Sunday 24 February 2013

Cycling's "C" word

C is for "Campaigning", the unglamourous, dirty word of cycling...

I have been actively involved in cycling campaigns for over 20 years, I vaguely remember an early London Cycling Campaign demo, back in the early 1980's, riding round and round Parliament Square in London in about 1983, so it may be as long as 30 years.

The cycle campaigning is one of those activities that can be utterly wonderful and reinforcing or utterly crap and demoralising.The high point for me have been the early Reclaim the Street parties in Bristol and the best of the Critical Mass bike rides where the people prepared to get out on the streets have supported and reinforced each other.

The low points are the people who hijack cycle campaigns to forward their personal agendas, seeking to gain personal status via other people's efforts. These people often earn their living building crap cycle facilities or offering cycle services that take the route of compromise rather than confrontation. They try and persuade the local campaign groups to justify their pathetic efforts when in truth they have simply wasted public money.

It is this sort of shit that inspired me to create blogs like this, and confront the waste of public money on token facilities.The time for cosy relationships with councils and government is over. We must scrutinise cycle facilities and demand that the cycling professionals deliver high impact facilities that enable far more people to cycle in out cities.

Friday 22 February 2013

Freezing February Critical Mass

Despite the cold and dark, February's Critical Mass turned out to be really special. Many of the key people who help guide the mass were not present, often a sign of problems, but not this time. The mass took a while to get into rhythm, but today it was definitely gentle. The ride held together well, and a collective responsibility emerged. Several fast riders circulated around the mass taking the role of plugging side roads and even oncoming traffic with skill and good humour. Overall this was one of the most empowering Critical Mass rides I have taken part in. People really looked out for each other, even to the point of dropping off the ride to help with breakdowns and bumps.

Two sound systems were out on the ride, and my camera decided it was going to play up yet again, so some of these were taken blind....

As the cold began to sap people's energy we headed over to Popup Bikes where there was a photo exhibition and book launch.

It was a wonderful way to end the ride and chat and warm up with good company.

Thanks to all who made this ride special.


Update: there is a video from the ride now on Facebook, posted by Radu CoTet & made by Marco Massa


Further update: another video, this time from Fred Lowther-Harris

Saturday 16 February 2013

Putting the F word back into in cycling...

If there is one word that sum up cycling then it has to be FUN!

If we can't have fun then we've missed out on the most important aspect of cycling. Just being out on a bike can put a grin on your face, and cycling with others can be even better.

So whether it's taking part in a parade,

or just dressing up some bikes, don't forget the fun.

That's why a group of us have been meeting for a regular Saturday morning coffee at Popup Bikes in central Manchester. We've decided that we're going to conspire to put more of the fun back into cycling come along after 9am and join us for a chat.

Their first big success was the Coffee Cranks Film Night at Popup Bikes, last month, and the second Coffee Cranks Film Night will be on Saturday 2nd March, starting at 4.30pm.

Popup Bikes is lso currently hosting a photographic exhibition with photos by Paul Davy, and there will be a gathering there after this month's Critical Mass.

So if you've got ideas for putting the fun back into cycling in Manchester then come along and share your enthusiasm for pedal power...

Saturday 9 February 2013

National Park on the Pavement Day

I must have missed the anouncement about it being National Park on the Pavement day today.

This one was in Central Manchester's narrowest cycle lane.

This one was just by the City Centre Bike Hub.

And this one just along from Popup Bikes.

All on one walk this morning...

Tea, Coffee, Cake, Helmet & Hi-Viz Propaganda

If I am looking to relax in a bicycle friendly place I don't want to get stuff like this thrown at me.

I was not impressed to see this kind of negative propaganda at Ancoat's newest coffee shop.

Quite why a coffee shop should feel it necessary to tell it's customers how to cycle, I don't know.

Not that anyone on a pedal cycle was in evidence on a busy Saturday afternoon.


The compound does also serve as a car park and contained two vans at the time.

Tuesday 5 February 2013

Mapping Manchester's Cycle Commuters

The 2011 Census data has been released for the travel to work question.

The Guardian have done a nice job of turning the data into maps, and amongst it it is possible to see the Manchester area cycling data.

I've done a screen grab of the key part of Manchester.

The pale areas are in the 0-5% range whilst the blue areas have a 5-10% cycling share of journeys to work.

You can quite clearly see how the south-west of Manchester has the big concentration of people who cycle to work. Note that this probably does not include the student population cycling to university or college, so the actual level of cycling in South Manchester is higher and more widely spread.

Also, as far as I can tell these are the uncorrected percentages which include people who do not work, the figures would be higher if they were excluded.

If you go to the Office for National Statistics web site you can find the source data by local authority area.

                        Driving   Cycling
Gtr Mcr           37.8        1.3
Bolton             40.3         0.6
Bury                43.3         0.9
Manchester     25.1         2.3
Oldham           38.0         0.6
Rochdale         38.6         0.6
Salford            35.0         1.5
Stockport        43.7         1.4
Tameside         39.7         0.9
Trafford          43.4         2.1
Wigan             44.0          1.0

Saturday 2 February 2013

Bus Priority...

Whilst we await the start of the consultation from TfGM about the new bus priority network, some bus drivers are too impatient, and have decided to co-opt the cycle facilities to speed their journey. You see, by stopping in the cycle advanced stop line a driver can shave milliseconds off the journey time, and clearly benefit the company's profit line.

However, if you drive a bendy bus things get a bit more difficult and you have to use the yellow box as well.

Still, even a double decker can't fit into an ASL.

But then they are only designed for bicycles....