The invisible cycling helmet… possible?
It Sounds like an April Fool, but design students Anna and Terese say they are, ‘Going to save the World’. A bold claim indeed, but these two young designers don’t seem to be phased by the male dominated product design sector and took on a seemingly impossible challenge as an exam project. Something no one had done before. It could be revolutionary if they can pull it off. They see the bicycle as a tool to change the world; the future they say, ‘Cars are yesterday’. The duo believes if we use bikes AND travel safe: Life will be better for all. They have worked on the project for seven years so far so this isn’t just a gimmick to turn heads at their final degree show.
Last month, London Mayor Boris Johnson announced what could be very ambitious changes to London’s cycle infrastructure, pledging nearly £1 billion worth of funding to the scheme.
His plans which includes a Crossrail style cycle route that would run at least 15 miles from West London to East London; a ‘tube network’ for the bike in which cycle lanes would run parallel to tube lines, quiet back streets and dangerous junctions would be improved.
Ambitious as they are, the new plans have been criticized on various points. One issue that has been highlighted in the press is the controversy surrounding painting a proposed cycle lane blue on the Victoria Embankment, which some feel will upset the areas ‘heritage’ feel. Another is that, as Transport for London (TFL) only owns 5% of the London roads, the viability of most of the plans will come down to whether the relevant Boroughs approve them or not.
As a cyclist myself, I congratulate Boris on scaling up his transport ambitions and recognising the benefits of making London a cycle friendly city; if just some of his plans go through, they will be a great victory for cycling in London. The plans however face many obstacles…
I feel that the main stumbling block that is holding people back from hopping on their bikes in the same numbers as our European peers, is the issue of safety on our streets. The threat you face when jumping on your bike for a London commute is immense; it is a chaotic city to fare in whether you’re a cyclist or a motorist, with dangerous conditions caused by poorly constructed, out of date infrastructure and numerous dangerous junctions. Both motorists and cyclists take daily risks, frustrated by each others behaviour. ‘Backwards’ town planning bears the main responsibility for this; it will be really positive to see some forward thinking road planning take place.
Pressure on our roads
Another major issue is the lack of respect that all commuters show for the rules of vehicle ‘cohabitation’ on our busy streets. I agree that it is a major problem that cyclists are forever jumping red lights, but cars, vans and busses do the same thing. Badly sequenced traffic lights, a shortage of road space and the sheer pressure of the number of different vehicles on our roads creates a very tense commuting environment. Creating more and wider segregated cycling paths, separated out from the rest of the traffic by paving or other divisions, is key to tackling this issue. I am absolutely convinced that cycling in the capital would noticeably increase in line with more segregated cycling paths; people would feel safer.
Unequal playing field
A third essential consideration, which which Boris Johnson has not even mentioned, is that in the battle of vehicle hierarchy on London’s roads, cyclists are invariably the lowest common denominator; the opposite to the situation in Amsterdam and Copenhagen where cyclists rights are actually considered higher than those of motorists. In London, if a motorist drives in, parks in or in any other way obstructs a cycle lane causing cyclists to have to take evasive action, the car driver would hardly ever be penalised for their behaviour; the majority of London cycle lanes are near on invisible to most other traffic, they might as well not be there. If a car goes anywhere near a bus lane however, heavy fines generally ensue. Surely the same rules should apply everywhere?
Ultimately, if you park in a dangerous place, obstructing the safe passage of other vehicles, you should be penalised; if you jump a red light, you should be penalised regardless of your chosen mode of transport; if you senselessly run onto roads as a pedestrian, you must be penalised. Over time, heavy and consistent fines for rule breaking would without a doubt improve road safety and ease congestion, for everyone.
More accessible high streets
My final plea to the Mayor, is to pedestrianise more high streets in the city and increase 20mph driving zones. Pedestrianised urban shopping areas are common place on the Continent, however have yet to become prevalent in the UK, possibly due to our challenging urban infrastructures. But in this age of debate about the need to re-invent our high streets, perhaps creating a network of car free pedestrianised and cycle zones could be part of the solution to creating more dynamic and accessible shopping areas. There are already several examples of successful semi-pedestrianised areas in the city, one example is Exmouth Market in Farringdon; this vibrant pedestrianised street boasts cafes, restaurants and small independent shops, which during lunch times turns into a mini food market, enjoyed by people of all ages. There is plenty of scope for more such areas in this large city.
