Friday, June 18, 2004

Why don't we do it in the road? Technology | Why don't we do it in the road?: "A new school of traffic design says we should get rid of stop signs and red lights and let cars, bikes and people mingle together. It sounds insane, but it works."

Kottke has some commentary on this.

This does make a lot of sense, though the examples of 'no rules roads' given are all in places that have never had rules. Simply getting rid of the rules would lead to chaos. However, cyclists who take their space on the road are much safer than the cyclists in the gutter.

Wednesday, June 16, 2004

Darlington Midsummer Bike Ride

I set off for the Darlington Midsummer Bike Ride in some trepadation. It's marked up as a "2-bike" ride in the leaflet. The next hardest is the 50 mile Tourist Trial. Just in case the going was too tough, I'd packed a map and encouraged AndyRoo to go along as well; we could always drop off the back and make our own way home, leaving the shaven-legged roadies to carry on their relentless chain gang.

I needn't have worried. The pace was, erm, leisurely; we took 2-and-a-half hours to travel around 10 miles and everyone managed to keep up. We even had an ice cream stop half-way.

Though the pace was slower than I'd have liked, it was an enjoyable ride out and very well attended - the biggest turn-out yet for a guided ride in Darlington with around twenty riders. There was a huge range of bikes, from me on my 'jumpy' GT, to women with baskets on the bars, to a shaft-drive bike to a Dawes Galaxy, almost all manner of bike was represented.

We travelled out past the Darlington College to Nunnery Lane, where we took a bridleway out onto one of the roads behind Cockerton, then along a bridleway by the motorway (over an old railway line) and finally to Walworth Grange. From Walworth, we headed back into Darlington via the Brinkburn Nature Reserve and Greenbank Road.

Many thanks to Own Wilson for leading the ride, despite his bad knee.

Given the pace of this ride, I'd considered entering the 50 mile Tourist Trial, but it was last Sunday. The 70 mile ride on the fourth of July may be a touch too far for me.

If you'd like to have a go on one of the guided rides remaining this year, there are still a few to go. Next up is the Cycle Treasure Trail through Skerningham Woods, meeting at Asda, 11:00am on Sunday July 25th, for a ride of around 1.5 hours. Free entrey, with prizes for all.

Midsummer Bike Ride in Darlington tonight

Both contributors to Bike Darlington will be taking part in the Midsummer Bike Ride, starting tonight, Wednesday 16th June, at 7pm outside the Dolphin Centre.

A report and, possibly, pictures tomorrow.

BBC News: Cyclists win rush-hour challenge

BBC News: Cyclists win rush-hour challenge: "Cyclists have proved the fastest rush-hour commuters in a city centre challenge between walkers, drivers, cyclists, a bus and a wheelchair."

A less scientific experiment last month discovered thatbikes are faster than cars in Darlington.

Saturday, June 12, 2004

Google Blog

Google Blog: Pedal Power: "Even though the Mountain View, CA Googleplex is close by several freeways, it seems quite a number of us managed to make our way in on spokes."

Even at Google, people can cycle to work.

Update: AndyRoo provides an image:

Trek 4700 mountain bike with Google 'o's for wheels

Wednesday, June 09, 2004

House of Commons debates - Friday, 23 April 2004 - Protective Headgear for Young Cyclists Bill

House of Commons debates - Friday, 23 April 2004 - Protective Headgear for Young Cyclists Bill.

Lots of debate between MPs here, some of which makes you wonder how old they are. Basically, this is a debate about a Private Member's Bill to make wearing of helmets while cycling compulsory for under 16s.

Personally, I always wear a helmet while riding my bike, but I'm sure this bill would have reduce participation in cycling in under 16s if made law. I'm also fairly sure it would be pretty difficult to enforce.

There are better ways of reducing road deaths among cyclists: traffic calming, awareness, tougher penalties for drivers and improved road layouts to name a few.

Do you wear a helmet while riding your bike? Do you support this bill? Would you support extending the bill to cover all cyclists?

Darlington Cycle Forum

The next meeting of the Darlington Cycle Forum will be at the Town Hall on Tuesday July 27th at 6:15pm. It's an opportunity to get involved with the development of cycling in the town.

