YOUR VOICE FOR A CYCLING CITY
'GOING DUTCH' IN 2012
Is there a real post-Olympic legacy p26
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news, letters & opinion
News Local campaigns, city-wide initiatives and dates for your diary Letters Members’ comments, queries, rants and raves Ashok Sinha Introduces the ‘Go Dutch’ campaign, voted for by LCC members Zoe Williams Argues that high heels and skirts are fine for cycling Dr Rachel Aldred On the Cycling Cultures project taking place in four UK cities
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features Going Dutch What London needs to do before it becomes a proper ‘cyclised’ city Longer lorries Why the proposal to allow extended HGVs will affect all road users London 2012 Tom Bogdanowicz assesses the post-Games cycling legacy Best Rides Exploring the parks and villages of Sutton Travel How a family holiday in Holland inspired cycling ideas at home Travel Easily accessible cycle touring on the Isle of Wight Have Your Say How far do you go to be visible at night?
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reviews Bikes Four of the latest urban hybrids, from £400 to £1500, ridden and rated Product Innovative bike stand, cool clobber, travel and security kit Books Guidebooks by the shelfload and Tour de France fitness plans
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Rides Listing of rides run by LCC groups in October and November Local Groups Round-up of projects and events happening across the capital People Dick Vincent, London’s latest towpath ranger
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WHAT LCC DOES… ■ Campaigns for change ■ Supports our members ■ Promotes cycling LCC’S STRATEGIC AIMS ■ Promote cycling to the people ■ Redesign our streets for cycles ■ Promote cycling to our politicians ■ Make cycling diverse and inclusive (www.lcc.org.uk/strategy)
COVER: Steve Rutherford LOCATION: Camden
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Oct/Nov 2011 London Cyclist 3
News Oct/Nov 2011
‘Go Dutch’ wins vote for 2012 campaign LCC is in full planning mode, preparing itself for the official launch of the 2012 Mayoral election campaign next January. Members voted overwhelmingly for ‘Go Dutch’ to be our campaign theme, so we’ll be putting the case for continentalstyle bike lanes on main roads — along with other successful cycle-friendly measures — during the months leading up to the May 2012 poll. All four main parties will be fielding the same candidates as in 2008: Brian Paddick for the Liberal Democrats, Ken Livingstone for Labour and Jenny Jones of the Green Party will be challenging incumbent Conservative, Boris Johnson. Discover more about the campaign by reading the articles on pages 20 and 32 of this issue. ■ Thanks are due to London bike shop Velorution, in Great Portland Street, for lending us one of its Dutch-style ‘box-bikes’ for our cover photo. Find out more about hiring or buying these bikes at www. velorution.co.uk, or by calling 020 7637 4004.
Lorry driver Thousands more lorry drivers could soon receive cyclistawareness training now that every borough in Greater London has the go-ahead to provide officially approved on-bike training backed by Transport for London (TfL) funding. LCC, through its No More Lethal Lorries campaign, has played a key role in highlighting the problem of lorry deaths in the capital, including pushing for widespread adoption of cyclistawareness training by London boroughs. So far six of 33 London boroughs have given their lorry drivers cyclist-awareness training, but the measure is likely to be rolled out to all councils as it now qualifies as part of a driver’s Certificate of Professional Competence (CPC), compulsory training that every UK driver must undertake once a year. Private lorry operators are also more likely to fund cyclist- awareness training for their drivers now that it’s CPC-accredited. LCC campaigns officer Charlie
Lloyd, a freight expert and former lorry driver, said: “Drivers who’ve ridden on the roads as part of the training tell us they feel more aware of more vulnerable road users, which can help prevent injury and death. This is a major step towards achieving our aim that all lorry drivers working in London get cyclist-awareness training.” HGVs account for about half of cyclist fatalities in Greater London, even though they make up only five percent of traffic. And the No More Lethal Lorries campaign, including a 10,000-name petition handed in to the Mayor in July, has been instrumental in bringing about the change. Lloyd added: “We want to thank the tens of thousands of people who supported our petition, donated to our appeal, and gave their time to the campaign. And well done to TfL, Cycle Training UK, Bikeworks and CycleInstructor.com for pushing through the official approval for the training.”
‘Missing link’ finally opens Earlier this year, we reported that the so-called ‘missing link’ towpath under Bow Flyover would be built. And in August the suspended platform had been completed and formally opened, attracting thousands of walkers and cyclists. Local LCC groups campaigned for years to get this section of towpath installed. The link means users no longer have to race across four lanes of traffic on what is otherwise a peaceful waterside route from Limehouse Basin to Waltham Abbey. ■ Find out more about cycle facilities at the Olympic Park, which is adjacent to the River Lea in Newham, by reading Tom Bogdanowicz’s article on page 26.
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Last chance for Awards nominations Young People ■ Best Cycling Facility ■ Best Workplace Cycling Initiative Anyone can send in a nomination and selfnominations by groups or organisations are welcome. Projects should have been initiated or completed since April 2010; events must have taken place after 1 April 2010. Full details on how to submit a nomination can be found on LCC’s website — www.lcc.org.uk/ awards. The awards will be presented at the Annual General Meeting on 16 November.
LCC is urging all its members to show support for a better Blackfriars by attending a peaceful demonstration on the bridge in the early evening of Wednesday 12 October. More than a thousand participants have already taken part in the two previous ‘Flashrides’ and it’s hoped numbers will swell even more on this occasion. The protest aims to convince Mayor Boris Johnson and TfL that Blackfriars Bridge should be turned into a public space that’s truly free of danger and welcoming for both cyclists and pedestrians. LCC chief executive Ashok Sinha said: “Please join our peaceful demonstration after work on 12 October. The more people that show up the more pressure we can put on politicians and civil servants to provide more space and facilities for cyclists in central London. It’s been really noticeable what a broad cross-section of Londoners have joined us on the previous two rides to show their displeasure at the current flawed plans for Blackfriars. “This is a great chance for us to show how strongly we feel that central London should be designed for walkers and
cyclists, not just motorists.” We’re calling for a review of the current Blackfriars junction designs, so they can be altered to make them safer for cyclists. We’re also insisting that the temporary 20mph speed limit be retained. Pressure from cycling campaigners has so far been successful in persuading TfL to reverse earlier plans to remove vital cycle lanes from Blackfriars Bridge. The two previous Flashrides have also helped build cross-party consensus among London Assembly members, who voted in support of a motion in favour of 20mph and a junction review. Families and children have attended previous rides, and pedestrians are also encouraged to show their support on the day. Cyclists and pedestrians are invited to meet outside Doggetts pub, at the southern end of Blackfriars Bridge at 5.45pm, for a 6pm start. LCC marshals will guide participants during the protest, which will cross the bridge in both directions, and is expected to last around 45 minutes. Check the website (www.lcc.org.uk) nearer the time for posters that you can print and bring to the demonstration. RIDE FOR RIGHTS: join us on 12 Oct at Blackfriars
Photos: Tom Bogdanowicz
If there’s a cycle project, cycle campaigner or great cycling event that you feel deserves recognition, please send in a nomination for this year’s London Cycling Awards. The deadline for nominations is Monday 10 October. This year, we’ve added a new category of Local Campaigner of the Year, and we’ll open up the Event of the Year category to a public vote. The categories this year are: ■ Local Campaigner of the Year ■ London Cycle Event of the Year ■ Community Cycling Project of the Year ■ Best Project for Children or
Blackfriars protest ride on 12 October
Oct/Nov 2011 London Cyclist 5
City Hall backs call for improved cycle facilities at London Bridge The Mayor of London’s deputy, Sir Edward Lister, has come out in support of LCC’s criticisms of the proposed London Bridge station redevelopment. As reported in the last issue of London Cyclist, we criticised Network Rail’s £1.2 billion plan for the station because it reduces the quality and quantity of cycle parking, as well as removing two key bike routes in the area. Shortly after we aired our criticisms, City Hall rejected the current version of the planning application, saying it didn’t comply with Mayor Boris Johnson’s long-term vision for the capital as set out in the London Plan. City Hall’s 29-page response
Longer lorries to hit the city’s streets? As LCC reported in the last issue of London Cyclist, the government is planning to allow longer articulated lorries to operate across the UK. We’ve opposed the move on the grounds that it is likely to increase risk to the most vulnerable road users, such as pedestrians and cyclists. The move will also have negative effects on how planners design streets. To find out more about the problem, and how you can put pressure on ministers to reverse the decision, read the article on page 24.
to the planning application says the new station will need at least 1,600 cycle parking spaces to cope with future demand, which is three times the number proposed by Network Rail. The response also also criticises the closure of the popular cycle routes on Stainer Street and Weston Street without satisfactory alternatives. LCC’s Mike Cavenett said: “We’ve made sure the Mayor has been under intense scrutiny all summer because of his refusal to take significant steps to improve Blackfriars bridge for cyclists. It’s welcome that he’s chosen to listen to cyclists on this latest issue. But we’ll still be lobbying the Mayor to improve streets in the area.”
Cyclist raises £6k in memory of lorry victim On 11 July, London cyclist Daniel Barnes successfully completed the gruelling Etape du Tour ride in the French Alps, raising £6,850 in memory of his friend Dan Cox, who was killed by a left-turning lorry while cycling through Dalston junction in February. Starting in Modane Valfréjus and covering 109km to the summit of Alpe d’Huez, the 2011 Etape demanded 3,600 metres of climbing, equivalent to climbing Surrey’s Box Hill 25 times in a single day. Typically, a third of riders that enter the prestigious event fail to finish. Daniel said: “This ride was probably the hardest thing I’ve ever done, mentally and
physically, and was an emotional end to what’s been a tough six months. I hope it has also been a fitting tribute to my dear friend Dan, who is missed by many.” Daniel chose to raise money for our No More Lethal lorries campaign and for the Royal London Hospital, and reported that following an appeal in our e-newsletter prior to the event, LCC members donated more than £2,500 in a single 24-hour period. The fundraising page for Daniel’s ride is still open, If you’d like to donate, please visit http:// uk.virginmoneygiving.com/ danvsthemountain. To sign up for our weekly e-newsletter, visit www.lcc.org.uk.
6 London Cyclist Oct/Nov 2011
GOOD MONTH FOR LAMBETH CYCLIST Philip Loy, coordinator of Lambeth Cyclists and former Haringey coordinator Teresa McCrone got married on 13 August on the South Bank. Philip is still active with LCC and both are regular cyclists. EUROPE’S BIGGEST EXPO September’s Eurobike show this year attracted a record 40,000 industry visitors from more than 100 countries. A whopping 20,000 cycling enthusiasts visited on the public day, with 1,800 journalists also attending.
Circular ride for changes
BAD MONTH FOR BIKE THIEVES 20-year-old Tariq Hasi has been jailed for 16 months for being involved in the sale of stolen bikes. This followed investigation by the Met Police and the Cycle Task Force.
For the first time in several years, there will be a contested board election at this year’s Annual General Meeting, taking place from 5.30-9pm, on Wednesday 16 November at South Bank University. Ten candidates have put themselves forward as trustees, with six places to be filled. Candidates will pitch to the assembled crowd on the night in order to win votes. All members are invited to attend, but it’s not necessary to be there in order to vote in board elections or for motions to the AGM. This issue of London Cyclist includes a Freepost election form for postal voting; the insert contains details of the candidates. Chief executive Ashok Sinha said: “It’s a sign of the growing strength of cycling in London that so many people are keen to take on these demanding roles.” The board comprises 10 elected members, who serve two-year terms, and contribute to areas such as campaigns, finance, business development and HR. This year, one trustee had to resign mid-term, so with five due for re-election there are six spaces to fill. This year, the AGM will also see the launch to members of our ‘Go Dutch’ 2012 mayoral election campaign, with a speaker to
enthuse us all as to the merits of adopting continental-style provision for cyclists in London As usual, the AGM will feature several motions, which this year include a vote on whether to change the name of our organisation, as well as a vote on a proposal to create an elected policy committee in January. The London Cycling Awards will also feature prominently, with six awards being presented for the best of London cycling achievements from the last year. Awards nominations are open until 10 October; forms can be dowloaded at www.lcc. org.uk/awards. The AGM takes place at the Keyworth Centre, South Bank University, Keyworth Street, SE1. Help us to cater for the right numbers by telling us if you plan to attend — email email@example.com or call 7234 9310 (ext 215).
AGM SCHEDULE 5.30pm
7.00pm 7.30pm 9.00pm
Officers Report; Approval of accounts; Appoint auditors London Cycling Awards; ‘Go Dutch’ campaign launch Refreshments Board elections; AGM motions Board election result
QUESTION TIME 2010: with Caroline Pidgeon & Jenny Jones
TOUR OF BRITAIN Stage two of the race was cancelled due to high winds, the tail end of Hurricane Katia. Dutchman Lars Boom eventually claimed the jersey.
On Sunday 18 September, Camden Cycling Campaign led a ride to highlight the lack of cycle-friendly facilities on the north and south circulars. Organised by highly experienced ride leader James Brander, cyclists from all over Greater London were invited to join in for all or part of the route. LCC’s Mike Cavenett said: “Many individuals are intimidated by riding on busy orbital roads that have few cycling facilities. Cycling in the safety of a group, the ride highlighted the need for important through routes, such as the north and south circular, to have dedicated cycle facilities that offer safety, comfort and prority to cyclists.”
CYCLING ON TV All cycling events at all venues during the London 2012 Olympics are set to be featured live by BBC Sport online, reports British Cycling. Details on which channels (including BBC Red Button) will screen which events will be released much closer to the time at www.bbc.co.uk.
Join us at the 2011 AGM
Oct/Nov 2011 London Cyclist 7
Bike club set up in tandem with developer LCC has been working with Barratt Homes in west London to provide a bike club for a new residential development. Launched on 20 August, the scheme allows residents of the ‘Great West Quarter’ in Brentford to borrow a bike, helmet and lock, in a move that’s hoped will encourage
Wanted: web head After the excitement of our website relaunch back in May, we’re now looking for a freelance Ruby on Rails developer to add more features to our site. Ideally based in or near Greater London, you’ll be an experienced developer with several impressive projects in your portfolio. You’ll be comfortable with all areas of web application development, including linking to our membership database and working with maps. We can offer regular chunks of work (most likely several weeks at a time every few months) to the right person and the chance to help grow and influence cycling in Greater London. If you’re interested, please get in touch with mike@lcc. org.uk, or via 020 7234 9310.
more local journeys by bike. LCC marketing manager Lucy Cooper said: “A staggering 70 pecent of all car trips are less than five miles, a distance easily cycled. Working with Barratt London, we hope our scheme encourages more residents to switch to bicycles.” Regional sales director for
Barratt London Gary Patrick added: “The nearest Barclays Cycle Hire station is in Hammersmith, around four miles away from GWQ, so we’re plugging the gap for our residents.” The Great West Quarter is a smart new development of one, two and three-bedroom apartments set around a central
piazza and communal gardens. Anyone interested in setting up a similar bike club scheme should contact the LCC office at firstname.lastname@example.org. ■ For more on the Great West Quarter properties, contact the the marketing suite on 020 8326 7277 or visit the Barratt London website.
Two-way cycling returns to the City In September, the City of London held a consultation on whether it should continue moves to convert one-way locations to two-way for cycling. LCC urged its members via its e-newsletter to respond positiviely to the proposals. The 10 streets under scrutiny were: ■ Little Britain ■ Stoney Lane/White Kennett Street/Cutler Street ■ Aldermanbury Street ■ Copthall Avenue/Great Swan Alley ■ Carmelite Street/Tallis Street ■ Kingcote Street/Watergate ■ Carter Lane/Creed Lane ■ Russia Row/Trump ■ Old Jewry ■ Furnival Street/Norwich Street All the streets are fairly minor, but converting them to two-way for cyclists provides helpful ways to navigate the City more safely (by potentially avoiding
larger roads) and more directly. The latest proposal comes after the City successfully converted six one-way streets to two-way in 2010. City Police support two-ways According to the City of London’s own figures, concerns over safety over the first batch of streets that reverted to two-way proved groundless, and there have been
large increases in cycling on those routes. City Police also praised the earlier reversions to two-way, saying they’d caused no crashes and that “the ability for cyclists to avoid busy streets will be a contributing factor in improving road safety”. There’s more information about the proposals on the City of London website.
