Tag Archives: postaday2011

333 days

Yesterday was the 333rd day that I have ridden a bike in a row.

Seems like a nice milestone to mark with something special. So I think I’ll ride my bike today as well ūüôā

I ride a cargobike because I am lazy

At times people are definitely odd and their reactions still surprise me.

There is the frequent assumption that I ride a cargobike because I am some kind of fitness freak. This is amusing as a key motivation for me is laziness.

Tonight for example I had a laptop, speakers, several bags of heavy books, a couple of flip chart pads and other bits and pieces to get to Syston Methodist Church, it is only 1/2 a mile and the cargobike gets closer to the door at home and inside at the Church. The closest car parking is 100 metres away from the Church. So the cargobike is better for lazy people.

After the meeting I needed to drop a wheelchair from the Church to someone’s home. Again about 1/2 a mile, but the wheelchair is a old, heavy model that does not fold much. I would have to fold seats to get in in the car but instead just dropped it upside down into the cargobox to deliver it and then return to collect the bags of stuff.

Far from being the choice of fitness freaks cargobikes are ideally suited to lazy people like me who want to get things to places as quickly and painlessly as possible.

Bikes and lights as it gets darker

It is that season of the year when bike magazines and websites are full of articles about bike lights.

It is that season of the year when I go out forgetting that it will be dark when I come home, as today for the evening service at Syston Methodist Church.

So here is how I prepare my Bullitt Clockwork Cargobike for the dark.

Nothing.

In fact nothing at all.

My front Schmidt dynamo light has been on the bike all summer and continues with it’s automatic mode. So I continue to occasionally wipe the lens clean but otherwise don’t have to touch it in anyway. It just works. Actually that is really unfair because it is not just working but continues to be the best bike front light I have ever used (our¬†Exposure Joystick is still fantastic but does have to be charged and it does not have the shaped beam cut off to avoid blinding oncoming traffic).

My standard rear light on the Bullitt is a PDW Fenderbot which is attached to my rear mudguard. It has stayed on the bike all summer. The battery is still fine and so whenever I need a rear light it is there and ready to go.

So I confess I find all these articles about bike lights slightly amusing. It is very rare to read tests of dynamo lights, especially hub dynamos yet these lights work fantastically and keep working for years without any maintenance.

These lights are not cheap but neither are top quality battery lights. Dynamo lights have significant benefits in being so reliable and always available.

Better nights out when you go by bike

Last night we went out with friends for a film (Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy: I fell asleep, 2 hours of my life lost for ever) at the Phoenix followed by a great meal at Bobbys on the Melton Road.

All four of us cycled and it made the evening so much better than any alternative.

First, with us travelling from Syston and our friends from Birstall it would have been a slow detour at each end for either of us if we tried to share a car.

Second, there is no parking at the Phoenix or at Bobbys. So I guess we would have parked in the Lee Circle multi-story (and paid) and walked to the Phoenix. Then we would have chosen a different place to eat that had parking. So we would have missed out on some fantastic food.

As it was we rode gently from Syston along cycle paths including sections through parks. Took us 35 minutes to the cinema where we parked right outside.

After the film we rode as a group of 4 along some shared use pavements, through the Sainsburys car park and about 200 metres along the Melton Road before locking our bikes up right outside Bobbys (in fact we could see them from our table).

They were getting ready to close by the time we left Bobbys so we went our separate ways. We came home sttraight along the Melton Road, using the cycle path where it exists and going through Thurmaston Village.

It was relaxed and easy, but more importantly we had a better night out than would have been possible by car. If only the City made it possible for more people, many of whom currently find the roads and traffic too scary to use a bike.

Leicester Cycle City Workshop disappointment 1

Sadly this might turn out to be one of a series.

This evening I went to my first Leicester Cycle City Workshop.

It appears to be a semi open meeting (there is something about needing to attend as a representative of a recognised group for full participation) every 3rd Wednesday of the month at the Town Hall from 4:30pm. I guess there were around 20 people there.

My first key disappointment was a variety of ways in which this workshop was unrepresentative.

The most blindingly obvious was that there was no diversity at all in ethnicity and very little of culture. Leicester is a beautiful mixture of multiple cultures and ethnicities. I understand that when the results of the 2011 census come out Leicester will be the first official UK city where minority ethnic groups form the majority of the population.

It is not that people on bikes in Leicester are all white, I see a wide variety of people on bikes every time I ride into the city. Where is their representation?

Also missing fair representation in the workshop were:

  • parents worried about the safety of their children (a key group in the formation of the Cycling Embassy of Great Britain)
  • people who would like to ride a bike but don’t feel safe (also represented in the¬†Cycling Embassy of Great Britain)
  • people who ride their bikes for daily transport to the shops, friends etc but have no sporting pretensions
  • people who ride their bikes for work rather than commuting to work (as both Jane and I do)
  • people who ride their bikes to school or college (as our middle son does)
  • pedestrians of any kind, particularly those who find shared pedestrian/cyclist facilities frightening (you are welcome to come and meet many who feel this way in the Churches I serve).
As I understand the way this works this Cycle City Workshop is the only official forum in Leicester where the views of people are sought on planning issues relating to cycling. How sad that so few of us are represented there.

Free Olympic tickets for polluters

The Olympic ticket fiasco is just getting worse.

