Wednesday, December 10, 2008

20mph Zones - Now Politically Attractive?

Rewind back nearly two years to our call in February 2007 for Darlington to introduce a town wide 20mph zone. At the time we were told the whole idea was "impractical" by our Labour-controlled local authority.

Now Lib Dem run Newcastle upon Tyne are rolling out a programme of 20mph zones that will, over three years, result in a blanket 20mph speed limit for all non-trunk road streets. Given the experience in this Sustainable Travel and Cycling Demo Town of ours, you would imagine the Labour opposition in Newcastle would be crying "impractical"?

Far from it. The Lib Dem council has been criticised by Labour for being too slow off the mark. In fact, the Labour Group called for such a scheme in April 2006. Labour leader Coun Nick Forbes said:
This is exactly what we called for two years ago. The Lib Dems would have saved a lot of time and money by accepting our proposals at the time. I’m delighted they’ve finally seen sense.

Answers on a postcard, please, as to why Sustainable Travel Town status gives us more backward policies than towns and cities without.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

An upside-down approach?

So, after my last post where we see it done right in Holland, here's a link to a post on Copenhagenize about Australian plans for cycle paths.

At first glance, the proposed design looks good. The kerb is moved slightly into the road and the widened path is to be shared use by cyclists and pedestrians. In fact, it's almost the approach being used in Darlington, except some space is actually being taken from the road, rather than just doing it where paths are already wide enough.

However, as the post explains, this approach has a host of problems, so why not simply do it properly in the first place and have an on-road segregated cycle lane?

A Dutch Shopping Trip by bike

Imagine riding your bike 2km to a supermarket. Imagine being able to ride your bike right up to the doors, in through the doors and to park it inside. Imagine doing your shopping while enjoying a free cup of coffee. Then, imagine riding home again.

Now, imagine doing this on cycle infrastructure so good that you can hold a digital camera in one hand in front of you while doing it. 2km, on a loaded bike one-handed.

Impossible? In Darlington: yes. In Assen, where bike paths are gritted, well surfaced, get right of way when crossing roads, bypass traffic lights and traffic lights, and are of a decent width: no.

David Hembrow explains how it is possible on his excellent blog, A View From the Cycle Path and you can watch it for yourself in the video below.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Cycling Campaign Xmas Cards

Could this be Darlington Cycling Campaign going all commercial? Well at just 50p a shot, they're not exactly going to make us financial crisis millionaires. But we thought, why not send something different this year?

These cards are printed on high quality gloss paper, folded to A5 size, and come complete with white matching envelope. If you'd like to order some, please email us now with phone contact details and how many you'd like, and we'll arrange to cycle round and drop them off. Limited numbers available, so hurry, hurry, as they say. Long distance orders may require a postage charge!!!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Three bikes stolen last night

3 Bikes taken last night Sun 23 Nov Darlington:

Santa Cruz Heckler MTB - Black, Black Pikes suspension forks, XT gears, Hope M4 disk brakes, Race face & Thompson kit

Santa Cruz Chameleon MTB - Orange, white Revs suspension forks, XT gears, Hope mini brakes and Easton kit

Cannondale F600 MTB - Silver, Fox Talas suspension forks, XT gears, Hope Mini disk brakes, Easton kit and electrical tape

(posted on the STW forum)

If you see anything or anyone suspicious, either email us or contact Kevney using the email address on the STW forum.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Cycling in the Pedestrian Heart - Talking Together Event on Thursday 6th November 4.30pm

Should these cyclists be banned?

Following nearly 18 months of probation, the council is planning to make a decision about whether to allow cycling in the pedestrian heart to become a permanent feature of the town, or ban cyclists in some way from our town centre. This is a crucial issue for the future of cycling in the town. The Pedestrian Heart is the only safe way across the town centre for cyclists.

Government guidelines state clearly:
'For any new pedestrianisation scheme, there should be a presumption that cycling will be allowed unless an assessment of the overall risks dictates otherwise. In conducting this assessment, the risk to cyclists using alternative on-road routes should be taken into account’.

The Campaign conducted a CCTV study of cyclists in the Pedestrian Heart last year, monitoring Bondgate for three days. We spent some 60 hours analyzing the footage, noting any indication of pedestrian unease, annoyance or change in direction/behaviour due to a cyclist. We found five examples where a pedestrian slightly changed their behaviour – slowed down or changed direction. We found no examples of a risky “close shave” or similar incident.

