to a 3% year-on-year reduction in carbon emissions. But local academic Professor Angus Wilkinson suggests that:

… [A simple estimate suggests that these Home to School Transport proposals could at a stroke lead to a 2.5–5.6% increase in emissions, compared to OCC’s total net emission in the 2010/11 base year.

If this is true, then at a stroke, the county council are proposing to ruin their own commitments to a sustainable future.

So what can you do? Here’s a few things:

At a time when the county is once again facing ruinous floods, an indirect result of climate change; and when many Oxfordshire towns are already congested or even ruined by excess private transport: these proposals seem to be the exact opposite of anything that the council should be suggesting. So whatever you can do to help out will be appreciated!

Bike marking at Witney police station today, 2-4pm

August 3rd, 2013

If you’re interested in security-marking your bicycle, to help track it down in case of theft, Witney police station are running a marking scheme today (Saturday), 2–4pm. Sorry for the last-minute notification, but we’ve only just spotted the event ourselves!

But it’s worth noting that, if you’re cycling around town anyway, Witney Bike User Group is meeting at Cogges from 1pm. Come along for coffee, cake and maybe a ride!

Come and ride your bike with us in Witney Carnival tomorrow

July 12th, 2013

Witney Carnival is tomorrow – and it looks like it’s going to be a beautiful day for it.

So do you want to join us as part of our bicycle-riding “float” in the procession? Anyone who can ride a bike is welcome, and we’ll be riding along with the children from the Witney Mountain Bike group.

The theme for this year’s carnival is “the history of Witney”, so if you want to dress up please do; if you have a vintage bike then that would be especially welcome! We’ll be meeting at the west of the Leys at 10.10am (near the toilets).

Not sure about riding with us? Come along for the carnival and the floats, and cheer us on! You’ll probably be able to spot us: we’ll be the ones on two wheels.

Ducklington Lane Consultation

July 10th, 2013


The consultation on the changes to the Ducklington Lane, Station Lane, Thorney Leys junction opened today. Links to the consultation and the documents can be found here.

Better provision is made for walking and cycling but it still falls short of providing bike access to Thorney Leys Business Park and the Station Lane Estate. These and other issues with the design can be discussed with the county council in the Methodist Church on the High Street at the following times:

  • Friday 12 July – 3pm to 7pm
  • Saturday 13 July – 10am to 5pm

Let us have your comments too.


Ducklington Lane Proposals, Methodist Church

July 10th, 2013

Have your say on Ducklington Lane transport proposals

People are being asked for their views on proposals to tackle congestion along the ‘Duckington Lane Corridor’.

The proposed improvements will be on display at the Wesley Room, The Methodist Church, High Street, in Witney on:

  • Friday 12 July – 3pm to 7pm
  • Saturday 13 July – 10am to 5pm

County Councillor David Nimmo Smith, Oxfordshire County Council’s Cabinet member for transport, said: “The proposals are part of a wider vision for Witney which were approved by the county council’s Cabinet in March this year. I would urge anyone with an interest in the future of transport in their area to get along to one of the exhibitions or take a look online.”

It is hoped to tackle existing and future congestion problems, and to enhance pedestrian and cycle access, by:

  • Providing safer pedestrian crossing facilities on Ducklington Lane north and Station Lane;
  • Reducing congestion and delay by increasing the number of lanes at the junction approaches and through the corridor;
  • Improving wider traffic movements, including access to and from the A40, by optimising signal timings and road markings, making more efficient use of road space

Alternatively, you can see the plans 9am – 5pm from Monday 15 July until Friday 9 August 2013 at:

  • West Oxfordshire District Council Offices, Elmfield, New Yatt Road, Witney OX28 1PB
  • Witney Town Council, The Town Hall, Market Square, Witney, Oxon,OX28 6AG

Bike Week begins tomorrow!

June 14th, 2013

Are you free tomorrow? If so, you should come along to A Potter to the Pottery. Witney Bike Week kicks off at 10am with a ride for people of all skills and ages, out to Aston Pottery on quiet roads and bridlepaths. Meet at St Mary’s on Church Green for 10; back by 1pm.

» Read more: Bike Week begins tomorrow!

Bike Week 2013 begins and ends with Witney events

May 28th, 2013

It’s National Bike Week on 15-22 June. As always, Witney will be hosting a few events to mark the occasion.

It all begins with a gentle ride to Aston for tea and cake. If you fancy taking a trip out on bridle paths and quiet country lanes, to have cake in an idyllic Oxfordshire village, then you should come along and join other riders of any age and skill, leaving from St Mary’s on Church Green at 10am on Saturday 15 June. We’ll go at a leisurely pace, and hope to be back by 1pm.

At the other end of the week on Saturday 22 June, we’ll tour south and west Witney and imagine how it might become a cycletopia. Starting at 3pm at the Buttercross, we’ll looking at the existing bike infrastructure, then end up at a pub in town to discuss the improvements we’d like to see.

We’ll announce mid-week events here as and when they’re arranged. Don’t forget that there’s even more events planned in Oxford!

(Witney Bike Week events are organized by WitneyBUG, Sustainable Witney and Witney Mountain Bike Club)

Bike Week: Infrastructure Safari

May 28th, 2013

WitneyBUGLogoBadgeNewWP3pm Saturday 22nd June starting at the Buttercross. A geeky, slow ride looking at the cycle infrastructure of South and West Witney. Several stops along the way to make observations finishing in a hostelry to discuss improvements we’d like to see for bike users in Witney.

Route here…

(Organized by WitneyBUG and Sustainable Witney)

A Potter to the Pottery, Bike Week

May 28th, 2013

Begin National Bike Week on Saturday 15 June with a gentle ride to Aston for tea and cake.

Start at 10am, at St Mary’s on Church Green; back by 1pm. Brigitte Hickman leads cyclists of any age and skill along bridle paths and quiet country lanes to an idyllic Oxfordshire village. All welcome!

(Organized by WitneyBUG, Sustainable Witney and Witney Mountain Bike Club)

Like a wheel within a wheel

May 1st, 2013

Dutch style roundabout test TfL

Bikes. Transport. Research. England. For the details check out the BBC report.

That’s bikes and transport. Not bikes and sport, or bikes and leisure, or bikes and recreation, or bikes and charity rides, but bikes with a place, and a space, in the transport network.

Just close your eyes for a moment and imagine sailing around Five Ways Roundabout in Witney, or anywhere else you might be trying to ride a bike, without having to mix with the cars, vans, busses, and lorries that are focussed on every other vehicle rather than you. Feeling relaxed? You can open them now.

What’s significant about this is that someone, somewhere, is taking responsibility for the safety of people on bikes. And it’s not just about bikes. Someone, somewhere, is also thinking about taking the stress out of driving around people on bikes.

Which is marvellous, because people can get on with riding their bikes without worrying about how dangerous it might be, or leave the house without worrying about crushing a loved one.

I wonder who’s responsible for the safety of people using bikes in Witney? They must be thrilled too.

Like a clock whose hands are sweeping
Past the minutes of its face
The modern era of the bike
Continues on apace
Like the circles that you find
Riding rings around your mind

Bums on saddles and feet on pavements

April 15th, 2013

Oxford cycling organisation Cyclox has organised a meeting exploring why so many people get in their cars for short journeys. What obstacles are there to getting more people using their legs?

Brookes University Research Fellow Dr Tim Jones will talk about a recent study, Understanding Walking and Cycling.

Head to St Michaels in the Northgate (Cornmarket Street entrance). Entry free, all welcome. Tea, soft drinks and possibly cake will be provided.