Wednesday, December 27, 2006

World Class Cycle Stands in Darlington?

With Darlington both a Sustainable Transport Town and Cycling Demonstration Town, the time could not be better for us to introduce some of the best examples of cycle-friendly initiatives from around the world to our little northern haven.

So with the power of the internet at our collective community fingertips, lets invite fellow cyclists from blogs all over the earth to show us their favourite cycle stands, so that the wise powers that be here are not restricted to a little anti-cycling island when they offer up so-called "best practice". Mike, I'm sure you have the technical know-how to forward this blog to cyclists from Aarhus, Denmark to Zuck, Ohio!

Here's a start - your average cycle stand in Bremen. Germany. Nothing special, but two-level cross bars for different sized bikes, and crucially, enough space between each stand for parking and getting in and out. Would be nice if more of them were under cover, though.
A novel example of a bike rack can be found at

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Dumb Car Salesmen = Dumb Darlington?

Darlington's teachers might take a moment to ponder the power of the car industry in their town - and its debilitating effects on our children's literacy.

Dominating the east side of the inner ring road right now is this sales promotion at the Evans Halshaw Ford salerooms.

It seems that bad English doesn't enter into it when you have all that money to spend on selling tin cans. With Evans Halshaw boldly going where Station Taxi's went before, we are rapidly becoming a town oversaturated with surplus apostrophes.

But then again, why complain. Thi's i's freedom in practice. Wouldn't the cycle round the inner road be boring if it was devoid of adverti'sing, communi'st style? And anyway, the car indus'try really want's to encourage more cycling in Darlington. Hone'st. They are even spon'soring the local authority's new cycle network with a set of spanking new sign's.

So, happy New year to you all. And I look forward to seeing you driving your kid's to s'chool in your new Mondeo's, Vectra's and Scenic's in 2007.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Free folding bikes for all of Ikea's staff

It's a Håppî Christmüs from Sweden as Ikea UK gives all 9000 'co-workers' folding bikes as this year's corporate gift.

The largesse is even more impressive when put into market context: Brompton, for instance, sells c. 12,000 folding bikes a year so this move from Ikea is a big boost to the folding bike sector (and, from later tonight, there's likely to be a fair few blue folding bikes on eBay... )

Each 'co-worker' will also be eligible for 15 per cent subsidised travel tickets to encourage more to use public transport to travel to and from work.

The eco-friendly gift choices are part of IKEA’s "commitment to improve all environmental aspects" of its business.

- Singletrack: Ikea Gifts Folding Bikes to 9000 Staff

Friday, December 15, 2006

Houe of Lords debate cyclists

The transcript of the House of Lords debate on cyclists yesterday makes interesting reading. The Lords comes across as the real world debate in miniature, with motorists refering to cyclists as 'they':

Baroness Knight of Collingtree: My Lords, in addition to the misdemeanours of cyclists to which the noble Lord, Lord Janner, referred, will the Minister note that they also have an unhappy habit of riding the wrong way up a one-way street? I very nearly hit one the other night because not only was he doing that, but he had no lights on. Is that legal?

I was very nearly hit by a car driving the wrong way up a one way street*, does that mean they have an unhappy habit of driving the wrong way up one way streets?

The cycling Lords seem much more articulate, but that could be my personal bias :)

* lots of cars turn left into Skinnergate when leaving the car park behind Barclays Bank, despite the exit being left turn only and Skinnergate being a one way street.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Miliband plans carbon trading 'credit cards' for everyone

Every citizen would be issued with a carbon "credit card" - to be swiped every time they bought petrol, paid an energy utility bill or booked an airline ticket - under a nationwide carbon rationing scheme that could come into operation within five years, according to a feasibility study commissioned by the environment secretary, David Miliband, and published today.

In an interview with the Guardian Mr Miliband said the idea of individual carbon allowances had "a simplicity and beauty that would reward carbon thrift".

- Miliband plans carbon trading 'credit cards' for everyone

This idea appeal to me, as I think we have to do something to force people to change their lifestyles and habits, but it's Big Brother-like tracking capability scares me a little, and the government's not great at getting large IT projects to work properly anyway.

How to give up cycling

"Some people can gradually cut down their cycling but that doesn’t work for everyone. People like you probably need to just decide to stop cycling entirely one day. I’d suggest you just get rid of your bikes and buy a car."

"Buy a car? But that’s such an unreliable way to travel around town. You never know when you are going to arrive because of congestion and problems with parking. I mean, I have work to do and people who rely on me being on time for my appointments."

"You have to explain to people why you are making this choice. You’ll probably find that they are very understanding."

"And what about longer journeys? I use my folding bike to get to the train station and then I can work on the train – it’s incredibly convenient. In a car, you just have to sit there and you can’t do anything else."

"Well, I admit that it can be difficult combining car travel with other activities but you’d be surprised how much you can do with a little practice. Talking on the phone, texting, smoking, eating, drinking – it’s all possible."