You can view and download a PDF version of the CCTV study here.

We have concluded that cyclists pose no significant risk to other users in the Pedestrian Heart. Moreover, when the second part of the government recommendations is considered - the risk to cyclists using alternative on-road routes – it is clear that such a conflation of “risk” is made to look ridiculous. Shortly before the Pedestrian Heart opened to cyclists, in March 2007 a cyclist was badly injured on the inner-ring road, breaking a collar bone and missing work for three weeks.

Darlington Cycling Campaign recognizes that, for a minority of users of the Pedestrian Heart, there is a subjective perception of risk from cyclists. As so few people in our culture cycle, it is hardly surprising that they do not understand the attentiveness normally associated with everyday cycling. We have therefore called on the council, police, disability groups and other community groups to engage with us in launching a Code of Conduct for cycling in the Pedestrian Heart. Together, we can ensure that EVERYONE is safe in our town centre. Divided, a climate of fear and mutual suspicion will grow and poison community relations.

If you can make the Talking Together event, please come along and say hello to us on the Cycling Campaign stall. It takes place in the Central Hall of the Dolphin Centre, starting at 4.30pm. The debate starts at 5.30pm.

If you are unable to attend the event, you can make your views known
via the Council message board at, or by
contacting your Councillor (find out who they are at

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Helmet hair and perspiration prevent women getting in the saddle

New research commissioned by Cycling England has revealed that two thirds (64%) of women say they never cycle and just 2% cycle every day.

Men are still three times more likely to cycle than women. Today’s poll suggests that the perceived effect of cycling on appearance, together with a lack of confidence in cycling on the road, is behind this gender imbalance.

Women are three times more likely to cycle indoors on an exercise bike (14%) than to work (4%). When it comes to cycling to work, it seems that fear of being anything less than well groomed in front of colleagues is an off-putting factor. Among 18-34 year old women:

* 58% wouldn’t want to arrive at work sweaty
* 50% would be worried about getting wet in the rain
* 38% wouldn’t want to have to carry a change of clothes
* 38% say there is nowhere to shower at work
* 27% would be concerned about ‘helmet hair’
* 19% wouldn’t want colleagues to see them without make-up or stepping out of the office shower.

What the research fails to consider, however, is just how ethno-centric such perceptions are. When attitudes are compared to those amongst women in cycling-friendly cultures, concerns about helmets, showers and sweating miraculously disappear - because they are simply not needed.

The study contrasts with a film and photography project currently underway in Darlington and in Bremen, Germany, which explores the attitude of teenage girls to cycling in both communities. Cycling is highly popular - and seen as fashionable - in cycle-friendly Bremen. Most girls in Darlington lose interest in cycling by the time they are 15 years old.

Attitudes and infrastructure appear to be strongly connected - good, safe cycling infrastructure that offers car-free routes most of the time means that cyclists can travel at their own pace, and not have to battle with motorised traffic. Attitudes to cycling change as a result. When teenagers in Bremen were asked how they deal with rain, they replied "we use an umbrella, of course".

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Sustrans NCN14 Ride - Sunday 19th October

We have recieved an email from Neil from Sustrans about a ride this Sunday. I'll hopefully be going along and it would be great if more Cycle Campaign members could join in.

I am planning a trail blazing ride to celebrate a new bridge opening and to highlight the next phase of completion of NCN14. For those who are not aware NCN14 is a route that starts from Darlington town centre and travels along the route of the first ever passenger railway before heading towards Stockton town centre. The route is a mixture of on and off road (off road until you get near the airport and off road again when you get into Stockton).

The ride is approximately 12 miles long and will start in Darlington town centre (outside the Dolphin Centre) at 10:00am on Sunday 19th October.

We will have a photographer and lots of flags with a few stops along the way. The pace will be gentle and relaxed. If anyone would like to join us please feel free to turn up on the day.

If you want any further information please email me - neilDOTmitchellATsustransDOTorgDOTuk (swap the DOTs and AT for dots and an at)

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

More evidence air pollution is bad for our health

Air pollution from traffic hinders the heart's ability to conduct electrical signals, a study has suggested.

- BBC News: Pollution 'hinders heart pacing'

Judy O'Sullivan of the British Heart Foundation said: "It has been established for some time that exposure to high levels of air pollution can exacerbate symptoms in people with heart and circulatory disease.

"Our advice to heart patients is to avoid prolonged exposure to high levels of air pollution."

