All these questions have come to mind personally. They are genuine questions seeking answers – few have replied. If you have any comment or answer on the following questions please contact me.

Why did Birmingham City Council putting statutory no-cycling signs on part of the National Cycle Network route 5?

to see one: click here (this was removed day after a 2/3 page article appeared in the Birmingham Mail appeared in December 2011 featuring a picture of me by the sign)

Why do different size bikes the same crank length?

On mass-produced adult bikes the cranks are the same length regardless of the size of person it is intended for. Surely they should be proportional to the frame size. There must be an optimim angle which the knee bends during pedalling – yet I see people with short legs whose knees almost reach their chest.

I could make a similar coment about adult bikes having the same wheel size so that there are compromises in designing frames to fit people who aren’t average size.What is wrong with wearing socks with sandals?

Why do people say “breathe in” when trying to squeeze through a gap?

Inflating the lungs make you bulkier!

Why do women complain about toilet seats being left up (men don’t complain about them being left down)?

Surely, in a mixed household, it might as well be left where it is and the next person moves it as they wish.

Why do doors to public toilet blocks often open inwards?

This means that you have to hold the handle that other’s have put their contaminated hands on. (Also – when washing your hands, where there is no plug or automatic tap, you often have to then turn the dirty tap knob).

What’s wrong with “teenage pregnancy”?

Teenagers are up to nineteen, an age when they are quite capable of being mothers.

Why are so many people in wheel-chairs obese?

Is it because lack of exercise causes weight gain or because being obese makes it difficult to walk?

Why do so many people wear spectacles that act as blinkers?

From time-to-time it seems to be fashionable to have spectacles that have wide side-arms. These make it impossible to see out of the side of the eye. I like to be able to see what’s happening to the side of me so insist on spectacles with narrow and high side-arms.

Where do they measure sky-scrapers from?

With the competition to have the highest sky-scraper it must be important to agree how they are measured – but In cities the original ground level must be open to doubt.

Does asking all these questions mean I’m a “grumpy-old-man”?
What’s the point of stretch limousines?

Wouldn’t starting with a production mini-bus/small coach be more practical – and the higher roof would also be better.

Why do TV prize quizzes give valuable prizes to people who have given the wrong answer?

There are many questions on TV where the answers appear obvious and viewers are invited to phone in on a premium rate line to win a valuable prize. I normally ignore these as the company makes more from the calls than the prize given.

One question asked what is the youngest age someone can get a licence to drive a car. The answer they wanted was 17 but the correct answer is 16 (for disabled drivers)

So someone who got it correct would have stood a good chance of winning but didn’t.

Another question asked what was the meaning of a road-centre double white line.

The answers were: no overtaking, no reversing, no parking.

They took “no overtaking” as the correct answer – but you can overtake as long as you don’t cross the line see H.C. rule 129

The most correct answer is “no parking” – so someone who got it correct stood a good chance of winning a car but didn’t.

(I sent a complaint to the watchdog, as had others, and they just said the “terms-and-conditions” said “the judges decision is final”).

Why do so many cyclists ride with their instep on the pedals?

This would be uncomfortable as the instep is soft compared with the balls of the feet; it also means they can’t flex the ankle to use the lower leg muscles.

Why do so many cyclists ride with the upper body bobbing up and down?

This seems to have no mechanical benefit and just wastes energy.

Why are there so many racecourses?

Racecourses are used for few days (Stratford 18, Aintree 7). This seems a wasteful use of all the land and resources. (There was news that two racecourses were closing in December 2012).

How much food do some people throw away?

Statistics have been widely quoted to say that the average household throws away 1/4 of the food it buys. My household throws awayvery little – just some fruit cores, peel, bones, outer leaves, cabbage/cauli/brocolli/ cores. We very rarely have food go off – we freeze it before it does, we don’t buy too much. Fruit & veg are OK after the best before date.

Why are people interviewed complaining about the cold/price of heating often shown wearing light clothing and no hat?

We have the sitting room heated to 18C max and wear appropriate clothes.

People also expect offices to be heated to about 23C for shirt-sleeve comfort.

When shopping in very cold weather you need a warm coat but shops are over-heated.

Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled pepper.
Where’s the peck of pickled pepper that Peter Piper Picked?
Why are volume controls not a geometric progression instead of the usual linear progression?

The ear hears difference in volume in a logarithmic ratio but most volume controls increase the volume buy a certain amount for each increment. This means that the control is often too course at the quiet end but a considerable adjustment is necessary to make a significant difference at the loud end.

Why do most people eat a multi-course breakfast in the “wrong” order?

At breakfast in hotels I observe that most people eat the savoury after the sweet (cereal etc) but at other meals they eat the dessert after the savoury.

Why are many headboards so uncomfortable?

Given that most people sit up in bed headboards don’t seem to be designed to be comfortable to lean on: they are often too low, have vertical bars or a horizontal rail that digs in the back. I usually have to try to pad out those in hotel rooms with pillows: not always completely successfully.  (I made my own using hardboard, a sheet of foam. and covered it with the same material  as the curtains.

Why is it so difficult to find margarine?

(Margarine is defined as having over 80% fat). Almost all spreads are now lower than 80% fat. The main other ingredient is water: often over 40%. This water causes toast to go soggy and spits when frying; reduced fat also alters the fat/water balance in baking. Even Stork is now only 75% fat.

