Give it a Go Robert Penn on the London Cycle Map Best Cycling Streets
Love London, Love Cycling
Rapide frames in Gunmetal hese are seriously good-looking cycling glasses. When I slipped them out of their silky bag (which came inside a sleek, stiffer outer case), the excellent presentation was a sign of what was to come. The silvery dark grey Rapide frames (bestsellers at Optilabs) and premium Ultra 2000 tinted lenses glimmered with James Bond quality. Most importantly, the glasses function to a similarly impressive level. They fit my head beautifully, with wraparound arms, and render my visual field absolutely crystal clear. I hadn’t realized how impaired I’d been, even with my regular glasses. Optilabs use custom-designed software called Curve Technology that analyses each prescription in relation to the curvature of the chosen frame. By making small adjustments, the software ensures the best possible vision and eliminates the distortion you get with cheaper prescription glasses.
brown, yielding superb glare-free vision. They also have fantastic high definition and high contrast properties, and due to the polarized element will cut through glare – great for when the sun is reflecting off a wet road. As well as having 100% U.V. protection and superb impact resistance (giving excellent physical protection), the lenses are scratch resistant and water repellent. Amazingly, they will even react behind a car windscreen, making them suitable for drivers too. All these features make the Ultra 2000 lenses perfect for the changeable conditions that a cycle commuter encounters.
But it’s when out and about that the Ultra 2000 lenses really shine. They are equipped with variable tint technology that combines light-enhancing properties with horizontal polarization; in a nutshell, they give outstanding performance in both low light and bright sunshine.
The full range of Optilabs frames and lenses (including standard polarised, mirror finish and photochromic lens options) can be found on www.optilabs.com Prices for single vision prescription cycling glasses (frames and lenses) range from £165.95-£239.95. Ultra 2000 lenses are also available in non-prescription, bifocal and varifocal.
In their ‘low light’ state, the Ultra 2000 lenses have an olive green tint. This is designed for lighting conditions where normal lenses would struggle – perfect for cycling at dawn or dusk. As the light increases, the lenses darken to a deep
Are you on Facebook or Twitter? Optilabs have just launched their pages and as a special promotion they are offering £20 off orders placed before 31/08/12. Just follow Optilabs Ltd to qualify – it’s that easy! For more details visit www.optilabs.com/offers
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High quality prescription glasses with our unique curve technology, delivered direct to your door ● Our unique, custom-designed, ‘curve technology’ software analyses your prescription in relation to the curvature of your chosen frames, eliminating the distortion evident with cheaper prescription sunglasses ● Optilabs are one of the UK’s leading prescription sports eyewear specialists – we manufacture all lenses in our dedicated British lab ● A wide range of cycling and sports frames can be seen at www.optilabs.com. You can order online or call 020 8686 5708 ● Choose from a variety of lens options for increased performance – polarised lenses, for excellent glare protection and high definition contrast – or ‘photochromic’ lenses, which change from clear to dark, to match varying light conditions.
better cycling by definition www.optilabs.com
4 New Bike on the Block
Gareth Jenkins on the bicycle’s big brother
A poem by Claudine Toutoungi
5 Outrage at 0% fare rise for cyclists Why bicycles are the real deal
6 Give it a Go
Cycling newcomer Charlotte Tompkins on beating the bus to work
8 Ready to Ride
Our guide to making that first ride the first of many
10 The Best Cycling Streets in London Liz Hunter rides a route fit for a queen
14 The Peddler
Adam Copeland explores how cycling brings out the best in people
15 Why I support the London Cycle Map Campaign
Best-selling author Robert Penn on cycling in the capital as a visitor
Credits & Acknowledgements This issue of Cycle Lifestyle was made possible thanks to the generous help of: Adam Copeland, Charlotte Tompkins, Daniel James Paterson, Dave Amos and Morris Lautman at Barclays Print, Dom Tyerman, Elizabeth Hunter, Hannah Lewis, Gareth Jenkins, Jane Dent, Jon Haste (kolbillustration.com), Liz Harwood, Rebecca Watts, Robert Penn, Rose Stowell, Ted Brown, and The Bicycle Library (thebicyclelibrary.com).