8 London Cyclist Oct/Nov 2011
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LSE report: UK cycling in rude health
A new report from the London School of Economics has shown that cycling generates nearly £3 billion for the UK economy. As well as providing 23,000 jobs, the report lists other major benefits from cycling such as improvements in public health and reduced pollution and congestion. The LSE report cites the main
health benefits from cycling as reduced absenteeism, with cyclists averaging 10 percent fewer sick days per year, and lower risks of stroke, coronary heart disease, cancer and other diseases caused by obesity and lack of exercise. It highlights bike-friendly measures that have been successful in establishing cycling in some northern
European nations: ■ Preferential traffic signals f or cyclists at junctions; ■ Traffic-calming and lower speed limits; ■ Strict liability collision laws; ■ Cycle storage facilities. The report also highlights poor safety on British roads as a major barrier to cycling, though there are no clear recommenda-
myself an ordinary cyclist. So do my other friends with a ‘curly’. Max Wooldridge, SW19
Letters Oct/Nov 2011
YOU’RE BAR-RED Rob Kittle’s comment that “ordinary folks do not use curly handlebars” (Letters, Aug/Sept issue) cannot go uncontested. If it’s a tongue-in-cheek, irreverent comment, good on him, but if he’s being serious, it is one of the most ridiculous comments made since George W Bush left our lives. My bike has drop handlebars (I love the variety of positions offered and I consider
SADDENED BY THEFT Although I was saddened to read of the theft of Ashok Sinha’s bikes, I was relieved to know that I’m not the only one who has reacted so emotionally to having my bike stolen. Like Ashok, I found it “especially galling to lose a child’s seat” and wondered at the heartlessness of the thief, who would surely have only got twenty quid or so for his troubles. On holiday and on the school run, for 10 years my lovely red bike had likewise been “friend, trusty servant, dependable companion”. I felt as if my pet had died! But I did find some comfort in reading Ashok’s piece, so thank you for that. Yesterday I collected my new bike and have a feeling this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship... Rebecca Sharkey, email
tions towards reallocating road-space to cycling. Another report published earlier this year by the Understanding Walking and Cycling project at Lancaster University identified reallocation of road space as a major precondition for increasing cycling in the UK to the levels seen in the Netherlands.
RACK IT UP TO EXPERIENCE As I got off my bike and locked it to the racks outside the Hub in Regents Park last week, a policeman cycled up to me to tell me I couldn’t cycle there. This seemed a little illogical. Why have bike racks if you cannot ride a bike? Why can he cycle but no-one else can? I pointed out I had just cycled the 200 yards from the Outer Circle to the visible bike racks along an empty path which did not seem to pose any problem. He insisted rather aggressively that there is a sign at the entrance to the park making it clear that cycling is forbidden there. I had not seen one and would have suggested he could get off his bike and walk back with me then and there to show me, but I did not have the time. When I left the park later I did check very carefully and there is nothing to indicate you cannot cycle to the racks. The surface of the path is different from the footpaths. I know there is ‘No
10 London Cyclist Oct/Nov 2011
Campaigners push for redesign of Clapham fatality junction A 49-year-old female cyclist died instantly on LCN+ Route 5 — a stretch of road identified as dangerous by an official report as long ago as 2008 — after being hit by van on Sunday 31 July. Cyclists have subsequently met TfL representatives to ask why the route hadn’t been improved in the intervening period. A 2008 TfL inspection ride, attended by Lambeth Cyclists, identified the section of Cavendish Road, between Poynders Road and Abbeville Road, as a major problem. The report recommended a full review “to determine how the junction should be redesigned”, but was never acted upon. TfL said immediately after the fatality that it was prioritising other junctions, and was only compelled to improve safety after deaths and injuries had reached a required frequency, which didn’t apply to this location. During the follow-up meeting with LCC staff, representatives of Lambeth Cyclists and local cyclists, TfL
offered to investigate short-term solutions, but ruled out major structural work to the junction on cost grounds. LCC’s Charlie Lloyd said: “Safety is the number one reason why Londoners don’t get on their bikes. This sticking-plaster approach by TfL — waiting for
Cycling’ across other entrances to the park, but there is nothing on this path from the Outer Circle and I cannot see why it should be a problem. I have never cycled on other paths, except the permissable Broadwalk route. The police needs all the support it can get from the public and it does seem foolish to antagonise a lawabiding elderly lady instead of using some commonsense. I do also feel an apology is due for insisting I was wrong. Deborah Tyler, email
EUSTON, WE HAVE A PROBLEM I know in recent issues you have had a feature on space-saving cycle parking. I park in the London Wall car park which benefits from the free cycle pump (made by Lezyne). New racks, similar to those at Euston, where bikes are elevated have been installed, but I prefer to use the traditional stands and I will tell you why. I can get two D locks on the bike, each one locks wheel and
death and injury to occur at dangerous junctions — clearly isn’t acceptable.” The LCN+ was a project to create a 400-mile city-wide network of safe cycle routes. It was only around 60 percent finished when abandoned by Mayor Boris Johnson in 2008.
frame to the cycle stand; on the new ones this does not seem possible. As far as I can work out only the rear wheel can be secured with frame to a thin bit of metal. Have other readers found this to be the case or an issue? Liam Simington, email
MAKE DRIVERS INTO CYCLISTS One way to improve driver ability and awareness is to make cycling part of the driving test. Not only would it create awareness in the hope of reducing accidents, but it also might just put a few more people on their bikes and reduce the number of cars, as well as possibly building respect from the driving community as to the cyclist’s lot — which we in the commuting world know is a tough one. Susannah Woodgate, W12
MORRISONS: PARKING ISSUE In response to Dave Harris’ email (Letters, Aug/Sept issue), I gave up
SEND YOUR LETTERS TO: londoncyclist@ lcc.org.uk
Free cycling guide worth £16.99 with Gift Membership Buy an LCC Gift Membership for family or friends and get a free copy of Escape Routes by Matt Carroll (see p46), worth £16.99. Other benefits include: ■ Bike shop discounts in over 120 bike shops* ■ Free £5m third-party insurance ■ Free legal advice by phone ■ Up-to-date cycling information, including London Cyclist magazine ■ Info about rides and events Each Gift Membership comes gift-wrapped, with a personalised message from you, as well as a special gift from us. We can either send the pack directly to the lucky recipient, or to you. Buy online at www.lcc.org. uk/join or by calling membership on 020 7234 9310. Order by 5pm on 20 December for guaranteed Christmas delivery. (*All offers and discounts are made to members entirely at the discretion of the third-party supplier, from which we do not gain or have any control).
shopping at Morrisons in Wood Green because there was no cycle parking. I used to have to lock my bike against a railing down a side alley next to the store, an unpleasant experience because there were often piles of human excrement to add to the pleasure of a lonely parking spot. After constantly complaining and requesting to Morrison’s management that they should provide cycle parking I eventually gave up shopping there. I popped in the other day to check out if things had got better — I saw just two cycle racks. Not nearly enough when you consider how many cyclists there are in the area. Why is it so difficult for supermarkets (and garden centres — another personal gripe!) to get their heads round the idea that some people don’t have cars and some people actually use their bikes to carry home their shopping? Alison Johnston, Hornsey
Oct/Nov 2011 London Cyclist 11
New track at the Hill
Secure parking in south London Two new cycle parking locations in south London could help ease the vast shortage of secure bike facilities in the capital. Better Bankside has opened a secure cycle park in Hopton Street, Southwark, while Lambeth Council is trialling on-street ‘Fietshangers’ in Bonnington Square, Vauxhall. The Southwark cycle parking
facility is open to employees of businesses that are part of the Better Bankside commercial collective, and there’s a free trial as we go to press. It has space for 70 bikes and is accessible only via a swipe-card. Further west in Lambeth, the Fietshangars (designed in the Netherlands), take up about half a car parking space and
SAINSBURY’S: NO PARKING In the last issue, Dave Harris asked if anyone could give similar examples to his of “grossly inadequate cycle provision at supermarkets”. I certainly can. For ten years, Redbridge LCC has been trying to persuade Sainsbury’s to put in cycle parking at their superstore in Ilford. In 2006, a representative from the company attended an LCC conference on shopping and cycling, plus I’ve twice approached different managers personally and we have emailed them regularly — all to no avail. Could their ongoing reluctance be related to the fact that the store is located just off the notorious Ilford gyratory? Chris Elliott, E12
VICTORIA: PARKING WASTE In the latest unputdownable London Cyclist, I was reading about the lack of cycle parking at Tesco in Hackney. Now I want to name and shame
can hold up to five bicycles, with key access. A spokesperson for Lambeth Cyclists said: “Thousands of these secure units have already been successfully installed in Dutch cities over the past decade, and now a few lucky Lambeth residents will be able to hire a secure bike space for as little as £5 per month.”
Victoria mainline as the worst place to park a bike of any station in London. I needed to park my bicycle for an hour in the station and was told to go to platform eight. I found the racks, at the end of the platform, but chockful of not-so-cared-for steeds, and I had to lock mine carefully to part of a safety barrier that two other bikes were already locked to. I got the impression that a good percentage of these cycles were not picked up regularly, possibly abandoned, thus taking up valuable parking spaces. So thumbs down Victoria for unfriendly, poorly managed cycling provision. I’d give my prize to Nuremberg Hbf in Germany, which has space for 1,500 cycles outside the station. Stephen Street, Beckenham
MINICAB DRIVING TEST It is clear from the way they drive, that licensed minicab drivers take
Herne Hill Velodrome re-opened at the start of September with a new £500,000 state-of-the-art surface paid for by British Cycling, the body that oversees the UK sports cycling. The buildings and track had fallen into disrepair in recent years, but a successful campaign (supported by Southwark Cyclists, the local LCC group) has kept the track open, and seen the first step in a significant programme of investment in the facility. The new surface is a fast-drying velodrome-specific tarmac and should allow the track to open more frequently than previously. The track was built in 1891, and is the last remaining venue from the 1948 Olympic Games still in use. Hugh Robertson, Minister for Sport and the Olympics, attended the opening ceremony on 7 September, said: “It’s fitting that the year before London 2012, we are able to celebrate the refurbishment of the track at one of the key venues from the previous Games.”
special tests before being accredited. Following extensive research, I have been able to deduce at least part of the special driving theory test sat by these drivers (and especially those from a company rhyming with ‘glee’. Q1: What should you do as you approach a light that’s gone yellow? A: Accelerate. Q2: What should you do as you approach a light that’s just gone red? A: Accelerate. Q3: Which lane should you be in if you intend to turn right? A: Whichever lane you fancy; that is what your horn is for. Q4: What are the green areas/strips along the sides of many roads for? A: Parking. Q5: Why are there pictures of flattened bicycles on these green areas? A: To warn cyclists what will happen if they get in the way. Score five and you’ve got a new job. Jo Hunt, NW1
12 London Cyclist Oct/Nov 2011
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BEST RIDES IN LONDON
Ashok Sinha LCC’s chief exective explains why the city of Delft can inspire our ‘Going Dutch’ campaign
t’s a question that’s been around for a long time but until recently defied definitive resolution: why does a person riding a bicycle not fall over? When I was young I thought I had the answer, after my physics teacher had demonstrated the added effort required to tip over a spinning bicycle wheel compared to a stationary one. (If you haven’t yet discovered this phenomenon for yourself, try holding a bicycle wheel by the axle and getting a friend to spin it. Tipping the wheel left or right will be harder, the faster it spins.) My teacher’s intention was to illuminate the concepts of angular momentum and torque, but I immediately concluded that this effect is exactly why a moving bicycle must be more stable than a stationary one (just as a gyroscope seems to defy gravity when it is spinning). Eureka! Well, I wasn’t the first person to get this wrong. It was shown a long time ago that the gyroscopic effect is in fact too weak to stabilise the full weight of a bicycle and rider. So what’s going on? The Delft touch Enter some researchers at the University of Delft in the Netherlands. Along with counterparts at Cornell University in the US they recently constructed a novel contraption to test the latest theories. I’ll avoid details here (suspecting that the mere mention of the word physics may already have sent some readers off for a smoke behind the bike shed) but it transpires that multiple factors interact in a complex fashion to give bicycles stability, in particular the way the weight of the bike and rider are distributed and having sensitive steering. It kind of makes sense, roughly in the way that a baby taking its first steps finds it easier to keep upright by walking rather than by standing still, placing its weight and feet where they need to be in order to rebalance as it totters along. This constant process of
correction makes sure the baby stays up so long as it keeps moving. To stretch an analogy, the city of Delft itself again shows us the importance of weight and steering, this time in creating a genuine cycling city. It’s a place my family and I enjoy visiting — indeed by the time this article goes to print we will have spent another happy sojourn there. Yes the city’s welcoming people, architecture, history, canals, cafes, independent shops and pleasant surrounding countryside all contribute to the attraction. But the single most important reason we return is that Delft is a city organised around the bike. You can cycle with your kids throughout the historical old town, into the newer areas and into the verdant flatlands beyond, without ever worrying about the children’s safety. You can even cycle the 10 miles or so to the neighbouring city of Rotterdam without ever having to compete with fast-moving motor traffic. And without exception our experience of cycling in Delft has been a singular pleasure, from the quality of the roads to the civility of drivers. Unsurprisingly it seems everyone cycles in Delft. Yet this harmonious prioritisation of cycling (and walking) is not an accident of circumstance. It is instead the result of a deliberate and enlightened decision to put political weight behind ‘cyclising’ Delft allied to decisive steering from the city’s leadership over many decades (not to mention a willingness to experiment, learning from what works well and what doesn’t). And as we know, Delft is not an isolated example: this political impetus and direction has been behind all of The Netherland’s development into one of the most actively cycling nations in the world, with all the benefits that this brings to its citizens. Going Dutch in 2012 The high quality of the cycling experience in Holland is so familiar that it is perhaps little wonder that,
when we asked you the members to vote for the specific campaign you would like us to pursue in the run-up to the Mayoral Elections next May, you chose ‘Go Dutch – clear space for cycling on London’s main roads’. You said to us that the top cycling priority for the next London Mayor – whoever lands the job – is to make sure the main
"With your support we can persuade our politicians that what the Dutch have achieved in Delft, we can do in London" routes around London are calm, safe and attractive to cyclists of all ages and abilities, not a test of courage and endurance for a skilled minority. So Go Dutch it is then — and many thanks to all of you who took part in the vote. Over the course of the next few months we will be cranking up the Go Dutch campaign ahead of a formal launch in the New Year, and we will provide plenty of ways for you to participate. With your support we can persuade London’s politicians that what the Dutch have achieved in Delft and throughout the Netherlands, we can do in London. All we need is the right application of political weight, and decisive steering.
