Like Riding a Bike!

Occasionally something drops into my inbox which really makes me sit up and take notice... A new project spearheaded by the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea is just such a scheme.  "Like Riding a Bike" is a photography exhibition which aims to promote awareness of the borough's cyclists by celebrating them in all of their wonderful diversity.  Not just commuter cyclists, or people out for the sport of it, but the older lady on her shopper bike or kids riding to school too... each come under the gaze of the project's photographer and the results are a collection of fantastic snaps of the people criss-crossing London on their varied and wonderful bikes.

This charming little "Making of" video put together by the project is guaranteed to put a smile on your dial, especially the little kid at 03.38 minutes - too cute!

It's so nice to see that people 'get' this message - of course it's the whole point of the cycle chic 'movement' and the motivation behind previous posts of mine such as Summer Cycle Chic, Autumn Cycle Chic, Winter Cycle Chic and of course ibikelondon's sister blog London Cycle Chic - all, of course, inspired by the original Cycle Chic from Copenhagen.  It's not necessarily about girls in floaty dresses, more about demonstrating and celebrating that anyone, anywhere (wearing anything) can ride a bike.

The launch of the "Like Riding a Bike" exhibition takes place tomorrow from 6PM at the gallery at the corner of Westbourne Grove and Pembridge Villas, and you have two weeks to catch it.  Grab your friends, take your bike along and enjoy!

See the website for more details.

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Why the Mayor and TfL are wrong about Blackfriars Bridge...

Proposals by Transport for London to re-design the northern junction of Blackfriars Bridge have been making waves across the cycling blogosphere recently.  Transport for London (TfL) insist their plans are necessary to ensure motorised traffic on the bridge doesn't come to a standstill.  Cyclists are furious that the plans seem to completely discount their presence and encourages car traffic over people on two wheels, despite the fact that at peak times cyclists make up the largest group on the bridge.
Last Monday was just another typical misty March morning on Blackfriars Bridge, and I thought I'd take my camera along to see what was really happening down there... 

At present the speed limit on the northern junction of the bridge is 20mph - TfL's plans include raising this to 30mph.  At present there are just two traffic lanes each way.  In places, TfL plan to increase this to three lanes, whilst narrowing the cycle lanes to just 1.5 metres (the very minimum advised by cycling design standards), or removing the cycle lane completely, such as on the south-bound section of the junction which will pass the new Blackfriars station.  TfL claim their plans are necessary to ensure pedestrian capacity is increased, whilst 'smoothing the traffic flow' - one of Mayor Boris Johnson's favourite policies. (Boris is, incidentally the Chair of TfL.)  What did I see between 08.30AM and 09.00AM last Monday?  Endless tailbacks of idling taxis, because the current design is so poor?  Miles of motor cars waiting to squeeze through the junction?  Buses held hostage to a traffic jam brought about by the current poor resolution of the road layout?  Judge for yourself in the video I've put together, below.  For fun, see if you can count how many cyclists appear in it.  If you can't quite keep up with that, try and count how many cyclists vs. how many cars are heading north-bound in the continuos shot between 01.04 and 01.26 minutes - I think even TfL would be surprised by the answer...

'Smoothing traffic flow' is a fractious policy aimed solely at only promoting the needs of motorised traffic.  It is incompatible with providing for the needs of cyclists and pedestrians and bringing about a 'cycling revolution', as is clearly shown by these designs.  Both are meant to be Mayoral policies.  Encouraging people to cycle in order to relieve congestion on the public transport, but then expecting those who do take to two wheels to endure motorway-style conditions, purely to appease the smallest group of road users (ie private motorists) is a disgrace and a shame to any purportedly forward-thinking city.

When I met Danish urban design guru Professor Jan Gehl in London recently, one quote of his really resonated with me; "We don't have to think like 1960s traffic engineers anymore."  Sadly it would seem that no-one has briefed TfL about this.  If they go ahead with their plans - and it's only because of the excellent work of the Cyclists in the City blog that we have a chance to 'consult' with them and stop them - this key cycling artery will become a nightmare for all those bankers, clerks, designers, retailers, administrators and other professionals who are using the bridge every day in order to get to and from their jobs in the City by bike;

Cyclists wanting to turn north into Queen Victoria Street currently cross one lane of traffic.  Under the new plans they'll have to 'take the lane', then move right across two more lanes of much faster traffic in order to do so.  You won't be able to filter and will be squeezed in by a giant, and seemingly superfluous traffic island.

