Will We Finally Witness a Cycling Revolution in London?

“Boris Bikes, no sorry Ken Bikes…” Image © Mark Ramsay

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…

Poor infrastructure
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chaotic city to fare in whether you’re a cyclist or a motorist, with dangerous conditions caused by poorly constructed, out of date infrastructure and numerous dangerous junctions.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?

Enforcing penalties
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

London Cycling Campaign launches ‘Safer Lorries, Safer Cycling’

London Cycling Campaign aims to highlight and bring to action safer cycling conditions for those in the boroughs of London. 

Today, as part of their Safer Lorries Campaign, they’ve launched a hard-hitting video demonstrating the catastrophic affect a collision between a lorry and a cyclist can have.

Highlighting the significantly high incident rate compared to the small number of lorries that make up the traffic on London’s roads, London Cycling Campaign are calling for cyclists (as well as pedestrians and motorcyclists) to write to their local councils to action ‘safer lorries and safer drivers‘.

Actions, already actively used by Transport For London’s lorries, include:

  • Cyclist-awareness training for all lorry drivers
    Training involves lorry drivers riding bicycles on the road so they can better understand the vulnerability of people who cycle. This training is low cost and available all over London.
  • All lorries to have the latest safety equipment
    This means a full set of safety mirrors and sensors/cameras that help the driver be more aware of vulnerable road users near their vehicle. These cost a few hundred pounds per vehicle.

Their map of the London Boroughs also highlights the different standards in cycling safety across London; showing only 2 of the 34 boroughs are currently participating in trying to make a difference.

Of course, not looking to point the finger, LCC also highlight safety considerations to cyclists sharing the road with lorries too.

Do you want to make a difference to cycling safety in your area? Submit your support to your local council through their easy to use form.

Hayley Davies

Hayley Davies

Writer

Riding since Feb 2011 Hayley is a 30 year old female who loves adventures. If she’s not on one of her many bikes or in the water on a bodyboard/surfboard, then Hayley is probably out looking for something new to keep the adrenaline pumping!
Website: www.hjdonline.co.uk

The London Bike Show 2013

LondonBikeShow

I was delighted to receive two tickets to the London Bike Show last weekend and rather gutted to find out I couldn’t go. As an ex-pro who still cycles every day, my Dad was of course, more than happy to pop along. Here’s Tony’s account of the bike show on Saturday…

*****
The moment I stepped off the Docklands Light Railway on Saturday morning I knew it was going to be busy.  The snow that had fallen copiously in the London area the previous day meant I had to use public transport although I have never been totally comfortable travelling on a driverless train and leaving everything to a computer.  I had assumed that the weather would keep a lot of people at home but I was so wrong.  The masses propelled me towards the entrance and looking around at my fellow visitors I couldn’t help but notice how well prepared they were for bad weather with a good selection of beanie hats, stout boots and several in what appeared to be rubberised jackets.  All was to become clear.

The queue at the entrance was at least 50 deep but moved quickly. My ticket was snatched away and I found myself inside the ExCeL centre – but oh no, the overhead banner proclaimed  “Welcome to the London Boat Show”!  My inner chimp panicked, how would I retrieve my ticket and get back out? Then I heard someone say “the Bike Show is in the hall at the end”.  Tickets gave access not only to the Bike Show but also to the Boat Show, The Outdoors Show and the Active Travel Show.

It wasn’t yet 11 a.m. but it appeared that the Bike Show was drawing in well over 25% of the visitors and so my slow shuffle down the first isle began.  The sheer volume of people attending in such bad weather is a fine testament to the popularity of cycling, however, on this occasion it did make it difficult to have a chat with stand attendants.

Even though progress was slow, what struck me straight off was the number of stands showing complete road bikes for sale.  Pinarello had the largest stand, right in the centre, displaying a wide range of complete bikes from entry level sportives at around £1,000 to their top end time trial machine coming in at £14,000.  If you can only manage £11,000 then you can pick up a nice little track number.  Boardman was also there in force at the far end, close to the Animal Bike stunt track where Martyn Ashton (four times British Bike Trial Champion) and Blake Samson were performing mind boggling acrobatics and aerial manoeuvres.

