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chaotic city to fare in whether you’re a cyclist or a motorist, with dangerous conditions caused by poorly constructed, out of date infrastructure and numerous dangerous junctions.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.
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2013 started off by eating grapes, in fact 12 of them, one for each chime of the clock ringing in the New Year. I was in Majorca and this was a Spanish tradition to bring good luck. It was nice to get back into a routine of training and have no distractions. Also the weather was pretty good compared to back in the UK and I managed to get 10 quality days of training in, covering a good number of miles and a plenty of climbing to boot. Back in the UK I continued race in the Manchester Regional Track League, and enjoyed getting back into the competitive side of bike riding, although the endurance side of racing has never been my speciality.
Towards the end of January I attended the London Bike Show, and although there was quite a bit of snow disrupting travel I managed to get there and back in one piece and without too many delays. The show was good fun, signing autographs on the British Cycling stand, and then doing a half hour interview on the stage with Anthony McCrossen. The bike show was also a good chance to chat to manufacturers and distributers about the coming year and meet the industry insiders.
The start of February saw me heading north to Glasgow, to ride at the final round of the Revolution track series, and the first time the series had ventured away from Manchester. Once again I was riding for Face Partnership with the endurance riders. I didn’t quite get off to as good a start as in the first round as I finished 6th in the Flying Lap, an event I’d managed a 2nd in October. The Madison kilo was a much better ride than the 1st round though, riding with Jake Ragan we managed to post a sub 60 second kilo and good enough to take the lead at the halfway point. In the end we ended up 5th, but the time and placing was an improvement from previous rounds. The bunch races went pretty well this time around, although I didn’t make any of the top ten places I had much stronger rides than in the October rounds and was more aware of what was going on around me. However still need some more racing and training to properly get in the mix and contest the finish sprints.
With unsettled weather conditions and having spent 2 days straight on the turbo, I was online booking another camp out in Majorca, this time it was only for 7 days, but it was long enough to continue working on the base fitness, and clocking in the hours. I was staying in the Playa de Palma, and it was pretty much a cycling hotel, with the hotel filled with cyclists. I was joined on a number of rides by fellow Paralympic Colin Lynch, who was staying in the same hotel. I also bumped into one of my main rivals and good friend, Jiri Jezek, who was staying a few hundred metres away in another hotel, I joined him out on a big group ride where we discussed the issues we’re having in our sport at the moment. It was good to get out riding with these guys as I do a lot of my training on my own, and when you’re on longer road rides it’s good to have someone there with you going through the same miles and hours. My fitness was on the way up, and I set a few PB’s up some of the shorter climbs on the island I use to test myself.
The camp wasn’t without a few hiccups though, as on the 2nd day I was knocked off by a car, which in itself was pretty shocking, but I was incredibly lucky and managed to escape with a few cuts and bruises. Thankfully it didn’t affect my training and I was able to finish the week strongly.
Once back home it was off to another bike show, this time the Bike and Triathlon Show in Manchester. It was a smaller event than the one in London, but certainly felt like I signed more autographs this time around.
With my fitness going in the right direction, it was time to test myself out on the road, and I was set to race in the Eddie Soens Classic at Aintree Race Course. It was the first race of the season for most people and historically has been cold and wet, but with 250 riders from all categories of racing it was going to be organized chaos! The race set off at a good speed and I was off with the Cat 2 riders in the group just ahead of the Cat 1’s and Elites. It wasn’t long before we were caught and the bunch was 250riders strong and shortly after that the first crash happened, fortunately I managed to avoid it, but with the rider on the ground each lap the bunch would have to squeeze past before regrouping. A few more laps in and there was another crash, this time I wasn’t so lucky and got caught the wrong side of it. After not quite making it back on, I ended up riding to the end of the race in a small group, and with the peloton out of our range it turned into a strong training ride. Still it was pretty enjoyable, and my legs felt pretty good throughout.
