Friday 30 May 2014

Marvellous May Critical Mass

You can feel it in the air as the ride gather, and this was always going to be a good ride.

We had a total of four sound systems, which felt strange as I had been the only one through most of the winter. Though I had one speaker fail part way through the ride :(

We had skateboards as well today.

Along with a very diverse mix of riders, maybe near a balance of male & female.

Pete rode the Love Your Bike Ad-bike

And there were many really cool bikes!

It was a pretty big turnout. It felt like 200 with all the big machines and sound systems but was probably more like 170.

All in all a corker of a ride,

with many of the great characters of Manchester's cycling scene taking part.

And Nina enjoyed her first Critical Mass for ages.

Pete & me dropped out as the ride headed south towards the party at Subrosa.

Sunday 25 May 2014

Some New Resources

From the CTC Cycle Campaign News May 2014

Space for Cycling: A guide for local decision makers
from the CTC.

Making Space for Cycling: a guide for new developments and street renewals
published by Cyclenation with funding from Bike Hub - written by Cambridge Cycling Campaign

Handbook for cycle-friendly design
by Sustrans

Manchester Cycle Deliveries

Manchester has a new cycle delivery company aiming to change the way goods are delivered in the city..

Manchester Cycle Deliveries is based just a few minutes' ride from Piccadilly Station, a location chosen to enable "last mile" delivery in the city centre by bicycle using modern cargo bikes, carrying loads up to 180kgs.

The new enterprise has been set up by Pavol Gajdos who founded Manchester Bike Hire (pic above) and Richard Armitage, Founding Director at European Cycle Logistics Federation (Pic bottom right).

The prospect of seeing more big cargo bikes out on the streets of Manchester is pretty exciting.

There will be more about this as the company gets into gear...

Cycle logistics: the final link in the chain

Some nice Cargo Bike Pictures from a recent conference

Monday 19 May 2014

Cycling For Transport website

Alex Bailey a fellow cycle campaigner in GMCC and a frequent contributor to the GMCC Newsletter will launch his consumer guide to utility cycling, "Cycling For Transport" at the start of Bike Week. It is a technical website for people who want to make cycling their main mode of transport for short journeys. It has information on bicycle components and accessories. It also covers the practicalities of integrating cycling with everyday life.

The website will be a source of information on using a normal bike for commuting, shopping and other day-to-day transport. Alongside information on bike parts, it will give practical tips on integrating cycling into everyday life, including pages on storing a bike at home and on non-sporty clothing suitable for longer journeys. It will also have a concise glossary explaining bike terms, helping new cyclists to cut through the jargon. is being written by Alex Bailey, a life-long cyclist living in North Manchester who cycles to get around the city. “Bicycles have been my main mode of transport for 25 years, and I have a marginally unhealthy obsession with them,” jokes Alex. “I’ve now decided it’s now time to stop boring my friends with my cycling information and instead to put it online where people who actually want bike facts can find them!”

“There are plenty of cycling sites out there, but this one will deal with utility cycling, rather than racing, mountain biking or leisure rides,” says Alex. “Transport cycling in the UK seems to be the poor cousin of performance cycling. And as long as the manufacturers perceive cycling as a sport, the bike shops will sell the wrong bikes to people who actually want to cycle to work. However, when consumers know what to look for, they choose something more suitable.”

“So people need accurate information. I wanted to create a site where utility cycling solutions were presented clearly and without unnecessary detail.”

A text-only version of the site was uploaded late last year so that other cyclists could offer comment. This spring, the site was illustrated with photographs taken in Bristol, Bath, Cambridge, London and Manchester. Additional images will be uploaded prior to the official launch on 14 June 2014.

The site can be previewed at Updates are being posted on Twitter by @UsefulBikes.

Saturday 17 May 2014

Manchester #space4cycling Ride

Manchester's #space4cycling ride today exposed a real tension between the lack of proper organisation of the ride and those of us who had put a lot of effort into our own participation. Those at last Monday's GMCC meeting saw the problems exposed in full.

Pete Abel & I had spent Thursday morning getting the Love Your Bike Ad-Bike into shape for the ride with a giant #space4cycling poster on both sides and giving it a mechanical once-over. I spent a couple of hours last Sunday doing the same thing with my bike trailer.

Here we are setting out down Whitworth Street West along the rather odd cycle lane that tries to stay out of the door zone.

Then out along Oxford Road and the strange cycle track beside Whitworth Park. We rode alog Oxford Road and Wilmslow road with our big machines just to make sure the message was seen at least once....

The two big pedal cycles arrived at Platt Fields Park in plenty of time.

The star of the show, however, was the Bicycle Guy and familly by a long way :)

After a few words from Cllr Kate Chappell and Cllr Chris Paul the ride set off along Wilmslow Road in the sunshine.

Then along Oxford Road, by which time it was clear that the Police were not going to intervene & spoil the day.

However, it was disappointing, that after we had around 500 people on the streets on a weekday evening for #space4cycling back last September, there were only around 150 out today in the weekend sunshine.