Heading south, past the future Blackfriars Station entrance, at present there's a fair attempt at a cycle lane and one lane of 20mph traffic.  Under the new plans the cycle lane will disappear completely, and people on bikes will be forced to compete for space with two lanes of fast moving traffic, speeding up as it approaches the open expanses of the bridge proper.  Considering that the approach roads to this junction only provide one lane for traffic, and at the present slower speed this doesn't seem to cause traffic chaos, what could be the motivation for taking such a retrograde and out-dated step?

This design is not just bad for cyclists, it's poor for pedestrians, too.  Whilst many of the disgusting and perpetually piss-stained underpasses beneath the junction will be closed and replaced with staggered surface level crossings for people on foot, the extremely popular and very busy crossing at Watergate to the Blackfriars Pub will disappear completely - all in the name of 'smoothing traffic flow'.

What's more, TfL are not just thinking in the past, they're planning in the past too.  In a letter to TfL London Assembly Members John Biggs and Val Shawcross have noted with horror that the modal share figures that TfL are using to justify this scheme are from 2007 - 4 years ago!  How many more cyclists use Blackfriars now, compared to 4 years ago?  How much has private motorised traffic fallen during this stage?  Considering the introduction of the Cycle Superhighways, the Barclays Cycle Hire Scheme (there are plenty of 'Boris Bikes' to spot in the video) and the sustained upward growth in cycling numbers, how future proof and therefore value for money is this scheme?

Lastly, TfL have form with Blackfriars Bridge.  Some of us can remember their last attempts at re-designing this stretch of road with a cycle lane that ran down the middle of two lanes of fast moving traffic which lead to two cyclists being killed before the street design was ripped out and replaced with what we have now.  I'm beginning to question our transport authority's ability to design roads in anything other than the 'cars are the future' 60s modernist model at all...

And of course, this isn't just about the junction at Blackfriars Bridge at all.  The same 'designers' who came up with this outdated, ill-thought out and poorly modelled idea are also responsible for spaces in our city like the Vauxhall gyratory, Hyde Park Corner, Bishopsgate, Old Street roundabout...

If, like me, you are extremely concerned about the potentially negative impact that these designs could have on cyclist's safety and convenience, then I am afraid that it is time to get involved and pick up your pens.  Cyclists in the City blog have pressurised TfL into opening the entire scheme up for consultation for just a few weeks to April 15th, and this is the only chance you will have to make a difference.  Indeed, so cock-sure are TfL that they are going to go ahead and build this terrifying scheme anyway, they've already produced an 'FAQ' list on the scheme's consultation page which tries to dismiss cyclist's concerns.

I don't buy it, and will be writing to TfL later today to tell them that I don't.  To ensure that pressure is kept up please write about your concerns to the consultation address, which is I will also be CC'ing Boris Johnson as Chair of TfL and our so-called 'cycling Mayor' (, and I'll also be writing to my London Assembly Members using WriteToThem encouraging them to do take an interest.

This shouldn't be a question of party politics, or Boris bashing, it should be about ensuring that the right thing is done by the majority road user on this sensitive stretch of road.  That those road users are also the most environmentally friendly, the most vulnerable and supposedly the future of transport in our city makes this all the more important.  If you're not sure just how big a deal this, watch the video again and try to count the cyclists...

Get writing!