Then it was back to Majorca again, this time with almost all the GB Para-Cycling Team. It was one of the most relaxed camps I’ve been on, although the craziest weather conditions. We had sun, rain, wind, snow, and hail, but all in all it didn’t stop me getting in all the training I had planned. This camp was about adding intensity to my rides, and working on specifics that’ll hopefully convert into more speed on the track during my kilo.
Well that’s spring done and dusted, off to race at the Good Friday Meet at Herne Hill Velodrome (weather permitting) and then it’s into the meaty part of my training block, as I aim to make the 2014 Commonwealth Team.
Catch you all soon, as I keep you updated on my progress
P.S. Catch me tonight (29/03/2013) on the last show of the season of Channel4’s The Last Leg, 9.30pm on Channel 4 in the UK.
Cycletta Aims to Help Get One Million Ladies on their Bikes by 2020
– Victoria Pendleton CBE hoping to see lots more ladies taking up cycling as a way of staying fit and having fun.
– 56% of all Cycletta participants were taking part in a cycling event for the first time
– 96% of participants, who weren’t already regular cyclists, said that they had been inspired to cycle more regularly in the future.
Cycletta, the UK’s leading series of women only bike rides, is showing its support to British Cycling’s plans to get one million women cycling by 2020.
Victoria Pendleton CBE launched the 2013 Cycletta series last week. Following the success of last year’s events which saw thousands of women across the UK take to their bikes, Cycletta 2013 is coming to even more stunning locations, including visits to Scotland and Wales for the first time, as well as a new Surrey location.
During the 2012 series, 56% of all Cycletta participants were taking part in a cycling event for the first time and an impressive 96% of participants, who weren’t already regular cyclists, said that they had been inspired to cycle more regularly in the future. It is results such as these that show how Cycletta has been effective in partnering British Cycling and the Breeze Network in their initiative to increase participation of female cyclists.
Cycletta 2013 is open to women of all ages and abilities, where distances include the Classic route (40 km) and Challenge (52-82km). With the Olympics inspiring a wave of new cyclists series organisers, Human Race, have added a shorter 20km distance at all venues, continuing to develop the core motivation behind Cycletta and make cycling participation accessible for as many women as possible.
Cycletta ambassador, Victoria Pendleton will be aiming to take part in as many of the events as she can, and encourages women everywhere to give the events a go. She said: “Cycletta has been encouraging women to get on their bikes since 2011. The fact that the series has grown from two events to seven over the last few years proves that more and more ladies are taking up cycling.”
She continued: “Last year just over half of all Cycletta participants were taking part in a cycling event for the first time and with the addition of the new shorter 20km routes this year, we are hoping to see lots more ladies taking up cycling as a way of staying fit and having fun.”
This year, girls aged between 12 and 16 years can also take part when accompanied by an adult, with the organisers hoping Cycletta will inspire the next generation of Victoria Pendletons and offer the opportunity for mums and daughters to take part in events together.
For the younger children, all events (with the exception of Brighton and Cycletta at Wiggle Dragon Ride) will host a Scootathlon taking place on the same day. The Scootathlon is a fun mini triathlon for children between the ages of 4 and 8 where they scoot, bike and run. Girls and boys will race together in various age categories for the title of Scootathlon champion.
Each Cycletta will take place in stunning surroundings, on safe well-managed roads and with loads of fun for all the family. Each event will feature all the unique touches that made the 2012 events so popular. A pop up spa by Unlisted, London’s leading authority in beauty, fitness and wellbeing, will be offering all Cycletta participants post-ride spa treatments to ensure that riders relax, rejuvenate and revive within the Unlisted oasis.
Ian Lulham, Cycling Events Programme Manager for Cycletta’s Official Charity Partner Macmillan Cancer Support, said: “We want as many ladies as possible to take to two wheels, get outdoors in the great British countryside and take part in Cycletta for Macmillan in 2013. Not only will you have a great day out, but you’ll be helping us on our way to raising much needed funds to help support people affected by cancer, every step of the way.”
