Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Get Your Hands Off OUR Cyclepath

It seems to be a cycling hot potato at the moment, with the All Party Parliamentary Cycling Group starting their ‘Get Britain Cycling’ inquiry the discussion of cycling provision in this country.

There seems to be some really polarised views amongst two distinct ‘camps’ (I am purposely using camp as it makes me think of a John Inman style bitch fight) which are at loggerheads with what they would like to see happen.

There have been many bloggers out there with far more knowledge than I possess at present who have done a very good job of documenting pros and cons of each.

Peter Walker from the Guardian wrote this piece and he is due to give evidence to the inquiry also http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2013/jan/20/cycling-in-britain-government-inquiry?commentpage=4

The things that struck me most from his report was that 2.2% of people use a bike.  

Wow, really, that low? That fact made me feel quite sad. Ask around. Go on, ask the person sat next to you if they can ride a bike, chances are they will say ‘Yes, but I've not cycled since I was a child’.

So most of us can ride, but only a very small number of us are choosing to.

2% of children ride to school compared to 40% in Denmark and 20% in Sweden.

I actually thought this was about right. At my sons school only 1 family cycle. I am sad to say it isn't us. We used to, but there is no safe place for us to leave his bike. There is also a large main arterial road which we can use the pavement albeit illegal (and I defy any police officer to suggest my son should ride on the road) but it is not ideal.  However I am hopeful this will change, I am fighting for a cycle path and a bike pod at the school.

Out of that tiny 2.2% of people who use their bike a massive ¾ are men.  Now Peter Walker got a bit of stick in the comments section for suggesting  “a statistic that speaks of a macho, gung-ho cycling culture where riders are expected to mix it with speeding cars, buses and trucks.

couldn't agree more, but I took to twitter to ask my friends why they did not cycle.  Oddly (or not) I got the same response from both my cycling friends and my non cycling friends.  All the people who replied were female.

“sore bottom and the traffic, I have a bike but only ride@centerparcs..tried around Sale, crazy motorists made me sad n fearful..”

I dont cycle to work cos I like being this shape with no broken mangled bits. And alive.

 I do drive but not into work. Too much traffic to consider cycling, plus only one shower at work, crap bike parking...

“I have hardly cycled since living in London. As with xxx roads and traffic here just too much to cope with.

“Too many taxis, buses, other random cyclists. Assault on the brain trying to navigate.

What I was most surprised by and then really quite cross about was some of these people had done IRONMAN! 

These aren't inexperienced women on an old bike dusted down after a lifetime in a shed. These are competent cyclists who are fit and can handle a bike.  Yet they are citing traffic as a reason for not cycling!


Can you see I am angry?

Many many people are asking for segregated bike lanes.  The CTC and many others have suggested that if we ask for segregation we will lose our right to the road?


Who will lose out? That tiny 2.2% of people (of which I am one)? Please?


Look at all the hundreds of cyclists using this main road. 

Oh wait hang on. There isn’t any. In fact I walk along this road every day. It is permanently gridlocked. I see one maybe two cyclists. But look how wide it is and how much space the pavement takes up.

This is how it used to look
Washway Road, Brooklands, n.d

Can people not see?

We already do not have the freedom of the whole road network.

There is a complete de facto ban if 97.8% of people are too scared to cycle!

What about the rights of those people?

What about my son and his friends RIGHT to be able to get to school? 

What about YOUR kids? Your friends and neighbours who don't cycle?

What about the family who can't afford a car?

Should they just HTFU and get out there?

These people are the majority!

I am a club cyclist. I love a good 50-60 mile jaunt into deepest darkest Cheshire on a Sunday.  Is anyone seriously suggesting that by providing decent cycling provision in towns and cities I will somehow lose my right to my Sunday Club cycle run? Wake up!

And to suggest you wouldn't use a cyclepath if you are a ‘proper’ cyclist is nothing short of complete arrogance!!!

Holy shit…..its people using cyclepaths in club kit and PROPER ROAD BIKES!

I am trying to resist talking about the The Hierarchy of Provision, I refer you back to the earlier link to David Arditti’s Vole O'Speed Blog.

I work in Engineering. I understand Health and Safety. 

You cannot simply expect people to do as they are told and to behave. 

The same is true for motorists. There has to be good design to eliminate human error.  The construction sites I often work on, one of the biggest causes of fatalities is vehicle movement.

What has been done to prevent this? Better driver training.  Speed limits yes sure, but these were already being done before. 

Now we have strictly enforced physical separation from pedestrian traffic and when there is vehicle movement a banksman is provided to ensure it is done safely.  

We don’t just assume Trev the lorry driver who has been driving safely his entire life will always get it right. We design out the chances that today Trev might get it wrong and squash someone.

I hope that the APPCG take note that we shouldn't be just listening to cyclists. The people we should also be listening to are the non cyclists. We shouldn't be fighting for the 2.2%. We should be fighting for everyone's right to be able to cycle without fear.

Tuesday, 8 January 2013

More of the Great Trouser Debacle

After my post about trying to find 'non sporty spice unlycra cycle clothing' that I could cycle in for more than a few miles, went a little ballistic, I have been trying out one or two high street offerings.

After a recommendation from a twitter friend Ella Wrediddlefors (@runpaintrunrun) I tried the Marks and Spencer Jeggings.

See a skinny person slinking about in them below, but turn the sound down, or you may think you are on hold to your bank or in a lift.

Note the person in the video is skinny. I am not. But being skinny does not have to be a prerequisite for skinny jeans or jeggings.  It is however a cardinal sin to have massive thighs in them. It gives you the aptly named carrot legs.

I have since taken them back and wired my teeth together.

Feeling fat and dejected, I stumbled across these in George. The Great Bum and Tum Jeans

Now most of you who cycle a lot wont need anything to give you a great bum or tum.  But the one thing that struck me is the high waist.  This has really helped with the cold bit of back that you get wearing normal jeans (as well as the added benefit of keeping the muffin top on check)

My only couple of dislikes are they are not available in different lengths yet so I will need to take them to The Zip Yard as they do a nice alteration where they keep the original hem. Also, they have a tendency to loose their shape somewhat. But so far so good.  Baby steps and all that.