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y o u b i k e l o n d o n; Chris from York

Name: /age?
Chris, 36
Where do you live / ride to?
Whilst in London I commute from Cockfosters to Euston, I ride a fairly complex ‘traffic avoiding’ route. Oddly I don’t really know what parts of London it goes through but something like; round the back of Southgate, over the A406 to Bounds Green, Alexandra Palace, through some ‘lumpy’ residential streets to near the back of Finsbury Park, down into Islington then over Camden Road and along by St Pancras Station. I do this every day apart from the day I go home to Yorkshire – as a treat!
For training (when not on my rollers) I ride the lanes of Hertfordshire which I know well from a stint working in Welwyn. It is quite pleasant training without any of the sort of climbs we have back home, great for intervals and riding alone. But I live in York. I just come down to London for some days each week to work. I’m very lucky as York and North Yorkshire is quite possibly the best area in the country to ride. Sincerley, although I am biased, it is superb. I urge Londoners to put their bikes in cars or on trains and get out of the city and explore the country by bike. Your life will only be enriched by it!
What do you ride?
For work I have a Trek 29er single speed MTB which I got specifically for London commuting, before I was using my beloved 1992 Colnago Super-Pui converted to run a single free gear. But that is going back home to rest in my garage. I’m lucky I have a big selection of top bikes to ride, a Look 586, Trek 9-series Carbon MTB, Argon 18 Platinum and a Dolan TT bike etc. I’ve loved Campagnolo all my life so (apart from my MTB’s) they all run Record and Super-record.
How often do you ride?
I ride in some way or another every day. Once the racing season starts I will have a day off at some point, usually a Friday – but I always ride and normally for a minimum of 2 hours. Unless it’s the rollers then my head caves in at 45 mins.
Helmet or no helmet?
I always wear a helmet every time I ride a bike. I urge others too as well. I’m not for making them legal – cycling is about choice but I think the Government should make them advisory and VAT free.
What's your primary reason for cycling?
I’ve done it all my life and love the sport dearly. I can’t imagine my life without cycling. I’m a racer – and probably always will be in some way but I love all types of cycling. I ride to work because I don’t like public transport, well the transport bit is ok, it’s the other bit that generally annoys me...
Least favourite aspect of cycling?
Cycling in London. (Sorry to say this.) I’ve been riding for many years and have done so in many countries and London is probably the worst place to ride. It has its good points – fear not. But the traffic, not the volume, the attitude of other road users and their contempt for your life don't make for a great cycling experience. However, we cyclists could help ourselves more with our actions. We all have to get somewhere but doing it in a dangerous way does no one any favours. This fixation of riding with no brakes is also ridiculous. Time to wise up people, you only get once chance at this life.
Most favourite aspect of cycling?
My favorite aspect is either the feeling of winning a race or out on a Saturday with the lads in the wonderful North Yorkshire hills, especially in summer on the best bikes when we are all in super-shape. Love it.
What do you never leave the house without?
Tube, gas and multi-tool. Or a spare tub if I’m riding on tubulars.
How many locks do you carry, and have you ever had a bicycle stolen?
One lock with a long cable extension, so far I’ve never had a bike stolen.
What advice would you give to an aspiring cyclist thinking of cycling in London for the first time?
Don’t be scared, be bold but not stupid. Don’t go for that half a gap that will save you a second. Don’t follow the fashion of these silly-city bikes, have one which stops quickly. Keep it well looked after. Stay alert and be obvious. Don’t run red lights. Most importantly, get out of London on your bike. Its marvelous out there, too many London cyclists I know think urban cycling is king, its not. It’s a means to an end. Transport. Use your bike for more than transport, use it to enrich your life and see some the country near by. You don’t have to be training for a race and ride round at 25mph, get into the lanes for a potter about.
If you were Mayor of London for the day, what would you do to improve the lot of the London cyclist?
If I were mayor for a day I would spend the day educating motorists on how venerable a cyclist is, and educating cyclists on how they can improve other road users perception of them by acting in a more sensible manor.  I drive 25K miles a year and it alarms me following other vehicles how little space they give cyclists, this alone would be my opening approach. I hope I'm a more considerate driver due to my time on the bike.
So my day would involve education as wide-scale infrastructure changes are unrealistic.

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Practical town bike reviews; the Moulton TSR2

Every time I visit certain ubiquitous High Street bicycle shops, my heart sinks at the range of unsuitable bikes on offer. Either poorly made, or poorly designed, I am convinced a whole host of potential urban cyclists have been put off by the misery of discovering the bike they have brought is completely unsuitable for the job in hand.