Unfortunately, this ride was poorly organised, to the point where it was deliberately not press released and as a result many people stayed away.

Also, the event clashed with many other events in the city today. The Spokes were at the Vegan Faire.

However, it was good to see Gabi from Manchester's Bike Lab carrying on the research :)

Luckily, the ride set off so late that there was room in Albert Square for the ride to end


and there was time for end of ride bike comparisons...

It is likely that there will be another ride in Manchester in September.

We need to get thousands out on the streets!

Wednesday 14 May 2014

What is the point of Green Squares?

What is the point of putting green squares in roads with bikes in them?

I came across these ones in Quinney Cresent a couple of weeks ago. They appear to be the expensive version where green tarmac is sunk into the road surface.

They do nothing to improve conditions for cycling,

and are totally ignored by local drivers.

These green squares are the lowest form of on-road cycle route markings, even worse than substandard cycle lanes and are a complete waste of money.

Unfortunately there is someone in GMCC who thinks these are a good idea and wants to waste even more council money on installing them in Store Street in Manchester. This individual supports some of the the poor quality proposal for this route in the recent Local Sustainable Transport Fund Manchester Cycle Access to Regional Centre consultation which the rest of us rejected.

Saturday 10 May 2014

Broadway Pavement - The Quays to Booths

Going west on Broadway from the dangerous roundabout that is the junction with The Quays there have been some works on the pavement.

It seems that Salford Council think this narrow pavement is a suitable cycle facility.

On the other hand they may just be using capital grants from the DfT to repair the pavement.

The works round here are so poor they can't even remove the parked cars before painting the double yellow lines...

Those cycling this way are firmly sticking to the road

as this gives priority over the side roads

and avoids the manu obstructions.

However, further along as you reach MediaCityUK you can see people taking advantage of this new facility.

The gardening contractors seem to think it makes a great car park

for the van and trailer.

As you get round the back of Booths

another pavement vehicle comes into view.

Salford council have wasted thousands of pounds of cycling money from the DfT on resurfacing a pavement on a back road that few people cycle on rather than investing in proper cycle routes where people want to travel.

It is about time that TfGM and the DfT audited the return on investment from cycle projects in Greater Manchester. This one has just been a waste of money!

Monday 5 May 2014

Space4cycling - contact your councillors now!

Help create Space for Cycling by calling on your Councillors to pledge their support for high standards of cycle-friendly planning and design, and the funding needed to deliver this. Cycling needs to become a safe, convenient and enjoyable for people of all ages and backgrounds, for any local journey.

What does Space for Cycling mean?

What Space for Cycling means will depend on the location, with different solutions for major and minor roads and junctions, in urban and rural areas alike. In general though, the answers are covered by the the Space for Cycling campaign's 6 themes:

  • Protected space on main roads
  • Removing through motor traffic in residential areas
  • Lower speed limits
  • Cycle-friendly town centres
  • Safe routes to school
  • Routes through green spaces

How can you get involved in Space for Cycling?

a) Write to your councillors, demanding space for cycling.

b) Contact GMCC or CTC local campaigner to get involved with the campaign in your area.

c) Join the big ride in Manchester on Saturday 17th May.

Where does the campaign come from?

The Space for Cycling campaign was originally created by the London Cycling Campaign (LCC). The LCC's campaign in London is focussed on lobbying candidates in this year’s London borough elections. CTC is taking LCC’s London-born campaign nationwide, working together with the Cyclenation federation of local campaign groups, with funding from the cycle industry's 'Bike Hub' levy, run by the Bicycle Association. The background to the Space for Cycling campaign.

Response to the Salford Armadillo Trial

I have finally finished compiling and emailing my comments on the Armadillo trial.

This is the Summary

The Armadillo trial on Middlewood Street and Liverpool Street have clearly demonstrated that the armadillos fail on four key accounts:-

Firstly, they are far too low to have any deterrent effect on drivers. Even the smallest car can be driven over the armadillos and into the cycle lane without damage. These rounded plastic lumps are ineffective at keeping parked cars and lorries out of a cycle lane, and on their own do not deter people from driving into the lane. Without additional protection like bollards or traffic islands the armadillo is ineffective.

Secondly, the armadillo is large enough to be a significant hazard for people cycling. The armadillo is large enough to throw someone off a bicycle if they were to hit it, and they prevent someone cycling getting out of the cycle lane, or make it very dangerous if a vehicle is obstructing the lane.

Thirdly, they are the wrong colour. Unlike a concrete kerb or steel bollard, being black they do not stand out visibly from the road surface and are particularly invisible in low light or dusk conditions.

Finally, as they are made of low grade recycled plastic, the armadillo is prone to damage and will not withstand repeatedly being driven over by heavy vehicles like buses or HGVs.

By contrast the Jislon plastic traffic islands with bollards that have been installed over the past few weeks have been remarkably successful. Whilst they are also of plastic construction and therefore unlikely to survive permanent deployment, they do seem to be keeping drivers out of the cycle lane and protecting the armadillos.