I'm not really sure where they expect you to go however...

[via Car Free Tokyo]

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Pedestrian Heart: Post King's Head fire

At the moment, part of the town centre Pedestrian Heart is sealed in behind fencing, after the King's Head fire. You may need to change your route through the centre as a result of this.

I've tried drawing this out, but it's an old aerial photo.

I often used to ride up Priestgate, then turn right to get to Bondgate. This is currently blocked, so I either carry my bike up the steps onto High Row, or turn left and use the ramp to get to High Row.

It is possible to get between Northgate and Bondgate, but the gap between the fence and the building is fairly narrow - the width of the 'pavement' style section. It might be worth pushing the bike through here, unless it's very quiet.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Darlington Eastern Transport Corridor open

According to the Northern Echo, the Darlington Eastern Transport Corridor is due to open tomorrow.

We will be very interested to hear from any members who use the route over the next few days. Please either leave a comment here or email on, with your opinions and experiences. Please tell us whether you used the on- or off-road options and where you were going from or to. For example, tomorrow I will be riding on the road from Haughton Road to Haughton Road, heading into town on my way to work and from off-road from Haughton Road to the ETC on my way home.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Five new 20mph areas

Five areas of Darlington are to benefit from new speed restrictions in a bid to improve road safety.

From September, a 20mph limit will come into force in Bank Top, Lascelles Park, Red Hall, the Corporation Road area of the Denes and Oakwood Drive estate.

- The Northern Echo: Residents help shape new reduced speed limits

It must only be a matter of time before we see a blanket urban 20mph speed limit.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Obligatory Olympics post: The Active Spectator strategy

The London Cycling Campaign has set out some recommendations for the 2012 London Olympic Games:

The Active Spectator strategy

Promoting cycling and walking is a cost effective way to enable many spectators to reach Olympic venues without contributing to pollution or congestion. Walking and cycling are also highly accessible to all Londoners as well as visitors from abroad.
Cycle parking
Ubiquitous secure covered cycle parking needs to be provided at all Olympic venues and local stations.
Cycle promotion
Use of pedal cycles should be integral to all aspects of activities relating to the Olympics, including service vehicles and deliveries, as well as journeys within Olympic sites by athletes and officials.
Access for cycle users and pedestrians
Olympic facilities should be as accessible as possible to cyclists and pedestrians, within the constraints of security.
Cycle hire
Flexible cycle hire facilities at convenient London locations need to be provided for those who wish to rent bikes.
Cycle routes
An active spectator games will need dedicated routes from Central London (highest hotel capacity, and hence many visitors) to the main Olympic zones.
Integrated transport
Multi-modal journeys which include cycling will be a key factor in delivering the Active Spectator Games.
Paralympics and Disabled Spectators
The Paralympics are an opportunity for the Olympic Family to act as role models for people with disabilities, and to demonstrate the ways in which modified and companion cycles can allow them to participate as active spectators.
The Olympic Legacy
Residential and commercial developments in the Stratford area should both include adequate cycle parking and, in the case of commercial and public buildings, changing and storage areas for cyclists.

[via Competitive Cycling on Velorution]

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Pedestrian Heart: Duke Street bollard broken (Update: No, it's not)

Cllr Mike Barker has blogged a couple of times about the broken bollard on Duke Street meaning that cars are ignoring the signs indicating that the street is closed to motorised traffic (Oi! Where's our bollard?, Protests Grow and Still no bollard).

I posted a comment on one of his posts that I thought I'd reproduce here:

Policing of traffic offences in the Pedestrian Heart is terrible (and it's pretty bad in the rest of the town).

For years, cars have been turning left into Duke Street from the car park behind Barclays Bank, in order to get into Skinnergate.

Since the PH work went ahead, vehicles repeatedly park on the double yellow lines in the contraflow bike lane in Northgate, which is supposedly only open to buses and bikes. Some delivery vehicles try to get around the double yellow lines by parking on the footpath side of the markings. The Boots delivery wagon parks right across the opening, so cyclists have to cross over onto the pavement to get past - an ambulance trying to access the PH in an emergency wouldn't be able to get in.

Delivery vehicles also regularly park on the double yellows on the bus loop below the steps up to High Row and cars are often parked in the little bypasses that cyclists are supposed to use to avoid riding between the No Entry signs on Bondgate.

But, mention riding a bike through there and the cries of anguish and potential deaths begin...