Why are so many factual TV programmes so fragmented?

There are many programmes (such as Helicopter Heroes, Heir Hunters, Traffic Cops, etc) that run several stories in parallel, pretending they occurred simultaneously. This leads to them flitting between stories, after a clip of one story they preview what is to follow in that story  After some clips of other stories they return to the first one with a résumé of what happened earlier etc.

After introduction, preview, review, and summary: one such programme had only 1/3 original material.

The acclaimed 2009 volcano programme had five changes of location in ten minutes. Even WatchDog has started doing it with the inserts of Rogue Traders. This leads to much time-wasting and makes it difficult to follow any one story.

Who don’t Birmingham City Council maintain roads in a state fit to be cycled on?

Birmingham council claim to be encouraging cycling as a way of reducing traffic but the state of the road surface must discourage cycling. I risk injury or damage and find the roads are so bad that I have to spend much time looking at the surface just in front of me rather than ahead at other traffic, I also have to swerve round potholes. When I do report a defect often nothing is done for many months (other than maybe mark it with paint), and if it is repaired it is badly done. By reporting potholes to the CTC fill that hole to forward to the council there is an independent record that they know about it so in the event of an accident it’s more difficult for them to deny liability.

(The above was written in 2009 before the bad winter gave councils an excuse for pot-holes. I’d been telling them for years that neglecting the surface would lead to cracking and ingress of water which would cause damage in frosty weather. I reported several such roads that I predicted would break-up in winter if they weren’t maintained). 

Lack of preventative paintenance has lead to extra expenditure doing repairs and caused untold damage to vehicles.

Why didn’t Birmingham City Council act on my warnings about dangerous trees?

Near where I live there are many elderly willow trees on Council land. Over the years branches have fallen off them. In Februrary 2008 a large branch fell and blocked our road; residents moved it aside. In June I e-mailed the council about my concerns, suggesting preventative action.

Twice in July 2008 large branches came down: one blocking a main-road footpath and one almost blocking part of the National Cycle Network. I told the council about these events and someone came and cleared the paths. I am waiting for preventative action to be taken.

April 2010 – still waiting. More tree branches come down in 2009 (but caused no obstruction or damage), other large ones are in danger of falling onto the Rea Valley path.

(Birmingham were fined £150,000 after two people were killed by a dangerous tree)

Twice in June 2010 trees have come down and caused disruption –  one almost blocked the national cycle network south of Fordhouse Lane one fell outside our house completely blocking Hazelwell Crescent. I’m now assured (September 2010) that something is to be done. )

Why the fuss about salt intake when only a minority need worry?

Many times I have seen and heard medical advice that people should reduce their salt intake. It is only those who have high blood pressure that need worry. I actually have slightly low blood pressure and eat little processed food so my salt intake is naturally low. Now that the processed food I do eat is reduced in salt I sometimes suffer from symptoms of salt deficiency (muscle cramps and headaches) particularly after sweating during exercising in warm conditions.

Why do petrol stations ban the use of mobile phones?

There is no incontroversial evidence that a mobile phone has ever caused a petrol station fire anywhere in the world. It is difficult to understand how sufficient spark could be produced by a mobile phone but not by switching on something electrical in a car. Even if a spark was produced it is unlikely that a phone in use will be in petrol vapour of the correct concentration to ignite. Static discharge between other objects, including the person, (which happened to be in the vicinity of the phone) is the most likely initiator of the fires reported.

The experts on Mythbusters on Discovery Channel couldn’t ignite petrol with a mobile phone, even doing everything they could to optimise the conditions.

Why are breakfast cereals, and many other products, so sweet?

You can add sugar but not take it out!

Why do people who cycle on the pavement expect pedestrians to give way to them?

My wife stepped out of a shop doorway and just avoided a collision with a youth speeding on a cycle.

(I confess that I do occasionally ride on a pavement for a short distance but am very careful to give way to pedestrians: I could argue that I am wider and more difficult to pass when I’m pushing my bike).

Why do pedestrians walk on the cyclist’s side of a divided pavement or on cycle-only paths?

They seem to ignore the signs. To cycle onto the pedestrian’s part to get round them would be illegal.

Why are nearly all two slice toasters twin slot?

Each slot is short so I can’t get in a long piece of bread or 3 halves of roll etc. Also they have the complication of an extra middle element.

Why are corded jug kettle so rare?

Cordless kettles have to be put down in the correct place on the base. Our corded kettle can reach the tap when plugged in but the lead has been made not long enough to reach water in the sink; it is also on a spring so it is kept safely away – so the kettle can be kept plugged in and put down anywhere on the work-surface.

New Highway Code  (2007)

Who thought that changing the original original draft of the new Highway Code which went to public consultation from “Use cycle routes where practicable” to “Use cycle routes … wherever possible,”  was better for cyclists? (This was after a campaign form cyclists saying that we shouldn’t be urged to use cycle routes as many of them are unsuitable). This new wording ment you must use a cycle route unless it is impossible to do so. 

After a furore from cyclists it was hastily changed to “Use cycle routes … unless at the time it is unsafe to do so. Use of these facilities is not compulsory…”; which is better.

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