ne of the things you really notice when cycling is how much more you tend to notice things when cycling! On a bike your surroundings light up, with details bursting out as though in slow motion. People, places, sounds and sights resonate: a child patting a dog on the pavement; the setting sun split like a yolk over St Paul’s; the smell of fresh paint on a garden fence; the shiny black and grey mosaic of the road ahead. With clear air and long days, summer is a great time to really notice the city as you cycle. You’ll find that you notice yourself more, too – your thoughts, sensations and feelings drifting through your consciousness, like clouds. If you’re having a bad day, you’ll find that noticing your worried feelings stops you from getting dragged down by them, and soon they drift away. Being on a bike makes troublesome emotions fade beneath your mind’s eye. Happiness flourishes in the space left behind. Cycling fosters a state of calm awareness that’s otherwise known as ‘mindfulness’. When you’re gently mindful of your inner and outer experience, you grow more lucid, creative, compassionate and open. In my new book, Einstein and the Art of Mindful Cycling (Leaping Hare Press), I show how bikes can bring out the best in people, helping us to think and act more like the great physicist Albert Einstein, who famously thought up his theory of relativity while cycling. This summer, if you want to get away from it all, you don’t need to go far. Just get on your bike, and give yourself some space.
Cover illustration by Hannah Lewis hannah-lewis.co.uk Published by oldspeak publishing. All prices correct at time of going to press. All content © Ben Irvine. For enquiries about advertising and submissions, contact Cycle Lifestyle on email@example.com or 07545 471 633
oldspeak publishing www.oldspeak.co.uk
New Bike column
on the Block
by Gareth Jenkins
"this hulking g r of metal betw eat piece e was terrifying en my legs a at the same ti nd exciting reinforced clothing, me" a cheap motorbike and a shiny
mpatient white van drivers, grumpy cabbies, blinkered lorry drivers and suicidal pedestrians – we share the road with them but not necessarily the same perspective.
Lord knows, we cyclists can stick up for ourselves, but if we ever needed help then it would come from our big brother, the motorcyclist. I have often stared, wide-eyed, at the respect that these motorised cycles command: other road users allow them their own space, they can go so fast, and – the one I’m really jealous of – they have really loud horns. The two-wheeler club is an exclusive one, and no four-wheeler will understand what it’s like until they trade in two of their wheels for some extra freedom. I once had a motorcyclist pull over to castigate a car driver who had driven inconsiderately in front of me when I was on my bike. He winked at me and then disappeared off into the distance. My Hero! It was then I realised that there was implicit respect between the two parties – a pact that was written in gear cog grease way back when the first cyclist whacked a steam engine on his bike, shook hands with the others, then sped off with misty goggles. I still regularly cycle to work, but while watching the box set of “Sons of Anarchy” (an American drama about a motorcycle gang) I decided to give the motorcycle a go. I wasn’t looking to replace my bike, just to give myself another option for avoiding the stress and expense of driving. Motorcycles are much more fuel-efficient than cars. One Compulsory Basic Test, a big insurance bill, some
helmet later, I was on the road. Unlike with cycling, you can’t get cracking straight away, that’s for sure! The change from my lovely lightweight alloy bicycle to this hulking great piece of metal between my legs was terrifying and exciting at the same time. Manoeuvrability was reduced but my uphill speed was definitely better! The way a motorbike is ridden is quite different to a bicycle. Where the left brake should be is the clutch lever, and below that is a pedal for the gears. The right brake lever is the front brake and a right pedal is the back brake. I can tell you that it’s not easy to get used to. Riding a motorcycle in London is a very interesting experience. I can feel the added respect that other vehicles offer me, and it makes me hopeful that one day cyclists will be treated the same way. I take great pleasure in ushering filtering bicycles through in my new big brother role. The motorcycle helmet, however, is really restrictive. You can’t hear things as clearly, and your line of vision is considerably reduced. This always has me pining for my old cycle helmet; to feel the wind in my hair, and to hear and face the city again up close. I’ve also found that even my majestic motorbike isn’t any quicker in London than the zippy little bikes which shoot past traffic and along cycle lanes. When I’ve ridden my motorbike to work, I’ve often seen a cycling friend of mine on the outskirts of town, and he’s always beaten me to the city. He’s pretty smug about it too – but maybe he’ll be grateful one day when he needs me to beep loudly at someone for him.