It is with great pleasure, then, that I introduce the first in a series of occasional blog posts reviewing what I believe to be the best bikes on the market suitable for getting about town. And the first bike to be tested and reviewed is a new product from a British bike design legend; Moulton.


For anyone unfamiliar with the Moulton Bicycle Company, their super light-weight ‘space frames’ have been making waves (and winning races) since the 1960s. Designed and pioneered by industrialist Alex Moulton the hallmark of all Moulton bikes are their small wheel set ups, stiff, unisex, low-slung separable frames, full suspension (a good 30 years before suspension bikes became mainstream), and an unusual 40:60 weight distribution for the rider. Having been through some significant ups and downs over the past 30 years, this resilient British bike builder now produces all of its designs from the Moulton HQ in Bradford on Avon, near Bath. Many of their bikes are at the top end of the price spectrum with the very best designs (the sort that set speed records or could take you around the world) costing 1000s of pounds and commanding an enthusiastic group of avid followers. But a new model is about to change all that...


The Moulton TSR2 has been specifically designed to appeal to the urban and commuter market and is set up with lots of nifty new ideas to make your ride around town all that more appealing. At first glance this is just a cool looking bike, but a closer inspection reveals all manner of unusual and exciting features. Most obvious of all is the absence of a chain. You’ll never have to clean and oil a chain again with the TSR2 as it’s propelled by an 11mm 3/32 rubber belt drive. This makes for really smooth and super quiet running. Having never ridden a belt driven bike before I was worried that the rubber would be flimsy and susceptible to perish but my friendly Moulton expert who joined me for the test ride assured me it would out-last your average bicycle chain, and perform better too, by an order of 10 and without any of the maintenance associated with a traditional bicycle chain.

This bike is a real fixie-killer, too. It’s got all the uncluttered elegance of a fixed wheel bike, and handles superbly due to its tiny 20” high-pressure wheels and rigid frame – you could fling this bike around any urban obstacle course and it would perform outstandingly for you. But this is no single speed hipster fad bike; concealed inside the rear wheel is a Sturmey-Archer S2C 2-speed kick-shift hub. Kick back one click to change up or down a gear, kick back again for a very effective back-pedal brake. The gears are suitably far apart to actually make a difference to your riding speed and comfort, and whilst the two-click back-kick system takes a little bit of practice and getting used to it makes for a very easy to use bike, with elegant uncluttered handlebars with no rear brake lever or gear shifter and cable. On my test ride I was first off at the traffic lights and soon cruising along at a rate of knots, despite feeling like I was putting in hardly any effort. When I did push the pedals the TSR2 fairly flew, but there was none of that shaky vibrating ‘about to disintegrate’ feeling I’ve had when riding other small wheeled folders at speed.


Moulton have been the pioneers of bike suspension for nearly 50 years now, so have had plenty of time to perfect their technique. Despite the TSR2 being an entry-level model in the Moulton stable, it doesn’t disappoint; the attention to detail, knowledge of design and engineering, and skilled craftsmanship is as much in evidence here as it is in their high end bikes. With high pressure tyres you’d expect the ride to be a real bone shaker, but the unique frame ball and front suspension make for a super smooth ride. When riding along at cruising speed I felt like I was gliding along on a tiny-wheeled cushion of comfort; when I put the bike through its paces and stepped up the rating the feeling changed; gone was the soft cushiony feeling, replaced with a firm, fast and responsive ride, but one which absorbed every bump and hole in the road. There aren’t many rides on the market which could give you that kind of diversity. So many bikes are designed for one purpose, and one purpose only, but here’s a bike which could get a lady to work in high heels in high comfort and which you could win races on at the weekend.


The frame is available in a gorgeous electric orange or more conservative black, and black mud guards are an optional upgrade. A series of luggage options are also available, though it’s a shame the beautiful frame doesn’t have braze-ons for more heavy duty bags and panniers suitable for touring. It’s a shame, too, that Moulton didn’t choose a harder working hub to support lights. I think integrated lights using a front and rear hub, whilst adding to the weight of the bike, would have truly set this bike aside as a serious contender on the commuter market. Indeed, the lack of lights and luggage options, and the fact that this bike separates, rather than folds, makes it unlikely that the TSR2 will be a challenge to that other British bike designer Brompton, who currently dominate the small-wheel market. The ability to fold a Brompton in seconds and jump on a bus or tube just gives them the edge.