- How to give up cycling

The arguments for switching to driving instead of riding are so persuasive I don't know why I don't drive. By switching from my bike to a car I can be poorer, fatter, and angrier then ever before.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Cycle Routes Around Darlington

Regular commenter Steve has put together some route guides and posted them on his website - Cycle Routes, Darlington. The first route is an interesting mix of on- and off-road, starting and finishing in the town centre, which would make a nice cycle campaign social ride in the spring.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Darlington Councillor: Killing Speed

In his post Killing Speed, Nick Wallis talks about the new 20mph zones being introduced in the town. It looks like more 20 zones might become a possibility.

If approved, work to establish the zones in the Eastbourne, Coombe Drive, Fitzwilliam Drive and Oakwood Drive areas would start in February. Details of which streets are affected are available on the Northern Echo story 20mph zones proposed to improve safety in town.

Perhaps every member of the campaign could start a mini-campaign to get their street's speed limit reduced to 20 mph?

Monday, December 04, 2006

Nick Wallis goes for a bike ride

The cycle paths were in great nick and well-signposted. I'm particularly pleased with the new route along the old Barnard Castle line, which is wide and well-lit. The only tricky elements for relatively inexperienced cyclists (like me) are the places where the route crosses North Road near Zetland Street and then Whessoe Road at Elmtree Street. At both locations we should have purpose-built cyclist and pedestrian light-controlled crossings in the next 9 months. [...]The latest from the Transport team is that both crossings should be in place by the end of April 2007.

- Nick Wallis goes for a bike ride and great news about the crossing, it's not just relatively inexperienced cyclists that struggle to cross there. That crossing's one of the reasons I don't use the bike paths to get to and from work.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Petition on Cycle Lanes

We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to pass legislation so that cyclists on cycle lanes accompanying main roads should not have to give way to traffic on joining minor roads.

Traffic on cycle lanes accompanying main roads are currently forced to give way to traffic joining the main road from a minor road, as well as the main road traffic turning into the minor road. On roads which are joined by many minor roads, cyclists are effectively forced to use the main road rather than the cycle lane in order not to waste time and endanger themselves at these nonsensical junctions. This negates the possible safety benefits of cycle lanes. We petition that cycle lanes should have the same rights of way as a lane of a main road, with traffic on joining minor roads forced to give way to both cyclists and vehicular traffic, thus making traveling on cycle lanes a safer (and quicker) method of transport.

If you would like to see a cycle lane accompanying a main road where cyclists are currently forced to give way to traffic joining the main road from a minor road, as well as the main road traffic turning into the minor road, have a ride along McMullen Road in Darlington where the fairly newly-created cycle lane forces cyclists to give way at every side road and car salesroom entrance.

I ride along McMullen Road once a fortnight and use the road rather than this cycle lane. While doing this, I can almost feel the car and truck drivers passing me muttering "use the effing cycle lane". I won't use the cycle lane. In it's current design, this cycle lane places me in more danger than being on the road whilst also enforcing drivers' attitudes that I shouldn't be on the road in the first place.

Sign the petition.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Meeing with Nick Wallis

Last Thursday we had a out second meeting with Councillor Nick Wallis and two council officers. As Nick blogs, there are lots of changes in store for cycling and we as a campaign feel that it is important that we have some input into these changes, so these meetings are really appreciated by us.

I won't go into details here just now, as I wouldn't want to misrepresent anything we discussed; Richard took notes but is away for a few days.

Monday, November 13, 2006

The Cost of Free Car Parking

The Northern Echo today includes a story about Conservative proposals to have free disc parking within the town, and car park sale days. Nich Wallis has opposed these plans, pointing out the traffic congestion which would be caused by free parking, and the disincentive to use public transport if this went ahead. His own plans are for a third hour of free parking after paying for two.

Personally, I feel there's already a huge disincentive to use public transport. Car parking costs 80p an hour for short stay, or £3 for all day in a long stay car park. Bus travel from the edge of town to the town centre costs around £1.20 each way.

Even as a relatively car-light family, we used the car to get to the train station on Saturday. It cost us £3 to park for the whole day. Getting the bus would have cost us almost £5 for the two paying adults. If our children were a little older it would have cost us £7.20.

We're a family who will happily walk places, rather than using our car. (I cycle to work and my wife walks with my daughter to her nursery - the 1-year-old get pushed the 1.7 miles, while the three-year-old walks.) However, given the choice between paying almost double to take the bus, we choose to avoid the wait in the cold and the unpredictable bus service.

How likely is it that a car-committed family will choose to take the bus, walk or cycle into town to do their shopping, given the increased financial cost of doing so?

The argument given for keeping car parking costs low is that we have to compete with other shopping centres, but if a family are getting into their car to get to the Town Centre anyway, why not just pop along the A66 to Teesside Park or Middlebrough instead?