Junction by Claudine Toutoungi
You wore your fairy-wings all summer on your bike, believing take-off hovered round the corner. While me and eighteen other big kids swung off to weave round cones, you waited, poised for flight like Pegasus, expecting a gust of wind. Our instructor had a handlebar moustache, taught us to deal with junctions, look left, look right, indicate, memorise the markings on the road. A boy called David pulled your hair – you told me, when you met me after class, doing wheelies down by the den. I found his Raleigh, let out all the air then wanted you to test my knowledge of the highway, but you kept on about your dingo project – The dingo runs through flames not round a fire. I let you pump my tyres then raced away, keen to check the signs we’d learned in hot rooms were where they ought to be, keen to join my band of brothers, gather speed, swallow flies, unwilling to squint back and see you, still hoping for lift-off, waving your hand.
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s have been fro ho Don't Cycle, rson for People W ing, and now price th pe es no ok sts sp co a e, dy bl ea M. Isera Cycling alr t such a good deal. cyclists should ge fare and happier, the 0% nothing. ng fitter, healthier s in tti ile ge m m 5 8. fro ly fit on ne ing distances cyclists also be ut m at m th co ct e fa e ag th er av er With "When you consid r transport users. clists." in the face for othe wards helping cy to ed ar ge is rise is a real slap ng hi yt er ev t ou ab the that just joyfully through Britain, it seems too busy pedalling all re we ey th e us ent - beca available to comm No cyclists were streets for free. 5
Give it a Go! How rediscovering cycling can redefine the daily commute by Charlotte Tompkins
harlotte Tompkins is a 32-year-old researcher who works for a charity in London. She recently started cycling to work, after 15 years out of the saddle. Now she’s fitter and enjoying her job more than ever, and saving loads of money every week. And she doesn’t complain about public transport as much as she used to!
Deciding to do it Sitting on the bus one day, on my four-mile journey to work, I started flicking through an issue of Cycle Lifestyle magazine I had found on the seat. My attention was captured by people enthusing about cycling to work in London, saying how much they enjoyed it. I thought they must be mad – the idea of cycling amongst London’s traffic scared me, as the last bike I had ridden was the trusty BMX I owned as a kid. Yet something about people’s accounts of the benefits of cycling grabbed my attention – especially since the packed bus was crawling along. After reading some cyclists’ stories I wondered how long it would take me to cycle to my work. Anyway, I got to work late that day and didn’t think about it until a few weeks later, when a Tube strike meant that I had a nightmare commute. This was when I decided that cycling was definitely worth trying.
Buying a bike and equipment I was uncertain about where to start, so I contacted a keen cyclist friend of mine for advice. What sort of bike did I need? Was it better to buy a second hand bike? How much did I need to spend on a bike that would do the job? What other equipment did I need? What if cycling wasn’t for me? My friend was really helpful and encouraging and suggested we go to a bike shop together. I purchased a new bike, helmet and lock, and was ready to give it a go. Cycling two miles home from the shop was my first experience on a bike for at least 15 years, and my first on a bike with gears. Whilst I hadn’t forgotten how to ride, I felt a little unbalanced, was afraid to take my hands from the handlebars, and was anxious changing gears.
Growing in confidence Soon, though, I felt ready to try cycling to work. The first part of my journey was familiar and quiet and involved riding through the park – I was surprised and thrilled to be having so much fun
"the idea of cycling amongst London’s traffic scared me, as the last bike I had ridden was the trusty BMX I owned as a kid" while commuting. However, the next part of the journey filled me with fear; Highbury Corner, Upper Street and the busy junction at Angel traffic lights. I briefly got off the bike at Highbury Corner and walked for a bit before getting back in the saddle for the rest of the journey. I felt slow on the bike, while many cyclists, cars and buses raced passed me, but when I arrived at work the feeling of accomplishment was exhilarating. The more I commuted by bike the happier I felt with my balance, and I gradually built up confidence. Watching other cyclists was helpful, enabling me to pick up tips about things like road positioning and indicating, as well as how not to behave on the road! I also learnt short cuts and new routes from watching and following other cyclists as they turned down particular streets. Sometimes this wasn’t helpful, but on one occasion I found out about an alternative cycle route at Angel which meant that I could turn off before the busy junction and go on a much quieter oneway street near the canal, accompanied by many other cyclists. After a few weeks, I had my cycle route sorted and my initial feelings of anxiety had evaporated. I was amazed at how much
"Above all, cycling has opened my eyes to a softer and more enjoyable London that’s so much more exciting to explore." quicker my journey to and from work had become, even though I was only cycling slowly and carefully. I worked out that I was saving at least an hour a day by cycling instead of getting the bus. As I continued through the summer, not only did I notice the time saving, but I felt much more alert and happy when I got to work, and my bike was a great stress reliever at the end of a busy working day. On the days when I had meetings out of the office, I often felt frustrated if I couldn’t cycle to the venue. And on days when I had to go to the office but it was raining (I am a fair weather cyclist!) or I had an event after work that I didn’t want to cycle to, I found myself really noticing how much extra time it took getting to work on the bus and how much more inconvenient this now seemed compared to jumping on the bike for a 15-20 minutes door-to-door journey. After a couple of months I felt fitter than I had done when I started out cycling. I didn’t notice losing any weight, but I did feel more toned and stronger, which certainly wasn’t a bad thing.