But if you are bored of middle of the road bog-standard commuter hybrids and are looking for a new bike with a bit of class, a shock of colour, and a little patriotic zeal, you’d struggle to do better than the TSR2. If you like to be able to arrive in style having barely worked up a sweat, but also want a bike which responds when you put some effort in (Dutch town bike riders, you know what I’m talking about!) then this could be the new ride for you. Priced at around £950 it qualifies for the Government ride-to-work scheme, and for that price is guaranteed to put a smile on your face each and every ride.


When I took the TSR2 for a test ride around Hammersmith I was wary of just what all the fuss was about. My friendly Moulton enthusiast who I rode with is so passionate about the bikes that I was instantly sceptical (I’m always sceptical of enthusiasts!) By the end of the ride however all feelings of scepticism had evaporated; this is a beautifully built, wonderfully designed, great fun bike – and I want one!

The Moulton TSR2 is available to order direct from the Moulton factory, or via Evans Cycles and other selected London bike shops.

This review is formed of my own feelings and opinions; I have not received cash or favours from the bike designer or their associates in return for this review.

Are you a practical town bike designer? Get in touch via the ‘About Me’ section if you’d like me to test your ride!

y o u b i k e l o n d o n; Becky from Blackheath

Name / age?
Becky, 29.
Where do you live / ride to?
I live in Blackheath. I ride to and from work in Tower Hill every day, use my bike to get around central London and ride around Blackheath and Greenwich on a weekend.
What do you ride?
Harry, an old mixte bike reconditioned by Lunar Cycles in Kentish Town. The frame is old, but the paintwork and all the fittings are new. I also have a Brompton called George.

How often do you ride?
Every week day, and most weekends.
Helmet or no helmet?
Always a helmet. Anything I can do to make cycling on London’s streets safer.
What's your primary reason for cycling?
Because I love it! It’s nice that it saves me money and keeps me fit, but even if it didn’t I’d cycle anyway. There’s no better way to get around London.
Least favourite aspect of cycling?
Living in fear of an accident. I had a collision with a white van a couple of years ago and smashed my wrist, and now I find it hard to trust other road users.
Most favourite aspect of cycling?
That getting around is a pleasure, not a hassle. It’s lovely to enjoy my commute. I get to work feeling fresh and awake, and my ride home helps me wind down at the end of the day. I never felt like that when I took the train.
What do you never leave the house without?
Two locks, lights, my helmet and gloves.
How many locks do you carry, and have you ever had a bicycle stolen?
Two locks – a chain and padlock and a D lock. They’re heavy, but I haven’t had a bike stolen. I also have my saddle chained to the bike frame and put a plastic bag over it whenever I leave my bike – a tip from Lunar Cycles to hide Brooks saddles from thieves!
What advice would you give to an aspiring cyclist thinking of cycling in London for the first time?
1. Just do it! It’s not as hard or as scary as you think.
2. Buy a bike you love and want to ride every day.
3. Cycle like no one can see you. Make yourself nice and visible and don’t hug the curb.
If you were Mayor of London for the day, what would you do to improve the lot of the London cyclist?
I grew up in the Netherlands where cycling was just the way everyone got around. Every road, even major ones, had a separate cycle path tucked along by the side of it. And they worked. I went everywhere by bike; everyone did. Cycling wasn’t an afterthought but an integrated and important mode of transport. If the Mayor of London really wants to make a difference to London for cyclists, this is how he needs to think. He has to stop shoehorning cycling into what already exists. Make proper cycle lanes. Put decent bike parking everywhere. Make it easy for people. I’d also like to see more normal, comfortable cycling clothes for women, but the Mayor probably can’t do much about that!

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101 reasons to love cycling in London #30; it makes you poo better!

We're not afraid to 'go there' on i b i k e l o n d o n; there's no subject too squeamish, no story too scatological to escape our attention.  Choosing an appropriate picture for this particular blog post might be a challenge, but we're not afraid to try...