So, take care on Duke Street as there may well be cars about.

Update: It's back. I'd like to take credit, but I suspect it was fixed before I blogged that it was broken. As mike says in his post, you'll still need to be careful in Skinnergate, because of the cars illegally turning left out of the car park.

Monday, August 04, 2008

Bike parking in multi-storey car parks

No, there's none in this Cycling Demonstration Town, but I spotted some in a page about some nifty signage in the Eureka Tower Carpark in Melbourne (firt of the 'down' photos). Brilliant signage, too.

Hopefully, our forward-thinking council will insist on some being made available in any future car parks built in Darlington (as proposed for Feethams and the Oval).

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Today Programme on Cycling - A Tory Travel Mode?

This morning's cycling item on Radio Four's Today programme raised the idea that cycling is a natural Tory past-time. No doubt prompted by the number of Tory MPs who now cycle to work at the House of Commons, correspondent Norman Smith asked Tory MPs what was so "right wing" about cycling.

This intriguing answer emerged from Ed Vasey MP:
The heritage of cycling (is) very much woven into the British character. It's also a right wing issue, because it's about the freedom of the individual. It's about taking one's own action against an over-bearing state.

Setting aside for a minute the vast numbers of Tory councillors we see regularly cycling through Darlington, does this imply that the next Tory government will be challenging the hegemony of the motor car, due to the latter's role as the bastion of our over-bearing state?

Or will this lead to cycle-friendly towns and cities becoming the new bastions of state control, with Tory MPs (and councillors) driving their cars as a statement of individual freedom?


Saturday, June 21, 2008

Cyclist killed on A167

Some very sad news. Our thoughts are with the cyclist's families.

A CYCLIST was killed and another seriously injured in a crash with a car today.

Two men were cycling along the A167 Croft Road outside Darlington at 10am when they were involved in a collision with a passing Citroen C4.

The Northern Echo: Cyclist killed in crash

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Cycling round the world: Alastair Humphreys - 19th June, 7pm

Alastair Humphreys
19th June, 7pm Crown Street Library

Round the World cyclist, author and adventurer Alastair Humphreys will be talking about his book 'Thunder and Sunshine' in Crown Street library at 7pm on 19th June.

'Thunder and Sunshine' is the second volume of Alastair's account of his cycle trip around the world. Copies of the book will be available on the night with all profits going to the Teenage Cancer Trust.

There is no charge but places are limited so booking is essential - to book a place contact Greg McDougall on 01325 388721 /

Sunday, June 08, 2008

60 years ago...

The average U.S. citizen completely ignores the regularity with which the automobile kills him, maims him, embroils him with the law and provides mobile shelter for rakes intent on seducing his daughters. He takes it into his garage as fondly as an Arab leading a prize mare into his tent. He woos it with Simoniz, Prestone, Ethyl and rich lubricants -- and goes broke trading it in on something flashier an hour after he has made the last payment on the old one.

By last week, this peculiar state of mind had not only sucked thousands of American oil wells dry, stripped the rubber groves of Malaya, produced the world's most inhuman industry and its most recalcitrant labor union, but had filled U.S. streets with so many automobiles that it was almost impossible to drive one. In some big cities, vast traffic jams never really got untangled from dawn to midnight; the bray of horns, the stink of exhaust fumes, and the crunch of crumpling metal eddied up from them as insistently as the vaporous roar of Niagara.

"The Last Traffic Jam", Time Magazine, Monday, Dec. 15, 1947


Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Darlington Cycle Forum Bike Lane Tour

Tonight's Cycle Forum meeting was a tour of the bike routes in the town, instead of just talking about them. Eight of us braved the rain, and got very lucky staying dry on the ten mile tour of the town.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Councillors' charity ride to Mulheim

On 3rd June a group of cyclists which includes Councillors Barker, Nutt and Long, cycling group members and residents will be setting off on a bike ride from Darlington to Mulheim in Germany, one of Darlington's twin towns. On arrival participants will help Mulheim residents celebrate the 200th anniversary of their town charter.

The ride is trying to raise sponsorship which will assist with funding town twinning projects aimed at helping young people in priority areas of Darlington who wouldn't otherwise have the opportunity of travelling abroad. In recent months a number of young people have struggled to travel with their football teams and schools and the town twinning fund aims to make it easier for young people to take part in such events.

If you would like to sponsor Councillor Barker, Councillor Nutt and Councillor Long please contact the Darlington Partnership on (01325) 346773.