Getting into the habit After I had got into the habit of cycling to work, I found myself venturing out of my comfort zone. I started trying new routes and riding to places other than just the office. I began cycling at night and at the weekend, especially if it was nice weather over the summer. There was also quite a financial saving in not using my pay-as-you-go Oyster card. I was converted, and started encouraging others to try out cycling. I wouldn’t say that I am always going to cycle to everywhere that I need to get to in London; after all, there are times when my heels or my outfit just wouldn’t work with a bike, or when I am going on a night out. But, ever since my experiences as a beginner, I am surprised how well I have taken to cycling and how quickly its benefits have become apparent. I no longer feel the need to rant about public transport issues as much as I used to, which is no bad thing. Above all, cycling has opened my eyes to a softer and more enjoyable London that’s so much more exciting to explore.
Ready to Ride! Our guide to preparing for your first cycle ride
Choose a bike
There are different kinds of bike for different kinds of journey, so you need to choose the right bike for yours. Road bikes (‘racing’ bikes) are designed to be lightweight, aerodynamic and fast, with handlebars that curl downwards and skinny tyres. Touring bikes are sturdier versions of road bikes, designed for long distances carrying luggage. Mountain bikes are designed for rough terrain, with knobbly tyres, strong frames, a wide selection of gears, and often suspension. Hybrid bikes offer a compromise between the speed of a road bike and the strength and gearing of a mountain bike. With smooth tyres and an upright riding posture that’s good for visibility, they’re a popular option for commuting. Folding bikes can be folded away and carried like a briefcase. Useful for commuting, they can conveniently be taken on the train or bus. They have small wheels and fewer gears, and can be stored easily at home if you don’t have much space. Electric bikes are a more expensive option, with an electric motor offering assistance for getting up hills or on longer commutes. Shed bikes are bikes that have been gathering cobwebs in your shed for years! Check them over before you get back on. Then there are adapted cycles, tricycles, tandems, side-byside cycles and recumbent cycles – making cycling accessible to almost everybody, including people with disabilities.
Check your bike
Before you set off you’ll need to make sure your bike is safe to ride. Start with the following checks:
Both brakes work well. Both tyres are pumped up (this will make your bike easier to ride as well as safer). The saddle height is correct (so that when sitting on the saddle your heel rests on the pedal with your knee very slightly bent). Also make sure that when adjusting the saddle height the seat post limit has not been reached (normally this is a marked band about 3 inches from the bottom of the seat post). The handlebars are tightened. Ensure that they cannot be turned with the front wheel between your legs, and that they
do not move when pressure is applied from the top. The gears work smoothly. If you are unsure then take your bike to the nearest bike shop for a quick service. When you buy your bike from a shop you can expect them to help you with these checks.
In decent weather there’s no need to wear special clothing any more than there is for a walk to the shops. You can even cycle in smart clothes, so long as you’re comfortable. Just make sure your clothing is neither too baggy (catching in the chain) nor too tight (restricting your pedalling). In wet weather, however, choosing the right clothes becomes more important. Above all, you’ll need to make sure you’re waterproof and visible (wearing light-coloured or reflective clothing).