I know I’m an oldie, and call me old fashioned if you want but much of the roadie’s off season pleasure used to be gained from reviewing and selecting the various components that were to be built onto the coming season’s new frame.  Now the pressure of volume production versus price directs most of us towards pre-configured complete bikes built around a mass produced monocoque carbon fibre frame, 99% of which are manufactured from one of four or so factories in the far east using carbon fibre spun from one of three Japanese facilities, Toray, Toho Tenax and Mitsubishi Rayon.  Time and time again I asked where the vendor’s frames were produced and got the same answer.  At Canyon Bikes I asked again if their frames were made in China?  “No” the proud German lady proclaimed, I was momentarily excited – perhaps it would be Dusseldorf or Nuremburg, but alas “….ours are manufactured in Tie-van” (she meant Taiwan)!

I could only find three suppliers displaying custom carbon frames.  Sigma Sport were offering a hand built custom carbon frame from the iconic Italian Colnago house using preformed carbon lugs bonded to the tubes.  I was told Signore Colnago strongly believes this is the right way to do it.  You would need £3,000 or more to have one made to measure but I can’t help thinking that these are like giant Airfix kits – preformed pieces glued together and very quick to assemble, although I must admit the multi-stage hand paint process is fabulous.

Le Beau Velo, distributor for the Italian Fondriest brand were offering a bespoke carbon fibre ‘layup’ frame, where the joints are held together with cut-to-fit carbon fibre sheets bonded with epoxy resin rather than preformed lugs.  I was told no UK fabricator does this.  These frames are hand made in Italy and again have a price tag north of £3,000.  Their tubes are constructed from Toray carbon fibre from Japan but they claim the actual manufacturing of the tubes is performed in Italy, presumably by ATR who also supply Colnago and are one of the very few non-Asian manufacturers of monocoque frames.  Equally as strong, stiff and responsive as a carbon monocoque, Le Beau Velo’s typical custom frame customer is a gentleman of a certain standing who can afford something that looks special…that is special, whilst still young enough to ride to its full potential (or most of it anyway),  “a top end racing frame that is seldom used for racing”.

The Extra stand was also displaying carbon lugged frames manufactured by Time.  Time is a French company who obtain a lot of their revenue from contracted carbon fibre work at the Airbus aircraft factory in Toulouse.  This has enabled them to become another of the very few non-Asian manufacturers of carbon fibre weave, although their volume in comparison to the far east manufacturers is very small and the number of frames they produce is also small in comparison.

Independent steel and titanium frame builders were noticeable by their absence and I saw only a handful of non-carbon frames for the serious rider.  There was no Bamboo construction in evidence at all, which is surprising given the ‘green’ momentum these fabulous machines have been getting.  Perhaps the cost of renting a stand at the show is prohibitive to all but the largest suppliers and distributors.

One final note; I happened to be ushered by the masses out of an isle just in front of the Jaguar Performance Theatre as the newly formed professional team sponsored by Madison Genesis was being presented (video below).  First up was Dean Downing followed by 8 or 9 fresh faced professionals all hoping to be part of this year’s UCI Continental team under Roger Hammond’s stewardship.  They also announced that Genesis has been working with Reynolds to develop a new ‘953’ steel-alloy frameset.

Overall, a hugely enjoyable and educational experience, if hampered a little by the sheer volume of visitors.  I stopped on the way back to meet my wife at the newly built Westfield-Stratford shopping mall.  It was empty by comparison!

 

 

 

Hayley Davies

Hayley Davies

Writer

Riding since Feb 2011 Hayley is a 30 year old female who loves adventures. If she’s not on one of her many bikes or in the water on a bodyboard/surfboard, then Hayley is probably out looking for something new to keep the adrenaline pumping!
Website: www.hjdonline.co.uk

Book Review – Bicycling Science

 

Bicycling Science, 3rd Edition

Everything you wanted to know about the bicycle but were too afraid to ask
By David Gordon Wilson with contributions by Jim Papadopoulos. The MIT Press

 

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.


Title:
Bicycling Science – Everything you wanted to know about the bicycle but were too afraid to ask 

Author:
David Gordon Wilson    

Published by:
MIT Press; 3rd Revised edition edition

Available in Paperback

Price:
RRP £19.95 (Paperback)

 

 

 

 

Champion Systems Maxgear announce Women’s 2013 Team

New riders Lauryn Theryn and Joanne Blakeley will join current riders Eve Dixon, Frankie White, Melissa Bury and Nicola Soden for the 2013 season.
Lauryn joins the team with a wealth of sporting experience and success. Athletics was her main sport up until the age of 20. She was a thrower who competed in the Javelin and Discus at World Youth Games and Commonwealth Games standard. She finished her athletics career in 2006 in order to focus on Bobsleigh where she competed for Great Britain on the Europa Cup Circuit, World Cup Circuit and at the World Championships. She finished Bobsleigh in 2008 ranked 6th in the World, the best result for a British Women’s team in over a decade.