First, there was the stupidity and crass sell out that meant you had to have a Visa Credit Card to try to buy tickets. What kind of idiot would agree to a system that forces people to get a card that encourages debt in order to buy Olympic tickets.

Second, there was the injustice of the so called random ticketing. Each family should have been allocated tickets for one event before anyone got tickets for a second event (and so on until the tickets ran out). Then many more people could have been able to see events live, this would have been fair rather than a system that rewarded the rich and encouraged people to overcommit in the hope of getting tickets.

Now I have to cycle past a huge billboard advertising a chance of winning 1,000 free tickets to the Olympics from BP for anyone buying petrol or diesel from them. We have so sold out to polluting capitalism that we now encourage people to burn extra amounts of dwindling supplies of fossil fuels that cause global warming and pollute our air just so they have a chance of winning tickets that should have been sold to the general public.

Are the people who make these decisions totally corrupt or just completely stupid?

Catching up

Just a quick post to say hi and start the process of catching up with what has happened over the summer.

Some of the highlights have been:

  • Fantastic Summer holiday for 2.5 weeks in France.
  • The bike carrier on the Dandy folding camper worked well getting 6 bikes to France and back.
  • I managed to reach a personal target of 500 miles over the holiday (over 30 miles a day).
  • Finishing my new Bullitt Cargobox
  • A great weekend at the Greenbelt festival and I managed to continue to ride everyday through which means I am now some way over 300 days riding in a row ūüôā
  • My new welder has arrived and the few extras (fire curtains, mitre saw, gas) will arrive soon. Lots of projects are planned, many bike related
  • Today’s launch of the Cycling Embassy of Great Britain in London was fun.
  • Reducing bike height

    When we booked our summer holiday we measured the height of the car with roof rack and soft Tule roofbox. I compared this to the Dandy camper and the height of a bike and figured it would be fine.

    However, it turns out that my temporary (wooden) bike rack for the Dandy camper it a bit higher than I had thought. That is because I needed to allow enough height to fit some diagonal bracing.

    So it means that besides all the other bits and pieces preparing 6 bikes for out holiday I have had to reduce their height as much as possible.

    Saddles are obviously easy. Handlebars less so.

    Three bikes have height adjustable stems (easiest way to raise the handlebars and shorten the reach when fitting a shorter person). I have lowered those and rotated the actual handlebars.

    On the road bikes I have used a combination of moving the spacers above the ahead style headset & rotating the handlebars.

    On the mountain bike which was the only one with a rising stem & riser bars I turned them both upside down.

    The result is that depending on the tow bar height of the loaded car I should have about 1 or 2 cm to spare (will actually load the bikes last so I can check which end of the Dandy I should use for the taller bikes). A bit tighter than I would have liked!

    Of course the ferry will probably have loads more headroom than we need (we will be a smidgen under 2.4m high).

    Getting space from cars

    One of today’s rides ¬†illustrated nicely that the reason drivers do not give cyclists space is because they don’t see them.

    I rode home from B&Q with a 1m long piece of metal sticking out of my “offside” (RHS in UK) pannier. I closed the pannier lid which held it roughly in place. However, as I rode along it swayed about a bit at times angled towards overtaking traffic.

    For the first time cars overtook me like the picture in the highway code 163 tells them they should.

    I was wearing a dark t-shirt and no high visibility anything. Yet suddenly because of a narrow, wobbly bit of metal that might scratch their car drivers gave me lots of room.

    Anyway in my opinion the text of rule 163 does not agree with the image.

    • Drivers do not give other cars this much space when they overtake.
    • Drivers do not leave this much space when they pass parked cars
    • Drivers do not leave this much space when they pass a vehicle going the other way
    • May sets of road works have cars passing in opposite directions, each doing 50mph closer than this.
    I believe the highway code rule 163 could be better worded. Such as
    At 30mph or slower leave vulnerable road users at least 3ft/1m of space. At higher speeds leave a space at least as wide as your vehicle.

    Gaining freedom of the City

    In the last few weeks our middle son has suddenly realised how much more freedom he gets from his bike. There is no doubt that having a girlfriend who loves to cycle and it part of a cycling family has been a significant encouragement ūüôā

    So now he rides off to the other side of Leicester to meet the girlfriend, then together they rode to swimming at Beaumont Leyes.

    We are fortunate that there is some cycle infrastructure here, it is of a poor quality (lots of sharing with dog walkers, terrible surfaces, narrow obstructions, overhanging brambles) and takes approximately twice as long as the straight route down the Melton Road.

    However, poor quality though it is he feels a lot safer using it and now intends to switch from commuting to College by train to using his bike (I suspect a secondary motive that he thinks he will get to pocket the train fare).

    Having the confidence to set out to places you have not cycled to before (as Beaumont Leyes swimming pool today) knowing that you will be able to get there ok is the key to having your freedom.

    Sadly as our son is gaining the freedom of Leicester many are being denied the freedom of London as Transport for London are about to start work on making Blackfriars less safe for cyclists and less convenient for pedestrians. This goes against a vote in the London Assembly and against 1,000’s of people protesting.

    More details at¬†Crap Cycling & Walking in Waltham Forest: Blackfriars Bridge: the battle against TfL’s anti-cycling, anti-walking agenda commences.

     

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