Oct/Nov 2011 London Cyclist 15
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BEST RIDES IN LONDON
Zoe Williams What’s wrong with wearing a skirt and high heels for cycling? It’s got to be better than Lycra...
ometimes, when you’re cycling along in a skirt, you get a funny look from a guy wearing trousers, a look which says: “I bet you wish you were wearing something sensible now, don’t you, love? I bet you wish you weren’t wearing that silly item that doesn’t even divide into two separate legs?” All men, I put it to you, are under the impression that there is something inherently stupid about skirts. They can just about manage the idea that we might want to wear them anyway, but try to undertake any activity in a skirt — bricklaying, or running, or cycling — and they revert to their factory setting. That skirts are stupid. One day, I am going to chase the bestower of this look down the road and say: “Mate, when you see tennis players, do you notice that they sometimes wear skirts? And that’s at the level of international sport, while I, conversely, am just pootling along Millbank, in so little of a rush that I haven’t decided which bridge to take. Why Lycra’s so unnecessary But until that day, I will just share my thoughts on cycle-wear generally: skirts, since you ask, are much more practical than trousers, especially short skirts, because they won’t get caught in your chain and lorry drivers will sometimes try not to kill you, so long as they haven’t seen your face. Lycra is really not necessary unless you have to get to France in 40 minutes, or you have some amazingly good pectorals that you want to show to strangers. My brother-in-law has Lycra items so obscure that you couldn’t, to look at them, tell which body part they’re supposed to go on. The only one that I will concede is of any use is a little under-helmet cap: he went away in summer without it, and came back with his head striped with tan, like a badger. It was one of the best things that happened to me all season, and I wasn’t alone in this
enjoyment. When he went to a meeting at work, they said “can we just take five minutes to discuss what’s happened to Will’s head?” So anyway, the Lycra cap is handy, but only if you’re bald. The rest of that is all garbage. Which brings us to cleats. I finally got up the courage to get a proper pair of pedals and it turns out you don’t need courage at all. And all those people who say “you’ll fall off a couple of times, most likely at traffic lights, let’s hope not under a lorry”, they were lying. God knows why. Some people just like to make life sound much harder than it is. But because my main thought was for my own personal safety, I didn’t think for a second about what the shoes looked like. I just got the first black Specialized numbers I could fit on my feet, as if I didn’t have a choice, as if I were a transvestite trying to fit into Jimmy Choos. Since then, everywhere I go I see ones that are nicer: white shiny ones, ones with flames up the sides, ones that are suede. Normally, it wouldn’t matter because you’d wait for them to wear out and buy some more, but these are going to last 20 years. They never touch the ground. They’ll probably survive a nuclear blast. High heels or Converse? Other items on the fashion cycling agenda: just as skirts are actually easier to cycle in than trousers — and the only reason people don’t realise that is because we have still, so far, failed to smash the patriarchy — so high heels are easier to cycle in than a bog standard trainer like a Converse. Anything that makes you concentrate is a good thing. My friend said, by that rationale, I should cycle with razor blades in my mouth, and even though that makes him the smart-arse, I feel moved to point out that he has had horrific accidents, one of which included breaking his forearm, while I have never had an accident unless
I’ve been drunk. I have got an increasingly high tolerance for ‘politician cycling’: those blokes, although the condition can be unisex, who go along with one trouser leg tucked into a sock and a bowler hat
"My brother-in-law went away without his underhelmet cap and came back with his head striped with tan, like a badger" on, as if they wish always to be ready to go to an urgent meeting in the Victorian times. Saying that, I do like the way couriers dress as though they might be asked to step in when someone drops out of the Tour de France. It’s so optimistic. I like it all, in other words. Anything you might reasonably wear on a bike, I think it looks cool. Even if it’s not reasonable to wear it anywhere, even if it’s a pair of plus-fours, I’m still right behind you. If only everybody could be more like me. Zoe Williams is a freelance journalist and columnist who contributes regularly to publications including The Guardian and New Statesman
Oct/Nov 2011 London Cyclist 17
Rachel Aldred By studying four UK cities, the Cycling Cultures project seeks to identify key two-wheel trends
uring the past 15 years, UK government policy has aimed to significantly increase cycling; yet so far this has not been achieved on a national level. However, some localities buck the trend, with higher than average levels of cycling and/or year-or-year rises. The Cycling Cultures project, based at the University of East London, seeks to investigate such areas, using in-depth case studies of cycling in four relatively high-cycling English local authority areas; Bristol, Cambridge, Hackney and Hull. When finished we will have conducted around 150 interviews as well as observing, and participating in, cycling cultures in the four areas. The project is two-thirds of the way through, so results are emerging and developing all the time. We’re finding that for most interviewees, cycling in childhood remains a strong memory. These childhood memories are frequently nostalgic, associated with a lost age of freedom and discovery; and for at least some people riding as an adult is partly about retaining connections to this. As part of the research we’ve watched groups of adults learn to ride, and considering their sheer pleasure in successfully mastering balance and speed, it’s incredible that the UK has created a transport system where cycling is not an option for so many. As one interviewee described returning to cycling: “I got a bike when I moved back to Hackney. I started riding to work... it was almost an epiphany, like how have I missed this all of these years?” Of course, alongside the pleasure of cycling, interviewees talk about more negative aspects, even in these higher-cycling areas. A minority have experienced verbal or physical assault while on their bikes. In Hackney, for example, one cyclist spoke of being attacked by youths on the towpath, another spoke of verbal sexual
harassment, while another had been spat at by a car passenger. These incidents, also reported in other case study areas, seem to involve people being targeted because they’re cyclists. While most people did not describe such deliberate attacks, others experience the feeling that, as some interviewees put it, “every day there’s a near miss”. Many describe the need to be constantly aware, but the failure of drivers to give cyclists space is a recurrent complaint, related both to cultural and infrastructural factors. As other research shows, attitudes towards cyclists are still predominantly negative in the UK, and without recent experience of cycling drivers may simply not understand how intimidating a close pass can be. Cyclists in the four areas also point to poor infrastructure encouraging drivers to pass close to cyclists, such as badly-designed traffic calming and narrow cycle lanes. Close passes won’t be counted within safety statistics, but the importance cyclists ascribe to them underlines the need for cycling to be pleasant as well as ‘objectively’ safe. Cycling environments (understood broadly to include infrastructure, legal frameworks, behaviour and attitudes) should enable cycling to be as comfortable and joyful as many people remember childhood cycling to be. Transport or leisure cycling? Another point I find interesting is overlap between cycling as ‘transport’ and cycling as ‘leisure’. Understandably, advocates have been concerned to establish cycling as a legitimate mode of transport, distancing it from cycling as sport. But when talking to people about relatively local journeys, it is not always easy to draw a clear line separating ‘pure’ utility journeys from journeys taken as an end in themselves. It is more of a continuum: people visiting local shops and cafes may have a purpose to their travels, but a leisurely or sociable ride may be part of the pleasure. (The same routes
may provide quite a different experience when rushing to get to work on time). From a health perspective it is important to get older people cycling and making local, leisurely trips easier and nicer could help. One way of doing this is by
"For some people, riding as an adult is partly about retaining connections to childhood memories”
Dr Rachel Aldred is a lecturer in sociology and director of the University of East London’s Sustainable Mobilities Research Group. She is Principal Investigator on the Cycling Cultures project.
improving the legibility of cycling routes. Major car routes are often well signed, but many interviewees still find route-finding by bike challenging. Cycling Cultures interviews and observations have demonstrated how cycling can increase equality and social inclusion over the life course. Interviewees speak of how cycling provides freedom and independence, at times when this is often denied them (when ill, pregnant, old or young). One refugee living in Hull said cycling had given him more control over his life, as he could now easily access culturally appropriate services otherwise two slow bus rides away. Making cycling more accessible can also reduce health inequalities among people excluded from other forms of physical activity due to financial or time constraints. ■ www.cyclingcultures.org.uk
18 London Cyclist Oct/Nov 2011
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.
Dutch courage Members voted for ‘Go Dutch’ as the main campaign in the lead up to next year’s Mayoral elections. Mike Cavenett looks ahead...
o what’s the purpose of the campaign? Essentially, we want international best practice applied to main roads across Greater London, to create significant amounts of clear space for cycling within the next mayoralty. Why main roads? When we gave you, our members, a choice of campaigns for the 2012 mayoral elections, you voted overwhelmingly to support “Go Dutch: clear space for main roads”. In fact, Go Dutch earned over half the votes, despite the other candidates having such worthy goals as getting thousands more kids cycling to school, banishing London’s one-way systems, and creating cycle-friendly residential neighbourhoods. The simple fact is that many London cyclists have read about or experienced the dedicated cycling facilities in the Netherlands, and they want the same thing here. They’ve understood how successful the Dutch approach has been, in particular installing segregated cycle tracks on the busiest roads. These dedicated cycle tracks, in combination with other important measures such as reducing urban traffic volumes and speeds, have made the Netherlands the most successful cycling nation in the world, with a quarter of all journeys being made by bike. Astonishingly, in the country’s most cycle-friendly town, Groningen, it’s well over half of all journeys.
Continental model As well as the proliferation of dedicated cycle tracks within urban areas, there are also numerous tracks that link towns and cities. The Netherlands also has a policy of making sure cyclists always enjoy routes that are safe, fast and direct, giving them high priority at junctions. These infrastructure measures are backed up by a law of strict liability, which means when bikes do share roads with motor vehicles, the onus is heavily on the motorist to avoid the cyclist. And cycle parking in the Netherlands is spectacular by British standards; it’s not unusual to find facilities at large railway stations for storing tens of thousands of bicycles. The outcome of these measures combined is a transport network with conditions that are attractive to everyone. The Dutch start cycling at a very young age, with both sexes cycling equally, and many continue well into later life. Yes, younger people cycle more (Groningen, for example, has a huge student population), but even in later adult life cycling is normal. The reason cycling is attractive to so many people is that Dutch roads are among the safest in the world. This isn’t because cyclists are cosseted in helmets and other protective gear, or emblazoned with high-visibility clothing. In fact, helmets are rare, and cycle-specific clothing is unusual. No, the reason cycling is so attractive in the
Netherlands is that cyclists are given priority at junctions and there are dedicated cycle tracks that run alongside busy roads. It’s significant too, that motorists there are invariably cyclists too, so there’s a strong culture of giving cyclists sufficient space and consideration whenever space is shared. Safety first It’s important to note that cycling in the Netherlands is not only statistically safer, but it also feels safe. Dutch engineers use the term ‘subjective safety’. Are you riding near fast-moving motor vehicles? Do you feel safe at junctions? Do you think you have to ride fast or athletically to keep up? Statistically, cycling in London is safe, but it’s impossible to convince someone who doesn’t believe it. In London, we’ve built a road system that has been massively successful in persuading people to abandon other forms of transport such as cycling and walking, even for short journeys. Today, half the car journeys in Greater London are less than two miles. If we ever want to get Dutch levels of cycling, we have to build infrastructure that appeals to everyone, and that includes highquality segregated cycle tracks on busy roads. The Cycle Superhighways are well meant, but until they — and other main routes — are reworked to the standards the Dutch enjoy, real and subjective road danger will stifle demand for cycling.
20 London Cyclist Oct/Nov 2011
Oct/Nov 2011 London Cyclist 21
experiments in bringing Dutch infrastructure here have failed. Cycle tracks in London have generally been implemented badly. Show me a cycle lane in London that is wide, long, continuous, prioritised at junctions, separated from fast-moving traffic, well lit at night, clear of debris, and goes where people want to go. There are a few gallant examples, such as the two-way track along Torrington Place in Camden, but largely the approach here has demonstrated how bad bike lanes can be when weak political will meets inadequate transport planning and engineering. Our ‘Going Dutch’ campaign will focus on avoiding the mistakes of the past and busting the myth that there’s not enough room for proper facilities in our city. This year we’ll be producing a new set of street design case studies to demonstrate how cyclists can be given priority and high-quality space (see panel right).
The road ahead There will be those who disagree that this is the way forward: they’ll argue that the Dutch approach is too expensive and lacks political support, that existing segregated infrastructure hasn’t encouraged cycling sufficiently well, or that there’s not enough space in London for more bike lanes. Well, we would counter that forcing bikes to share space with fast-moving motor vehicles has failed to create mass cycling. Despite the excitement of increases in cycling in the past decade or so, the number of journeys in Greater London taken by bike still hovers at a mere two percent. The evidence that the average person won’t ride a bike on a busy road is strong. And while reducing traffic speeds and volumes will certainly play a hugely important part, Londoners won’t feel safe enough to cycle on busy routes without high-quality dedicated facilities. As far as expense is concerned, the mistake is to consider what it costs to build a section of segregated bike track or high quality lane compared with what we’re spending on cycling now. Wouldn’t it be more prudent to compare the cost with what we spend on other modes of transport? Building and subequently widening the M25, a
ABOVE: Women and young people make up a significant proportion of cyclists in Dutch cities. Photo by Amsterdamize TOP RIGHT: Wide segregated cycle lanes next to congested, multi-lane motorway in Naarden, Holland. Photo by Fietsberaad BOTTOM RIGHT: Cyle lanes as wide as roads in central Amsterdam. Photo by Fietsberaad
segregated route for motorists, has cost tens of billions of pounds. Crossrail is costing the capital something in the region of £20 billion. The Dutch model has shown that spending money on cycling works and we should see it as a shining example of success, not something to turn our backs on. Costs of cyclising cities We also have to consider the costs of not adopting cycling: the dangers from man-made global warming caused by carbon dioxide are well documented; air pollution is killing over 4,000 Londoners per year, and is detrimental to the health of all of us. Inactive lifestyles are causing record levels of obesity among adults and, even more worrying, children. The financial benefits from improved public health could run into hundreds of millions. Cycling is also effective in reducing costly congestion and cutting expensive road deaths and injuries. In short, promoting cycling is a massive win in financial terms — with a proven return on investment of at least a factor of three. Yes, we have a huge job in persuading sceptical politicians, but public demand defeated political inertia in the Netherlands and elsewhere, and we can do the same here. It’s a mistake to say that past
Consider all the options It’s important to remember that dedicated cycle tracks on main roads aren’t the only solution. If you visit Amsterdam, which has 300 miles of segregated lanes, you’ll also find thousands of streets that don’t have them. Other solutions can be used alongside separate cycle lanes, measures that we’ve long advocated such as ‘filtered permeability’, where through-routes (often rat-runs) are blocked for motor vehicles but not for walkers and cyclists. Lower speed limits play their part in making back streets safer too, and we’ll continue to push 20mph up the agenda. We’ll also carry on fighting against multi-lane, motorway-style roads in the centre of London, as exist at Blackfriars and Vauxhall. Dangerous one-way systems are an anachronism, which hinder direct travel for cyclists and walkers, and encourage highspeed motor travel. While Going Dutch might sound like a cyclist-centric campaign, if you visit Dutch towns and cities you find they’re incredibly people-friendly places, with large pedestrian plazas in their centres and low-speed zones where walkers are prioritised over cars. Our campaign won’t be arguing that space is taken away from pedestrians to benefit cycling. The problem is excessive car use — and the solution is a reallocation of space away from motor vehicles towards dedicated cycling and pedestrian facilities.
22 London Cyclist Oct/Nov 2011
Panel: Tom Bogdanowicz Photos: Neil Cordell
HELP US TO ‘GO DUTCH’ It’s a common misconception that there isn’t enough room to build the highest-quality cycle routes in Greater London, but we’ll be putting forward viable proposals for getting mass cycle transport across Greater London. We want members in every borough to propose a route that they would most like to be made bike-friendly. And we’ll be developing a series of case studies showing how continental principles can work in London streets, and examining what kind of network could work to reduce car journeys in the capital. We aim to counter the flawed modelling carried out by Transport for London, which consistently fails to account for the single most important factor in transport economics: behaviour change. It’s going to be an exciting period between now and the Mayoral election on 3 May 2012. We’re going to need all the help we can get from you between now and then, so prepare to join our biggest campaign ever.