You heard it here first; cycling makes your poo nicer.  Or rather, riding a bike can help to boost your bowels.  “Physical activity helps decrease the time it takes food to move through the large intestine, limiting the amount of water absorbed back into your body and leaving you with softer stools, which are easier to pass,” explains Harley Street gastroenterologist Dr Ana Raimundo.

In addition, aerobic exercise accelerates your breathing and heart rate, which helps to stimulate the contraction of intestinal muscles. “As well as preventing you from feeling bloated, this helps protect you against bowel cancer,” Dr Raimundo says.

Chris Hoy. Built on Bran Flakes and obviously in the rudest of colostomic health.

So in addition to nicer poo, and potentially avoiding the Big C, trust me, your co-workers will thank you for it; they have to share that company bathroom with you too, you know.

No one likes to have an uncomfortable time on the toilet, and with cycling being the fastest way to get around town it seems that bicycles have more than one way of keeping you regular.  It's just number 30 of a 101 reasons to love cycling in London!

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Bike Pride! (or what the gay rights movement could teach cycling)

There’s been lots of discussion online recently about the best approach towards growing cycling for the future. Opinions have varied hugely; some believe we have to do all we can to protect existing cyclists’ rights and to look after those who currently choose to get out there by bike. Others have stressed the importance of the potential market for cycling and how we must bring about conditions which will make cycling possible for everyone, instead of hoping that anyone taking to two wheels will simply endure the current status quo. Some are focussed on commuter cyclists whilst others want more everyday widespread ridership. Some are worried about potholes, some about child safety, some fear that their local velodrome is falling apart while others still are looking for the right conditions for a long distance cycle tour.

In recent online debates about the establishment of the Cycling Embassy of Great Britain, there’s been somewhat of a “my way or the highway” undertone from both sides. Carlton Reid, on his bike blog believes that cycling is at risk of splintering, of its message becoming diluted, garbled or even watered down by the creation of another voice for cycling. He believes that in order to succeed, ‘cyclists’ must all pull together in the same direction.

This is where I believe cycling campaigners are missing a trick here in the UK. As my opening paragraph shows, cyclists are a diverse bunch with disparate interests, and rightly so. Some people I know who cycle do so because they believe they are helping to transition to an oil-free society. Others who I know couldn’t give two hoots about traffic reduction if it would impede on their ability to drive, and likewise there are plenty of cyclists I know who care less about their right to ride on all roads and more about creating conditions which they believe would allow their children to cycle safely from one side of town to the other. To expect all of us to work together to the same detailed aims and in the same direction is futile; no one campaign group or aim is going to please everyone on two wheels and risks alienation and inertia by attempting to do so.

If you will indulge me, I’d like to take you on a little social history lesson. Bear with me, as I am certain that similarities and lessons to be learnt will soon become apparent.

Being gay in 1960s Britain was not a particularly comfortable or attractive experience; it was not till 1967 that being gay was even decriminalised. General social attitudes were hostile, gay people were perceived as an odd minority, and if you had any kind of need of recourse to the law you were not guaranteed an even-handed experience, or even for the law to see your side of the story at all. There were, of course, just as many gay and lesbian men and women in the ‘60s as there are today, but many stayed ‘in the closet’ choosing to marry and act out straight lives because the alternative was so wholly unappealing, not to mention terrifying. Amongst gay people themselves there were those who advocated for a quieter, inconspicuous existence for fear that pushing too hard or rocking the boat might lead to harsher enforcement of anti-gay laws and a reduction in any hard won tolerances, no matter how minor those tolerances might be.

Starting to sound familiar at all?

Things came to a head in New York, where America’s gays and lesbians lead an equally unpleasant existence, in June 1969. Any gay bars or nightclubs were strictly illegal and very underground. One such bar was the Stonewall Inn. After a series of Police raids, public ‘outings’ and a general atmosphere of oppression, the gays fought back. An ill-conceived and poorly managed raid on the bar on the night of June 28th rapidly turned into a riot. Gay men and women, drag queens and transvestites took to the streets claiming ‘enough is enough’. People poured out of adjoining bars and the riot turned in to an all-out pitched battle between gay people and the Police; as news spread around the bars and street network of New York more and more people came out to join the protestors, and riots raged for several nights. For the first time in Western history gay people stood up for their rights, and literally fought for them.