Event: West Park 4X, Sunday 1st June

For those who are interested or want to find out more about 4x there is an open day at the West Park 4X track in Darlinton this Sunday, 1st June. Helen Gaskell will be making an apperance, too. The event starts at 10am and finishes around 4pm.

Event: The Round 50, Sunday 1st June

The first of this year's Tourist Trial rides is taking place on Sunday 1st June. The Round 50 is, as its name suggests, a 50 mile ride. Registration begins at 8:30 in the Dolphin Centre, with 9:30 being the latest you can start the ride. It's £2.50 for a standard entry on the day, or £6 if you want the T-shirt.

Details of other rides, including longer and shorter ones, are on the Council website.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Bike Safety

A couple of nice little links I found today:

Dave Moulton, former frame builder, takes a look at some of the statistics on bike safety and why Cyclists Live Longer.

Meanwhile, Kent Peterson talks about why he wears a bike helmet, but is against laws to make it compulsory.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Sustrans: Free Your Bike

Sustrans is offering you a free information pack to help you get out and about by bike. We are the charity behind many practical and groundbreaking projects including the National Cycle Network, over 12,000 miles of traffic-free, quiet lanes and on-road walking and cycling routes around the UK. 75% of you live within two miles of the Network so why not use it to get to work or school, the shops or just for exercise and fun?

To claim your free information pack about cycling in your region simply complete the online form.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Man arrested after cyclist hospitalised

Sad news on the Northern Echo website:

Man arrested after cyclist hospitalised

A DRIVER has been arrested following an incident which left a cyclist hospitalised.

A 29-year-old local man was arrested on suspicion of committing motoring offences following the collision on Brinkburn Road at about 8.20am yesterday morning.

The cyclist was taken to Darlington Memorial Hospital but his injuries are not thought to be serious.

Witness Brenda Locker, owner of Good News newsagents on Brinkburn Road, said: "I saw the bike go flying up in the air.

"The driver looked really worried.

"The cyclist was laid down so I went to get him a pillow because he didn't look very comfortable - his head was flopping about all over the place.

"I've still got his bike in my back yard - it's a right mess."

Hopefuly the cyclist is ok.

Monday, April 07, 2008

Tolerant Shared Space=Imagination

With all the hoo-ha in the local press recently from (certain) pensioners wanting cyclists banned from the town centre, what a breath of fresh air to see the tolerant sharing of what is in this case - compared to the broad boulevards of Darlington - very limited space.

And an imaginative way to push your baby along as well.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

New signing on West Park Cycle Route

I spotted some new signposts riding home from work yesterday. They are 'finger' type signs with timings rather than distances. They are being put in on the town centre to West Park route, which seems to now be called "West Park Cycle Route" ( the name is on a green background). There's one on the railings at the Greenbank/Bondgate junction (18 mins to West Park), one at the turning into Craig Street (13 mins to West Park (I'm not sure who timed these, but it takes me far less than five minutes to cycle along Greenbank Road)) and one at the Craig St/Hollyhurst Rd junction (12 mins to West Park, and also 1 min to the hospital). At each junction, there is a corresponding arrow pointing toward the town centre.

(Personally, I go down Reid Street as the junctions are much nicer at both ends...)

New signs are badly needed on the various routes around the town as existing signs are either missing or turned around to point the wrong way. These new signs look much sturdier than the old design, and the posts are square so they can't be turned around.

I believe that each of the radial routes will have a different colour (West Park being green). I like the idea of being able to tell someone to get to my house by following the green route until they reach North Park and then follow the orange (?) route.

Signposting the West Park route from town could also help ease any "antisocial" cycling in the Pedestrian Heart, as Police and Wardens will be able to tell kids playing on their bikes on the steps that they can follow the arrows to get to the 4X track.

I'd like to see the signposting extending to include points of interest, like supermarkets and local shopping centres.

Has anyone else seen any other new signposts?

Sunday, March 30, 2008

An alternative to road pricing?

Copenhagen has been trying to implement road pricing (like London's Congestion Charge), but is being blocked by central government. So...

he has now proposed something City Hall calls 'Intelligent Traffic Control'.

It involves setting up sensors that measure air pollution in Copenhagen and the levels of pollution they report will regulate the traffic heading into the city.

If the pollution levels are too high on any particular day, all the traffic lights on the main roads into the city will turn red and stay red longer than normal. The time the traffic lights are green will be reduced by 10 percent.