Oct/Nov 2011 London Cyclist 23
Longer lorry ‘trial’ spells disaster for city cyclists Charlie Lloyd explores the real cost of introducing longer lorries to our streets
he government is planning to authorise an increase in the length of articulated lorries by 2.05 metres (about 6 feet) — that is a 15 percent increase in trailer length. In total these lorries will be 18.55m (or 61ft 2 in) long — longer than a ‘bendy bus’, but carrying a much heavier load. By the time you read this the government may have already made the decision, by ministerial ‘diktat’, bypassing any parliamentary scrutiny. It is calling the change a ‘trial’, but in reality any haulage company in the UK will be allowed to use the longer trailers, and there are no restrictions on where they can operate. LCC is concerned that these changes are being put in place without a full examination of the likely impacts. This is an experiment to squeeze extra freight capacity onto our roads and we — cyclists, motorcyclists and pedestrians — are the guinea pigs. Many local authorities, amenity societies, environmental groups, cycling and sustainable transport groups share LCC’s concerns and are opposing these proposals. They are also opposed by Frieght on Rails, an organisation that supports increased use of rail freight, and a majority of Road Haulage Association members. Bigger, heavier lorries The longer artics will be too long to meet European rules for international journeys. So in effect they will be
restricted to trips within the UK (as they are within some other European countries). Supporters of the change claim that there are already some lorries this long on the road. What they are referring to are the awkwardly named ‘truck-trailer combinations’ that combine a long truck (eg, 10m long) and shorter trailer (an additional 8m in this case) rather than the proposed ordinary cab and extra long trailer that together come to 18.55m. About two percent of road freight is carried on these longer truck-trailer combinations. These specialist vehicles, however, are designed for our existing roads and, despite their extra length, they go around corners taking very much less road space than existing shorter articulated lorries. Increase in road danger Our road safety experts have no doubt there’ll be increased risk to pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists from the new longer lorries. Drivers of these vehicles will find it more difficult to see where their trailers come into conflict with other road users. There are grave concerns about the trailers’ increased ‘cut-in’ or ‘out-swing’ in London’s streets. No proper analysis of this has been made public. Without new restrictions on movements of the new lorries there is also every chance that they will get stuck on narrow streets in towns and villages, damaging buildings and equipment. As far as we know the
Department of Transport has made no analysis of how these vehicles will get through tens of thousands of narrow streets. If there are collisions, or property damage, the costs will be borne by local authorities and individuals. With the introduction of the longer vehicles, many streets will have to be redesigned to make space for their turning movements. The resulting wider junctions will increase risk to cyclists and pedestrians and be a huge
24 London Cyclist Oct/Nov 2011
LONGER LORRIES: THE DANGERS LACK OF SCRUTINY AND ACCOUNTABILITY Ministers have avoided consulting MPs and Parliament by disingenuously introducing longer lorries in a ‘trial’, even though there are no restrictions on their use anywhere in the UK. EXPERTS PREDICT MORE DANGER Road safety campaigners have universally condemned longer lorries as posing a greater risk to vulnerable road users, especially cyclists. Dangers include reduced visibility towards the rear, and increased cut-in and out-swing. BACKWARD STEP FOR STREET DESIGN If longer lorries become the norm, future street design will be encouraged to cater for these super-large vehicles, meaning wider lanes and boarder curves, encouraging faster speeds from all vehicles. 16.5m
LONGER LORRIES: and narrow streets don’t mix, causing danger to all road users. Photo: Neil Cordell
cost to local authorities. There is also the likelihood that the longer trailers will not be able to carry the increased volumes claimed without significant increased risk of overturning on motorways. This could be another cost that individuals and the public purse will have to bear. Parliamentary scrutiny bypassed In view of the very serious potential impact of the longer lorries on safety and road design it is most surprising
that the programme is not being subjected to proper parliamentary scrutiny. The Department for Transport is planning to introduce the longer lorries by a Vehicle Special Order before “obtaining the necessary clearances and the legislative changes to the regulations through the Parliamentary process”. Without subjecting the newly proposed legislation to public scrutiny it is difficult to establish what cheaper and safer alternatives could be
considered. As far as we know there has been no comparative analysis between the proposed new artics and longer truck combinations. The new lorries could also put small companies out of business. They will be forced to invest heavily in new depots able to take bigger lorries. Small transport operators will have to invest in new equipment or close down. And, while the government prepares to introduce the new lorries, nothing is being done to reduce the number of empty and half-empty lorries already on the road. In a few years time they could all be over 2m longer with all the resulting negative impacts on other road users. What can you do? You can write to your MP asking for proper scrutiny of the new proposals at writetothem.com. There is a model letter you can refer to on the LCC website (www.lcc.org.uk/longer-lorries).
Oct/Nov 2011 London Cyclist 25
London 2012: The Legacy Will the Olympic Park fulfil its legacy potential for cyclists? Tom Bogdanowicz argues that with such an ideal site something special can still be created
magine a space the size of Hyde Park, just 30 minutes ride from the City of London, where planners can design for cycle users from scratch. Rivers, canals, towpaths, nature reserves and 100 acres of parkland (about the size of St James’s Park) are all part of the mix in this chance to set a national standard for sustainable development. The Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park could be London’s first people and cycle-friendly zone — or a missed opportunity. LCC Olympic group members have been trying to follow and influence the complex and elusive plans and negotiations over this valuable real estate.
Exceptional potential When London won the right to host the 2012 Olympics the bid included a commitment to a sustainable ‘legacy’ which would help to regenerate the surrounding Olympic boroughs. The centerpiece of the legacy is the 500-acre Olympic Park itself. Billions of pounds have already been invested in the Park as part of the Olympic preparations: a world class velodrome, an aquatics centre and the main stadium. After the games there will be a road racing circuit, as well as BMX and mountain bike tracks. Adding to this enviable collection of major attractions is the Lea Valley Regional Park which runs along the western side of the Olympic Park and extends
northwards to cover almost 10,000 acres. Eventually there will be a half-mile wide strip of land marked on maps in green or blue running virtually from the Thames to Waltham Abbey. And, as described in last month’s London Cyclist, a network of walking and cycling routes to the Olympic Park is being completed — notably the missing towpath link under Bow Flyover. A further new off-road route, the Fat Walk, will create a direct link from the Olympic Park to Leamouth. Taking all these elements together the potential of this new London zone for both cycling and walking is exceptional. Newham could effectively become a “Newham-sterdam” criss-crossed by waterways, cycleways and footpaths. Thousands of Londoners pay hard cash to ride and swim in UK resorts like Centre Parcs. Yet in nearby East London they may be able to get the same exercise and enjoyment for free — that is, if local authorities, the Olympic Park
26 London Cyclist Oct/Nov 2011
LONDON’S LEGACY ROUTES TEMPORARY NORTHERN SPECTATOR TRANSPORT MALL
On-carriageway (no designated lane)
ETON MANOR WHEELCHAIR TENNIS & PARALYMPIC ARCHERY
On-carriageway BMX CIRCUIT
(designated lane) INTERNATIONAL BROADCAST CENTRE/ MAIN PRESS CENTRE
Two-way cycling (shared surface
BASKETBALL ARENA HACKNEY
with pedestrians) Prince Edwards
STRATFORD INTERNATIONAL STATION
Car pen ter s
Ro ad SPONSOR’S HOSPITALITY ZONE
WATER POLO ENTRANCE
Cyclists Dismount AQUATICS CENTRE STRATFORD REGIONAL STATION OLYMPIC STADIUM
Off-carriageway (designated lane) NEWHAM
ET RE ST
D OR TF RA ST
TEMPORARY SOUTHERN SPECTATOR TRANSPORT MALL
The Park plans LCC’s Olympics group has struggled to get accurate information about cycling plans for the QE Olympic Park but some information has emerged. Draft plans for the Park show several miles worth of off-carriageway cycle tracks, including a cycle and foot bridge near Eastway. Some are shared with walkers but some major routes, intended for cycle commuters as well as leisure riders, are to be Dutch-style cycleways. LCC has been told that developers will be asked to provide cycle parking for 10 percent of staff and that the ambition is to achieve a modal share for cycling of at least 5 percent or possibly 7 percent — higher than the level in Newham today but much lower than the potential of such an ideal greenfield site.
Photos: BOA, Tom Bogdanowicz
Legacy Company/Corporation and Transport for London can collaborate and deliver what’s needed.
MISSING LINK: at last the towpath has been built under Bow flyover
Oct/Nov 2011 London Cyclist 27
CAMPAIGN FEATURE ABOVE: with six lanes for motor traffic and wide pavements, Stratford High Street would be the perfect location for new cycle facilities to be built LEFT: green spaces are starting to appear at the Olympic Park already
Barriers to cycling A third of Londoners say they want to cycle more, but one obstacle to higher cycling levels are the barriers around and within the Park site and reluctance to make the whole Park area a 20mph zone. Addressing such barriers is not simply a case of funding, but a matter of political will. Westfield Centre Westfield’s Shepherd’s Bush shopping mall now has a twin in Stratford. Westfield says it is supportive of cycling and will be installing some 1,000 cycle parking spaces for customers and staff on its site. But the development puts two spanners in the works: the first is a four-lane road
through the Park to the shopping centre, approved before the Olympics; the other is the lack of a cycle route from Stratford through the shopping centre to the Park. Park planners say they are mitigating the highway’s impact by measures to encourage slow speeds (20mph they say) such as pedestrian crossings and landscaping. Cyclists will also be able to use an off-carriageway track alongside the road. No solution has yet emerged for the lack of a convenient and safe route from Stratford centre to the Park area (note the long ‘dismount ‘ section on the map). The one-way gyratory around the town centre remains in place and will likely deter leisure riders
from accessing the Park, as well as the shopping centre. It may also impact plans for a cycle shop/hire centre/bike park on the gyratory side of Westfield’s. Stratford High Street Newham Cyclists have long campaigned for improved cycle provision on the exceptionally wide Stratford High Street. This urban motorway has six car lanes, plus pavements the width of most roads, yet still no space is allocated to cycle users. The street could, if provision for people on bikes was made, be a prime access point to the Olympic Park via the off-road Greenway and, as of 2011, via the towpath under Bow flyover. Access to the Park also needs to be improved from Hackney as well as the north and east. That would also have the benefit of creating several improved cycle routes across east London. The way forward The Olympic Park Legacy Company (OPLC), Newham and surrounding boroughs can still capitalise on the Olympic legacy and benefit from a sustainable development. If routes within the Park meet high standards and access is made easy from all directions there is every chance that Newham, and its environs, could make headlines as a leading cycling destination. Supplementary planning applications for the Park are due in the autumn. If you want to get involved in the Olympic legacy issues, contact the LCC office (firstname.lastname@example.org).
28 London Cyclist Oct/Nov 2011
Sutton parks and villages Head south of the capital for a classic Surrey ride. Colin Wing guides the way...
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THE FRIENDS OF WHITEHALL
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efore the suburban expansion of the inter-war years, Sutton was still largely a rural area, dotted with country houses. Many of these became public parks, which still retain some of their original landscaping and buildings, which you can visit on this ride. Sutton has implemented an extensive network of cycle routes that allow you to cycle between the places included in this ride. As well as avoiding busy roads and junctions, the routes take you through some interesting backwaters. You can also cycle along traffic-free paths around a couple of ancient deer parks — these are popular cycling destinations for families with younger children. You can start the ride at Cheam or Carshalton station and finish it at either Carshalton or Hackbridge station.
TIME 3 hours Ewell East TYPE RailOF RIDE Easy. Mostly quiet streets and paths through open spaces. Fairly flat but a few short, sharp rises.
This 18th century house was rebuilt in the picturesque gothic style in 1802-6 by architect Jeffry Wyatville, who also worked on Windsor Castle. The main rooms are now used as a venue for meetings and events. There is a café as well as toilets and cycle stands.
FACTFILE LOCAL CYCLING GUIDE 12 START: Cheam station FINISH: Carshalton (or Hackbridge) station LENGTH 14.7km (9 miles)
THE SITE OF NONSUCH PALACE is marked by three
small concrete obelisks at the west end of Nonsuch Park. Henry VIII began work on the palace in 1538, re-using material from the dissolved Merton Abbey. It was on a scale that exceeded that of Hampton Court and was adorned with panels of moulded stucco and with gilded carved slate. After several changes of ownership, Charles II’s mistress Barbara Villiers ordered its demolition in 1682, in order to pay her gambling debts. In 1959 the site was
excavated by the Museum of London. You reach it at the far end of the traffic-free Avenue before returning to the Cheam gate.
30 London Cyclist Oct/Nov 2011
POINTS OF INTEREST
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CAREW MANOR 6 HOUSE
The Grade I listed Manor House is now a school. Guided tours take place on a number of summer Sunday afternoons. There is an early 18th-century dovecote nearby.
Grove in 1924 and formed the recreation ground out of the grounds. Venetian architect Giacomo Leoni is believed to have designed the Portland stone bridge across the River Wandle, where it flows out of the Lower Pond.
CAREW MANOR HOUSE, originally built in
the 15th to 16th centuries, was the home of Sir Francis Carew, whose gardens were famous in the 17th century.
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FOOD STOPS ■ Nonsuch Mansion Café ■ Whitehall tea room ■ Hill Road, Sutton: variety of bars and restaurants ■ Honeywood Museum tea room (Sunday afternoons in summer only) ■ National Rail stations at Cheam, Sutton, Carshalton, Hackbridge
ST NICHOLAS’ CHURCH
was rebuilt by Edwin Nash in 1862-4. In the churchyard there are many tombs including a sizeable mausoleum (dating from 1777) dedicated to citizen and merchant James Gibson and family. The structure has a pyramidal roof, rusticated quoins and beautiful stone door surround.
Part of the centre of rural Carshalton, the public park with an ornamental pond was once the grounds of The Grove, a private house built around 1840 and now council offices. Carshalton UDC purchased the
■ Whitehall is a large timber-framed house dating from about 1500 and restored in 1975-6. You can see how the building was altered over the centuries and there is a room devoted to the story of Nonsuch Palace. ■ Honeywood Museum contains displays about the history of the local area including Henry VIII and Nonsuch Palace, the River Wandle, Victorian Carshalton, Edwardian toys and local railways. There are many fine paintings showing the local area in the 19th and early 20th centuries. ■ Sutton Ecology Centre opened in 1989 and has its shop and offices in the Old Rectory, an early 18th-century house. ■ Carshalton Park is a former medieval deer park. Features surviving from the 18th century garden include the large grotto and ornamental canal of c.1724. ■ Beddington Park was once the deer park for the Carews, who came to Beddington in the 14th century and held the estate until 1859. The Wandle flows attractively through the park.
CARSHALTON HOUSE WATER TOWER was built by Sir
John Fellowes of the South Sea Company in the grounds of Carshalton House (now St Philomela’s School), which he owned from 1716 until he went bankrupt in 1720. As well as a cistern supplying water to the house, the Tower accommodated a large marble plunge bath, a pumping engine and an orangery.