NB: A new link for the links panel perhaps?:

Cycle Maps Available

Darlington Council has produced a couple of cycling maps: one of Darlington and another of the Tees Valley. I'm not sure if they are free but an article in the Town Crier magazine implies it. To get a copy of The Darlington Cycle Map or Tees Valley Cycle Map call Sue Dobson on 01325 388277 or email sue.dobson (at)

Guided Cycle Rides In And Around Darlington

In this months Town Crier magazine Owen Wilson is offering guided cycle rides in and around Darlington. You can get a copy of an event leaflet by calling 01325 388652 or emailing owen.wilson (at) I've sent off for a copy.

Tuesday, June 08, 2004

Midsummer Cycle Ride

Part of the Darlington Cycle Festival, the Midsummer Cycle Ride takes place next Wednesday, 16th June, starting at 7pm at the Dolphin Centre and taking around two and a half hours. It is a gentle midsummer's evening cycle ride through some of the borough's most attractive countryside, according to the Darlington Cycling Festival programme.

Unfortunately, there doesn't seem to be a website for the festival, the news section of the council website is lacking in information, and I can't find any more information online via Google, so that's all the information I can give.

I'm planning on going along; any other takers?

Magic Roundabouts

Lets hope nobody builds one of these roundabouts in Darlington: Swindon's Magic Roundabout, or slightly worse Hemel Hempstead's Plough Roundabout

How To Run a Weblog on Behalf of Your MP

How To Run a Weblog on Behalf of Your MP: "Why/When Stalk an MP?

# If they don't have a website.
# If their website isn't updated frequently enough to be useful.
# If you want to shine a torch up their arse and see if the light comes out of their ears."

Any takers for Mr Milburn? Or we could blog about the entire council/town (though Darlington Town sort of does that already).

Monday, June 07, 2004

Head Case

Do you like your helmet? If so I'd like to know about it! I'm thinking about buying a brain bucket but what to buy and what are the pros and cons?

Since I'm skint it'll have to be quite cheap so my budget is something like a miserly £35 :-(

I've heard that the best advice is to actually try out models in one of those ye olde shoppe things, so I'll probably do that if I can make a shortlist of models beforehand. I've heard that a badly-fitting helmet can do more damage in an accident than not wearing one at all so this seems excellent advice.

Apparently Specialised head cases are better for folks with narrower heads and Giros are better for folks with round ones. I'll be looking for a Giro then :-)

Helmets I've seen that I liked were: Specialized 03 Enduro Pro and Giro Animas.

What helmet would you recommend or what should I know about or avoid?

Thursday, June 03, 2004

Singlespeed conversion

My old Kona was looking sad and unused, in the garage gathering dust ad cobwebs, so I took a few parts off it. It's not a proper singlespeed conversion, but it forces me to ride it one-geared; and, a full conversion can be completed eventually.

Kona Hahanna conversion to singlespeed - starting point

The starting point. Rigid Konas just look good. Unfortunately, this one has a flat front tyre and the gearing is rather worn.

Kona Hahanna conversion to singlespeed - the bits taken off

A box o' bits!

Kona Hahanna conversion to singlespeed - no gears side view

The bike with all the extraneous parts removed. I got rid of the bottle cage, pump mount and crud guard as well, but they may return at some point. It still looks like a geared bike for the moment, but I have no cash to spend on bits to properly singlespeed it.

Kona Hahanna conversion to singlespeed - chainset view - no front mech

The chainset with no front mech. An advantage of keeping the rear mech and the chainset is that I can manually change between three gears, for road use, or big hills. Eventually, the three rings will be reduced to just one.

Kona Hahanna conversion to singlespeed - rear wheel - still a mech and cassette, but no gear cable

I'm using the rear mech to tension the chain, and still have the seven sprocket cassette. A single sprocket will be added at some point. The mech is aligned with the cog using the high and low adjuster screws.

Kona Hahanna conversion to singlespeed - front view - simplified handlebars

It might not be a proper singlespeed yet, but it looks like one from the front.

One of the pedals creaks a lot, so I'm going to have to share a pair of flats between my two bikes, and it now has a rear puncture, but it was fun to ride on it's first outing.

34:19, by the way.