More genius from Copenhazanize: Intelligent Traffic Control in Copenhagen.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Darlington is a flagship for transport policy. Discuss.

A CONFERENCE is being held in Darlington to examine its flagship transport scheme, Local Motion, and help steer towns across the country in the right direction.

Darlington is the only highway authority in England to have secured funding worth about £4.75m to become a sustainable travel and cycling demonstration town.

The free day-long conference on Wednesday, April 2, at the Dolphin Leisure Centre will highlight the successful and failed projects.

- The Northern Echo: Flagship travel town leads the way (The comments are revealing.)

Filming on the road

Magnatom is a Glasgow bike commuter who films his commutes using a helmet-mounted camera and then posts the clips to YouTube.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Shared Space in Drachten Revisited

Last year two members of the Cycling Campaign visited an example of Shared Space in Drachten, Netherlands. You can see our original post and video here.

Since that visit, the Space's designers have posted an assessment of its impact on YouTube. Here it is. Some highlights stand out, when considering its implications for Darlington:

*It is a roundabout where 22,000 vehicles daily pass by. I wonder how these numbers compare with, say, the Victoia Road/Grange Road roundabout, where a solution for a cycle crossing is yet to be implemented?

*We have no queues anymore.

*The interaction around the roundabout - meeting each other, greeting each other. This refers to how car drivers and cyclists relate on the roundabout. Imagine!!!

Sunday, March 23, 2008

David Cameron

Velorution has an interesiting post commenting upon David Cameron's cycling misdemeanours: Velorution: Safe Cameron.

this is the order of importance that should guide urban road facilities:
1. Safety of vulnerable road users, (pedestrians and cyclists)
2. Safety of motor vehicle drivers,
3. Convenience of vulnerable road users,
4. Convenience of motor vehicle drivers.

If a facility puts, say, the convenience of motorists ahead of the safety of vulnerable road users, it is reasonable to disregard it.

Monday, March 17, 2008

The Way Motorists See Cyclists?

Try this awareness test....

Bike thefts

The latest Neighbourhood Watch newsletter notes a new crime trend:

Although theft of pedal cycles is a crime which we constantly need to remain aware of, there is an emerging trend of thefts of bikes from sheds and garages where it is possible that high value or specialised bikes have been 'followed' to their home address.

If you drive back from somewhere like Hamsterley Forest with your bike on an external rack, keep an eye out for anyone following you.

Friday, March 07, 2008

Inconvenient Truth in Darlington

Over 60 people, including many Borough Councillors, viewed ‘An Inconvenient Truth’, Al Gore’s Oscar winning film about climate change at the Friends Meeting House in Darlington on Wednesday 5th March. This successful event, organised by Darlington Friends of the Earth, was followed by a discussion with a panel of local councillors representing the Conservative, Labour and Liberal Democrat parties supported by council officials. Darlington Cycling Campaign was also present.

Councillor Veronica Copeland, the Labour Cabinet Member with responsibility for Environment and Climate Change, told the meeting that every one would learn from watching the film and she would make it her duty to organise showings so every Darlington Borough Councillor can see the ‘The Inconvenient Truth.’

The consensus of the meeting was that on such an important issue, all politicians should pull together to use their influence to pursue policies to improve the environment and halt climate change. Several people present called on local councillors to set an example and lead from the front.

Darlington Friends of the Earth Coordinator, Kendra Ullyart, told the meeting that the group and its members will continue to pressure for change. She said ‘that in addition to our national campaign for a strong climate change law to reduce carbon emissions by 80% by 2050; we will also be concentrating on local issues, and campaigning to get robust recycling policies in place throughout the area’, She then invited the audience to continue their interest in the environment and join the group. The next meeting of Darlington Friends of the Earth will be held on Monday 10th March at 7.30 pm where members will have the opportunity to quiz Ian Thompson, the Borough Council's Assistant Director of Environmental Services, about waste management policy and practice.

How politicians lead from the front - in Germany! Dr. Reinhard Loske, Environment Senator, Bremen.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

The Woman Who Stops Traffic, tonight at 9pm on Channel 4

In this compelling new three-part series Kris visits two towns and a city – Marlow, Boston and Durham. Each is a traffic black-spot. Can Kris persuade people her idea of going car free for just one day a week is a runner?