Oct/Nov 2011 London Cyclist 31
Learning from the Dutch masters Lucy Davis explains what London can learn from her familyâ€™s favourite holiday destination in the Netherlands
32 London Cyclist Oct/Nov 2011
Photos: Steve Rutherford, Lucy Davis
or this year’s Skyride my partner and I decided to hire a ‘box bike’ to transport our two young children around in comfy seats with seatbelts, so they would have a wonderful view of the journey while packhorse daddy did all the work. Cycling to the event in central London from our home in New Cross, I came to understand why, sadly, so many adults in London are fearful of cycling around our wonderful city on their own, let alone with their kids. Riding along at the moderate speeds
INSPIRED IDEAS: author Lucy got her hands on a Christiania bike as soon as she got back to the UK
It’s a family affair — all smiles on Delft cycle trip
this kind of bike demands, we experienced the full unpleasantness of the roaring traffic, beeping motorists trying to force us out of their way, not to mention poor quality cycle lanes that appeared out of thin air and vanished metres later. I’m not new to cycling in London — far from it. I’ve cycled here for the last 10 years and as soon as my first child was old enough to go in a bike seat (around six months) I was back in the saddle. The kids love it, and so do I. However, on this occasion I wasn’t feeling the love, more a heightened sense of the intolerant, impatient attitude of the motorists around me, and the shocking speed and sheer volume of traffic. The reason was that I’d just been on holiday in the Netherlands, and coming home after this wonderful cyling experience, I realised I felt vulnerable again. Cycling in the Netherlands is easy and pleasant. It’s the kind of place where you can coax your mum, who hasn’t ridden a bicycle in donkey’s years, to have a quick pootle up and down. There you see people of all ages on a bicycle: parents and grandparents cycle their kids on a rear seat, front seat, or both; even more children can be transported on various clever designs such as family tandems with extra saddles or box bikes. Kids cycle to school alongside their parents or on their own, students cycle, and
Oct/Nov 2011 London Cyclist 33
business people cycle too. From what I saw, more than a few octogenarians still cycle as well. Unlike in the UK, there’s no stereotype of a ‘cyclist’ because almost everyone rides a bike. Differences in attitude? Ask someone in the UK why it’s so different over there, and they would most likely attribute the difference to Dutch cycle lanes. Yes, there are dedicated paths across towns and in the countryside: they link up, are wide and clear, and don’t suddenly stop or have a lamppost in the middle of them. Some are segregated from the traffic, some are shared with pedestrians on the pavement, and some are alongside cars on the road. Whatever their design, they’re all good quality with smooth surfaces, no potholes, and no kerbs to bump up and down. Not once did I have to warn my children “big bump coming up”, as I’ve become accustomed to doing here almost every day. Oh, and there are signposts, lots of them, clearly pointing the way to wherever you might want to go. This network of cycle paths is fabulous and a fundamental part of the Dutch solution, but it’s not the only reason why cycling over there is so pleasurable. Get on a bike anywhere in the Netherlands and you find that everything has been arranged so you can seamlessly cycle to or from school, the workplace, a health clinic, shops, rail or bus stations, no matter where. Going by train? Simple, either take your bike with you all the way or park it at one of the thousands dss of racks outside the station. School run or shopping? You can take your bike in the knowledge that cars have been routed a safe distance away. And don’t worry, the problem of what to do with your bike when you get home hasn’t been neglected either. You won’t have to drag it through your home to o a shed around the back, nor manoeuvre it up a narrow staircase to yourr flat and store it in the kitchen. The Dutch park their bikes in shelters on n their streets, which were re e
RIDE FOR ALL AGES: mum, the kids and granddad enjoy quiet cobbled lanes
such a novelty that my children and I happily played ‘spot the bike houses’ as we rode along. A matter of respect What a wonderful experience, to cycle confidently and safely with your children through residential areas and in town centres. But it’s not just the cycling cyclin that is so pleasant cy the streets themit’ss th selves. se elve Many residential areas ar reas have car-free areas arreas and all have low speed sp pee limits which, to my amazement, m a everyone respects. ever e And A this is the crux the matter: respect. of th o Pedestrians have Ped P ultimate priority, ultim u followed by cyclists. ffollo Motorists drive Mot carefully, and happily care give giv way to cyclists or pedestrians where ped space is shared. spa You can walk your Yo pushchair across pu the road without worrying that a car wo
Best seat in the house on a typical Dutch bike
is going to come screeching round the corner, beeping at you to get out of the way (something I’ve experienced in the UK many times). Drivers rarely exceed speed limits, even on local roads, which in the UK frequently resemble race tracks. So how has the country engendered this culture of mutual respect? It’s because motorists are cyclists and cyclists are motorists and, of course, when not on two or four wheels, everyone is a pedestrian. Excellent cycle paths combined with a culture of respect are the twin reasons why in the Netherlands cycling is the best and easily most convenient way to get around. So back (with a potholed bump) to London and the Skyride. It’s easy to see the effect on the cycling public on that one day a year when we’re given priority on the roads: tens of thousands take the chance (even in the rain!). In the Netherlands, cyclists enjoy priority every day, which is why most Dutch people cycle, most days. And I’m sure many more mums with kids, like me, would do so in London given a fair chance.
34 London Cyclist Oct/Nov 2011
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Diamond Wight With a higher density of bridleways and quiet lanes than any other part of the UK, Ruth Bradshaw hopped on a weekend ferry
36 London Cyclist Oct/Nov 2011
Landmark locations Our decision to go to the Isle of Wight was initially prompted by the fact that we bought English Heritage (EH) membership last year and wanted to get our money’s worth before it ran out. In addition to its other attractions, the island has a rich heritage of cultural and historic sites, many of which are now open to the
public. The island’s location means that it has played a strategic role throughout history, resulting in the building of a number of castles and fortifications. In more recent centuries, the unusual geology and mild climate have attracted numerous visitors, especially after Queen Victoria made it a popular destination for seaside holidays. Many of the main towns developed from fishing villages to fashionable resorts during this time and most are still primarily Victorian in character. In addition several literary figures from this era have associations with the island, notably Tennyson, who is commemorated in the downs and trail which now bear his name. The original plan was to use our bikes primarily as a means of transport to visit some of the EH properties on the island, including Osborne House, Queen Victoria’s home. However, we ended up doing quite a lot of cycling, partly because the weather was dry and sunny every day and partly because when we looked at the map, we realised there were so many interesting routes to explore by bike. Another reason is that we choose to stay in Seaview, a couple of miles easy cycling round the coast south-east from Ryde. This meant we were further from most of the places we
wanted to visit than if we’d stayed somewhere more central, but given the cycling was so enjoyable this really didn’t matter. Seaview is a quiet village on the coast and the self-catering accommodation that we found was perfect for cyclists, with a garage we could put our bikes in, a well-stocked village shop just up the road and several places to eat within walking distance for the evenings when we didn’t want to cook or get back in the saddle.
Photos: IoW Tourism
t’s one of those guidebook clichés but for once it’s true — for a small place, the Isle of Wight offers a huge range of activities and scenery. If you want sea, sand and sunbathing there are numerous beaches. If you’re after something more active there is sailing and a host of other watersports. And for those who prefer to keep their feet on dry land, a well signposted network of public rights of way criss-crosses the island and follows much of the shoreline, offering plentiful scope for exploring the countryside. Much of this network consists of bridleways or byways which cyclists can use as well as horse-riders and walkers. The island has two National Cycle Network (Sustrans) routes too — R23 links Sandown, Newport and Cowes and R22 links Ryde and Freshwater. Both are mainly off-road on well-surfaced and clearly signed routes which make use of disused railway lines. You will also see signs everywhere for the on-road ‘Round the Island’ route. Less well signed is the Sunshine Route which is a 12-mile circular route from Sandown and Shanklin which has some overlap with R23 and some sections on bridleways. With all these different cycling options available, the Isle of Wight is a great place to head by bike and at just over two hours travelling time from London is easy to reach for a short break, or even a day trip. My partner and I spent four days there, travelling by train and ferry to Ryde and it was the easiest journey I’ve done with a bicycle. At Portsmouth Harbour you just wheel your bike along the platform and straight on to the ferry which takes bikes free-of-charge and has space for around 20 bikes. The only potential difficulty is South West Trains ‘first-come, first-served’ policy for bikes on this route if you’re travelling at busy times as they don’t allow you to make reservations for bicycles.
Off-roading made easy The cycling itself was excellent. Some of the bigger roads were busy but drivers generally treated cyclists with respect and if we planned our route carefully we could avoid spending too much time among traffic and make the most of the off-road opportunities available. A 1:25,000 Ordnance Survey (OS) Map is definitely a good idea to make the most of the bridleways — however, a mountain bike isn’t essential, at least not in dry weather. We were on the same hybrid bikes we use for cycling in London and while there was the occasional short section where we needed to get off and push, much of the surface was no worse than the potholed streets of the capital.
Oct/Nov 2011 London Cyclist 37
FACTFILE Tourist info/accommodation ■ Isle of Wight council information for visitors — www.iwight. com/just_visiting ■ The official website of Isle of Wight Tourism (with database for accommodation) — www. islandbreaks.co.uk ■ We stayed at The Bolthole at Linden in Seaview — www. theboltholeiow.co.uk/linden
We were glad we had good brakes and plenty of gears though as the Isle of Wight is surprisingly hilly. A central ridge of chalk downland runs east-west across the island and any journey that involved crossing this inevitably included several ups and downs. But the views from places such as Ashey Down and Brading Down more than made up for this. Many of the roads around the downs are known as shutes — these are usually steep, narrow lanes which have obviously been used for centuries and make for interesting cycling. One good example is Lime Kiln Shute near Mersley Down. You can avoid most of the hills by sticking to the Sustrans routes which tend to be fairly flat as they mainly follow former railway lines, however you would miss a lot if you did this. These routes also tend to be very well-used, whereas we rarely saw another cyclist when we were on the bridleways in the centre of the island and only a few walkers and horseriders. We also saw lots of wildlife, including red squirrels which flourish on the island, rabbits, deer and many species of bird. The first EH property we visited was Carisbrooke Castle in the centre of the island. The castle was built as part of the island’s defences and towers above the surrounding countryside at the top of a steep hill, making it a tough but rewarding destination for a bike ride. The Carisbrooke donkeys are heavily promoted – all have names beginning with ‘J’ and information is provided on their different personalities. We watched a short demonstration of one of them, Jill, working the 16th
COASTAL CRUISING: you can circumnavigate the island by road, or cross through its centre using the bridleway network. Photo by CaptureThisThat.
century tread-wheel to draw water from the castle’s well. We also walked around the castle’s battlements and saw the window that Charles I attempted to escape from when he was detained here, before heading off for a cream tea. Royal approval On another day we cycled west from Ryde following bridleways and quiet lanes through woodland and small settlements past Quarr Abbey and on to Fishbourne, before following more quiet roads to Whippingham and subsequently to Osborne House. This was the only one of the three EH properties we visited where a question about the location of the cycle parking was greeted with a positive response and directions to the bike racks in the car park. There was even a room in the main house where we could leave our panniers and cycle helmets. There’s plenty to see at Osborne House, with extensive landscaped gardens as well as the royal apartments and other rooms in the house itself but my favourite of the three properties we visited was Appuldurcombe House. This is really little more than a ruin as the house was badly damaged in the Second World War. However, it is a very impressive ruin surrounded by gardens landscaped by Capability Brown and in a beautiful, peaceful setting. It is also really easy to ride to as the Sunshine Route passes the end of the drive. Although there were no bike racks, staff were very helpful in identifying the best place for us to leave the bikes. With a little more time and cycling
Travel ■ We used the Portsmouth to Ryde foot passenger catamaran (www.wightlink.co.uk) which takes just over 20 minutes and booked combined train and boat tickets through the trainline (www.thetrainline. com/buytickets). Other useful info ■ The website of the island’s cycling campaign group, CycleWight, provides details of the various cycle routes on the island and lists bike hire facilities — www.cyclewight. org.uk/cw.htm The Isle of Wight Cycling Festival (usually held in Sept) ■ www.sunseaandcycling.com Round the Island Randonnee ■ www.cycleisland.co.uk Visiting English Heritage properties on the island ■ www.english-heritage.org. uk/daysout/properties/ isle-of-wight/ Map ■ Ordnance Survey Explorer OL29, Isle of Wight we could also have used our EH membership to visit Yarmouth Castle on the western side of the island but we chose to take our time exploring some of the bridleways instead. A fast cyclist could easily get round the island in a day — it measures only 23 miles from east to west and just over 13 from north to south — and there’s even an annual event (the Randonnee) when around 2,000 people do just that. But with so much to see and do, why rush?
38 London Cyclist Oct/Nov 2011
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Have Your Say As the nights close in, London Cyclist asks LCC members and staff: how visible do you need to be? And is there such a thing as too much hi-vis kit?
Elfneh Bariso Highgate Darkness is one of the major winter challenges. At about this time of year I always spend a lot of money on buying bike lights and other accessories. I have been so unlucky with lights. Whatever type I buy they don’t last long; they break, don’t work, the brackets cease to function or they get nicked. As I am thinking of cycling in heavy traffic full of inconsiderate drivers and lethal lorries or along a canal, I feel I will have to purchase decent back and front lights yet again! For all four of us in the family it’s not going to be cheap but it’s worth it. People who cycle through dark winter nights with no lights really worry me. There have been quite a few incidents when I have nearly crashed into inconspicuous cyclists. My cycling jacket is dark but I wear a luminous vest on top. It’s still in decent condition, so does actually reflect well. It is no bother for me at all, just part of the daily routine. I’d say better safe than sorry and would advise people to get their bike lights sorted out in good time.
Mat Schmidt Twickenham My attitude to lights and visibility has evolved over the years, just as my cycling has. As a fixed-gear rider, I didn’t care much for lights — they spoiled the purity of the bike. A road warrior looks out for himself/herself and ought not to be seen. If you say I was lucky, I will tell you, so are you, however shiny you are. Now I am a fully-geared (8 gears) shopping and schoolrun cyclist, I have a rear light, as bright as reasonable money can buy, and a front light, which could be brighter. I only use intermittent mode where car traffic prevails over pedestrians, as I don’t think it’s nice on the eyes. I don’t do hi-vis clothing, it’s ugly, it makes me and cycling look unattractive. I’m still at an age when I care. Most importantly, it shifts the responsibility onto cyclists, which is wrong. I hope in my lifetime I will see it change. And yes, maybe I’m lucky, but then so are you.
Lucy Cooper Hackney I tend not to like, or wear, hi-vis clothing any more. I used to wear it when I first started cycling in London, especially if it was raining or when the clocks went back in the autumn. But the more I cycled, and after I had cycle training, I realised that cycling in a safe way, such as positioning yourself correctly, is a much more important way to reduce risk. You can wear all the luminous yellow in the world, but if you’re not aware of what’s around you, then you’re still not going to be safe.
Jonathan Stanley Penge I don’t particularly like wearing hi-vis equipment and I’m sure most would agree. But I take a very pragmatic view that it’s for your own good, so when the winter nights starting drawing in I’ll throw my Altura hi-vis jacket back on, which is waterproof as well so doubly useful when the weather is not so good. It really shocks me when I see cyclists riding on roads at night with no lights in dark clothes. Having a good set of lights is really important, giving drivers, pedestrians and other cyclists a fair chance to see you, especially if you are travelling at a decent rate, although sometimes I wish I had some really big headlights to let motorists know I’m coming! My fairly standard set of Cateye lights does the job quite nicely, although on dark streets seeing some potholes can be a challenge.
40 London Cyclist Oct/Nov 2011
John Kitchiner Greenwich I’ve never been one for wearing too much garish hi-vis clothing, but my most frequently worn helmet and jacket do have decent reflective tabs. And my waterproof rucksack lights up like a Christmas tree. On my town bike I’ve attached reflective stickers to the seatstays, which make the bike more visible from the rear and side. Plus I use a simple, quickly removable LED rear light clipped to the seatpost. Up front I also prefer to use removable lights and I’ve settled on a single lamp that clips to the bar, with a tiny battery pack that straps to the stem. All in, it takes about two minutes to get set for any night-time forays. Off the bike, the two lights can be fitted in any pocket or just stashed in the bottom of a pack — they usually reside there most of the year for emergencies anyway. For off-road night-riding I tend to use a more powerful wide beam headlamp, coupled with a lightweight helmet light. The advantage of using a helmet light is that you can see off the trail or around corners, which you can’t do with bar-mounted lamps. All my lights are rechargeable too, to save on battery waste.