Encouraging non-car access to the Town Centre is surely the best way to ensure its long-term survival, rather than going further down the path of car-dependance.

What is the cost of free car parking?

Update: In my hasty look this morning, I couldn't find the story on the Northern Echo website, but in Nick Wallis' post about the Conservative parking proposals in Darlington, he links to The Northern Echo story Political gulf widens over town car parking policies.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

I want a cargo bike!

The Bakfiets Cargobike - Living with the Dutch kid and cargo hauling workhorse in Portland, Oregon, USA.

And one with a power assist - "the rare but growing presence of a certain kind of Dutch workbike (Bakfiets) on the streets of Portland. Want a bike that seats five kids, with weather protection? No problemo."

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

I feel like a proper cyclist now

In all the years I've been cycling and the two years I've been commuting every day, I've never had abuse shouted at me by 'White Van Man'. I have now.

Coming down Yarm Road past the station, I took the correct line past the two traffic islands - there's not enough room to safely pass, so I moved to around 4 feet from the kerb. I heard an engine behind me as a vehicle slowed down before the first island and it stayed behind me through the second island.

Given how close it was I was surprised when it didn't overtake me straight away, instead it came alongside as I moved into the bus/bike lane and the three neanderthals onboard shouted abuse at me. Not very inventive language to be honest, but ending with what was either advice, "Move over next time", or a threat against my life, "I'll run you over next time". They then turned right into Borough road.

Nice people.

Monday, November 06, 2006

The future for Darlington?

Documentary about the use of bicycles in cities such as Copenhagen (Denmark), Amsterdam and Houten (Netherlands), and Bogotá (Colombia).

I've only watched the first few minutes so far, but this looks like a great vision for the future of transport in Darlington.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Tom Harris MP, Minister for Transport visited the town

Tom Harris MP, Minister for Transport visited the town yesterday to review our progress as one of England's 7 Cycling Demonstration Towns. He was joined by Philip Darnton from Cycling England, the body which has overseen the initiative.

Nick Wallis took them on a tour to see the new College building, where they saw a model of the bridge which will be built over the railway on Haughton road, and to Heathfield Primary School, where cycling has really taken off.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

our car-dependent suburban environment is killing us

In his book, Urban Sprawl and Public Health, public-health advocate Richard Jackson says that "our car-dependent suburban environment is killing us". "If that poor woman had collapsed from heat stroke, we docs would have written the cause of death as heat stroke and not lack of trees and public transportation, poor urban form, and heat-island effects. If she had been killed by a truck going by, the cause of death would have been 'motor-vehicle trauma,' and not lack of sidewalks and transit, poor urban planning, and failed political leadership."


Monday, October 23, 2006

912 Miles Per Gallon?

There are approximately 31,000 calories in a gallon of gas, the fuel that most cars run on. Riding a bicycle on a flat road at about 15mph burns .049 calories per pound per minute. 912mpg is what a 175-pound person would burn on a 30-pound bicycle.

- 912 MPG

Friday, October 20, 2006

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Is cycling allowed in Darlington Pedestrian Heart?

Below is an email I have just sent to various people at the Council:

At about 5 o'clock today I was prevented from entering the Pedestrian
Heart at the blooard where Duke Street meets Skinnergate by a Community Support Officer. I was told that cyclng was not allowed in the pedestrian area and that I should walk my bike, or ride another way. When I questioned this, stating that there was a trial six month period during which cycling was allowed I was told that the council issued instructions that £30 tickets were given to anyone cycling in the pedestrian area, but that the officer would rather just ask people to dismount.

Could you confirm whether cycling is allowed in the pedestrianised town centre? If it is, perhaps the police need informing of this fact?

I have ridden through the pedestrian zone seven times this week without being stopped.

Update (11:58 20/10/2006)

I have just recieved the following reply from the council (my emphasis):

Cyclists have to obey whatever road traffic signs are in place. I have
double checked with traffic management and currently access from Duke Street
to Skinnergate is limited for motor vehicles during the day. However
cyclists can access Skinnergate from Duke Street at all times.

Proposed changes to the town centre, providing greater access for cyclists,
are now with the Department for Transport for approval. They have raised
some issues, which Traffic Management colleagues have responded to this
week. Until new infrastructure and signs are in place, please continue to
cycle in line with existing signs and traffic orders.

This email was also sent to everyone I had emailed.

So, it seems that I was incorrectly stopped yesterday, since I was accessing Skinnergate from Duke Street. I have printed the email and will carry it with me on my way home tonight. I hope I am stopped.

I will be replying to the email requesting that all police and SCOs are made aware of the rules regarding cycling in the town centre.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Darlington Bike Commute Video

Below is a video I took this morning of my ride to work. It's a digital camera velcroed to the bars of the bike then stuck onto youTube, so please excuse the poor quality. I've also split the video into two parts.

