Saturday 17 October 2015

Good quality cycle-paths provide efficient cycling conditions from city to countryside and back again

In the last few months I've been busy with other work so have not had a chance to make so many updates on the blog as usual. However, we've still been cycling a lot. In this post you'll find videos showing efficient cycling routes from Assen out into the countryside

This video shows part of one of the routes which I often ride, starting from home and going out in the countryside before returning home. I work from home so 20 km or so ridden like this and returning home make up my "commute".

This year, the Dutch recumbent bicycle club (website here) has existed for 30 years. To celebrate, a wreath was sent around the country to all 20 local clubs as a relay. I took part on behalf of our local club (the Huneliggers), first collecting the wreath from Henk and Monique of Nazca Ligfietsen on the 10th of September and then organizing a ride to deliver it to Groningen on the 20th of September (read that story here).

What these videos demonstrate
This is what I rode in those videos. Naturally, all my spares
come from, our business.
  1. From a Dutch home in the suburbs it's necessary to ride only a short distance to reach quality cycling infrastructure which leads to everywhere in the whole country.
  2. Cycling infrastructure which allows cyclists to ride continuously and gives them shorter routes and fewer traffic lights to stop at than is the case when driving leads to cycling being very efficient and attractive.
  3. Being kept apart from motor vehicles improves safety and makes cycling far more attractive.
  4. This good quality infrastructure stretches across the country. It's not limited by city boundaries and routes are not limited - you can go anywhere. This is the grid which I've written about often.
  5. Recumbent bicycles (and particularly velomobiles) are so efficient that even a not really so strong guy like myself can cover 11.5 km in 18 minutes entirely under human power.
Most of our daily cycle journeys (shopping etc.) are made on conventional bikes, but we use exactly the same infrastructure and benefit in exactly the same way from the efficiency and safety of available routes. Everyone benefits in exactly the same way from good quality infrastructure.

Camera trouble
One of the things which has held back getting around to making videos and blogging is that I've had a lot of trouble with cameras. Both of the videos above not only demonstrate good cycling infrastructure, but they also demonstrate two different faulty cameras.

In the last year I've bought no fewer than three cameras which have developed a fault. I was particularly shocked by the attitude of FujiFilm (I wrote elsewhere about this) to reporting a fault with one of their cameras which managed only a few months of taking excellent still photos and video before going wrong. When I found that this wasn't a unique occurrence but due to a manufacturing / design error which seemingly affects all cameras of the same model, this only made things worse. You might expect that a major company would admit such a problem and act on it, but it turns out that FujiFilm's guarantee is meaningless. Instead of admitting that an identical problem reported by hundreds of customers might be something real which required them to do something, they seemingly have an organised procedure to blame each customer individually for causing the fault. We're left with an expensive door-stop.

I spent months trying to get FujiFilm to respond and got nowhere. This rather put me off major manufacturers so I next decided to buy an action camera from a Chinese company which had received good reviews. I picked the SJCAM SJ4000 because many people seemed to like it. It arrived on the afternoon of the 10th of September, I charged it immediately and the very first time it was used was to make the "Verzamelen..." video above. It's the longest video that the camera ever managed to make, but note that at the end of the video the pictures stand still. It had crashed. The user interface was frozen and it could only be reset by pulling out the battery. This was not an isolated instance. Over the next few days, the same thing happened sooner and sooner until it got to the point where I was lucky to get more than 30 seconds of moving images before needing to remove the battery to reset the camera. Not actually useful at all, so this was sent back a couple of weeks ago. I've yet to receive any acknowledgement from the company that supplied it that they've received it and nor have I received a refund.

I then ordered a competing model, the Denver 8030W from a Dutch toy shop which happened to have the best price. At the time of writing this, I've only owned this particular camera for two days but unfortunately, as you can see from the first video above, this camera doesn't record any sound to go with the video. I've sent email to the company but they've not yet replied. I'm still hopeful of resolving this. They've not had long and at least I can take this back to a local shop.

In the last year I've paid for three cameras from three different manufacturers and none of them work correctly. What on earth happened to quality control and customer service ?