My final point is that motorists are not the enemy in this debate, I simply wish to stress the point that could see considerable economic benefits to making our streets more cycle friendly if we do things properly.
How far will Mr Johnson go
Boris Johnson says that we need to reduce congestion in London by getting more people out of their cars and onto their bikes. For this to happen, there needs to be a reason for people to do take that step; a mass investment in the cycling infrastructure would certainly help, but we also need to develop a system whereby it becomes uneconomical, impractical and inefficient to actually use a car. A very radical thought for many. It remains to be seen exactly how far Mr Johnson is willing to take his vision for Londoners.
Follow me on Twitter: www.twitter.com/Alorenzen
Bicycling Science, 3rd Edition
Everything you wanted to know about the bicycle but were too afraid to ask
David Gordon Wilson is British born Professor of Mechanical Engineering Emeritus at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He is the co-author of the first two editions of Bicycling Science and was the editor of the journal Human Power from 1994 to 2002.
This book covers the history of human powered vehicles and, as the title suggests, focuses firmly on the bicycle. It is a text in three parts: I Human Power, II Some Bicycle Physics and III Human-Powered vehicles and machines. Each of which can read independently of the others.
The third edition’s (2004) first section, I, ‘Human Power’ opens with a very informative and myth-dispelling addition to the growing canon covering the history of the bicycle. It is a short but authoritative supplement with diagrams and photographs smartly selected and well positioned to support the text. Rather refreshingly all claims, throughout the book, are fully referenced to allow the reader to delve deeper should they so wish along with a recommended reading suggestion here and there (is that a ‘get a life, Dey’ I hear from my ever loving partner!) For the more evangelical bicycle advocate there is a brief but telling list of ‘new’ technologies born from bicycle design, engineering and use; leading the way is the mass production and use of ball bearings with the oft-neglected good-roads movement also getting a mention – topical as the latter is today. Chapter one also covers, in sufficient detail for all but the expert, Human Power Generation. This encapsulates bicycle focused physiology (how energy gets to the muscles of a rider), biomechanics (how the muscle produce power at the pedals) and should, the author states, ‘allow the reader to feel qualified to absorb the main conclusions of the research papers in this area.’ It is essentially a well written literature review and I for one felt a little daunted at times but quickly discovered my research reading skills were revving back up to speed. The counter-intuitive description of ‘the timing and direction of foot force, choice of crank length, the effect of saddle height and gear ratio, and where to stand up or ‘bounce’ the upper body’ are all treated in depth and supported by evidence based research, with the tradition of the philosophical ever present. For the more competitive cyclist there is a very useful treatment covering the measurements of human power output, how to describe pedalling performance quantitatively and a very useful presentation into critical power using power-duration curves along with detailed pedal-force data and graphs. Non-round chainwheels also receive useful coverage, another highly topical debate in the age of Wiggo. There is a closing piece on the thermal effects of cycling. Again one only needs to observe the top riders and teams to see this science trickling in and, not before time, replacing much erroneous traditional methods. The conclusion to the chapter reads like a British Cycling ‘marginal gains’ to do list and the eight pages of academic references tell you all you need to know about the diligence of the author.
Section II ‘Some Bicycling Physics’ is the where I began my reading. For want of getting carried away, as I often do when physics takes centre stage, I shall be brief. Building on the power-duration data from the previous chapter the author presents a quantitative treatment of cycling specific physics. Anyone with an interest in physics, a little patience and, most usefully, a head full of positive secondary school memories, will be amply rewarded for their efforts. The main protagonists are all covered namely propulsive force, air resistance and rolling resistance. The author then takes it a step further; what happens when bumps are encountered – of vital interest to the classics riders out there. The concept of vibration frequencies is simply presented and should allow the reader to filter the engineering and physics from the marketing hype the next time a high-end bike is purchased. A lot of paper is devoted to the relationship between power and speed and this alone makes this book a must-read for anyone venturing into the world of the power meter. Bicycle aerodynamics is covered with the usual simple physics formula, text, graphs and some very eye-catching photographs to emphasise the points and aid the understanding of the concepts – all the while retaining a strong link to the context of the bicycle. Rolling resistance, with a focus on wheels tires and bearings ramps up the physics a wee bit but is well worth devoting time to, especially if, like me, you are considering taking the hand-built wheel route. A brief but detailed design, engineering and physics of braking, in differing weather conditions, brings to a close this very informative and rewarding chapter.