Video 1: Wylam Avenue - Thompson Street - North Road (Whessoe Road Junction)

Video 2: North Road (Whessoe Road Junction) - Whessoe Road - Brinkburn Road - Salsbury Terr - Greenbank Road - Duke Street - Abbey Road

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Leave the bikes alone

Considering their incidence in the population, cyclists crop up an awful lot in traffic proposals. Ken Livingstone is considering mandatory numberplates for bikes in London. There were noises not so long ago about obliging cyclists to use cycle paths. The most recent and most absurd proposal is for cyclists to sound a little bell, continually, to warn pedestrians of their approach. Cyclists found not using a bell under this scheme would be liable for a fine between £30 and £2,500, or - for persistent, unrepentant non-bell-ringers - two years in prison.

- Leave the bikes alone

Hear hear!

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Cars 'vital to 47% of UK drivers'

Cars 'vital to 47% of UK drivers'

Almost half of British drivers say they could not substitute public
transport for any of their car journeys, an independent survey has found.
The study, by the Centre for Economics and Business Research, found that 47%
of drivers, some 15 million people, said they had no alternative.
A further
three million drivers said they would not give up their car, no matter how
expensive it became to run.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Right-Wing Political Will Supports Cycling

Next year it's local election time in Darlington, so now is a good time to consider what the main political parties might be inclined to do for cyclists.

Received wisdom - and local experience - would suggest that the Conservatives will be the last party to take the side of the sustainable traveller and support stronger measures in favour of cyclists, pedestrians and bus users. But then their leader is a regular cyclist. And now their Party Vice Chair Sayeeda Warsi has produced an upbeat report on BBC's Newsnight about a bold Republican initiative in Portland, Oregon to increase sustainable transport use.

Judge for yourself whether this kind of political cross-dressing might catch on here - Tony Richmond on a bicycle? You can see Sayeeda Warsi's report here.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Cycle Rides

There are a number of council-led cycle rides coming up; details below. I will be going along to the Salters Circular ride on the 13th.

Salters Circular Off Road Ride
Sunday 13th August
Start: North Road Station 11am
Duration: 3 hours
Mostly following quiet roads this is a ride that covers some of the countryside north of the town – there is a sizeable portion of off road riding. This ride is suitable for mountain bikes.

More info from the council website:

CYCLISTS are being invited to join a ride taking in the quieter roads and green lanes of Darlington this weekend.

The Salters Circular ride, organised by Darlington Council, takes place on Sunday, August 13, and will lead cyclists through some of the countryside north of the town.

Much of the ride will be on loose surfaced paths and the event is most suitable for people with mountain or strong urban bikes.

Anyone interested in taking part should meet at North Road Station at 11am. There will be a refreshments break at Preston-le-Skerne and the ride will end at 2pm.

Women’s Ride to Walworth
Sunday 20th August
Start: Dolphin Centre 10am
Duration: 3 hours
A ride exclusively for women and led by women to Walworth stopping for ice cream at Archer’s Ice cream parlour. The ride will be suitable for women of all ages and abilities.

Nature Reserves Ride
Wednesday 23rd August
Start: Dolphin Centre 1pm
Duration: 2.5 hours
A ride for children accompanied by adults that visits a Local Nature Reserve. The ride will go along quiet roads and traffic free paths and there will be activities arranged by the countryside team on our arrival.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Poor Policy Ideas that Deter Cycling

1. Compulsory Helmets

Have you noticed how many people wear cycle helmets in Darlington? Young kids, of course, a fair number of "sports cyclists" trying to reach the urban speed limit, and most officers involved in Local Motion.

Given the present climate of danger for cyclists, this is not surprising, and for children especially extremely sensible. However, taking this a step further and advocating compulsory helmets is a major mistake that many non-cyclists advocate. Look at the facts:

- cycle helmets can only protect adequately in a simple sub-14mph fall, and are almost useless in a collision with a vehicle travelling at speed. Consequently helmet wearing has very little if any impact on the level of genuinely serious injury and fatalities.

- compulsory helmet wearing allows legislators to move their focus from the real problem (speeding and badly driven vehicles) onto secondary factors such as helmets.

- compulsory helmets lead to a reduction in the level of cycling, and so an increase in coronary related deaths at a level at least 10 times larger than the number of lives supposedly saved by compulsory helmet wearing. See "How helmet promotion affects cycle use".

- studies have shown that the most important factor affecting the numbers of cycle accidents is the level of cycle use. Those countries where cycling is most common - Denmark and the Netherlands - have the lowest number of cycling fatalities per kilometre cycled. Moreover, they also have the lowest level of cycle helmet use - just 0.1% in the Netherlands, compared to the UK's 22% in 1996. See "Cycle use, risk of fatality and helmet use in Europe and USA" for more details of the research.