Lauryn Theryn Bobsleigh

Lauryn took up cycling in 2011 after attending a talent transfer programme run by UK Sport called Girls 4 Gold. She joined the Cardiff Jif Cycling Cluband raced for them on the road and track winning Welsh National medals in both disciplines. During the winter she took up playing Rugby and was selected for the England 7’s Development Squad. 
After sustaining three serious injuries early in her rugby career she took up cycling again to keep fit. She moved to Manchester in April this year to work for British Cycling setting herself the goal of competing in the British Track Championships and won a silver medal in the Team Sprint.

Champion Systems Maxgear

Lauryn commented “I am really excited to be given the opportunity to race for a local team and am really looking forward to racing with the other girls. My goal for next season is to be a reliable rider who works hard for the team and isn’t afraid of pushing my own physical boundaries in order to rise to any challenge.”

Jo is relatively new to cycling after coming from a running background. She was shortlisted for the Girls 4 Gold programme along with Lauryn. She joins the team after a year of riding with local club Seamons CC in which she achieved a great deal. She won the TLI National Road Race Championship and has produced some solid top twenty placings in National Road Race Series Races. She is also a very strong time triallist with several wins and podium places and 5th at the National Hill Climb Championships this year.

Jo wants to build on her road racing experience next year and is “eager to start racing with and learning from my new team – who love cycling as much as me! I’m particularly excited about racing in Belgium with them next year and gaining more experience on the track and in other areas.”

Ian Bury, team manager, said “Lauryn has had a spectacular sporting career so far both on and off the bike. She is a very driven individual and has much to offer to the team with vast sporting experience and a strong team ethic. Jo is also an exciting new addition to the team with a lot of raw talent. She can do a strong time-trial and is super enthusiastic to work hard with the team. We are very excited about 2013.“

The team have worked well as a unit this year with top tens and podiums in the National Women’s Road Race Series, National Women’s Team Series and races in Belgium and Holland. There has also been top National Championship performances, with Nicola placing 10th in the National Scratch Race Championship, Melissa winning Rollapoluza National Championship and second in the Grass Track 800m National Championship and most recently hill climbs with Eve winning the National Junior Women’s title for the second year running.

2013 line up:
Eve Dixon
Frankie White
Joanne Blakeley
Lauryn Therin
Melissa Bury
Nicola Soden

Follow the riders progress at maxgearettes.blogspot.com or on twitter @Maxgearettes

Pictures kindly supplied by Ed Rollason: www.edrollasonphotography.co.uk

 

 

Meet the Superhumans

Time to meet the Superhumans if you haven’t already they including Cycling Shorts very own Jody Cundy MBE.

Channel 4 launched its biggest ever marketing campaign on Tuesday July 17 to promote coverage of the London 2012 Paralympic Games with a ‘roadblock’ premiere of its Meet the Superhumans film across 78 television channels.

The 90 second long film is set to the awesome track, “Harder Than You Think” by hip hop legends, Public Enemy, the film showcases the abilities of some of the leading UK Paralympians, represents some of the unique stories behind the elite athletes, and shows the herculean efforts that have gone into their preparation for the Games. It’s an extremely powerful short film.

Channel 4 is committed to bringing a new audience to the Paralympic Games and to raise awareness of Paralympic sport.

The campaign was commissioned by Channel 4 marketing, and conceived and directed by Tom Tagholm, for Channel 4’s in-house agency, 4creative.

Dan Brooke, Channel 4’s Chief Marketing & Communications Officer said: “London 2012 is a coming of age moment for the Paralympics. This campaign will help bring a whole new audience to it and may even raise a goosebump or two along the way.”

Produced by 4creative which is Channel 4’s in-house agency who this year have picked up a D&AD pencil (their 9th in 7 years) and a Cannes Gold and Bronze lion.

The shoot took place over 14 days in sports arenas across the country from the Sheffield Aquatics centre to Lee Valley Athletics Centre to the Olympic stadium, to the home of the Paralympics: Stoke Mandeville.

The full list of locations:
Paralympics Athletics Test Event at the Olympic Stadium
Herne Hill Velodrome Cycling Meet
Newport Velodrome
Cardiff Swimming Pool
Stoke Mandeville (Wheelchair Basketball)
Lee Valley Athletics Centre
Crystal Palace National Sports Centre
Reading Hockey Club (Blind Football)

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