Gerhard Weiss Walthamstow You’ve got to do something to be seen in the dark, not least to be legal. I have tried many solutions over the years, with the aim of making it as hasslefree as possible. I can’t stand having to spend ages preparing to go out on my bike, finding batteries, sticking lights on, fixing that broken plastic clip, etc. And I certainly won’t put any extra jackets on. Looking back I was surprised how much I spent on what were quite unsatisfactory and short-lived solutions. So I took the plunge, spent about £170 on a hub dynamo and a decent front and rear light. That’s it. It is all you’ll ever need or want. I have completely forgotten about lights or any other special preparation when riding in the dark. Now I just get on my bike and ride, just as it should be. The lights come on automatically when it’s dark (or when I go through a tunnel) and there is no need to take anything off when I arrive. I have also stopped using additional blinking lights. My lights can be seen perfectly well. As for hi-vis, I think it’s utterly unnecessary in London or any modern city. I don’t hear anybody asking for black cars to have hi-vis coating.
Aug/Sept 2011 London Cyclist 41
Hybrid bikes Nippy around town and comfortable enough for clocking up the mileage at weekends, the new breed of sporty hybrids are more versatile than ever
42 London Cyclist Oct/Nov 2011
PINNACLE Neon One £399.99
RIDGEBACK Flight g 02 £750
The Neon range has three models and the One we tested also comes in a womenspecific version, which includes a lower toptube, shorter cranks and stem and fetching ‘deep purple’ paintwork. All Neons have the same style of aluminium frame and fork, with the One using a 7-speed Shimano drivetrain, which comprises an Acera rear derailleur and just one chainring at the front. For a town bike, this is an acceptable solution, offering simplicity and lightness over range. But those seven gears are much closer spaced than the multispeed hub-gear bikes we also tested in this issue. The crankset isn’t the the most robust we’ve ever seen, though the chainguard is a useful touch. The V-brakes are paired
The Flight possesses the kind of understated looks that are unlikely to attract bags of attention from passers-by. However this is a well-specified bike with everything a typical rider would want for commuter or leisure outings. The lightweight aluminium frame and carbon fork feel (and look) good, and the bike has rack and mudguard mounts. The drivetrain is a 16-speed Shimano Sora setup, which is budget road bike kit but more than effective for daily use on London’s streets. The Flight 02 comes with a compact chainset, which means only two chainrings at the front instead of three; there’s still plenty of gearing plus it saves weight. Disc brakes provide excellent
with with Shimano wit Sh ma Shim mano levers, leve ers, s while wh whi hile e stem, flat handlebar, saddle and seatpost are all own-brand items. The 700c wheels came with 26c Kenda Kwickrollers. On the move, the Neon feels reasonably light, it manoeuvres well and stops on a sixpence. The lack of gears feels a bit odd if you’re used to say a 3x9 set-up but, overall, this is an easy to maintain and sensibly spec’ed machine. You could do a lot worse for this kind of money. Comes in S-XL (unisex) and small, medium and ‘tall’ (women’s). PROS looks, price, simplicity CONS lack of range in the gearing
power sstopping topping pow wer in all conditions, and the wheels are 700c with Alex rims shod in Continental Contact 28c rubber. The bars and saddle are Ridgeback’s own. There’s a good range of sizes (six bikes from 50-60cm), so you should find one that fits you properly. On the road, the Flight lives up to its name. It’s light for a hybrid, well balanced, with precise gear changing and plenty of range. The brakes give you the confidence to let loose when you’re in the mood, though it’s happy enough plodding to the shops too. PROS drivetrain, top brakes CONS it’s a competitive market
ON-ONE Pompetamine mpetamine £1200
SCHINDELHAUER Ludwig g £1500
As one of this British firm’s most popular bikes, the Pompetamine comes with an enticing spec that comprises steel frame and fork, 11-speed Shimano hub-gears, and hydraulic disc brakes. We tested a small size, and experienced occasional toe contact with the front wheel. This can be a problem with smaller 700c frames, so try before you buy. There are mudguard bosses if you need them, and it’ll accept up to 35mm tyres. The drivetrain is built around the latest 11-speed Alfine hub gear system; it gives smooth changes and massive range, and is happy whistling around the city or chugging up the Surrey Hills. It’s pricey, mind, but there’s an 8-speed Pompetamine for £750.
This Germandesigned bike won’t be found in many London shops, but perhaps exclusivity is part of the attraction. At the Ludwig’s core is a smooth-welded, triplebutted alumimium frame and fork; internal cable routing adds to the classy look. The drivetrain is an 8-speed Alfine hub gear with Gates carbon belt-drive and it’s a combination that delivers direct power, quietness and reliability. Some might be put off by a lack of familiar components, but roadside repairs are no more difficult than with a regular setup. Brakes are Tektro road calipers, which offer good stopping power. The 700c wheels use Shimano hubs and deep-dish Alex rims, shod with 28c Continental City tyres. The seatpost, stem and
The brakes are Shimano hydraulics, which are fabulous in all conditions. Wheels are DT Swiss double-wall rims for extra strength. We inadvertently put the On-One through a vast pothole on a fast descent and although the wheel needed trueing later, it didn’t break — many rims wouldn’t have survived this impact. Finishing kit is mostly own brand and our only criticism is the super-wide bars. Overall, this is a lovely bike: it attracted plenty of nods for its style and intriguing spec, and proved itself a tough cookie on the road. Sizes S-XL. PROS great gears, robust CONS small frame’s geometry
handlebars are polished aluminium, which contrast nicely with the brown leather grips and Brooks saddle. Our test bike came with very effective brushed aluminium mudguards too. On the road, the Ludwig is a pleasure to ride. The cockpit’s not too stretched or low down, encouraging pacey but not back-breaking progress, and the steering feels responsive, There are enough gears for all but the steepest hills. Sizes 52, 56, 59 and 62cm, with singlespeed, 11-speed and 14-speed Rohloff options. PROS classy spec, style CONS you’ll want the Rohloff
Oct/Nov 2011 London Cyclist 43
Product New parking and security kit, plus latest clobber, rated by our experts WHEELYLIFT €149 www.wheelylift.com In the last few issues we’ve looked at a variety of parking solutions, for both the home and workplace, and the Wheelylift is the latest product to enter the fray. It got its first public airing at the Cycle Show in Birmingham — but we managed to secure an exclusive early sample in late summer. The component parts need some simple assembly; a couple of brackets are bolted into the central unit, then the pivoting arm is attached. All that’s then required is to drill half-a-dozen holes — three for each bracket — into a secure mounting surface. We bolted it to the brick wall in a basement, for which the fittings were included; for other walls remember to factor the weight of the stand itself plus your bike into the potential load-bearing equation. The bottom of the stand needs to be mounted between 55-65cm from the floor, so ensure your space has sufficient clearance. Once up, that’s the work done though. To get your bike hung, you have to pull the metal arm down to its lower position, slide the front wheel onto the red ‘hook’ and, as you push your bike forward, the mechanical action lifts your bike up into its vertical hanging postion. To test its credentials, we tried hanging a weighty steel butcher’s bike, a 35lb downhill mountain bike and an old Raleigh Grifter (made from iron girders) — all without a hitch. Sure it’s more expensive than a simple metal hook from B&Q, and total overkill for your carbon road bike, but for heavier bikes it’s saves a lot of back-breaking sweats. JK PROS ideal for heavy bikes CONS overkill for light bikes
AQUAPURE Traveller £34.99
SQUIRE Snaplok £60 www.squirelocks.co.uk
www.purehydration.co.uk Tourers and travellers will know how hard it can sometimes be to find clean water, but this simple water purification bottle does away with the need to carry a filter pump or cookware for boiling pan-loads of H2O. Approved by the Hospital of Tropical Diseases in London, the bottle’s cap has an ingenious built-in filter which eliminates viruses, bacteria, pathogens, solids and chemicals, as well as dirt and odours. Apparently it should work for 350-litres 350 litres of refills before it needs replacing. replacin We’ve used it extensively in Europe extens where livestock waste wher in riv rivers and streams was the main threat and suffered no ill Fits all effects. e bottle-cages too. JK bott PROS portable PRO lifesaver lifes CONS none so far CON
You already own a Hetchins Magnum Opus with track ends, a Campag Anniversary Pista chainset and a Paul Smith cycling jersey. But have you considered the lock you’re wearing? The latest in lock style comes from British firm Squire and its 210mm Snaplok is unique in two respects: its combination lock meets the Silver Sold Secure standard (three minutes to break they say) and it is shaped like a monster carabiner. It’s nice not to be reliant on keys and the unusual shape fits around slim street furniture. Setting the combination was a tricky but Squire told us that’s going to be improved. 260mm model is £70; 10-year guarantee. Pricey but stylish. TB PROS 100,000 combinations CONS won’t fit around large posts
MONTANE Slipsteam £50 www.montane.co.ukk This featherweight ght 78g gilet is aimed ed at bikers and otherr fast-moving adventurers. The e ripstop Pertex fabric abric is supremely breathable, thable, wind resistant and nd keeps light showers at bay; a more robust Pertex is used on the shoulders and lumbar area, while a mesh back panel ensures you never get clammy. It packs down into any pocket, which is probably why we’ve used it more than any other item this year. Sizes S-XL. JK PROS weight, keeps core warm CONS none
GIRO Savant £59.99
MUXU Ride Jeans £90
The mid-priced Savant inherits pedigree DNA in both looks and technical construction from Giro’s £100+ siblings. The helmet is sleek, slim and stylish, a long way from the blob helmets of yore. The ‘in mould’ construction, where outer shell and foam are fused as one, makes the helmet very light yet strong. The additional upside is that this also allows the helmet to have more vents, a whopping 25 in this case which equates to extra coolness, especially on longer rides. Its lightness and unobtrusive padding provides an instantly comfortable fit. For extra security the Roc Loc 5 brim band, which can be easily adjusted to suit individual head shapes, keeps the helmet snuggly in place. MM PROS top features at low cost CONS bit racy for some
A couple of brands have tried ‘riding jeans’ before but fairly unsuccessfully. This pair, made from fine Japanese stretch denim is perhaps the best yet. Other than unbelievably comfy material, there’s triple stitching on the legs, a seamless crotch to prevent chafing, and a cut which is a little higher at the rear and lower at the front. In addition to the usual pockets there’s a phone/MP3/ pump pocket at the back plus, on the inner rear of the right leg, a large reflective logo — roll up that leg to keep it out of the chain and you’ll also be visible in low light. Four sizes from 30in to 36in. JK PROS extremely comfortable CONS short leg length unavailable
44 London Cy Cyclist Oct/Nov 2011
Guidebooks a go-go this month, plus Tour de France inspiration
Escape Routes £16.95 Matt Carroll taste wines at a vineyard, take a lengthy stroll on a windswept beach, and much more. There are also suggestions for overnight stays, with prices for pubs and B&Bs generally under £100 per night. Overall, this is a most charming book, though we have to qualify our pleasure somewhat because the routes are just so short: they vary in length from just five miles up to a notconsiderable 22 miles, distances that wouldn’t be out of place in a walking guide. Saying that, for the right audience, this book is replete with little gems. MC
This is a really well presented book of cycle routes all across England (sorry Celtic readers), which will appeal most to families, novice cyclists and those with a penchant for long lunches and leisurely stops. Once you get over the fact that this is a guide most definitely from the school of ‘slow travel’,
then you start to take pleasure in the exquisite photography (many featuring the author cutting a dash in shades astride his On-One Pompetamine — see p43), as well as the inspired layout and pretty hand-drawn maps. Every route — and there are 60 of them from Cornwall to Northumberland — includes
directions, using quiet lanes and cycle tracks as much as possible. Each comes with suggestions for bike rental, as well as the obligatory eats and drinks, along with more immersive activities often not suggested by other cycling guides: for example, you’re invited to try your hand at canoeing, visit a medieval castle,
2012 Things to Do in London £12.99 Time Out
Ride a Stage of the Tour de France £16.99
Mountain Biking: London Cycle South Downs Guide £10.99 Time Out £14.95 Peter Edwards
The summer of 2012 promises to be a classic as the capital shows off its cultural and entertaining prowess to a bumper crop of travellers and revellers. No doubt, a good number of them (and local too) will be sucked in by the clever title of this latest Time Out guide, and you could do a lot worse. Don’t worry that the ‘2012 things to do’ has undergone a fair bit of padding (apparently, a list of six barber shops is ‘six things to do’), there are still plenty of great ideas, aimed at every pocket, for getting the best out of the Big Smoke: culture, refreshment, sport, history, flora, music, learning, shopping, and more — expect every sense to be stimulated. MC
Kristian Bauer Sure, precious few of us will ever climb the Col du Galibier or Mont Ventoux in the awe-inspiring manner of our Tour de France heroes. However, with a little application pretty much anyone can gain the requisite fitness to actually get up these climbs. If you relish such a challenge, this book will carry you along: as well as training tips, there’s bags of nerdy data including heights, distances, gradients, profile diagrams and maps for all 40 climbs. Also expect to find tour history, seasonal opening times, road directions and alternative routes up many of the mountains. Overall, it’s an excellent compendium; just don’t expect it to crank those pedals for you. MC
Cicerone guides should need no introduction to lovers of the great outdoors. Genuinely pocket-sized and with a weatherproof cover, this book is designed for taking out in all seasons. In the past, this series of books tended to be rather prosaic in appearance, with gloomy photography and mundane layouts. Pleasingly, the latest editions are much easier on the eye, while still containing the expert advice that’s always made them essential reading. This guide includes 26 routes on the South Downs, with Ordnance Survey mapping, route profiles and other useful info. There’s plenty of variety, but expect bridleways and back roads, rather than tortuous singletrack. MC
Like London buses there are either no cycling guides to the capital or three arrive at once. Time Out’s latest title joins three new guides this year, including one from yours truly. Perhaps a result of bookseller Waterstones asking publishers why none existed three years ago? The Time Out contribution was worth waiting for — it’s route-meister is LCC veteran Patrick Field who came up with the first London route guide and currently runs the London School of Cycling. Patrick’s experience of cycle training shows through and his route choices are complemented by quality open source mapping and entertaining descriptions. It captures all the cycling trends, as well as offering sound practical advice. TB
Oct/Nov 2011 London Cyclist 45
EE Book worth ÂŁ16.95 with Christmas Gift Members hip. â€˜Escape Rou tesâ€™ by Matt Carroll conta ins a hand picked selec tion of 60 stunning cyc le routes around Engla nd.
Do you have friends that love cycling? Then give them the perfect gift of LCC membership. Be super organised this year and buy your friends the gift that keeps on giving cycling beneďŹ ts all year. Buy online now at www.lcc.org.uk/join or by calling the Membership Team on 020 7234 9310. Order by 20th December for guaranteed smiles on Christmas morning.
Rides & Events For more details on cycle rides and events: www.lcc.org.uk/rides Sunday 2 October âž¤ Ride to RAF Museum, Hendon: 9.45am, Ealing Town Hall, New Broadway, W5. Mixture of quiet roads and smooth off-road paths. Contact: Murray, rides@ ealingcycling.org.uk
Participants can discover how to use their own bike as part of a small power station, capable of powering computers, stereos, TVs and other small household appliances. Contact: Magnificent Revolution, 020 7729 5834.
Sunday 2 October âž¤ Woods and Fields Ride to Bookham: 10.15am, Twickenham Riverside by Eel Pie bridge. About 35 miles avoiding main roads and using fairly smooth tracks. Contact: Paul Luton, rides@ richmondlcc.co.uk
Saturday 15 October âž¤ Autumn in Bushy Park: 10.30am, Strawberry Hill station. Eight miles, half on-road and half smooth off-road. Contact: Paul Luton, email@example.com
Saturday 8 October âž¤ DIY Bike Generator Workshop: 10am to 5pm, Hackney City Farm. Magnificent Revolution facilitates this workshop for those interested in learning the ins and outs of pedal-power generators; cost ÂŁ45/ÂŁ35 (concessions).
Tuesday 18 October âž¤ Talk about London 2012 Olympic velodrome: 6pm for 6.30pm, The Gallery, 70 Cowcross St, EC1. Fundraising talk for Sustrans by Mike Taylor of Hopkins Architects architect of the velodrome. Refreshments will be available. Tickets ÂŁ7. Contact: www.sustransshop.co.uk.