The Cycletta website offers a host of information on training, on-the-day advice and bike maintenance. Also keep an eye on the Cycletta blog, Twitter (@cycletta) and http://www.facebook.com/cycletta to stay up-to-date with the latest news and developments. Cycletta is part of the Human Race Women Only series which includes triathlon, swimming, running and cycling events. To find out more go to: http://www.humanrace.co.uk
See below for all Cycletta events and visit http://www.cycletta.co.uk to book your place.
Cycletta Cheshire: 12th May, Tatton Park
Cycletta at the Wiggle Dragon Ride: 9th June, Margam Park, South Wales
Cycletta Bedfordshire: 30th June, Woburn Abbey
Cycletta Surrey: 7th July, Loseley Park
Cycletta Scotland: 15th September, Scone Palace, Perth
Cycletta Brighton: 29th September, Plumpton Racecourse
Cycletta New Forest: 13th October, Beaulieu
SCCU Good Friday Meeting
Herne Hill Velodrome, Burbage Road, SE24 9HE : 29 March 2013
Marcel Kalz at Good Friday picture ©Paul Wright
Top International riders competing at the historic Good Friday meeting this year are Sprinter Robert Forstemann, Six Day riders Christian Grasmann, Marcel Kalz, Leif Lampater, Nico Hesslich (all Germany) & Manuel Cazzaro (Italy).
Andy Tennant (Madison Genesis) is the leading British rider supported by Dominic Jelfs.
Team Raleigh have a strong presence with Evan Oliphant, Tom Scully and Sam Witmitz. Peter Mitchell, winner of the Open Sprint for the last two years is hoping to make it three in a row.
Live commentary will be provided by David Harmon. Paralympic stars Jody Cundy and Jon-Allan Butterworth are also competing and newly crowned World Sprint and World Keirin Champion Becky James will be making a guest appearance, but will not be racing on this occasion.
The Triumph Thunderbird motorbikes will again take to the track. Two British riders, James Holland-Leader and Symon Lewis will compete against riders from Holland, Belgium, France and Germany in the seven man 40 laps Motor paced race.
There are five races for women this year; women’s specific are the Sprint, Keirin and Scratch, and women will take on the men in the 5 Mile and Devil.
The usual SCCU Good Friday favourite races include the White Hope Sprint for up and coming riders, the International Open Sprint with top riders from home and abroad and the Meeting will end with the now classic Golden Wheel 20 k scratch, which boasts a fantastic £1000 for the winner and a further £1000 for the runners up. Last year’s winner, Marcel Kalz from Germany is returning to defend his trophy against a 125 strong field.
Apart from the usual ‘cycle jumble’ stalls there will be Bike Bling and bike related stalls around the Velodrome, plus a Real Ale Bar, proper coffee and hot food outlets. Gates open at 9.30 for spectators. Preliminary races start at 10.30 and the Finals start at 1pm, all being well it should be done by 5.30.
Good Friday By Numbers:
11: The number of countries that riders come from this year (France, Belgium, GB, Holland, Germany, Italy, Slovakia, Finland, Switzerland, New Zealand, Australia),
22: The number of women competing in 2013
57: Hotel beds booked for the Meeting
148: The number of riders in this year’s Meeting
£675: Total Prize money for the Womens events
£1000: First prize for the Golden Wheel 20k Scratch
1903: Year the first meeting was held
£4610: Total Prize money for the Meeting
Admission is £12 for adults, £6 for 12-16s and free for under 12s. Tickets can be purchased in advance via the website or on the day. There is no onsite car parking for spectators; please arrive by train to Herne Hill station (8 minutes walk) or bike, as there will be plenty of bike parking. Spectators needing disabled parking should contact the organisers in advance.
Further information can be found at: www.bristowevents.co.uk/GoodFriday.html
Herne Hill Velodrome Celebrates
Olympic Legacy Project is Given Green Light
Herne Hill Velodrome is one of the finest outdoor cycling tracks in the UK and is the last remaining finals venue from the 1948 Olympic Games. Much of the UK’s Olympic success in 1948 came from two silver and two bronze medals won in track cycling events. It is still used by the British Cycling as a base for developing cycling talent and encouraging grassroots interest; famous names whose careers began at Herne Hill include Bradley Wiggins, Laura Trott and Jo Rowsell.