Some basic accessories are essential:
Lights. By law you must have a front white light and a rear red light when cycling at night, and a rear reflector and pedal reflectors at all times. A lock. Spend as much as you can afford to get a stronger lock (or indeed multiple locks). Always leave your bike in a well-lit and busy place to deter thieves. Others accessories are really useful:
A bell. You'll find pedestrians appreciate an early, gentle warning of your presence if you're on a shared path – a couple of tinkles when you're still 10 metres or so away works well. Mudguards. These will help keep splatters off your clothes. A rack and panniers. Panniers are bags that attach onto a rack at the back of your bike, which enable you to be unencumbered while riding. The next-best option is a rucksack because this keeps your arms free. Never dangle bags from your handlebars. A pump and a spare inner tube or puncture repair kit. Punctures are rare, but it’s good to be prepared. It’s not compulsory to wear a helmet to cycle in London, but many people choose to – especially when weather conditions are hazardous. If you do, ensure that your helmet is of good quality and properly fitted.
Plan your route
Preparing a good route is essential for cycling in London, but luckily it’s one of the most fun parts. There are lots of helpful resources, including:
‣ ‣ ‣ ‣
Transport for London cycle guides. You can order them online at www.tfl.gov.uk LCN+ maps. These can be viewed online at www.londoncyclenetwork.org.uk Local borough maps. Contact your local council offices to find out more. Google maps. An especially useful resource which uses the Google map interface is www.bikehike.co.uk – you can interactively plot your route onscreen and find out gradient and distance data. www.cyclestreets.net – a journey planner for cycling which allows you to type in your start and end destination locations and suggests a route for you. A good old-fashioned A to Z!
When you plan your route you should aim for:
Quiet roads or roads with cycle paths Low speed limit areas Parks and open spaces which allow cycling
And you should avoid:
‣‣ ‣‣ ‣
Very busy junctions Large and fast roundabouts Dual carriageways Routes heavy with lorries Pavements. It’s illegal to cycle on the pavement, unless it’s signed as a shared-use path for cyclists and pedestrians. If any of these are unavoidable, you can always get off and push!
Stay safe – the Sustrans guide Tips for cyclists on roads Ride in a position where you can see and be seen. Beware of vehicles turning left. Make eye contact with other road users, especially at junctions – then you know they’ve seen you.
‣ ‣ ‣ ‣
Signal clearly at all times. Follow the Highway Code – don’t jump red lights and don’t cycle on the pavement unless it’s a designated cycle path. Consider wearing a helmet and bright clothing, especially in towns, at night and in bad weather. In wet weather watch your speed as surfaces may be slippery and it will take you longer to stop. Also avoid turning across man-hole covers or areas with lots of yellow/white lines on the road. The rain makes them especially slippery. Go easy on the front brake. In wet conditions, try to shift a little more emphasis onto the rear brake by placing your body weight a little further back and squeezing the front lever more gently. It’s much easier to control a sliding rear wheel than a front one. Consider getting some cycle training. All London’s boroughs provide free or subsidised training.
Tips for motorists When turning left watch for cyclists coming up on your near side and don’t cut them up. Give cyclists a wide berth when overtaking. Dip your headlights when approaching cyclists. In wet weather, allow cyclists extra room as surfaces may be slippery. Cyclists and motorists are equally entitled to use and share the same road space.
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Tips for cyclists on shared-use paths Don’t go too fast – it can intimidate others. Use your bell to let others know you are approaching, but don’t assume they can hear or see you. Give way to others and always be prepared to slow down and stop if necessary. Remember to say ‘thank you’ if they let you pass. Keep left or on your side of any dividing line. Be careful at junctions, bends or entrances.
‣‣ ‣ ‣‣
Tips for other path users Keep your dog under control. Keep to your side of any dividing line.
Find out more from Sustrans at www.sustrans.org.uk – or just phone a friend who cycles.
The Best Cycling Streets
CB_ad0512_Layout 1 15/05/2012 11:54 Page 1
gentle adventures, expertly organised
Suffolk • Norfolk France • Austria • Italy
by Elizabeth Hunter
'm really talking about two streets this time: The Mall and Horse Guards Road. There isn't much reason for you to ride them in succession – if you are coming from Buckingham Palace and heading for Victoria there are far quicker routes. But none can compare in grandeur. Beginning at the Palace roundabout you turn your back on the tourists peering through the big iron fence, and face down the Mall. The proportions are perfect. In the distance you can see the glorious swoop of Admiralty Arch and a tiny glimpse of Trafalgar Square beyond, getting clearer as you pedal. The wide, wide road is lined with flag poles, often colourfully swagged to honour some visiting dignitary or national celebration. It always feels festive.