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Local Group news Find out more at www.lcc.org.uk/localgroups BARNET
SUMMER IN THE SADDLE: Barnet LCC members visited the Lea Valley and the new Olympic Whitewater Centre
www.barnetlcc.org Back in August Jenny Jones, the Green Party GLA member, paid us a visit. We wanted her help in prodding the authorities about some of Barnet’s cycling trouble-spots. The Dollis Valley could be a prime off-road cycle route from Barnet in the north to Henly’s Corner and Brent Cross in the south; some of it is but there is a contentious bit at Windsor Open Space where locals are strongly opposed to cycling (currently banned) because it is an area where children play. We cycled there with Jenny and walked the banned bit. Then we went on to Henly’s Corner, a major junction on the North Circular currently being rebuilt, without regard to cyclist’s ➤ Going into winter we are safety. Slip roads have been put hoping to have some cycle in so north/south traffic can join maintenance classes at our the Circular, but cyclists going evening meetings, so do check north/south will now have to the website. cross these slip roads of fast MEETINGS: last Thursday of the traffic — always a dangerous month, 8pm at Trinity Church Hall, manoeuvre. After this we Nether Street, N12. adjourned to a café to discuss CONTACT: Jeremy Parker, 020 more of Barnet’s problems. 8440 9080 ➤ Two of our rides this summer had an aquatic theme. The first was cycling to the Lea Valley BEXLEY near Tottenham and hiring www.lcc.org.uk/localgroups canoes to go o paddling in the rain. The We had a excellent e second visited trip to the Barking ted HAVE YOU the new and Dagenham Olympic Skyride. Sk GIFT AIDED YET? now claim WhiteThere's an T Remember that LCC can hip water iinteresting Gift Aid on your members any donations subscription, as well as Centre off-road UK a you’re you may have made. If near route up to if e sur not ’re you taxpayer and Waltham Barking (it B us call , tion lara you’ve made a dec Abbey took to a little 0. Your call 931 4 723 020 on ay tod where we investigation inv could be worth up to £8! watched to sort so out); the people rafting ng new Cycle Cy Superdown the artifi rtificial highway is very good whitewater rapids. Getting but rather than go along the A13 there used to mean crossing the we went under the road and up very busy A10, but now there is the Creek. We all enjoyed the ride a Sustrans route using a new around and visiting the town cycle bridge which is far safer. centre (which has some
excellent cafes) — an interesting mix of old and new. ➤ People have been enjoying the end of month Kent countryside rides (meet 9am at Bexleyheath station) — see twitter.com/BexleyCyclists. ➤ On the campaigning front we were delighted to meet up with Jenny Jones (GLA member) who came to visit Bexley for a brief ride around to get a feel for what cycling locally is like. Time was rather short so we couldn't show her everything and the weather was against us, but she did note that there didn’t seem to be a lot of cycle lanes. It's great that she came to visit and I will put together comments/ideas for improvement from cyclists for discussion at the next meeting. ➤ We will also trying to get more information from the council on how it plans to spend the Biking Borough funds. MEETINGS: Tuesday 18 October, 7.30pm at Crook Log Sport Centre. Next social meeting: Tuesday 6 December, 8.30pm at Crook Log Carvery. CONTACT: Frances Renton, 01322 441979; f.renton@ gold.ac.uk.
BRENT www.brentcyclists.org.uk In August Brent Cyclists, plus local members of the Green Party, had the pleasure of escorting Jenny Jones (Green mayoral candidate) around the borough by bike, to demonstrate to her some of the most severe of the problems encountered by people who try to get around on two wheels. We showed her the ambitious plans for walking and cycling routes to Wembley that were mooted in connection with the Olympics, never to be delivered due to lack of funding and political will, and how difficult the various physical barriers like railways are to circumnavigate. Top of the agenda was, of course, the North Circular Road, and the poor, or almost non-existent, planning for those who try to cross it on foot or bike. Jenny certainly went away understanding that Brent, particularly the central and northern part of the borough, is going to be one of the hardest areas in London in which to develop cycling, because of
Oct/Nov 2011 London Cyclist 47
TOUR OF BRENT: David Arditti shows Jenny Jones around Neasden
CONTACT: Spencer Harradine, 07958 693518; firstname.lastname@example.org.
the terrible planning legacy of the 1960s and 1970s. She said she would press the Mayor to try to get a surface-level crossing of the North Circular at Neasden, in place of the unsatisfactory underpass and bridge options that exist at the moment, but this would clearly be a long-term project. We also looked at shorter term measures and considered cycling in parks, visiting Gladstone Park, where cycling is officially only allowed during narrow hours of the morning, and where she actually encountered pedestrian hostility to cycling. ➤ A positive development is that we have a meeting scheduled with Brent’s Head of Transportation, who seems to think we have a good case and does seem to want to improve communications with us. ➤ At least Brent is easy to get out of for a nice cycling excursion in the country. In July we had a gently hilly ride in Hertfordshire and in August a more severely hilly one in Buckinghamshire. Both were very well attended. MEETINGS: Tuesday 4 October, 7pm at The Crown, Cricklewood Broadway NW2; Wednesday 2 November, 7pm at Samaritans Centre, 1 Leopold Road NW10. CONTACT: Ben Tansley, 020 8830 6281; coordinator@ brentcyclists.org.uk.
BROMLEY www.bromleycyclists.org Bromley Cyclists’ new website is proving to be an invaluable
resource and I would highly recommend a visit to our news pages. As I write this on my way to the fabulous Mildenhall Cycle Rally, another group of Bromley Cyclists is pedalling to the Isle of Wight for the bank holidays. ➤ We continue to work closely with the Transport Strategy unit and have been involved in a number of Biking Borough initiatives at local businesses and in Bromley High Street. ➤ There have been numerous rides from one mile to 120 miles, some in the morning, some in the afternoon, some all day and some all night — there really is something for everyone. ➤ Having initiated the British Cycling Go Ride programme in Bromley, we continue to support this extremely successful programme which has also spawned the Bromley Go Ride Racing League. These community clubs provide important focus from which entire cycling communities are evolving. An example of this being over 60 percent of one club’s children cycling to school at least once a week with many children riding with an adult. ➤ There are many examples of 'joined up cycling' taking place across the borough. One such initiative has been linking the Biking Borough events with a bike-marking programme run by the Safer Transport team, and supported by the local authority’s Road Safety and 'Sustainable Transport’ teams. MEETINGS: second Wednesday of the month (see website for details).
We held our third Veloteer inspection rides in the south Hampstead area recently — see report at http://tinyurl.com/ veloteer3. ➤ Camden Green Fair has now been relabelled as London Green Fair and took place over 4-5 June. Thanks to LCC staff and volunteers for supporting the bikefest — see report at http:// tinyurl.com/green-fair-11. ➤ We also participated in the Fitzroy Square Cycling Festival and an event at Parliament Hill Farmers Market. MEETINGS: see website. CONTACT: Stefano Casalotti, 020 7435 0196; email@example.com. Or Jean Dollimore, 020 7485 5896; jean@dollimore. net.
EALING www.ealingcycling.org.uk As summer draws to a close, we can look back with satisfaction at a packed programme. In addition to our regular social rides we have laid on fun ‘explorer’ and ‘gears without tears’ rides supported by the Community Cycling Fund for London, plus several themed evening rides usually revolving around food. We now typically attract about 50 cyclists per ride. We also led rides to the Hillingdon, Barking & Dagenham and central London Skyrides. ➤ We held a successful Dr Bike GEAR WITHOUT TEARS: Ealing's Elly Castellano advises new riders
event at West Ealing Farmers’ Market before Bike Week and have been asked to return before bikes disappear into sheds for the winter. We have also been awarded a grant by the Evening Standard to run workshops for various community groups. ➤ On the campaigning front, we have attended stakeholders’ meetings to discuss the design of the ‘bike hub’ at Ealing Broadway. It is also possible that lifts might be installed at Ealing Broadway station in advance of the Crossrail redevelopment and we are lobbying to ensure that the lifts can take bicycles. ➤ The Ealing Bike Hub continues its monthly maintenance classes and drop-in service. A second wheel-building course has been run successfully and a session on preparing your bike for the colder months and some evening courses are planned. The classes fill up quickly so we recommend advance booking. Over the summer we have received many second-hand bikes; our thanks go to everyone who has helped restore them. To find out more see www.ealingbikehub.co.uk. MEETING: first Wednesday of the month, venue details on website. Social ride: first Sunday of the month, depart 10am Ealing Town Hall , details on website. CONTACT: David Lomas, 079 0854 0781. Or David Eales, 078 8079 7437.
ENFIELD www.lcc.org.uk/localgroups As the nights draw in many consider this the end of the 'cycling season’ and bikes are being stored away; only die-hard riders seem to remain on the roads of Enfield. But with a little determination and common sense there's no reason why you shouldn't carry on riding or commuting through the winter months too. And don't forget that our local Sunday rides, in conjunction with Edmonton Cycle Club, continue throughout the year — just check the Edmonton CC website (www. edmontoncyclingclub.fsnet.co. uk) for details, or sign up to the Enfield Cyclists’ Yahoo group to
48 London Cyclist Oct/Nov 2011
receive regular email updates. ➤ Similarly, on the campaigning side, things do not stop for winter. Now is quite a good time to take stock of what has happened over the past year and to make plans for the next. What needs to happen in Enfield? How should Enfield Cycling Campaign be spending its time and where should it be focussing its resources? I'm confident that you have an opinion, so why not let us know your suggestions. MEETINGS: Thursday 3 November, 8pm at Winchmore Hill Cricket Club, Fords Grove, N21. Thursday 1 December, 8pm at The Wheatsheaf pub, 185 Baker Street, Enfield, EN1. CONTACT: Richard Reeve, 07957 591387; r.reeve@ blueyonder.co.uk.
GREENWICH www.greenwichcyclists.org.uk For cyclists in Greenwich, the saga of the Thames foot tunnel closures and access restrictions continue with no end in sight, and little in the way of reliable information from the council. Maybe the relationship will improve with the appointment of a new council officer responsible for cycling issues. ➤ On a more positive note, we have had cause to publicly praise a firm of property developers for its excellent work on a stretch of the Thames Path near the Millennium Dome. This followed a full and friendly consultation, with three company representatives outlining plans at one of our monthly meetings. ➤ We have recently been discussing the benefits of 20mph speed limits in residential areas and how these may be promoted following legislative changes made by the UK coalition government. ➤ Throughout the summer we have (with friends in neighbouring LCC groups) organised weekend rides, both short and long, and some of us have also been involved with local Skyride events. Our rides are well-attended and include a good demographic mix and
exhibition by Kat Jungnickel. For our part, we continued our series of easy-paced social rides with an outing to the Kirkaldy Testing Museum in Southwark. We hope the momentum carries on through the cooler months. MEETING: first Wednesday of the month, 7.30pm at Marcon Court Estate Community Hall, near corner of Amhurst Road and Marcon Place, E8. CONTACT: Trevor Parsons, 020 7729 2273; firstname.lastname@example.org. MAILING LIST: send blank email to hackney-lcc-subscribe@ yahoogroups.com
CANTERBURY TALES: Enfield cyclists en route to Kent
➤ We have been talking to Hackney's Streetscene department about how to improve Broadway Market, which arguably carries more cycle traffic than any other street in the borough. We particularly want to see a revamp of the junction at the London Fields end, and the reduction of through private motor traffic. We also attended a meeting of the Broadway Market Traders' and Residents' Association, at which there was a good deal of support for our suggestions. HACKNEY ➤ University of East London www.hackney-cyclists.org.uk researcher Eva Martinez has been assessing the potential for A whopping 70 percent of popularising cargo bikes in our residents want the main streets borough, for carrying both of Stoke Newington to be freight and people. Her returned to two-way working, fieldwork has focused on according to the results of a interviewing parents at schools. Hackney council consultation to The research is being done in which more than 800 people conjunction with responded. Locals ls were also w Carry Me Cargo Bikes, a revealed to be very ery new Claptonconcerned aboutt C LCC GIFT based the high level of bas social MEMBERSHIP enterprise private motor en LCC Gift Membership is available which is traffic, much of w all year round and makes an ideal running which is due to r present. Not only will your friends and family short local f family benefit from discounts, third rides to trips. Only a r party insurance and our magazin e, give third of our g you’ll be supporting LCC too. And, while stocks last, Gift Memberships people a borough's p come with a free Trek cycle chance to households own n ch computer worth £25! try out cargo a car, but their bikes. travel choices have ave ➤ Our borough a serious effect on the bo teemed with events community as a whole whole. e Switching these local journeys this summer, including the to walking, cycling and public Festival of the Bicycle on Mabley transport will be easier once we Green, the London Open bike are rid of the intimidating polo tournament on Hackney one-way racetrack. Downs and the Cycling Portraits
range of cycling experience. ➤ Our weekday evening rides during Bike Week were largely successful, despite the variable weather. However, with centralised initiatives such as this, we need to compensate for occasionally deficient PR on the part of organisers and intend to become more proactive in our own local media outreach. MEETINGS: see website. CONTACT: Dr Francis Sedgemore, email@example.com.
HARROW www.harrowcyclists.org.uk An amazing 60 people arrived at Harrow on the Hill station for our feeder journey to Hillingdon Skyride — this was 50 percent more than our similar ride last year and testament to the huge upsurge in bike interest in the area. It's evidence like this that we presented to the council at our latest quarterly meeting with its officers. And as the days shorten, our emphasis is back on pushing them towards more cycle-friendly schemes. ➤ Harrow Cyclists was interviewed by the Harrow Observer on bike provision in the borough. We had to admit that we do not have the clout of the motoring lobby and, in voting terms, we cannot outnumber residents of any one street who object to cycling facilities. But we told the paper, we are challenging the default presumption of "car first and foremost". We are questioning the planning rules to ensure supermarkets offer adequate and prominent cycle parking, for both current and future use. Yet another supermarket is under construction in central Harrow so this is vital. ➤ The group has become involved with a local charity which is working with the Metropolitan Police to recondition lost and stolen bikes which have never been reclaimed. The bikes will go to young people the charity seeks
Oct/Nov 2011 London Cyclist 49
to reach. The hard work is down to a group of police cadets who are happy to get their hands dirty — Harrow Cyclists does the ‘consultation’. And it is amazing to see how many bikes there are in the police pound, including some expensive models. MEETING: see website. CONTACT: Tony Levene, 07828 580 931.
HOLY TANDEM BATMAN: Skyride fun in west London
HOUNSLOW www.hounslowcyclists.org.uk Things are alive and well at Hounslow LCC despite the lack of postings here. There were a number of local social rides over the summer and hopefully these will continue through autumn. ➤ Our coordinator Ashley Stanton has stood down — many thanks to Ashley for reviving the group over the past year. We are now looking for a new coordinator, so please let us know if you’re interested. ➤ We now have liaison meetings with the council every four months. The last one was very informative, updating us on proposals for Cycle Superhighway 9 (Hounslow to Hyde Park), the Biking Borough programme and the Borough Road Renewal programme. The latter represents a unique opportunity to make small-scale ‘tweaks’ to the roads as they are rebuilt. The council is asking for suggestions on its website ‘Consultations’ page — examples might be kerb line adjustments, changes to road markings, better cycle lanes, pinch points, etc — you have until 1 November. MEETING: last Wednesday of the month, 7.30pm at the Express Tavern (north side of Kew Bridge), but please check website first. CONTACT: Stephen Donnelly, firstname.lastname@example.org. E-GROUP: http://groups.yahoo. com/group/LCC_Hounslow/
ISLINGTON www.icag.org.uk At a recent meeting we discussed how best to prioritise the various campaigns we are currently pursuing. We then
asked our members what they thought about these priorities using a survey on our website and we'll be using the results to decide what issues we concentrate on in the future. ➤ More cycle parking, both on the borough streets, at stations and in residential areas is constantly requested so we were pleased to discuss with local councillor Terry Stacy and two council officers the possibility of more parking around Highbury Corner and hope something will come of our site visit. We're also auditing the cycle parking installed by TfL along the Holloway Road to compare it to what we suggested some 18 months ago. ➤ Ward partnerships have been introduced in Islington so the councillors and local community will play a greater role in influencing decisions and services in their areas. The ward councillors have £20k per year to spend on grants for local community projects and activities and through our veloteers scheme we're hoping that some of this money will be used for cycle facilities — see website for details. MEETING: second Wednesday of the month (12 October and 9 November), 7.30pm at Islington Town Hall, Upper Street, N1. CONTACT: Alison Dines, 020 7226 7012; alisondines@clara. co.uk. Twitter: @IslingtonCycle.