'Today we all stand at a crossroads between a US-style car culture and a sustainable European multi modal system. The decisions we take now and the levels of investment that we attach to them will determine where we end up'
- UK Commission for Integrated Transport

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Steady Filming for Bikes

It seems Darlington Cycling Campaign are not the only group trying to devise a low-cost means of shooting steady, high-qualitgy video from a bike. This Waukisha, Wisconsin biker is developing a home-made steady cam for use on bicycles. Click through to view some sample footage and the ongoing discussion about its development.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Main Roads for Cyclists!!

I say Chaps, things have to change! The main roads, the radial routes have to be sorted out for cyclists so people going to work or to school can use them safely!! Yarm Road, North Road, Woodland Road, Coniscliffe Road, Grange Road they have to get cycle paths or clear red cycle tracks on the road and no "give way" signs at junctions.

There should be a clear signal to car drivers from the council that they are not mother's only baby any more. There are pedestrians and cyclists and public transport, and they should have as many rights on the streets as car drivers. Or even more because they don't pollute the world as much as indivual transport - a bus can replace more than 30 cars! So just imagine Woodland Road with buses, full cycles paths and happy pedestrians!

But it does not work if the council and the highways department does not wake up to the needs of the majority of the traffic (which is not car drivers, poor things).

But how do we wake them up? Is there a helpful councillor with visions and ideas and courage? Send your ideas to your councillor and this blog!! Tell your councillor about our blog!!

Friday, July 07, 2006

Cycling in Darlington - Putting It In Perspective

Well, it's been over a year now since Darlington Borough Council was awarded £5.74m to develop new sustainable transport initiatives. What have we got for our tax money?

A fine cycle path along West Auckland Road was already being built anyway, and is spoilt by the fact that at every road crossing, cyclists must give way to cars. There is the Local Motion campaign, with lots of hype and PR and, more usefully, door-to-door visits of local people, trying to help them change their travel habits.

Then there is the Pedestrian Heart, a building site at the moment, but with the promise of??? Cyclists, already ignored by road engineers during the building phase (where do cyclists go, for god's sake?), will be given 6 months to prove that we are all angels, after which (since all humans are not angels) we will be banned from using our bikes there.

We are promised a number of new cycle paths, but there is no plan to join any of them up into a proper set of complete, safe, cycle routes. The nearest we have got to this is unsafe, on-road, "advised" routes.

The research that launched Town on the Move in 2004 stated clearly that cycling was the key to changing peoples' travel habits. Yet cyclists are still being treated like second or third class travellers.

The local authority's aims are both time and vision limited. There is a reluctance to engage with the real problem - that motorists have been given the freedom of town roads for too long - for fear of alienating potential voters. But this also reflects the meagre sums being allocated to cycling anyway, when compared to motoring. A recent article in Guardian Unlimited points out that the Department for Transport budget this year is £13.4 BILLION. Last month it made a great PR song and dance about doubling its grant to Cycling England - from £5 million to £10 million. Maybe you can figure out what that is as a percentage of its total budget.

Truth is, the level of government commitment to cycling is pathetic, and the level of ambition at local level reflects this. There has been much talk of using "soft measures", ie persuasion, to encourage more cycling, and indeed much money is being spent on PR by Local Motion. But the execution of this PR has been hijacked by the New Labour Spin Industry to sell a product that is devoid of substance. Of prime concern now are the "good stories" being pumped out to national media about the wonderful things that are happening in Darlington. Any dissent - or even critique - is strictly verboten.

The sad fact is, the council's own research repeatedly confirms Darlington Cycling Campaign's position - that many people would cycle more if only it was safer and more convenient. But as long as the motorist's "King of the Road" psychology is not openly and politically challenged, we'll all have to either continue Rambo Cycling to get through the traffic, or accept that we must break the law and share pavements with pedestrians. And cycling in Darlington will continue to be a minority sport.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

70 Mile Tourist Trial Ride, Sunday 2nd July

The 70 Mile Tourist Trial Ride takes place this Sunday, 2nd July. I'd post more information but the council events diary doesn't have any. I'll swing by the notice board outside Burtons on the way home and have a look...

Anyone done it before? I'd like to have an idea of the route before I set off.

Anyone doing it this year?

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Women’s Ride West

I've been asked by Louise from DBC to publicise their women's bike ride this Sunday:

On Sunday we are holding our second Women Only Cycle Ride. The ride starts at 10.00am outside the dolphin centre and is led by women for women. The ride is scheduled to last two hours and is suitable for all riders. The aim of the ride is to get women out and about on their bikes and hopefully give those women that don't have the confidence to go on their own to get out and about with a group of like minded women. We hope to get a good turn out of women on Sunday morning and have an enjoyable ride out of town in a Westerly direction. Radio 4 has expressed an interest in the event and more generally in what is going on here in Darlington and they will be attending on Sunday to do some informal interviews with members of the ride.

More details below:

Women’s Ride West

Sunday 18th June 2006
Meet outside Dolphin Centre - 10.00am
Entry free

A ride for women, led by women. All ages and abilities welcome.

