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.