Wednesday, 26 March 2008

I Bike Manchester

If anyone in Manchester for the Track Cycling World Championships 2008 fancies a bit of alternative urban cycling, the annual I Bike Manchester festival is kicking off this weekend. It is a month long festival of cycling related events and rides. It starts on Friday at 6pm with a critical mass bike ride from the Central Library. From 8pm to 3am there is a party with live bands. Survivors that make it to Saturday can look for treasure on a bicycle treasure hunt at 3pm around about Victoria Station. Sunday sees a bicycle welding workshop - sounds creative! Film night is on Wednesday 2rd April and on Friday the 4th, there is a midnight ride from Manchester to Formby. 40 miles in the dark followed by a dip in the sea - don't forget your swimmers.

Bicycle polo tuition is available on the Saturday (5th) with Ladies day on the 6th April. The following Friday is an alley cat and alley kitten checkpoint event in the city followed by a party. April 13th (Saturday) is bicycle art followed by a beer ride on the Sunday. The following weekend on Saturday 19th April they run 'Yo fixie III' events for the fixed wheel fanatics, and on Sunday a polo tournament. The festival concludes on Friday 25th with another critical mass bike ride from the Central Library followed by an end of festival party.

It all sounds like a month of jolly good fun and something for everyone. Details:

This is their press release:

A bike craze has swept over the UK and it looks like it's here to stay. We've seen our favourite celebrities, like John Snow and Elle Macpherson, riding around. We've seen the fixed gear bike craze hit the catwalks at the Wheel and Heels fashion show in London. And now swarms of bicycle lovers are heading to Manchester for the I Bike MCR Festival, taking place over March and April.

I Bike MCR is a grassroots festival organised voluntarily by a group of cyclists in Manchester, UK that want to promote cycling and bike related activities no matter how crazy they seem, such as Bicycle Polo.

They aim to promote cycling in Manchester and also introduce new bike sports and events to cyclists and to share our skills and experiences with cyclists that might not have had the opportunity to try something before e.g. bicycle polo or alleycat racing.

One of the purposes of the festival is to celebrate the bicycle over car culture, Nes Brierley, who is involved with organising the festival explains, the bicycle "is a healthier, greener, safer, less aggressive, more sociable and more fun way to travel."

The festival opens with a bicycle ride where many cyclists will take to our city's roads on the monthly critical mass bicycle ride. In addition to the other benefits of bicycling over car driving, bicyclist Anna Sawyer on a recent critical mass suggested: "Social isolation can come from encasing oneself in a steel shell and moving through an environment without regard to the full panoply of its sights, sounds, smells and, among other thrills, the joy of fresh wind blowing in one's face". They hope to encourage more drivers to ride bikes and enjoy what Anna describes as the "freedom of cycling"

"We are not anti-car drivers," noted another critical mass rider, "We just want to celebrate the joy of biking and to share that feeling with others and encourage others to ride instead of drive." What Critical Mass would like to see, she added, is a policy of "appropriate use" for cars. That means, "when no other means of transportation is practical," though, as one cyclist noted, "any place on Earth is within biking range, if you have the time."

The festival itself aims to encourage more people to cycle in Manchester. Cycling as opposed to driving is becoming a more and more attractive way to travel with 20% of Britains being obese, cycling will help to get us healthier. And the proposed congestion charge in Manchester may also mean that people taking the bicycle to work instead of the car will become more common.

The festival will be a hub for cyclists to meet each other and to be a chance to exchange tips toward creating a community with cleaner air, quieter streets and a supportive and supported bicycle community in Manchester.

There are a number of bicycling events planned for the month including bicycle treasure hunts, a midnight ride to formby, roller racing, social rides and a Bicycle Polo Tournament where teams from around the UK will compete to win.

The events are hoped to attract people from a wide background of cycling experience and those that maybe don't usually feel included in cycling events. For example Sunday 6th April is a day dedicated to females with female bicycle maintenance workshops and rides. This is due to the large gap between the amount of female cyclists in comparison to males, with 16% of men cycling at least once a week compared with only 10% of women (Department for Transport, 2002).

The TRL's"Attitudes to cycling: a qualitative study and conceptual framework" (1997) found that women were less keen on cycling due to concerns about personal appearance, stating that it spoilt their hairstyle and were "worried about the view from behind". By holding a bike day in the festival solely for women they hope to help overcome this feeling and encourage women to see what a fun, exhilarating, safe and easy way to travel cycling can be.

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