For more information contact Greg McDougall on 01325 388721 /

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Meeting: Tuesday 6th June, 7.30pm at the Red Lion

From: Mike McTimoney (Secretary, miketually AT gmail DOT com)
To: Everyone

Just to let you know we have a Campaign meeting next Tuesday 6th June, 7.30pm at the Red Lion. Sally did the minutes last time, and these have been sent out in an email to members.

Like anything adding to the agenda? Please let myself or Richard know.

Can't attend? Please let myself or Richard know, we can minute your apologies.

Got any ideas for raising awareness? There have been some suggestions (ranging from turfing Duke Street to parking bikes in Car Parking spaces, to a Critical Mass style ride, to online diaries for regular cyclists (it'd be great to beat the Local Motion team to this one...). Got any more ideas?

Thursday, May 11, 2006

The Local Motion Club

I received my Local Motion Club card today, after registering a couple of weeks ago at the Do the Local Motion website, where you can register and log travel, find information and more.

It's a pity they've not been a bit more forward thinking with the website, using a blog to give more of a two-way dialogue. One idea I had for the campaign website, was for regular cyclists to keep an online diary of their experiences. Team Local Motion, let me know if you want a hand/advice with this.

A nice glossy leaftlet, containing interesting facts, accompanies the membership card (which entitles holders to discounts in some local businesses). I recognise at least one face from school, and a couple of the bikes (I'm a bike geek). Can someone tell the gentleman with the orange bike on page 6 that he'll have his bike pinched if he only locks it up by the front wheel like that?

The disappointing thing for me is the lack of mention of a car club in the leaflet. In a car club, members pay a small monthly fee and can, in return, rent cars for short times and at short notice at a very reasonable rate. This was mentioned in earlier publicity, and I signed up for more information. If there was a local car club, we'd probably be able to sell our little-used car, since we only really need it for occasional relative visits and holidays and it sits outside our house being expensive the rest of the time.

Anyway, join up and Do The Local Motion!

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Safety First

Kent Peterson rides his bike more (lots) than you. You should read his Tips and Techniques for Riding in Traffic.

Kent also has a blog, where you can read about just how much he rides his bike.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Even Mayday Demos Attract Cyclists

1st May 2006 in Bremen, Germany. The annual May Day demonstration attracts trades unionists and socialists from around the city to march to the Town Hall and declare their unity with the workers of Darlington (and everywhere else).

But their unspoken solidarity with Darlington Cycling Campaign is declared by almost every other demonstrator as they wheel their bikes along.

"Workers of the World Unite. You have nothing to lose but your (Bike) Chains".

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Bikes in Darlington Pedestrian Heart

Many people will have seen, or heard about, the Darlington & Stockton Times article this week, refering to the banning of bikes in the Pedestrian Heart. For those who have not, here it is in full:

Action on gangs of 'marauding chavs on bikes'

by staff of The Darlington & Stockton Times

A DARLINGTON police inspector has pledged to take action against intimidating youths on bikes.

Insp Chris Reeves said that the problem of persistent offenders on cycles across the town was increasing.

He told Darlington Borough Council's public protection and community partnerships scrutiny committee on Tuesday that he hoped to obtain anti-social behaviour orders to prevent some youths from owning or riding bikes.

"If I can achieve one thing in Darlington before I retire, it would be to stop gangs of 'chavs' marauding around on their bikes," he said. "It is one of the reasons I don't agree with the pedestrianisation of the town centre."

Insp Reeves said that although some bicycle users would use the new pedestrianised town centre responsibly, the majority of youths would not.

He said: "My concern is for the amount of time we will have to put in to try and stop that sort of behaviour.

"It is going to be difficult to prove what careless cycling is because they are allowed to cycle there."

He said that recently there had been an increase in vehicle crime in the College, Northgate, North Road and Bank Top wards.

It was understood that youths on bikes were following vans around Darlington and then
stealing satellite navigation systems from the vehicles when they were left unattended.

"It is happening 24 hours a day and it is difficult to stop because they are cycling around," said Insp Reeves.

"We are planning to target them for arrests and if we can prove there is a pattern of offending we are looking at getting Asbos on them for riding a or possessing a bike.

"However, it requires a lot of information, but it is the only solution."

He said that he was looking to work with the council's anti-social behaviour team and to put a police officer in the authority's CCTV centre to monitor gangs.

However, he needed to obtain permission for specialist surveillance.

Committee chairman, Coun Doris Jones, said they supported the proposal and would set up a support group to look at it.

Insp Reeves said that the partnership between his three main beat teams and the council was working successfully.

But he said he was looking to reduce the number of meetings to work more closely with departments on a daily basis.

"We have developed strong links with council departments and we have gone past the point where we need so many meetings. The meetings stop us getting on with what we do.

"I want beat sergeants to be in charge of officers and police community support officers but to also work closely with the uniformed wardens and environmental services on a daily basis."