The Herne Hill Velodrome Trust is the charity established in 2011 to lead the refurbishment and renewal of the Herne Hill Velodrome site for current and future generations of cyclists. The have been working hard to gain recognition of the importance of the Velodrome to the local community and beyond today there was good news….
Southwark Council has approved (subject to conditions) two planning applications from the Herne Hill Velodrome Trust to improve facilities at the historic outdoor track in South East London. The works will be funded by a £400,000 grant from Southwark Council’s Olympic Legacy Project.
The first approval will see construction of an area of hardstanding and a junior track within the velodrome’s inner field. These will provide much needed training facilities for young, novice and less able riders. The junior track will provide a 250 meter flat surface for wide and diverse community use, such as the charity Wheels for Wellbeing who use hand bikes, trikes and side-by-side bikes to help less able riders enjoy cycling. This is the first time Herne Hill will be able to offer such space; other than the track and mountain bike course, there is currently no tarmac area for new and young riders to practice.
The second approval will see installation of much needed track lighting on the main velodrome, the first time the track has ever been lit in its 122 year history. The lighting has been designed with bespoke lighting poles to ensure it delivers the required brightness whilst also minimizing light overspill and with no ecological impact. Lighting will be available for use up to 9.15pm and will allow the velodrome to be used during the winter months when early darkness currently prevents training.
Chair of the Herne Hill Velodrome Trust Hillary Peachey said: “This is a very proud moment in our campaign. We will be able to offer more children, from more diverse backgrounds, an opportunity to learn track cycling. There will be more sessions for women to take up riding, and more time for non-conventional and less able cyclists to discover the freedom of riding in a safe and welcoming environment. And we can at last offer better facilities to those elite riders who train and race at Herne Hill, inspiring the next generation.”
Ian Drake, CEO of British Cycling, said; “’We are delighted that the Herne Hill Velodrome Trust have been successful in obtaining planning permission for what is effectively phase two of the velodrome’s rebirth. Phase one was achieved in 2011 when British Cycling resurfaced the track, saving it from closure and we look forward to working with the Trust, the Dulwich Estate, Sport England and all our local members and supporters to deliver phase three – the redevelopment of the pavilion”.
Cllr Veronica Ward, Cabinet Member for Culture, Leisure, Sport, and Olympic Legacy at Southwark Council, said: “The Capital Legacy Fund has contributed significantly to the development of this famous Velodrome. We are delighted that this next phase has been granted planning permission and that the energy and dynamism of the 2012 Olympics has not been lost in Southwark. We are already seeing real examples of a long-lasting legacy. The state of the art improvements at Herne Hill Velodrome will open up this fantastic facility to larger numbers of cyclists, and allow different generations and people of all abilities to take advantage of the activities on offer.”
Michael Conway, CEO of FM Conway who have been contracted to complete the works, said; “We are extremely pleased to be involved in these prestigious works and are looking forward to working on this historic site that has played such an important part in our sporting history.”
Approval of the applications coincides with preparation for the biggest event of the year at Herne Hill, the Southern Counties’ Cycling Union Good Friday Meeting. This event is now in its 110th year and will be held on 29 March, 2013. With the date looming, and international riders as well as British champions already booked to race, the timing of being granted planning permission and being able to begin work on site could not be more important.
The construction team are fully committed and working hard in uncertain weather conditions to enable the completion of the infield works in time for Good Friday. The installation of lighting will follow in May.
The project team are:
Jackson Coles LLP – Project manager
Hopkins Architects – Feasibility study
Rolfe Judd Planning Ltd – Planning consultant
Deloitte LLP – Cost Consultants
Ramboll – Structural Engineers
Peter Deer Associates – Services & Engineering
Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer LLP – Legal representative
Spokesmen Ltd – Public consultation & media
FM Conway – Contractor for works & project partner
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.
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!