Sunday, 31 May 2009

Great day for a ride

The UK had its hottest day of the year today with temperatures reaching 27C in places. Here in Lancashire clear skies and a moderate easterly wind produced excellent cycling weather. We followed yesterday's 24 mile run with a 28 mile circuit of Longridge Fell calling in at Chipping for a cuppa at the cafe in the centre of the village. The aim was to build up a bit of mileage in preparation for our tour next month. We would have gone out for longer but there were other jobs to be done as well.

The cafe in Chipping is one of those well known watering holes that cyclists call in at the weekend. Today we bumped into Ribble Valley Cycling and Racing Club (A & B rides), some Lune CC riders, a couple of chaps doing the 100Km Audax from Lancaster and numerous others. It was great to see so many cyclists in one place. It seemed like all the country lanes around East Lancashire contained riders, some racing, some out for recreation and some touring - all happy with the warm sunny weather. It was so nice, I didn't carry anything other than drink, so no pics today.

Saturday, 30 May 2009


With the warm weather this weekend, there's no excuse for not getting out and enjoying some cycling. I know I have. We had a jaunt round the Ribble Valley before it got too hot this morning. If you don't do your own ride, there seems to be plenty of organised events in the next few weeks. Kendal is currently having its cyclefest. I can't be there but would have liked to have gone to some of the events. Lancaster is also organising plenty of events and come Bike Week in the middle of June, most local towns (or most countrywide for that matter) are organising races, family rides and other cycling activities. It's never been a better time to get encouragement to get on two wheels.

May 30th - 7th June

Kendal CycleFest offers a wide range of rides, talks, film showings and workshops across the whole of South Lakeland in Cumbria.

Sunday 31st May 09:00
The North Lancs Way & Bowland Forest Populaire
Bull Beck Car Park
Audax Events (long distance rides) (108 km / 67 miles)

Sunday 31st May
Rough Stuff Federation - South Lakes Group
A ride along the Old Shap Road: Meet at 10.00am at Ashes Lane car park on A591 between Kendal and Staveley.
Monday 1st: A ride down the Winster Valley: Meet at 10.00am at Ashes Lane carpark on A591 between Kendal and Staveley.

June 7th
Brief Encounters in Carnforth.
Women on Wheels, a programme of women only cycle rides on the first Sunday of every month (from March to October). The rides aim to encourage all women - whatever their ability - to get out and about with other like-minded women and explore our area by bike.
For more information call 01524 582392 - email or visit

Sunday June 7th
‘Le Terrier’
07:00 - 8:30am Entry Fee £20
Lancaster Cycling Club are pleased to present the Le Terrier Cycle Sportive with 2 challenging routes on quiet roads in the Forest of Bowland. The 45 mile route is a challenging ride taking in Jubilee Tower with over 1,500m of ascent. The 80 mile route, with over 2,600m of ascent, is bound to be a classic finishing through Wray, Roeburndale, Scout Camp and Stock-a-Bank - it has no junk miles! Proceeds and extra donations this year will go to Lancaster’s Homeless and St John’s Hospice. More information at

13th to 21st June
- Bike Week 2009 -
Loads of events nationwide. Check local council for information on criterium races, family rides, training and lots more.

Thursday, 28 May 2009


Down on the commuting route, the retail malaise shows some signs of optimism.

Probably swimming against the tide, but Brittney's butty shop is becoming Marshall's Munchies,

whilst the Eastern Delight (formerly Blue Diamond)

has become Shahee Dastarkhan

Over the road from Marshall's, the car dealer has packed up, which is a benefit to cyclists since it opens up a large car park for access to Tesco, Domino's and the off-licence meaning less cars parked in the road. Hey ho.

Friday, 15 May 2009

Safety in Numbers

Following on from yesterday's rant, here's something that we can all do that is positive and can help change perception of safety when cycling in traffic.

Support the Cycle Touring Club's ‘Safety in Numbers’ campaign to improve safety for cyclists.

The campaign was launched in Parliament last week by CTC President and broadcaster Jon Snow – see video. MPs from all 3 main parties attended the launch. After a presentation from Chris Watts of the Department for Transport outlining the Government’s draft Road Safety Strategy, CTC’s Roger Geffen unveiled new CTC research showing that cycling gets safer the more cyclists there are and called on the Government to aim for more as well as safer cycling.

The CTC is urging all cyclists to contact their MPs asking them to sign an Early Day Motion (EDM 1431) which has been tabled by Gwyn Prosser MP, Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Cycling Group, in support of CTC’s “Safety in Numbers” campaign. You can do this automatically with just a couple of clicks . I did and this is the letter to my MP.