The final section, III, Human-Powered Vehicles and Machines, is where the author diverges from the bicycle as we know it. It is the authors stated aim to ‘… expand your experience, and perhaps to make you want to use, or even to design and make, some interesting human-powered vehicles other than bicycles.’ In it he takes a more utilitarian approach and differentiates between the developed and developing world, all the while suggesting that the more bicycling the better; ‘… Even in large countries, like the United States, over half the daily “person-trips” by automobile are of under 8 km (5 miles), a distance most people can easily cover on a bicycle in most weather conditions.’ This chapter contains varied examples of human-powered tools and of record breaking and other interesting vehicles – other than the standard bicycle. It concludes with a thought-provoking piece on Human-Powered Vehicles in the Future; one for all you light weight junkies, aero wheel obsessives and mono-blade maniacs. The piece on the hydraulic disc brake, coming as does so soon after a brief summary of governing body regulations and incentives, is somewhat prescient. The question hangs in the air, what drives the industry; science and performance or marketing? If it is indeed the latter then we are living in a dark age of delusion.
Overview, from the back cover
The bicycle is almost unique among human-powered machines in that it uses human muscles in a near-optimum way. This new edition of the bible of bicycle builders and bicyclists provides just about everything you could want to know about the history of bicycles, how human beings propel them, what makes them go faster, and what keeps them from going even faster. The scientific and engineering information is of interest not only to designers and builders of bicycles and other human-powered vehicles but also to competitive cyclists, bicycle commuters, and recreational cyclists.
The third edition begins with a brief history of bicycles and bicycling that demolishes many widespread myths. This edition includes information on recent experiments and achievements in human-powered transportation, including the “ultimate human- powered vehicle,” in which a supine rider in a streamlined enclosure steers by looking at a television screen connected to a small camera in the nose, reaching speeds of around 80 miles per hour. It contains completely new chapters on aerodynamics, unusual human-powered machines for use on land and in water and air, human physiology, and the future of bicycling. This edition also provides updated information on rolling drag, transmission of power from rider to wheels, braking, heat management, steering and stability, power and speed, and materials. It contains many new illustrations.
Bicycling Science – Everything you wanted to know about the bicycle but were too afraid to ask
David Gordon Wilson
MIT Press; 3rd Revised edition edition
Available in Paperback
RRP £19.95 (Paperback)
[flagallery gid=17 name=Gallery]
Click SL (slideshow) or FS (fullscreen)
All Images ©AEhotos
Knog Muddy Hell
Herne Hill Velodrome
Saturday, October 27th, 2012.
Knog Muddy Hell earns it’s name. Nick Craig dominates in tough conditions.
Finally, after three years with dry conditions Knog Muddy Hell truely was a mud-fest. Plenty of rain leading up to the event, plus downpours on the night and the action of over 700 wheels, churning up the course created difficult conditions for competitors but great entertainment for spectators.
Course designer Phil Glowinski, created a smooth, flowing course, whilst maintaining the popular features of wall-ride, bridge, whoops, muddy corner and hurdles but it was the conditions which had the greatest effect on the results. A confident Nick Craig knew that his years of experience at top level off-road riding would stand him in good stead. Fresh from his recent win at the (slighly warmer) Mountain Bike Tour of Langkawi Nick indeed provided a master class in technique, though he was distanced in the sprint from the start, his superior bike handling soon saw him opening up a big gap with National Junior champion Hugo Robinson chasing. Hugo however suffered a mechanical as did many others, Ed McParland made a valiant effort to catch the veteran, but it was never going to happen and Nick took the £400 from Knog with a huge gap.
Three previous winners of the Women’s event took to the line, and Louise Mahe took her second Knog Muddy Hell title with Claire Beaumont second, National track champion Corinne Hall did not repeat her podium finish instead Leona Kadir took third spot.
