Saturday 28 July 2012

July Critical Mass in Manchester

Manchester's July Critical Mass was really cool.

Several really nice bikes.

Including this one from Popup Bikes!

A real holiday spirit, both from riders and onlookers.

There was quite a bit of dancing, both on and off the bikes.

And the most wonderful skys....


Wednesday 25 July 2012

Ideas from Newcastle

Another flying visit, this time to Newcastle.

The bike hire was slightly different from Bath in that there were fewer stands at each location and presumably more sites.

Again I didn't see any being ridden and they don't look anything like as robust as the London bikes.

And there were a few advertising bikes, but not as many as Bath.

Of course, I can't fail to mention the bridge...

The one new idea for me were these mobile tourist information trikes, complete with attendant.

One of which I found later at the station,

locked to a pillar with a notice saying "please do not leave bicycles in this area." But then it's a trike, so I suppose it's ok...

Saturday 21 July 2012

Ideas from the streets of Bath

An all too brief visit to Bath gave an early morning opportunity to take a look at bike related measures in the city.

Outside the railway station, behind the ongoing roadworks you can find the street bike hire.

There are apparently four of these stations in the city centre.

However, I didn't see anyone riding one of these bikes, and they didn't look too robust. These bike hire schemes require a lot of money and effort to make them work well.

More promising were these bike parking racks.

They convert a car parking space into a bike park for 8 to 10 bicycles.

They were all well used and looked like they were good value for money, both as cycle parking and showing just how wasteful it is to give street space over to car parking.

Bath has a lot of advertising bikes.

Many taking up cycle racks,

others are freestanding.

Some are locked wherever there is space.

Some just sit outside the cafes they are promoting.

Finally, I came across the Bikes in Bloom.

There were a few in shop windows,

but I only managed to see one blooming bike on the road, photographed through the window of a moving bus.

Some interesting ideas, particulally the bike parking in a car space.

Wednesday 18 July 2012

Victoria Street - now completely blocked...

...this time by gardeners!

Access from the bottom end of the road is now clear,

but you soon hit barriers. Lots of barriers.

The only available route for cycles is now is along the pavement.

And the cause? Apparently the Manchester Cathedral Flower Festival. Part of Dig the City.

This cycle route is likely to be blocked well into August.

As far as I could see, no diversions have been signposted.

Tuesday 10 July 2012

Is it a Bird, is it a Bike?

Wouldn't it be fun if these guy's joined Critical Mass...

From the Manchester Day Parade

Sunday 8 July 2012

Dangerous Bike Traffic Lights

Nasty arrangement of traffic lights - if this had happened on motor vehicle traffic lights it would have been fixed. However, because it's just bicycles, it's just left like this.

Going south-west across Dawson Street, you first see this,

Then this...

Question is, which one was your green light?

If you look carefully, you can see that the left hand lights are the same as the ones on the far side of the junction, so your light is the one on the right.

If you thought it was the one on the left you may have just ended up under oncoming traffic!

The fact is that the left hand light just shouldn't be there. Once you have crossed the first lane you CANNOT SEE the misleading lights.

Manchester City Council should remove this set of lights. They were an unnecessary additional cost.

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Saturday 7 July 2012

The Politics of Cycling

Just found this wonderful quote in an entertaining PhD on bicycle activism "Put the Fun Between Your Legs!": The Politics and Counterculture of the Bicycle.

The simple choice to ride a bicycle becomes an assertion of common sense and an act of radical refusal. By bicycling, we refuse to participate in our own degradation on an increasingly dysfunctional public transit system. By bicycling we refuse to pay the enormous costs of a murderous transit system built on private cars. When we bicycle, we refuse the perpetual marketing noise of corporate advertising piping into car radios, and we refuse to accept as ‘news’ the shallow and intellectually retarded reporting that claims to be objective and true. When we bicycle we subvert our ‘responsibility’ to behave as loyal members of this society, undercutting the auto economy, challenging the propaganda system, and directly re-creating meaningful encounters with one another.

Referenced as being from Carlsson, “Whither Bicycling?” in Critical Mass essays, flyers, online.

Keep on cycling...

Wednesday 4 July 2012

Manchester Sky Ride 2012

Manchester Sky Ride is unfortunately becoming an annual reason for drivers and shoppers in Manchester to resent cycling. On the 15th July lots of roads in the city will be closed off so that News International can plaster the city centre with banners advertising for their UK TV wing, BSkyB.

The route is extensively barriered too, so shoppers have to walk miles to get to their destination and drivers have someone, other than themselves, to blame for the traffic jams in town. There is nothing interesting to look at most of the time. It is not as if the city is hosting the finish of a bike race or a bike parade like the rather wonderful Manchester Day.

Sky Ride is one of those events where lots of drivers strap bikes onto their cars and drive into Manchester so they can have a few hours cycling in the city centre, dressed up in helmets and ugly yellow advertising bibs before driving home again to their car-dominated suburbs where they hardly ever cycle. Far from improving the image of cycling, it promotes the idea that cycling is dangerous and strange.

Sky ride is a fine example of transport tokenism as the council spends ten times more money on funding sports facilities for British Cycling (funded by Sky and car firm Fiat) than it does on making the streets of Manchester attractive for cycling. After all this Labour council would not dare risk being seen as anti-motorist. I am waiting to find out just how much this event will cost the City Council. UPDATE: FoI request sets the city council's costs at £72,000.

Last year it was a relief to see that a few people struck out against the corporate crap and got to the point with banners pointing out the problem. Let's hope the message gets out more strongly this year.

As well as these one off events, why can't the council close Deansgate to motor vehicles every weekend? It would make the place come alive with people rather than being a weekend-long traffic jam.