Dear Nigel Evans,

I am writing to ask you to sign Early Day Motion 1431, which acknowledges the evidence that cyclists gain from safety in numbers.

Cycling can play an important role in meeting Government targets relating to health, carbon reduction, safety, social inclusion and conservation of the natural environment.

There is abundant evidence to support the idea that cycling is safer the more cycling there is. CTC's Safety in Numbers report demonstrates this effect amongst UK local authorities. Cities with high levels of cycling, such as York, Hull and Cambridge, appear to be safer for cyclists than those where cycling is less common.

The main reason people don't cycle more is that they feel that cycling is dangerous. To get more people cycling the source of this fear - the danger on the roads - must be tackled. CTC's Safety in Numbers report calls for measures that encourage safer driving, make the road environment safer and more welcoming for cyclists and fund schemes that promotes cycling positively and promotes cyclists' confidence.

Please sign EDM 1431 in support of CTC's Safety in Numbers, which says that more and safer cycling go hand in hand.

The exact text is: "That this House acknowledges the evidence that cyclists gain from safety in numbers, in other words cycling gets safer the more cyclists there are; welcomes the target in the Government's draft Road Safety Strategy to halve the risks of cycling within 10 years; believes that this target can best be met by also aiming for substantial increases in cycle use in order to maximise the safety in numbers effect, thereby also benefiting health, communities, the economy and the environment; urges that the Road Safety Strategy should tackle the fears which deter people from cycling, such as traffic speeds, irresponsible driving, hostile roads and junctions and lorries; and calls for cycle training to be made available to people of all ages so as to achieve more as well as safer cycling."

Yours sincerely,

Thursday, 14 May 2009

Beggars belief

What right minded person would conclude that the fact a cyclist involved in a collision was not wearing a helmet should be a mitigating factor in sentencing an unlicenced driver who killed the cyclist. Surely the law is there to protect vulnerable road users no matter what they are wearing. There was no evidence presented to promote the argument that the cyclist might have survived had he worn a helmet.

Drivers have a responsibility to maintain a clear distance from cyclists and horse riders and this clearly wasn't the case for this poor cyclist. The driver got a 24 month suspended sentence. The car owner was fined £93, ordered to pay costs of £43 and a victim surcharge of £15. Next, we'll be seeing judgements about the colour of cyclists' clothes or the type of footwear they use.

Is that justice? It certainly won't encourage potential riders to take up cycling. Perhaps the judge needs to visit Copenhagen where he'd be lucky to find a cycle helmet. I can't see a Danish court reaching the same conclusion.

Saturday, 9 May 2009

Left turn on red

You probably heard about the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson proposing that cyclists be allowed to turn left at red traffic lights. It stirred up quite a reaction in the press and cycling circles. Generally I think it was opposed. Safety is a big issue for London. I sold a bike to a woman from Spain living in London last year and in our email conversation I warned her to be careful of the lorries. I had to explain what they were and why they are a danger. I hope she is all right because I read today about two more tragic fatalities in the capital. The thought of being in a road collision is frightening enough without contemplating the outcome where a heavy goods vehicle is involved.

The chap in the photo above doesn't appear to think about such consequencies. He's crossing out into one of the local area's accident black spots. The bit of the road he is in is a dual carriageway, which although a 30mph limit, sees cars ripping through at over 50mph. There's been quite a few sidewipes of vehicles emerging from this junction being hit by vehicles from the right, some of them quite serious. I'm at the line, but there is no advance stop line for cycles so it's always a problem to be wary of vehicles turning left here.

Friday, 8 May 2009

Party on the Prom

This Sunday, 10 May from 11:30am
Morecambe Promenade (by the Dome).
It’s now been two years since Morecambe’s
glorious promenade was opened up to
cyclists - and people have been making the
most of it - in 2008 over 60,000 cycle trips
took place on the promenade.
There will be lots to see and do for the
whole family including Dr Bike and a chance
to fix your own bike, bike trial display, bling
your bike, cycle racing and lots more cycling
related fun.

Sir Chris Hoy to get people cycling

As a comeback from injury, Sir Chris is going to do a 'Pedal Power' sponsored cycle ride from John O'Groats to Land's End and in conjunction with the supermarket chain Asda, fund community based cycling projects. With Chris Hoy having such a high profile, this is bound to have a positive impact even for recreational cycling in the UK. The other good thing about it is the funds will be distributed by the Bike Club Consortium led by the CTC, whose balanced view also includes sharing the road as well as alternative route provision.