Professional trouble-shooter and creative problem solver, Kris Murrin is on a mission to stop traffic for just one day in three of England's most congested locations. King Canute tried to stop the tide rising, but Kris has to convince local councils to get behind her campaign and then change the behaviour of car users who rely on their vehicles to get from A to B daily.

Kris's journey starts in the Buckinghamshire town of Marlow, where car ownership is one of the highest in the country. Her aim is to get one in five cars off the roads to simultaneously promote healthier lifestyles and encourage a greener way of life.

She is no stranger to challenging situations and has canoed down the Amazon, climbed to the base camp on Everest and competed in some of the toughest yacht races in the world. But Kris has got her work cut out trying to convince parents to ditch their cars for the school run here.

Kris' second challenge lies in the Lincolnshire town of Boston, where road traffic is already a serious issue and obesity rates are the worst in the country. Boston is a town whose council is dominated by 'Boston Bypass Independents' rather than main party politicians, so how will Kris persuade the locals to give up their cars for the day?

Kris' journey concludes in the City of Durham, where she is encouraged by the enthusiasm of the local council. They already provide several services to get the residents of Durham walking, cycling and using public transport and Kris hopes to build on this positive car-free thinking.

Can Kris change the motoring habits of road users in Marlow, Boston and Durham? Watch The Woman Who Stops Traffic, Channel 4, Tuesday 26 February 9pm.

- Channel 4: The Woman Who Stops Traffic

Update (11/02): The final part, about Durham, is on tonight at 9pm.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Cycling in Darlington's Pedestrian Heart

At last night's Council Cabinet meeting, it was agreed to extend the trial on allowing cycling in Darlington's Pedestrian Heart for a further nine months, until November 2008, to allow for a Disability Impact Assessment on cycling in the town centre, an educational programme on responsible cycling to be carried out and inter-generational work with older people on concerns about cycling to be carried out.

The full report to Cabinet, and its recommendations, can be read on the Council website. It is an excellent, detailed report and covers all of the arguments for and against cycling in the town centre and I'd recommend all members read it (at least once!). It is also worth reading the appendices, which include an excellent map of where cycling is and isn't allowed (option 1 is the map you need) and the views of various interested parties.

Six months ago, I would not have been surprised if cycling had been banned last night. There were large numbers of councillors whose instinct was to ban cycling in the pedestrianised area, and a very vocal group of members of the public regularly writing in to the Northern Echo calling for a ban.

For the last six months, Council officers have worked incredibly hard to enable cycling in the town centre and we as a campaign have tried to produce evidence that cycling in the town centre is safe, rather than relying upon instinct or generalisations.

However, probably the biggest factor leading to the acceptance of cycling by the majority of the public has been the behaviour of almost all cyclists using the pedestrianised area for the last six months.

There is still a lot of work to be done in the next eight months; one Councillor last night stated that children were "often" not seen by cyclists! I think this demonstrates the level of unthinking, anti-cycling attitudes still present in some areas, making sweeping, serious generalisations without any factual basis.

Last night's decision, despite not being an outright decision to allow cycling, should be seen as a big step forward and very positive outcome.

Based on all the evidence, the only rational outcome is to allow cycling in the pedestrianised area as any other outcome is either more dangerous or unworkable. However, we understand why the trial is being extended and will endeavour to work with the Council in order to reach a sensible outcome in November.

Update: The Northern Echo: Councillor’s warning over ‘chavs on bikes’ is a report on the Cabinet meeting. It's a strange report, as you'll see if you read my comments below the article.

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Darlington Cycling Campaign AGM, Friday 15th February

Friday 15th February is our AGM, in the right-hand room of The
at 7pm. We hope to see as many members as possible there.

The retiring committee will make their reports on what has been a very
busy and successful year, and we shall elect a new committee.

A report on the last year's activities can be found online.

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Yield to Life

Yield to Life is a new campaign founded and fronted by US Pro Dave Zabriskie. The site has some well-constructed articles on how to act properly on your bike to stay safe, including 10 Safety Tips For Motorists and 10 Safety Tips For Cyclists.

[via BikeHugger]

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Yuba Mundo available this week

Do you need to move a ladder, lumber, solar panels, poles, a kayak, metal sheets, pipes, bicycle boxes, bags of rice, coffee beans, boxes of produce, balls of cotton, tires, stack of clothes, equipment, adult passengers or children? Wnat to do it without a car?

The Yuba Mundo bike is available in the UK this week.

