Tag Archives: cycling

Garden City Visioning Workshop

Last week I attended a Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council organised event called “Healthy Living in the 21st Century – Garden City Visioning Workshop”. The background to this is that Welwyn Garden City will be celebrating its centenary in 2020 and Welwyn Hatfield Council is developing a Local Plan which is expected to give the green light to a number of large new residential developments in the borough. The basic idea of the workshop was to address the question as to whether these new developments could be compatible with Garden City principles.

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Cycle Camping on Mull

Early this year I was invited by my friend Denise to help celebrate her 50th birthday by joining a group on the ascent of her last Corbett followed by dinner at the George Hotel in Inveraray. I accepted the invitation and booked two nights at Inveraray Hostel for May 26th and 27th. It was a long way to travel so I was keen to extend my stay and decided to head up early with my bike on the train for a bit of cycle touring. I had never been across to Mull and came up with a plan to spend three nights camping on the island. I booked a train ticket to Glasgow (with bike space) arriving on Thursday evening and a room at Euro Hostel Glasgow for that night. I also booked another night at Inveraray Hostel for Friday, giving me three unplanned nights before having to get back there on Tuesday.

Sculpture by Andy Maclachlan, Dunoon.

Sculpture by Andy Maclachlan, Dunoon.

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Combined Update

Not long after returning from my Stonehenge trip I was away again for a wedding in Devon. I say a wedding but it was not one that would be recognised by UK law – indeed the ceremony included the words “fuck the state and it’s bits of paper”. The event took place at Landmatters permaculture project near Totnes, which I had heard about but never visited. There were around 200 guests camping for the weekend and I knew a lot of them (including the happy couple) from the 2005 G8 Bike Ride and Bicycology. For music and PA they were keen to use the bicycle towed sound system called Pedals that I helped build nine years ago for the G8 ride, so I agreed to fetch it in my van from its present home in a London and take it to Devon.  I set off a day early to visit a friend Mike in Exeter and slept on his boat before continuing on to Totnes, from where I followed directions down increasingly narrow lanes to Landmatters.

At Land Matters

At Land Matters

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The Common Place

Although Bicycology is no longer active as a group I still check our email account once in while. At the end of December we received an email asking for feedback or support regarding the Facebook page of a group called R.E.A.L. They don’t appear to have a website but their “About” page on Facebook describes the group as a “voluntary organisation prepared to engage in peaceful direct action to address the urgency [of] fuel poverty and the impact of climate change”.
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Liquid History

Official Source of the Thames

Official Source of the Thames

My friend Martin is drama teacher who moved from Oxford to London a few years ago and recently gave up full time teaching to work on various projects of his own. One such project was to make a film related to his move and originally it was going to be based around a journey from Oxford to London on a boat called “Old Boy” that belongs to his friend Chris in Oxford. However, it would have taken a couple of weeks to get to London and back and Chris couldn’t spare the time so there was a change of plan. Martin’s new idea was to cycle from the source of the Thames to the Thames barrier, filming along the way. Knowing that I am a keen cyclist he asked me if I wanted to join him and as things progressed I became more involved with the project.
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Breaking Bars

If you have been following my blog for a while you may remember reading about my fixed gear bike, known by riders as a fixie. The primary appeal of a fixie (at least for me) is its minimalism. Not only does it do away with the complex front and rear changers of a “normal” bike but since there is no freewheel mechanism you can slow your progress using the pedals, which means that a rear brake is not required either. My fixie is not particularly light (there are lighter fully equipped road bikes available at a price) but I value sturdy simplicity over super light weight.
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Cycle Superhighways

Although I live and work in Hertfordshire I often visit London and almost invariably take my bike with me on the train. London is vast but I am getting to know my way round quite well. Sometimes I come across the blue painted sections of road which collectively make up the somewhat misleadingly named Barclays Cycle Superhighways. These are cycle routes running from outer London into Central London and according to TfL they “give you safer, faster and more direct journeys into the city and could be your best and quickest way to get to work”. I tend to ride fast and am confident mixing with motorised traffic on any road in London so these bits of blue paint don’t make a great deal of difference to me, but they do seem to give less experienced cyclists the confidence to use roads they otherwise would have avoided. However, the routes leave much to be desired and there have been a number of high profile fatalities.
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Oh What Fun we HAD

I couldn’t resist using that as a title. HAD in this case is refers to Hertfordshire Action on Disability and the fun (as is often the case with me) involved cycling. For many years HAD has offered support, advice and vital services to disabled and older people in Hertfordshire. Unfortunately, due to the “financial crisis”, their funding has been drastically cut and in order to maintain services they will have to make up the shortfall. As part of this funding drive they decided to organise a charity bike ride and got in touch with me a few months back to ask if I would help out (they found me through the Hertfordshire Local Access Forum where I am a member representing the interests of cyclists). The idea was for riders to start wherever they liked but with a common destination at Woollams Playing Fields (home of the Old Albanian Rugby Football Club) on Harpenden Road, just north of St Albans. The date was set for Sunday June 23rd and the event organiser, Paul Bishop, was looking for me to help run a ride starting at Gosling Sports Park in Welwyn Garden City.
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Bikes and Badgers

I hadn’t been on Critical Mass in London since last year’s Olympic Critical Mass and with a good weather forecast for the last day of May I was quite keen to attend. I also wanted to go to a couple of events on Saturday so when a friend in Highgate asked me to have a look at her garden and offered a bed for the night I decided to make a weekend of it. On Friday afternoon I gave my fixie a good clean and packed a few things in a rucksack then caught the train to Kings Cross. I was early so I stopped off in Brunswick Square to chill out before heading down to the South Bank where a good crowd had gathered. I never normally wear a helmet but I have a GoPro camera that I wanted to try out so I had bought a basic lid and stuck one of the supplied mounts to it. When the Mass seemed nearly ready to leave I hit record and strapped it to my head, hoping it was pointing in more or less the right direction. We started out by going round the IMAX roundabout and across Waterloo Bridge before diving down into the Strand Underpass and emerging on Kingsway. After that we just basically kept going straight up Southampton Row and Eversholt Street into Camden and on to Chalk Farm. The first turn was a right onto Prince of Wales Road, at which point I decided to drop out because I was relatively close to where I would be sleeping. I pulled over and waited for a friend who only appeared after several hundred other bikes had passed. I got some reasonably good footage with the GoPro but there are lots of boring bits so if I am going to upload any of it I will have to do some serious editing first. We rode back to Camden Lock together to get something to eat at inSpiral then I said goodbye and cycled up past Kentish Town to Highgate. I got there about ten thirty and found my friend somewhat the worse for wear after an ill-advised Thursday night bender, so we just had a cup of tea before crashing out.
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Speed Limit Petitions

At the CycleHerts meeting on Thursday we discussed (amongst other things) ideas relating to the forthcoming county council elections due to be held on May 2nd. One proposal was to send a questionnaire to all Hertfordshire candidates, designed to get an idea of their stance on important issues of relevance to cyclists in the county. We would collate any responses and put up a summary on our website to help voters make an informed choice (and to help remind winning candidates of their answers). Another suggestion was to use the Hertfordshire County Council petitions system to call for a default 20mph speed limit in residential areas but it was understood that this would have to be taken on by an individual, so I decided to at least do a bit of research.
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