Friday, 31 May 2013

Encouraging and promoting looking away

No parking spaces left
Bicycles galore - a natural overspill bike park
Ever felt the guilt when giving a charity street collector a wide berth? Guilt rarely makes you do things, does it?

It's like that for the general UK populace when it comes to "promotional campaigns designed to encourage better travel behaviour" or to you and I : when people are asked to get out of their car and take up a sustainable travel choice, and particularly cycling. They give it a wide berth. They know they ought to, they might even like the idea of it, but - alas - [insert excuses here].
  • I am in a rush
  • I have no money for that
  • They can stick to their own kind
  • They are odd anyways
  • Someone else will do it
  • It's not my problem
  • I'll just pretend I didn't see them

Jesmond Park West
Car parking in cycle lane - not so cool on route to school

Monday, 20 May 2013

This is why we did it

On 19 May 2013 up to 4,000 people pedalled on the Scottish Parliament to ask for proper and continuous funding for proper and continuous cycling infrastructure. Here is why we did it.

Pop - pedal on parliament


You can see more photos or submit your own here

Tuesday, 14 May 2013

Bike Ding Dong

085 From a time when Sustrans nearly turned road-space campaigners. Sustrans original Bike Belles 2009 :
Add your name to our Motion for Women petition urging local and national governments to stop dragging their heels and to make it safer for more people, especially women, to cycle. Every name will count when we present our petition to Government in December. Add your name now, then please ask all the women in your life who deserve to be given the opportunity to cycle safely, to do the same. 
We, the undersigned, want to be able to choose to cycle for many more of our daily journeys. To do this we need to feel safe when we cycle. We demand that governments prioritise the creation of environments that encourage and support cycling, specifically this must include cycle paths separated from traffic, as a way of enabling many more women to travel by bike. I sign up to the Motion for Women petition. 
If you experience problems signing the petition, please email
Fast forward and compare that to this piffle on lipstick (which sustrans have now withdrawn, update 15 May 2013) which Helen Blackman kindly sums up for us here.

Here the previously published piffle (yesterday 14 May 2013).

 Cycling for Women

With high profile women such as Agyness Deyn, Lily Cole and Madonna taking to two wheels, it was surprising that Sustrans’ research found that 79% of women don’t cycle – but riding a bike is one of the easiest ways for women to keep fit.
Why use an exercise bike that’s chained to the floor? Cycling is kinder on your purse than gym membership and, unlike the aerobic class, can get you from A to B.

Cycling to work, to the shops, or with the kids to school is an ideal way to fit this healthy activity into your busy routine. Just 30 minutes of pedal pushing burns over 300 calories, firming your thighs and bottom, and even toning the tummy muscles.

What to wear

For the majority of short local cycling trips, there’s generally no need to wear special clothing.
Long skirts can be clipped with a clothes peg to keep them out of moving parts and to stop the wind blowing them around. Some bikes have dress guards on the rear to stop them from going into the wheel. For shorter skirts, wearing tights, leggings or shorts underneath will keep your modesty intact.
If you have long, wide-leg trousers, there are a number of ways to keep them away from the chain. Try cycle clips, elastic bands, Velcro ankle bands (slap-bands) or even legwarmers.
There’s no reason why you can’t cycle in heels, though if this doesn’t appeal, wear flats for the journey then slip back into your heels once you reach your destination.
Tips for keeping warm and dry:
  • A breathable waterproof jacket will keep out the rain. Waterproof trousers aren’t sexy, but they will keep you dry;
  • If it’s a cold day, wearing several light layers rather than one chunky item will trap warm air and keep you warmer;
  • Wear a good pair of gloves to stop your fingers freezing;
  • Scarves also help keep you warm but keep long scarves away from any moving parts. Earmuffs look great and keep your ears safe from wind-chill too.

Staying fresh

For short journeys it’s often quickest to cycle, allowing you to pace yourself so you won’t arrive at your destination feeling hot and sweaty. Using panniers rather than a rucksack will also help to stop you from getting a sweaty back.
On hot summer days, wear a vest or t-shirt under your clothes in case you get sweaty. You can remove it once you arrive at your destination, leaving your clothes clean and dry.
Journey times are more predictable when you travel by bike, so you’ll soon be able to gauge how long a journey will take. If you do want to raise your heart rate a little, take some cleansing wipes and deodorant with you for a quick freshen up.

Beauty tips

All that fresh air is good for your skin, so you’ll probably find that you arrive with a beautiful healthy glow. Use waterproof mascara in case it rains, or your eyes water, and take a powder compact for a quick refresher on arrival.
Helmet hair can be an issue: tie back long hair, secure it in a French plait or with a scarf under your helmet to keep it frizz free. Take a comb or brush with you to revive your style when you reach your destination.

Other tips for safe cycling

  • Get some training to improve your skills and boost your confidence. To find out about local courses, phone the National Cycle Training Helpline on 0844 736 8460/8461;
  • Keep your bike in good shape by carrying out regular checks;
  • Don’t cycle anywhere that you wouldn’t feel safe walking and steer away from dimly lit or secluded areas at night.
For more information and advice about cycling as a woman, download our Bike Belles booklet (pdf).


Sunday, 12 May 2013

Cycles knocking on politics door

No cycles politics
Spotted at Newcastle University
I am this string of letters here Dipl-Ing (TU) Katja Leyendecker EurIng CEng CWEM MCIWEM MSc. This such thing happens to you when you are a member of professional institution(s). My heart lies with CIWEM (The Chartered Institution of Water and Environmental Management) not just because I obtained through them my Chartership (the CEng thing). They are a genuinely good bunch. And I adore Nick Reeves, if you can see me blushing now. Yet, their local presence is thin, as they sit in Leeds, so in Newcastle I am more involved with ICE (Institution of Civil Engineers) on a regular basis. They have meetings called expert panels (yes!) and they are proud of them (but do little to facilitate them).

CIWEM have recently started thinking bike, and developed an Active Transport Policy Position Statement. It was about time. And awaken has the ICE too (was about time too) - but with nothing on their website to prove it yet (but trust me, we heard backroom rumblings). The cogs of that these machines turn slowly! I had been writing to the ICE's New Civil Engineer "letters & opinion" page for a while (years in fact, and on various matters), my latest contribution you can see here and a reckoning blogpost here. Some older stuff here.

The point now for these institutions is to decide where they want to take their message(s). I suggested they team up. I have also suggested that political lobbying is what's needed. The ICE, being a bit like Piglet, can not imagine that for themselves (yet). And CIWEM, possibly being more of an Eeyore type, is pondering the best angle.

Of course it is most important for institutions like these to stand up and be counted - and use their relative moral independence and freedom. As well as their expertise.

I will keep my fingers gingerly (for Piglet) and grudgingly (for Eeyore) crossed.

Sunday, 5 May 2013

Inside the mind of a highway robber

How to design for pavement cycling

Just check out the drawing's portrayal of the cyclist. I sidle with Prof Phil Goodwin and John Dales, page 38 of Get Britain Cycling
Designers who do not cycle, of which there are many of course,often do not appreciate the type of facilities that would be genuinely beneficial for cycling. Hence, for example, strips of coloured surfacing that hug the gutter and are poorly enforced and maintained.
followed by 
Designers who do cycle have often failed to appreciate the concerns and requirements of those who do not. They have therefore tended to design for the ‘vehicular cyclist’ (someone who is confident to claim their place in the middle of a lane.)
No-one wins under the current system. Especially the long-term conclusions drawn for our towns and cities look increasingly grim. Cars aren't here forever and for everyone or every journey. A complete rethink of space and who it's for is needed.