For a free brochure:
"Even in winter the skeletal silhouettes of the trees against the frosty river are more bittersweet than bleak" Most pleasingly, The Mall cuts right down the edge of elegant St James Park. In spring and summer the colours of the flowers are exuberant, and in autumn the same can be said for the turning leaves. Even in winter the skeletal silhouettes of the trees against the frosty river are more bittersweet than bleak. Once you've enjoyed zooming along the straight, usually empty street, turn right before you get to the Arch leading into Horse Guard's Road. This is where the changing of the guard happens once a day. There's a curvalicious bend for you, more grand buildings, some ungainly pelicans in a pond on your right, and, if you're lucky, a phalanx of men in red uniforms and big furry hats. All in all, this is a ride that always reminds even un-patriotic me just how odd, but also brilliant, it is to be British. Check out Elizabeth Hunter’s blog ‘The Trusty Steed’ at: thetrustysteed.blogspot.com
Guided cycle tours in Scotland and the North led by storyteller, Andy Hunter. Myths, legends, humour and history. 2012: Regular tours in Edinburgh; Hadrian’s Wall: 29 July – 4 August For more information, contact Storybikes: tel +44 (0)7762 000 039 email firstname.lastname@example.org www.storybikes.co.uk
Germany, Continental production plant, Korbach, bicycle building section. Continental employees, f.l.t.r.: Bärbel Disterheft; Sigrid Sander; Elke Göbel; Ursula König.
It’s Gator time!
Produced in Germany.
Cycle Training in Barking and Dagenham
The numbers of daily cycle journeys within the Borough continue to rise year on year, with a 25% increase in 2011. With the upcoming Olympics set to inspire a new generation, cycling for the purposes of commuting or leisure will only continue to grow in popularity. Funded by our Local Implementation Plan, and Biking Borough allocations from Transport for London, 3500 school pupils in Barking and Dagenham have benefitted from cycle training and expert advice, while bicycle repairs provided through Dr Bike sessions have helped get even more children onto two wheels. Of these school pupils, over 1000 went on to obtain National Standards cycle training Bikeability level 2 or higher. However, the ambition is to enable these children to utilise their cycling skills on a regular basis; so, in conjunction with one of our key cycle training delivery partners, the Borough has set up numerous After School Cycling Clubs. These clubs meet once a month and provide an opportunity
for children to learn basic maintenance skills and how to plan safe cycling routes around the local area. The attendees can nominate destinations they would like to visit before setting off on local rides. These sessions reinforce the safe cycling message and provide a sociable, fun environment for helping children develop the freedom to discover their Borough through cycling. These children are the cyclists of tomorrow, so equipping them with the skills and confidence to cycle safely on our network is key. And providing continual support throughout their schooling and on to adulthood is essential in ensuring that they donâ€™t lose the enthusiasm and appetite for cycling which they all have in bundles. At present there are seventeen cycling clubs in Barking and Dagenham, including a couple at senior schools. Most encouragingly, the demand from schools across the Borough for their own clubs continues to grow. Discover the Borough by Bike This summer Barking and Dagenham, in partnership with British Cycling, is hosting a number of free, friendly local Sky Rides, a series of guided cycle rides catering for all abilities. Check out www.goskyride.com/lbbd for further details and to reserve your place.
Photo taken by the news issue 69
ondon Borough of Barking and Dagenham is committed to promoting and encouraging cycling â€“ a healthy, cost-effective, fun and sustainable way of getting around the local area and discovering its hidden gems.
Everyoneâ€™s invited Join a free weekly bike ride in your area. Register at goskyride.com
The Peddler A day in the life of a London cyclist by Adam Copeland
ycling brings out the best in Londoners. The exercise, the freedom, the fact you haven’t got a commuter’s armpit in your face. In fact, I sometimes even talk to actual strangers when I’m on my bike (though obviously only to ask them what the hell they think they’re looking at). It turns out it’s not just London though. According to a recent news story, a group of school children in India have clubbed together to buy their poorest classmate a bike. Think of it as the opposite of bullying a kid for his dinner money.