This was followed by a piece in The Northern Echo where the police stated that these were the opinions of the officer concerned, and that he was moving to other duties. Again, here it is in full:

Inspector switches jobs hours after comments

by Olivia Richwald

A POPULAR police inspector has been removed from his post hours after he made controversial comments at a council meeting.

Inspector Chris Reeves was praised by councillors for his honesty after he spoke about anti-social behaviour problems in Darlington town centre.

He told a meeting of the public protection scrutiny committee that he wanted to crack down on gangs of youths on bikes and get increased security camera surveillance and anti-social behaviour orders (Asbos) imposed on some of the youths known to be committing crimes.

Insp Reeves also criticised the controversial Pedestrian Heart scheme, saying he disagreed with allowing cyclists into a pedestrianised town centre, a move he felt would increase anti-social behaviour.

He also said policing had become like "juggling soot", with resources pulled in different directions as police were told to prioritise their work.

Afterwards, Councillor Gerald Lee told him: "That was the most enlightening and uplifting talk I have heard since I have been a councillor. We really appreciate your honesty."

Chairwoman Councillor Doris Jones also praised Insp Reeves for an honest report.

However, shortly after the meeting, The Northern Echo was contacted by Durham Police to point out that Insp Reeves' views on the Pedestrian Heart were his opinion and not that of the force.

Insp Reeves, a community inspector in Darlington for two years, has been moved to a new post in the policing area.

Last night, Durham Police denied the move was related to his comments at Tuesday's meeting.

Chief Inspector Adrian Green said: "He has a new role and will be responsible for ports policing and also responsible for football issues.

"With the forthcoming World Cup, we have agreed that he will take on that role, dedicated for a period of time."

Last night, Coun Lee said he was shocked and saddened that Insp Reeves was no longer community inspector for Darlington.

He said: "He held his hand up and said 'we do have problems'. If he has been removed because of his comments, it frightens the life out of me.

"He was doing a good job and it is a very bad mistake to move him."

Coun Jones also said she thought it was dreadful that Insp Reeves had been moved from his post.

She said: "I would like to think his comments would be shared by 99.99 per cent of the people in Darlington. He was very, very brave to speak his mind."

Last night Insp Reeves declined to comment.

A spokeswoman for Darlington Borough Council said: "It would be inappropriate for us to comment on a Durham Constabulary staffing matter, which is solely the concern of the force."

While the comments on banning bikes seem to be the opinion of just one police officer, the councillors quoted appear to support such a move.

Clearly, the Cycle Campaign would oppose a ban. Others are in agreement - this issue gained us our first blog comment, before we'd even written about it!

We are currently working on a Darlington Cycle Campaign response. Please leave your opinions in the comments for this post.

(Text from the Northern Echo and D&ST is quoted for the purposes of informed debate. I would have linked to the articles on their websites, but permanent links and archives of stories have not made it as far as the North East.)

April Council Cycle Forum

The much-moved Council Cycle Forum has again relocated! Details in the updated blog post.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Darlington Cycle Campaign, Next Meeting

The next Darlington Cycling Campaign meeting will be on 4th April in the
Red Lion, at 7.30pm, in the upstairs room.

Darlington Cycle Forum, Next Meeting

The council are going to discuss their cycle plans for the town at the next cycle forum on 11th April at 6.15pm in the Council offices in Hopetown House, on Brinkburn Road (map). It would be great if the campaign could have some representatives there. Could 'members' let me know if they're going, and report back on proceedings?

The latest instructions include details of where to park cars, but no mention of bikes (!), so we have asked for details. Some members of the Cycle Campaign are meeting at 6pm in the Market Place, we will then ride as a group to the forum at Hopetown House (via the Pedestrian Heart). The more the merrier!

The Council's plans will be launched at an event in the Market Place starting at 11am
on Tuesday 4th April.

Update: Venue changed (again)

Forum Change of Venue

Tuesday 11 April 2006 at 6.15pm

The venue for the forum has changed again! As the Red Lion was unable to provide access for all, the meeting will now be held at the Council offices in Hopetown House, on Brinkburn Road.

The building is opposite the junction of Brinkburn Road and Wilson Street, with access to the car park gained from Darrowby Drive.

Please feel free to park in the staff car park as most people will have left by 6.15pm.

I hope to see you there and apologies for the repeated changes of plans.

Yours faithfully

Oli Lougheed

Monday, March 20, 2006

Ah, you see, umm, the thing is, erm. Gosh.

Why we cyclists need to strike a deal with pedestrians by Boris Johnson.

When Cameron's Conservatives come to power it will be a golden age for cyclists and an Elysium of cycle lanes, bike racks, and sharia law for bike thieves. And I hope that cycling in London will become almost Chinese in its ubiquity. Cameron's Conservatives will go further. We will offer no new restrictions on cyclists and certainly no ban on talking on a mobile whilst cycling, but we offer this deal to pedestrians: we'll stay off your pavements if you jolly well watch where you're going.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Rewrite of the Highway Code

An email from AndrewU reminded me to blog about this. Thanks AndrewU.