Monday, January 21, 2008

£140million for cycling

The Secretary of State for Transport, has announced that the Government will be investing £140 million over the next three years to boost cycling nationally.

Useful links on the Velorution blog, including this interesting quote:

Every time a car driver converts to cycling, it saves almost £400 a year

That's something to remember next time someone mentions 'Road Tax'!

82 pictures of bicycles taken during 73 minutes in Amsterdam

82 pictures of bicycles taken during 73 minutes on 9/12/06 in Amsterdam, Netherlands

Formally dressed bicyclists, multiple riders on one bike, no helmets, dogs on bikes, human powered penerator bicycle lights, Spectacular Gigantic Unbreakable Security Chains, and more...

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Video: Three prominent cycling minds discuss how to get more people on bicycles

A video of a discussion with three prominent figures in the current push to get more people using bikes as their normal mode of transportation:

Tim Parr owner of Swobo has worked together with Sky Yaeger to bring some very unique, fun and useful bike designs to the market. We’ve talked about them in several places here and it was an honor to have him as part of the group.

Brad Quartuccio is one of the founders of the Urban Velo zine that has quickly become popular across the net.

Tim “Masi Guy” Jackson is the brand manager that has brought the famous Masi road bike back from the dead and is now breathing a whole new life into it with a line of bikes designed specifically for the commuter.

It’s a rare thing to find all these guys in one place at the same time, not to mention sit them down for a full thirty minutes and pick their brains on how each of us can change our world one bike at a time.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Truck Blind Spots

There's a really useful post on the forum of Moving Target 'zine explaining the blind spots around a HGV, written by a truck driver. The images take a bit of understanding, but reading the explanation makes it much clearer.

Read it. It might save your life.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Dangerous Roads

The top four stories on The Northern Echo website at the moment are all car-related and all negative:

* Four-car collision causes traffic disruption
* Sneezing man rescued from burning car
* Two seriously injured after tanker and cars collide
* 118mph Police driving instructor’s speed shame (also the front page story in today's paper)

Thankfully no-one was killed in any of these incidents.

How come nobody remembers these stories when trying to decide how to get somewhere, yet they remember any story about trains being delayed?

At least when the train is delayed you get to have a chat and are given free papers and drinks.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Best. Traffic. Measure. Ever.

There are bike lanes in both directions, but bicycle congestion makes it tricky riding this route. There is little room for making the bike lanes as wide as on other streets, so removing the motorised traffic is the only way to create safer bike lanes.


The Drastic Measures of Visionaries

I was going to write more, but I'm lost for words.

Take To The Streets

DARLINGTON has become the first town in the country to sign up to a campaign to boost the health of the nation.

Darlington Partnership yesterday pledged to "Take to the Streets" with a revolutionary physical activity initiative led by sporting legend Brendan Foster.

Its board agreed unanimously to support the project, which aims to get two million people involved in regular exercise by 2012, with runners, walkers, dancers and cyclists covering 100 million miles for their health and charity.

Darlington will become a national case study, taking part in a host of mass participation events and be involved in a five- year scientific study to assess the impact of the project.

Lots more information at The Northern Echo: Darlington first to join national health improvement campaign and Nick Wallis announced this yesterday on his blog.

I hope this campaign is a success, however I worry when activity and exercise are linked to sport and to big, annual events, rather than simply to increasing day-to-day activity. I'm sure that we would see much bigger health benefits were cycling and walking to be a greater part of our everyday transportation, rather than increasing the perception that they are wholy separate parts of our lives.

I know that I'd be hopeless at training to ride something like the Hell O' The North or the Great milk Stout Ride, but by cycling to work and back every day I am fit enough to complete occasional big rides like these.

I'd rather see more people cycling in high heels than cycling in lycra.

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Positive 2008 with Best Designs from DofT

Let's start 2008 on a positive note, by sharing a document recently passed on to Darlington Cycling Campaign for consultation. It is the Department of Transport's collection of good designs for cycling infrastructure, and contains a remarkable number of examples of the kinds of design we advocate for Darlington.

Until we received this document, we were lead to believe that such things as cycle lane priority at crossings with roads was a dream only possible in Denmark, Holland or Germany. But there it is, on the cover of the document, a junction in Cheltenham.

If you'd like to read the whole document, you can download a PDF version here.

You can also download a Word version of the Cycling Campaign's response here.

We look forward to seeing some of these fine examples in our Cycling Demonstration Town in 2008.

Happy New Year to you all!!