The Stonewall Riots in New York lasted several nights.

Now, I’m not advocating that cyclists start a riot anytime soon - I’m not convinced that it would help our cause - but the Stonewall Riot was a ‘touch stone’ event, and what happened next is what is really interesting.

Even before the advent of the internet age, good ideas spread fast. Within six months two gay right advocacy groups had formed in the United States of America and the first ever ‘Gay Pride’ marches took place exactly one year later in Los Angeles, Chicago and New York. A gay rally was held in London in June 1970, and the first Pride March in 1972. Sydney’s Mardi Gras followed in 1978. Fast-forward to today; in 2010 an estimated one million people took to the streets of London to celebrate Pride, and Mardi Gras is worth an estimated 30 million dollars to the Australian economy. In the UK nearly all legislative hurdles to LGBT equality have now been overcome. It is arguable that this would not have been possible without the Pride movement.

The first gay pride march in London

Just as in cycling, there is a broad diversity of gay people with widely differing needs. Some gay people were concerned that they were serving in the military illegally, and lobbied to change the law on that front. Others had concerns about immigration rules which discriminated against multi-national gay couples, whilst others still had worries about hospital visiting rights, wills and probate, adoption and family rights or civil partnerships. The list of hurdles that have been overcome is substantial; with successes such as adoption or immigration rights the success has only affected a small minority of gay people. If each of these ‘minorities within a minority’ had lobbied the Government alone they’d have struggled much longer in order to achieve their goals. However, by participating in Pride they could approach the law makers by demonstrating they were part of a much larger and more powerful voting block. This has been the legacy of Pride; legislative changes which affect a small amount of people but which are important none the less have been secured with the back-up of a million people in the street. Those who wanted adoption rights marched in support of those who wanted to serve openly in the military and vice versa. Solidarity won the day.

As I’ve mentioned, cycling is already represented by a number of different campaigning groups with different aims. Some people want to build more bike lanes; some people want to increase the budget for cycle training. Some of us want to see money spent on developing sports cycling; others still want to improve the lot of cycling commuters. Since the abolition of Cycling England our campaigns must each negotiate with the Government one by one. Separately they have a few thousand members here, or a few thousand members there. No one campaign group is big or powerful enough to be able to go Parliament with a consensus for cyclists. Meanwhile, our Government is busy dismantling Cycling England, dicking around with the Cycle To Work scheme, giving drivers cash for scrap cars and offering huge subsidies on electric motor. In the Courts the judiciary is still letting dangerous drivers get away with murder and our city planners are certainly not ‘thinking bike’ as they design a massively expanded M25.

Cyclist Demonstration on City Hall Square 1970s - Copenhagen
Cyclists demonstrate for better conditons for bicycle, Copenhagen City Hall square, 1970 via Copenhagenize

Whilst we all want different things for cycling, and our diversity is a strong point, when it comes to having our voices heard it is also our Achilles’ heel. It is too easy for our Government to fend off all the minority voices within cycling by getting them to fight for scraps (like the recently established Sustainable Travel Fund). Despite our diversity, however, there is one thing we all agree on and that is that the Government should ‘Put Cycling First’ in all that it does. It’s great that we have different cycling campaigns for different types of cyclists, but perhaps they could learn something from the Gay Pride movement and once a year have all types of cyclists come together to show strength in numbers and solidarity in their similarities. None of our cycling campaigns ought to claim to be the primary voice of cyclists, and neither should they dismiss those which don’t agree with their own ideals. However, I can’t help but feel that British Cycling, or the CTC or even the Cycling Embassy of Great Britain could get the Government to sit up and take notice an awful lot more if they represented not their few thousand individual members but could say they were speaking as part of the million cyclists who had recently taken to the streets...

Maybe it’s time we had a Bike Pride ride of our own? (But please, no Kylie Minogue...)

y o u b i k e l o n d o n; Dan from Croydon

Name / age?
I'm Dan Benson. I'm 39.
Where do you live / ride to?
I live in NW Croydon and I work near Earls Court.
What do you ride?
A Geoffrey Butler Audax, a steel beastie I’ve nicknamed ‘the FUCIM’ (Fabulous Urban Commuter and Ironman Machine).
How often do you ride?
Every weekday, with the occasional café ride with friends on a Saturday.