The new highway code advises cyclists to use bike lanes where provided. But cycling organisations say this will make travelling on two wheels more dangerous. How come?

Shattered glass. Strewn rubbish. Parked cars. Deep drains. Jarring potholes. Lanes barely wider than a bike (sans rider). Lanes of a few metres. Or that switch from one side of the road to the other.

Such is the state of many of the cycle routes that criss-cross our towns and countryside. Yet these are the very facilities intended to encourage people onto their bikes.

And now the Driving Standards Agency, part of the Department for Transport, has released a draft highway code advising that cyclists should use bike lanes where provided.

The CTC, the UK's national cyclists' organisation, has collected thousands of signatures in a campaign to try to get the new wording changed. They fear that this advice could actually put cyclists at risk; that drivers' insurance companies will try to avoid paying damages to cyclists injured after riding in the road rather than a nearby cycle path.

But cyclists have told BBC Radio 4's PM that they have good reason to ride in the road, as bike lanes are often badly designed, even dangerous.

There are lots of examples and comments at the end of the article.

(Edited to add the link to the article...)

Friday, February 17, 2006

Raging Bike

Raging Bike is run by a small group of people who got tired of being treated like second class citizens by motorists, when travelling to work by bike.

As tax payers we believe roads belong to us and we have as much right to ride on them at 10 mph as a car has to drive on them at 30 mph.

None of us are super fit cyclists. We just use our bikes to commute quickly, cheaply and conveniently.

50 years ago nearly 40% of UK road traffic was made up of bicycles. In the UK, cycling is still the fastest and cleanest means of transport for urban trips under 6 miles.

As our cities and towns are heading for grid-lock, and car emission levels rise, causing global warming, and exacerbating childhood allergies & asthma, the need for a private vehicle to replace the car is required.

Reverting to the bike is a simple solution to a big problem.

In continental Europe where the weather and terrain is often similar or more inclement than ours, cycling as a means of urban transport is streets ahead of the UK.

As well as running this website we help employers increase the number of employees that use sustainable methods of transport to get to work.

We hope the site will harness some of your opinions on urban motorists and the damage they cause.

We hope it will also highlight the benefits that cyclists make to themselves, their communities and to the environment.

This looks like an interesting site, though concentrating on 'incidents' is fairly negative. There are some interesting links on their research page, including lots of stats about the impact of cycling infrastructure.

Friday, January 27, 2006

Pavement Cyclists Debate in Parliament

The ongoing debate about pavement cycling came to the House of Lords last night, when a long list of peers complained about the cycling yobs who use pavements. Darlington Cycling Campaign has members who advocate both sides of the argument (see "How Not to Get Hit by Cars" below). What do you think? You can hear the debate at You will need to find the Thursday 26th January edition of Today in Parliament.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

One mom, two kids, four bags of groceries, no car

An excellent blog post with photos showing One mom, two kids, four bags of groceries, no car using the great-looking XtraCycle SUB with the optional Clever Chimp Stoke Monkey. There's a video too, but I've not had chance to watch it yet.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

January Meeting of Cycling Campaign

As I missed our November meeting due to a family bereavement, and Mike, our secretary, was welcoming his new offspring into the world (congrats, Mike!!), things have been a bit quiet these past weeks (not to mention the xmas break). I shall be working out of the country again soon, and would therefore suggest that we have an informal get together for those that can make it in the Red Lion this coming Tuesday evening (24th January) at 7.30pm. Anthony has given me notes of the last meeting, and has one or two items to discuss. I also have a reply from Alan Milburn MP to our Open Letter (see archive). Hope to see you then.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

How to Not Get Hit by Cars

How to Not Get Hit by Cars

An excellent article. Number nine pretty much states all the reasons why I personally am against riding on pavaments.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Darlington Cycling in The Guardian

There was a long piece about cycling in Darlington in the Guardian yesterday. It's available in text-only form online: Making tracks . I'm getting a copy of the paper to see if there are any photos.

In some parts of Europe, a quarter of all journeys are made by bike. In Britain the figure is 2%. Can anything persuade us to leave our cars and get pedalling? Perhaps the unlikeliest of towns - Darlington - holds the key.

Darlington is no more than four miles wide on its longest axis (east-west) - you could cycle end to end in 15 minutes. From the outskirts to the inner pedestrian precinct could never be more than a couple of miles, but 80% of car trips are into the city centre. The transport unit's research shows that 34% of car journeys could, theoretically, be done by bike (short trips with no passengers or loads).

They've got an uphill struggle: I've been cycling to work for the last 11 months and people think I'm mad for doing so; since September, I've been cycling to Hurworth for work one afternoon per week and that's seen as insane - it's only 4.5 miles!

The tragic deaths of four cyclists in Wales last weekend has made people percieve cycling as even more dangerous, despite the fact you're statistically more likely to die playing bowls than while cycling.