KINGSTON www.kingstoncyclists.org.uk We’re trying to reach out to people who don’t cycle at all or don’t cycle regularly. Dr Bike events next year in the Chessington area, where there isn’t a bike shop, may stimulate some interest and we’re considering advertising in neighbourhood magazines. We’re pursuing the idea of inviting a local Skyride too. ➤ We had volunteers helping at a cycling promotion event in the market place in early August — a moderate success — and we noticed that some market stalls by Clas Ohlson are taking over the west side of the market place which is supposed to be a shared bike/ pedestrian space. A complaint has been lodged with ‘KingstonFirst’. ➤ The council has reduced the cost of cycling tuition for adults by £5, but it’s still £20 per hour for complete beginners and £25 (1.5 hours) for road riding. Saturday morning basic bike maintenance classes are available through the council for £20. We have supplied a list of places where we think cycle parking is needed to the council. ➤ Whilst there is clearly local interest in cycle sport, and we have the Olympic road race coming next year, it doesn’t follow that this will boost utility
cycling. Commuter cycling into London seems increasingly popular but is bike commuting to Kingston, Surbiton and New Malden? Routes such as the Leatherhead Road and Portsmouth Road will need improvements for that to be more attractive. Join us and help. MEETINGS: 11 October and 8 November, 8.30pm at the Waggon & Horses pub, Surbiton Hill Road. CONTACT: Jon Fray, 020 8549 1172.
LAMBETH www.lambethcyclists.org.uk As the magazine went to press we were preparing to lead feeder rides from Streatham Hill and Clapham Common to the central London Skyride and later in September we were due to be handing out information and demonstrating our pedalpowered music system on a stall at the Lambeth Car Free Day event in West Norwood. ➤ Cycle maintenance classes — a new series of our highlyregarded classes is due to begin on 11 October. These take place every Tuesday evening in Brixton over five weeks, cost £55 per person and cover all apsects of bike maintenance. See website for details. ➤ Architecture rides — in August we completed a fascinating ride around London's lidos starting
50 London Cyclist Oct/Nov 2011
with Lambeth's very own lido in involved in all the CRISP studies Brockwell Park. Thank you there was a reluctance for us to Geraldine for the interesting, be involved at an early stage informative and fun ride. And with identifying projects and towards the end of quick wins. S Still September we actually having e were due to look any communook c PHONE at the ications with ica RS VOLUNTEEE archtecture the council is th Voice As part of our Double Our of former a step m tea a g ldin bui campaign, we’re Clapham forward. help us run of phone volunteers to ntion rete and nt resident We would me ruit rec membership a confident Thomas be b very campaigns. If you have r and Cubitt. interested i and friendly phone manne ase ple out p hel to like uld wo ➤ Our to know call Matthew on 020 architecture what wh type of 7234 0310. communication rides continue: e: comm other LCC on Saturday 29 LC groups have with the their local October we plan lan to visit authorities — perhaps something some of south London's fine for the LCC to take up centrally country houses and on Saturday with TfL (as most transport 26 November we will be looking funding comes from TfL). at the buildings of Richard ➤ We would welcome any Seifert. All are welcome on these Lewisham resident reading this easy-going rides, suitable for everyone. For further to contact their councillors and information on both of these ask them a question as to rides visit the website. Lewisham's spend on cycling and MEETINGS: 18 October and 15 how this is going to be possible November, 7.30pm, upstairs at given that it has dispensed with the Priory Arms, 83 Lansdowne the services of its cycling officer. Way, Stockwell, SW8. ➤ Regular rides are still CONTACT: Philip Loy, 07960 happening, check the website 026450; lambeth_cyclists@ for details. hotmail.com. Faceboook: MEETING: third Wednesday of LambethCyclists. Twitter: @ every month, 6.30pm at the Dog & LambethCyclists. Bell pub in Deptford. CONTACT: Roger Stocker, 07903 740401; email@example.com.
MERTON www.mertoncyclists.org.uk This summer we’ve enjoyed a rickshaw presence at a fair on Three Kings' Piece, Mitcham and at Morden Hall Park. We also visited AW Cycles, Merton High Street, who once had the capacity to stove-enamel a triplet, a bicycle built for three. Sadly, the oven is now used as a tyre store. ➤ We also had a two-hour ride around the western-most worries of Merton, with Director of Environment & Regeneration Chris Lee; a further trip with him has been generously offered, around the east of the Borough, including Mitcham and Grove Road. We'll hope his bike is better able to resist punctures then, as
positive approach to cycling which has been lacking in the past. Second, the pontoon path under the Bow flyover now provides an excellent linkage between the Lower Lea Valley and the Lea Valley cycle route north to Hertford (see page 4). This now forms part of the ever popular New Newham Rides, the last of which was held on 10 September. When mayoral candidate Jenny Jones recently asked to see the cycling facilities in the Stratford area, a group of Newham Cyclists was able to leaven the obviously bad with this example of the good. ➤ Finally we contributed to the feeder ride for the Barking & Dagenham Skyride and provided a feeder ride from Stratford to the Central London Skyride in September. MEETINGS: last Tuesday of each month, 7pm, generally at Stratford Circus. CONTACT: Arnold Ridout, firstname.lastname@example.org. Facebook: Newham Cyclists. E-GROUP: http://groups.yahoo. com/group/newham-cycling/.
NEWHAM www.newhamcyclists.org.uk It has been an exceptionally busy and important time for campaigning and riding. With the new Stratford City shopping centre opening in the next few weeks we have been discussing with Westfield improved cycle access and parking. The Olympic Park Legacy Company is soon to make a major planning application for the Olympic legacy developments. We attended the technical stakeholders forum to press the importance of cycling for the Olympic Legacy. In the meantime Newham Council continues to block useful cycling initiatives such and Cycle Superhighway 2 and has created some frankly daft and moneywasting cycle provision which has been highlighted by BBC London and the local press. ➤ But there is some good news. First, the Mayor of Newham has asked Councillor Christie to champion cycling in the borough and there is a prospect that the Council will hold a ‘Cycling Summit’ in the near future. Let’s hope it marks a new stage in a SUCCESSFUL SUMMER: for Merton members
After having to ask four full council public questions we finally had a meeting with Lewisham Council — the cabinet member and two senior officers. Unfortunately they were not in a position to let us know what the state of play with Lewisham's cycling expenditure is for 2011/12. Currently there is £150k allocated to 'cycling infrastructure' and £30k for 'smarter transport' measures. ➤ It seems that Lewisham officers are preparing a project delivery plan which should be available in the autumn. This will mean that five months will have been wasted and with the monies having to be spent by the end of March 2012 it will be difficult to imagine much will be achieved. Despite us being
it succumbed to two this time. ➤ A ride around with Peter Thomas, the Senior Engineer and designated Cycling Officer had to be postponed due to our coordinator’s bad leg, and will be set-up for another day; MEETING: see website for details. CONTACT: Charles Barraball, 020 8949 0708 or 07590 077445.
Our next annual meeting will be on Monday 14 November at 8pm in The Old Ship pub, Richmond. There will be the opportunity to influence the next year for the campaign, to give your views and to see exactly what we have been getting up to. Send any agenda items to the email address below. ➤ We’re still attempting to negotiate with TfL over the A316 London Road roundabout changes they propose. We are currently sifting through the many documents they’ve sent us. In the meantime they’ve refused to attend the next Cycling Liaison Group meeting, saying they won’t attend meetings out of work hours. They’ve also put forward proposals for some innocuous changes to the A316 cycle path. ➤ The council has finally installed new cycle parking opposite our meeting place, The Old Ship pub, but has not
Oct/Nov 2011 London Cyclist 51
replaced the parking on the Bankside, The Community Space, other side of the road. Railings Great Guildford Street,/Zoar outside the pub continue to Street corner, SE1. be used. CONTACT: Alex Crawford, ➤ The Surrey Classic cycle road 07775990087; alex@ race went off without too many southwarkcyclists.org.uk. Also on Facebook, Twitter and e-groups. problems for such a massive event. Big crowds were reported in Teddington, Hampton Court and Kingston. Send us your WALTHAM FOREST pictures and we’ll post them on www.wfcycling.org.uk our website. Our rides continue throughout the winter, including A brilliant summer ended with Rides For Explorers on the first loads of bike rides. Three guided Sunday of the month and Rides rides to the London Skyride, six For Everyone on the third rides to selected venues at the Saturday of the month. E17 Art Trail and not to forget ➤ The maintenance workshops the Glamour Ride to the are more and more popular, so if Leytonstone Car-free day — see some comment and pictures on you’d like to learn about your the website and blog. bike, got a part you want to fit ➤ We have had a first meeting but don’t have the tool or feel you have the knowledge to with Cllr Clyde Loakes, portfolio teach people how to fix their holder for environment and it bikes, come along or get in touch. seems we will get some dialog Next sessions (from 7-9pm): going including quarterly liaison 13 & 17 October and 10 meetings. November 10 in Mortlake at The ➤ Please visit our website to find Old Bakery, Lower Richmond out about autumn and winter Road; 26 October and 2 rides and events. November in Twickenham at ➤ Workshops at Low Hall depot, The Long Room, South Access road, E17 — m, All Hallows Church, h, sale on first Chertsey Road. Saturday of the d. Saturd ARE YOU MEETING: month; GETTING YOURS? mon second recycling on re Make sure you receive the Monday of Fridays from F LCC e-newsletter. Full of the latest the month, 9am to 4pm; 9 news, campaigns and events, it’s an 8pm at The public p essential read; if you’re not getting it Ship Inn, drop-in on d you’re missing out. To make sure it’s Richmond. ssecond, delivered direct to your inbox contact the Membership Team CONTACT: tthird and on 0120 7234 9310 or sign Jonathan fourth fo up at www.lcc.org.uk Rowland, 07976 Saturdays of 76 Satu 294626; info@ month from the m richmondlcc.co.uk. .uk. 11am to 3pm (£3 Facebook: donation for ttools richmondcycling. Twitter: @ and support). RichmondCycling. MEETINGS: second Wednesday of the month, 8pm at the Hornbeam Centre, 458 Hoe Street, Walthamstow, E17. SOUTHWARK CONTACT: Gerhard Weiss, www.southwarkcyclists.org.uk 07894035571; Gerhard@ wfcycling.org.uk. Facebook: We’re an extremely active LCC Waltham-Forest-Cyclinggroup, involved in loads of rides, Campaign. Twitter: @wfcycling. campaigns, responses to Blog: www.walthamforest planning applications, and cyclingcampaign.blogspot.com. working closely with the council. We also hold many events and socials. Open to all. New website coming soon. And a fuller update WANDSWORTH in next issue! www.wandsworthcyclists.org.uk MEETING: second Wednesday of every month, 7pm at Better We’ve had some great social
THAMESIDE TRAILS: guided by Greenwich LCC
rides recently, organised by keen new members with original ideas, and the next one takes us to local artists’ studios in early October, as part of Wandsworth’s Open House Art weekend. Do come and join us — we’ve been promised refreshments and we’re hoping this will become an annual ride. Details on the events page on the LCC website, or see our usual contact details. ➤ Even more to the point… do you have any ideas for social rides you might organise yourself, perhaps with children in mind, or your special interest? We’re keen to get as many people involved as possible. ➤ Campaigning on several fronts continues. There’s encouragement from many quarters for action on two-way cycling on the one-way streets near Ravenstone School — the school is gratifyingly pro-cycling — and some members are getting very forceful on the possibility of a cycle path and crossing on Tooting Bec Road. If anyone uses this road regularly, we’d love your input. MEETING: second Tuesday of the month, 7pm at Friends Meeting House, 59 Wandsworth High Street (opposite Town Hall). CONTACT: Simon Merrett, 0208 789 6639.
WESTMINSTER www.westminstercyclists.org.uk Quite out of the blue, we received plans for a new cycle route across Harrow Road and Westway. The new crossing will
link St Mary’s Square and Hermitage Street, where there will be a new contraflow cycle lane. It will be particularly useful for cyclists (and pedestrians) trying to reach destinations either side of the Paddington Basin. ➤ We were very pleased that the Royal Parks were able to provide an alternative cycle route along Horse Guards Road when it was closed for the beach volleyball on Horse Guards Parade. We trust this will set a useful precedent for next year’s Olympics. ➤ A number of cycle parking hoops have appeared on posts in the Covent Garden area. These are a good solution for areas where cycle parking is difficult and streets are a bit too narrow for conventional cycle parking stands. MEETING: Monday 10 October, 7pm at the Cleveland Arms, 28 Chilworth Street, W2. CONTACT: Colin Wing, 020 7828 1500; cyclist@westminster cyclists.org.uk.
OTHER CONTACTS CITY CYCLISTS www.citycyclists.org.uk HAMMERSMITH & FULHAM www.hfcyclists.org.uk TOWER HAMLETS www.towerhamletswheelers.org.uk
COPY DEADLINE Xmas 2011 issue: Friday 28 October Send your copy and photos to: email@example.com
52 London Cyclist Oct/Nov 2011
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Dick Vincent Just weeks into the new job, Dick Vincent explains what’s involved in his role as London’s latest Towpath Ranger Steve Rutherford
The role of Towpath Ranger is unique to London and was created in response to the huge increase in cycling on the towpaths in recent years. It’s a really varied job that involves, among other things: resolving towpath maintenance issues, meeting towpath user groups and encouraging safer cycling. As an example, I met a guy with a mobility scooter at Hayes the other week. We had installed a barrier to prevent motorbikes using the towpath but, as a result, he couldn’t get through on his scooter. So I took lots of measurements and realised that, while it was too small for his scooter and we’ve agreed to get it widened, we can’t design for everything. That’s why British Waterways is also
54 London Cyclist Oct/Nov 2011
promoting more responsible and courteous behaviour through the ‘Two Tings’ campaign. Yesterday, I was at Danbury Street ramp at a regular ‘Two Tings’ event where we talk to all users and ask cyclists to slow down and use their bell twice when approaching pedestrians. In commuter time about 500 cyclists go through there in an hour and it’s three metres wide at the most. If cyclists don’t have a bell then we give them a free one. We certainly don’t want to stop cycling on the towpaths — in fact, we want to encourage it — but we do want to make it as safe as possible for all users. Going forward we’re going to create a network of volunteer rangers. The canal network is very large and,
Contact dick.vincent@ britishwaterways.co.uk
even with my deputy, I can’t cover all of it. Simple things such as sawing off an overhanging branch sound mundane but can make a big difference to users of the towpath. I’m a keen cyclist myself and one of the best parts of the job is that I use my bike daily. When I came to London eight years ago I drove everywhere and was pretty overweight. I owned a bike but it wasn’t until the Hovis Freewheel in 2007 that I realised how easy it was to get around on a bike. Shortly afterwards I sold my car and began to cycle the 26-mile round trip to work every day. My girlfriend is also bike-obsessed and so really cycling has become my life since then.
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