Supported by Vulpine cycle clothing the vets category saw a very competitive field, multiple Knog Muddy Hell winner Mick Bell could not repeat his usual top spot due to mud-induced mechanical issues and relinquished the top step of the podium to Kevin Knox of Vicious Velo.
Racing at the same time as the women and vets, 2012 saw the largest junior field in the history of the event with Chris McGovern the clear winner finishing up amongst the first few vets.
The ever popular Novice race had over 100 entries, the best fancy dress, two tandems (one pantomime horse) and the worst weather, this is when the rain hit and there were more than a few retirements. James Flury was best male and Lise Sorenson best female, both taking prizes from Cycelab.
The youth categories saw record levels of entries, organisers Rollapaluza claim that over 70 entry enquiries were received for the U12 event alone, because of the high level of interest they will look to accomodate more youngsters in 2013. In all over 350 racers took part with, despite the rain, hundreds of cheering spectators enjoying the racing, atmosphere, food, mulled cider, “Off-Road” Rollapaluza competition and bike polo skills try out.
AEphotos full galleries of all races: http://aephotos.co.uk/muddyhell2012
1. Nick Craig
2. Ed McParland
3. Darren Barclay
4. Chris Metcalfe
5. William Thomson
6. Bruce Dalton
7. Richard Mardle
8. Jack Finch
9. Will Fooks
10. Uldis Karklins
1. Lousie Mahe
2. Claire Beaumont
3. Leona Kadir
1. Kevin Knox
2. John Lyons
3. Nick Walsh
1. Chris McGovern
2. James Wood
3. Ashley Dennis
1. James Flury
1. Keith Brewster
3. John Coolahan
1. Lise Sorensen
2. Lesley Auchterlonie
3. Hester Polak
1. Sam Titmarsh
2. Matt Clements
3. Thomas Finch
1. Luke Mitchie
2. George Finch
3. Freddie Argent
1. Noah Charlton
2. Charlie Craig
3. Aaron Freeman
I had the pleasure of meeting Martyn Ashton at the Revolution 37 (report online shortly) in Manchester where he made a special guest appearance and I realised I hadn’t shared his brilliant film with you.
In the style of the much followed Danny MacKaskill productions, but Martyn adds a twist; he takes the £10k carbon road bike used by Team Sky‘s Bradley Wiggins & Mark Cavendish for a ride with a difference. With a plan to push the limits of road biking as far as his lycra legs would dare, Martyn looked to get his ultimate ride out of the awesome Pinarello Dogma 2. This bike won the 2012 Tour de France – surely it deserves a Road Bike Party!
Shot in various locations around the UK and featuring music from ‘Sound of Guns‘. Road Bike Party captures some of the toughest stunts ever pulled on a carbon road bike.
A Film by Robin Kitchin
Produced by Ashton Bikes
Music: Sound of Guns ‘Sometimes’
Out takes video
There is no better legacy of the London 2012 Olympics than an increase in the number of people participating in sports, whether that be for fun, or for competition.
One of the most popular sports being taken up in the last few weeks by women has been cycling, and in response to this, Cycle Surgery, in conjunction with Specialized and Runners Need have been hosting drop-in evenings exclusively for the ladies. So far, they’ve been incredibly popular and have helped new riders get out there and get cycling. If you’d like some advice on women’s bikes, cycling accessories, what to wear or where to go, don’t miss out, go online and register your attendance now for their Covent Garden store event on Tuesday 4th September.
If you’re not familiar with Covent Garden’s Cycle Surgery and Specialized concept store, then you really need to aquatint yourself with the quality services and equipment they offer. Their friendly staff will make you feel welcome, and be able to answer all purchasing, maintenance and general cycling questions you could possibly think of – these folks really know their stuff. In fact, because the concept store and its staff have so much to offer, they’ve had to try and tailor the evening around a certain theme. The focus of this drop-in will be Road Riding and Charity Events. So, if you’d like to know how to make your route around London or any city safer, more enjoyable, or how to use your bike in a fundraising event, then this is perfect for you.
To register your attendance click here but be quick, the first 50 will get a free goody bag on the night!