Helmet or no helmet?
Always a helmet, it’s saved my bonce from more than a couple of dents over the years. That said, I can understand the reasons for choosing not to wear one.
What's your primary reason for cycling?
It used to be primarily for fitness, but I use running to maintain my weight now. Cycling is purely Point A to Point B – cheaply, quickly, efficiently. The nature of cyclommuting means that I can guarantee that tonight, without a puncture (touch wood), I will reach the childminder’s in no more than 45 minutes.
Least favourite aspect of cycling?
Negotiating queues of cars, riding in the dark.
Most favourite aspect of cycling?
The point where you and the bike are one, there’s no effort, and you become merely a pair of eyes floating above the road.
What do you never leave the house without?
Basic tools, a couple of spare tubes talc-ed up and ready to go, and eyes in the back of my head.
How many locks do you carry, and have you ever had a bicycle stolen?
I have a D lock, and I’ve never had a bike stolen (again, touching wood). I tend to lock up in obvious places, detach and lock the front wheel to the frame and back wheel, and take its quick-release skewer with me. I once had a light stolen, so I take those and my speedometer off too.
What advice would you give to an aspiring cyclist thinking of cycling in London for the first time?
Always look around you. Get used to looking behind – the ‘lifesaver look’ – especially when pulling out or overtaking. If you’re a driver, drive your bike defensively; if you don’t drive, brush up on the Highway Code. Never overtake a lorry or a bus on the inside. Ride in the moment – forget any time goals and focus on what you are doing now (I find if I focus only on the few yards about me, without thinking about the rubbish junction ahead or the inattentive driver behind, etc., I often arrive quicker than anticipated). And remember to breathe occasionally!!
If you were Mayor of London for the day, what would you do to improve the lot of the London cyclist?
Infrastucture. I’d build new, Dutch-sized lanes and I’d take away lanes from automobiles and give them to cyclists, for two reasons: 1. More cyclists, less congestion and 2. Traffic flow studies I’ve seen recently that bear out the idea that restricting car routes has the effect of improving traffic flow, when you’d think the opposite. I used to be an advocate of ‘vehicular’ cycling but now I’ve been swayed to the idea of segregating facilities. If done properly and not as a token gesture (like today’s narrow and badly-maintained ‘paths’) it could have a revolutionary effect on London’s roads. And in 15 years, no one will remember it being any different. Given another day as Mayor, we could talk about restricting lorries to outside the North and South Circular – or even beyond – and a blanket 20mph speed limit. As a driver and pedestrian as well (get me, a triple threat!) I think all these things would do nothing but benefit our lives, making them safer, cleaner and maybe even a bit more time- and cost-efficient.


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101 reasons to love cycling in London #29; get some sleep!

Today's blog post seems appropirate seeing as I have recently been woken up several times in the night by my better half stealing the duvet...

Sometimes it is hard to let go of the day and get your head down for a good night's sleep, especially if work is stressing you out or things at home are driving you round the bend.  We've all been there, at one point or another, our heads on the pillow and our eyes wide awake, willing ourselves to sleep but to no avail.



Researchers at Stanford University School of Medicine in America have found in a study that by encouraging a group of 55 to 75 years old to cycle or engage in similar light exercise for 20 to 30 minutes every other day, that the subject's sleep time was increased by an hour and it took half the time for them to fall asleep.  This makes perfect sense in my mind; getting rid of oxygen build ups in your muscles, tiring yourself out a little and clearing your head with gentle repetative pedalling must be a sure way to improve the quality of your Zzzzs.

This, of course, is in addition to all the other benefits that cycling can bring you.  We've mentioned before how cycling has been proven to help keep you sane, exercise your grey cells, raise your heart rate (a good thing!), and still save you a fortune in Congestion charging or Tube fairs (the first reason to love cycling, which we featured all the way back in October '09)

It starts to make you wonder why more people haven't started riding already...

Getting a good night's sleep? It's just #29 of a 101 reasons to love cycling in London!

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