Wednesday, 6 May 2009

PC is so PC he won't get on a bike

A charity providing bikes for police community work failed to get a policeman on a bike at a photo shoot because he hadn't been trained.
Rules are rules and must be adhered to. A bit embarrassing for all concerned though


Tuesday, 5 May 2009

Urban Cycling Best Practice - UK leaders find out more

MPs and Lords from the All Party Parliamentary Cycling Group visited the Netherlands with officials from British cycling organisations to look at the Dutch cycling culture and integrated transport solutions. Carlton Reid of Quickrelease tv produced an excellent 12 minute document of this trip.

Bike and Trains Study Tour, Netherlands from on Vimeo.

It should be mandatory viewing for every council department that is resposible for urban transport. Too often in Britain we say we are different and conclude that cycling in Holland is so popular because their country is flat. This video looks beyond that and highlights all the compelling reasons why urban centres benefit from swapping car usage with bicycle usage. The big message appears to be that people want to do it because it is easier than the hassle of taking the car and finding parking.

The sooner councils realise their car centric view of urban planning can be very different, the better. If they can encourage cycle use, people will cycle more, given the right environment to feel safe, links with public transport and secure places to park a bike. It can be the catalyst to urban regeneration. Our towns are emtpy shells with little or no life and increasingly with fewer shops. People have no reason to visit towns any more. Part of this is the car centric mindset and that means drivers look for somewhere that's easy to get to and free to park, hence the large out of town shopping centres. Despite a 'commitment' to cycle facilities we only see random implementations such as short cycle lanes, cycle lanes only on one side of the street, cycle stands at one new development but not another. I understand there is policy governing this but there must be so many get out clauses such as 'If the road is only so wide you can leave out the cycle lane'.

Councils have had their heads in the sand too long and now preside over ghost towns with no restaurants, few arts facilities, empty and closed pubs but plenty of parking meters. It's time to wake up. I hope the MPs and Lords can spread the word and create the self powered culture we so desperately need. It won't happen overnight but a fresh approach will help it happen sooner. First step: send the relevent responsible local government officer from each council to the Velo-city conference in Brussels 12-15 May and make them all travel there with a bicycle.

Sunday, 3 May 2009

Another spoke

I rebuilt the back wheel of my commuting bike in its partial restoration at the end of last year. When I say rebuilt, I didn't replace all the spokes, just the ones that were broken, damaged or with seized nipples. That was about twelve, still leaving 24 old tired spokes in the wheel. I followed the excellent wheel building article by the late Sheldon Brown. I was surprised to find that although the lacing pattern was 3-cross, the spokes did not go over or under each other, shown in the picture above, before the wheel was cleaned up and re-laced. Sheldon's article explains what happens to spokes under tension and explains the possibility of the derailleur cage getting caught in spokes due to incorrect lacing and crossing. I stripped all the spokes out and laced them correctly before truing and tensioning it. After the exercise of truing it, I was pleased with myself for being able to get the wheel into better shape than it had been before I started.

Although the wheel is old, it gave it a new lease of life. Until Friday that was. That's 600 miles of shoddy roads, steep climbs and 5 months of daily commuting that it survived. I'd decided to pop into town after work and, after crashing into pothole after pothole along Whalley Old Road (another road in need of a complete resurface), I straightened out my eyeballs back on smooth tarmac at Larkhill to discover the bike shimmying around. I looked down to see the back wheel wobbling. Another drive side spoke had broken. It wasn't bad enough that I couldn't get home on it and I had it repaired in just over an hour. With hindsight, I should have bought 36 spokes and done a complete restoration. If only I'd known I could rebuild it successfully, but I wasn't that confident
at the time.

Strangely that very morning there had been a piece on the radio about the state of the local roads and the amount the council spends paying out claims due to damage from potholes. It did cross my mind that maybe I should claim. Maybe I will. Time and materials and all that.


It's nearly a year since John Whitaker, a local cyclist, was killed in a road crash on the A59 at Sawley. I didn't know him, but any tragedy involving a cyclist is shocking. The two companions cycling with him on the day he died are raising money in his memory for the charity Roadpeace by cycling from John O'Groats to Lands End starting May 9th. Please consider sponsoring them.

Saturday, 2 May 2009

Springwatch '09

The trees are nearly all in leaf, spring is in full swing as the aroma of barbecues ramps up for the bank holiday weekend. The lapwings have been active on the Virgin Media site at Greenbank for a few weeks but this week saw the return of oystercatchers with their unmistakable squealing. I'm not going to chase them round this year for a new picture - they look the same as last year or the year before. It would be nice to get a shot of them flying because they look more elegant yet slightly aggressive in flight. My camera isn't good enough to do that.