• City cycling,  Cycling advocacy,  Politics

    On the National Funeral for the Unknown Cyclist

    On Saturday 13 October we travelled down to London to attend the first National Funeral for the Unknown Cyclist, at which I had been invited to speak. The aims of the event, which was organised by the Stop Killing Cyclists pressure group, were simple: To call for £3 billion per year (10% of the UK transport budget) to be invested in a national protected cycling network; and To call for an end to and reversal of the annual cuts to fuel duty for diesel/petrol to help tackle the scourge of air pollution. Having to get there and back in a day due to pet commitments, we had a lot to…

  • City cycling,  Cycling advocacy

    On getting back on the horse (bike)

    It’s been around three weeks since a spate of run-ins with motorised morons caused me to take a break from cycle-commuting for the sake of my physical safety and mental health in equal measure. Since then I’ve been sampling the delights of commuting by public transport and life as a pedestrian, but of course there’s always been that niggling voice of whether they’ve actually defeated me, whether I’ve been driven off the road for good? Well, surely that can’t be. I had to get back on the horse at some point, and that point was today. With the Manchester-Blackpool night ride approaching at the weekend, which I would usually prepare…

  • Cycling advocacy

    On starting a conversation about Beelines with the good folk of Prestwich

    Background Beelines is arguably the most important local transport initiative I will experience in my lifetime. A plan to create a network of a thousand miles of safe routes across the Greater Manchester city-region to enable increased levels of walking and cycling (“active travel”), revolutionise the way we get about the place and mitigate some of the detrimental impacts of car-centric transport planning (congestion, pollution, potholes, poor public health, etc.). In cycling-advocacy circles, talk has been of little else since the Beelines launch in June 2018. Among people who cycle but don’t actively campaign, most have at least an awareness that Beelines is a thing, though their detailed appreciation of…

  • Cycling & media,  Cycling advocacy

    On banging on about (Mo)bikes on the BBC World Service

    Last week I was invited to appear on World Business Daily on the BBC World Service to talk about why Mobike had failed in Manchester. Having recently blogged on the demise of the Chinese bike-sharing scheme here, I was happy to oblige and, currently taking a break from cycling, strolled the three or so miles over to Media City. On arrival I was shown into a black structure not entirely unlike a coin-operated public convenience. Inside I found a set of headphones already with a live link to the producer in London. He asked me a few establishing questions and, a couple of minutes later, I heard the presenter Ed…

  • City cycling,  Cycling advocacy

    On not commuting by bike

    Well folks, since my epic whinge last week I haven’t been commuting by bike and to be honest haven’t overly missed it. Basically I crossed the line from being battle-hardened to being shell-shocked and at the moment I just can’t face the prospect of cycling in the midst of the motorised masses. So I’ve been commuting in other ways, and thought I’d do a little compare-and-contrast of my experiences. This is of course utterly subjective, using a sample of one person and a tiny number of journeys, but I think it nonetheless sheds some light on the evergreen question of effecting mode shift and reducing car use. In an attempt…

  • Cycling advocacy

    On whether cycling is worth it at all

    Folks, tonight I feel closer to quitting the whole cycling lark than I’ve ever been. This week, still only four days old, I’ve had so many depressing, worrying, dangerous incidents that it’s sapped what little joy I’ve managed to muster since a sustained slump over the summer and I’m genuinely wondering whether it’s worth all the aggro. So no links or pictures this time, just some raw insights. On Tuesday someone tried to run me off the road in a massive 4×4, then stopped to have an argument when I wouldn’t yield (that in a moment of rare composure I refused to get drawn into). On the way home, a…

  • City cycling,  Cycling advocacy

    On Mobike’s Manchester demise

    In June 2017 Chinese bike-sharing company Mobike selected Manchester and Salford as the first location in Europe to trial its app-driven dockless-bike scheme. Much fanfare surrounded the launch, both in the UK and the Far East, and it was of course also blogged about on this site. At the time there was much excitement about Mobike in the cycling community and beyond: it was like new-bike day, but for a whole city. Suddenly everyone appeared to be talking about bikes, and with Chris Boardman appointed walking and cyling commissioner just a month later, it looked like everything was heading in the right direction for cycling in the Greater Manchester city-region.…

  • Cycling advocacy

    On inclusivity in cycling, privilege and knowing when to shut up and listen

    Cycle campaigners are fond of the maxim: “build it and they will come“, i.e. if you create a safe environment for people to cycle in, then people will, of their own volition, change habits and start cycling. But is it really that simple? And, a related, intriguing question: would building a safe environment in and of itself rectify the current gender imbalance in cycling? In other words, we talk a lot about how to get more women cycling in the face of male-domination across all types of cycling in the UK. However, does that question miss the broader point that most people, whether women or men, don’t cycle, so is…

  • Cycling & media,  Cycling advocacy,  Cyling and the law

    On making the case for bikes in an era of @Briggscampaign and potential dangerous cycling laws

    Introduction Ever since my non-appearance on TV last weekend I’ve been wondering how well I would have coped under that much pressure – the actual interviewee Laura Laker performed valiantly considering she was under fire from three sides (widower Matt Briggs and the two presenters feigning their best controlled tabloid outrage – the interview can be watched here). Of course, that process involves retrospectively perfecting and refining one’s (in my case imagined) points and arguments, also in the context of how the discussion has developed over the course of the week. So here are a few ideas on what I think are good pro-bike arguments to make in the current…