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According to the report, 41 children in a class of 42 were provided with bicycles from the state, thanks to a wonderfully enlightened government grant. In a slightly less enlightened move, the 42nd child was denied a bike because he was from the poorest possible caste, known as ‘Other Backward Classes’. Now, I’m unlikely to bring down the injustices of an antiquated caste system in this single column (although my article in the summer 1945 edition of Cycle Lifestyle did hasten the end of World War II). So leaving that aside, three things struck me about this story. One, you can’t help but marvel at the selflessness of people when it comes to bikes. Two, why doesn’t our government encourage kids to ride to school by giving them all bikes? (Oh yes – because we’re in a massive double dip recession, and in any case, young people in Britain are perfectly capable of stealing their own bikes, thank you very much.) And three, who knew that children could be so caring towards each other? About the nicest thing I remember my classmates doing was not laughing the time Mr Wilson accidentally broke Colin Hunt’s finger in year 6. And now I come to think of it, we laughed for days. (You remember Colin Hunt. He was the one who decided to prove to us his new watch was unbreakable by smashing it to pieces against the table. We laughed at that too.) All of which proves one thing. If this was India, Mr Wilson would definitely owe Colin Hunt a bike.
PLANTLOCK ® SIMPLE TO INSTALL, SECURE GREEN BIKE-PARKING, FOR HOME OR AT WORK. You can secure two bikes and grow herbs and flowers at the same time. Once filled with soil and planted, PlantLock weighs 75+ kgs and the super-toughened locking bars resist bicycle thieves. See the PlantLock Strength Test video and other secure bike-parking products at: www.frontyardcompany.co.uk Telephone: 020 7485 7618
Why I support the London Cycle Map Campaign by Robert Penn
obert Penn, author of best-selling book ‘It’s All About the Bike’, explains why a London Cycle Map would make life easier for visitors to the capital. I lived in London for nearly a decade – the 90s – and rode a bicycle almost every day. I invested a lot of time and ardour in finding the best routes across the city – the safest thoroughfares, the shortcuts and back alleys, the one-ways and parks that turned a simple bike ride into a gift. I remember how hard that knowledge was won. There weren’t many regular cyclists to compare trip notes with then. I kept studying the A-Z; I kept taking wrong turnings on purpose; I kept on nosing down the dead ends. The knowledge did come, though. And through it, through seeing every common and cemetery, every allotment and every sweeping cityscape, I came to love a place I’d always expected to hate. I’m a country boy, really. And now I’m back in the country. I moved to the Black Mountains, in south-east Wales, eight years ago. Now, I return to London regularly, on the train, with my bicycle in the guard’s van on the Great Western service from Swansea. Each time, I set off blindly from Paddington to Kentish Town or Dalston, Southwark or Soho. And each time, I seem to come unstuck. I arrive at a junction I know well… only to realise I’m lost. The knowledge is fading. Holes are appearing in my subconscious street map of the city – partly because I’m getting old, and partly because I don’t ink over the routes often enough anymore. This is why I believe the London Cycle Map is such a good idea. Clear, well-signed routes would be easy to follow. It would be a huge boon not just for me, but for anyone bringing a bike to London. Who knows, it might even encourage a few more people onto two wheels as well. The London Cycle Map Campaign is being run by Cycle Lifestyle magazine: www.cyclelifestyle.co.uk Sign the petition at www.petition.co.uk/london-cyclemap-campaign Robert Penn is the author of It’s All About the Bike: the Pursuit of Happiness on Two Wheels. www.robpenn.net / www.bikecation.co.uk
TOUGH SIMPLE AND VERSATILE
thIS VEE-1 is our 29 INCH single speed street machine. From potholes to cobblestones, kerbs and manholes, the Vitus VEE-1 29er displays all the attributes required to make daily attacks on the urban jungle. The tough alloy frame is kitted out with no fuss components; rigid steel forks ensure direct and responsive handling whilst the dependable and effective Vitus V-Brakes provide the stopping power. At the heart of the singlespeed transmission is a FSA Vero chainset running a 42t chainring and 18t sprocket to give a city friendly gear ratio that will handle all but the steepest hills. Tough 29 wheels with stainless steel spokes are wrapped in Kenda Small Block Eight tyres which blend low rolling resistance with optimal grip for concrete and asphalt surfaces yet retain enough grip to permit sporadic trail excursions.
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The UK's only free cycling magazine for potential and regular cyclists is back with a summer issue. Features regular favourites Give it a Go...