Sunday, November 22, 2009

Beauty and the Bike Premiere

The UK premiere of this 18 months-in-the-making documentary finally hit the big screen on Wednesday December 9th at 7pm in Darlington Arts Centre. The event was a sell-out, with a second screening needed to accommodate everyone that wanted to attend. It was a fantastic evening, with acclaim for the work coming from both cycling advocates and film-makers. This, and the world-wide interest being created by the 8 minute short drawn from the full documentary, suggests the film is set to make a significant impact on cycling policy.

"Why do British girls stop cycling? By simply asking this basic question, the film reveals the damage that has been done by 50 years of car-centric transport policies. Whilst we fill our lives with debates about risk assessment, cycle helmets, cycle training and marketing strategies to try to persuade people to cycle more, the basic barriers to cycling remain untouched - generous urban planning towards the car, and the resultant poor motorist behaviour towards cyclists. Is it any wonder that most people find cycling unattractive in the UK, but attractive in cycling-friendly towns and cities? It's the infrastructure, stupid!"

Darlington Cycling Campaign has been closely involved in the Beauty and the Bike project, which has already resulted in a successful bid to Bike Hub for funding to expand the Bike Pool established by the film project.

The film is being released on DVD, together with an accompanying book. Details are available on the Beauty and the Bike website.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Riding through Darlington town centre this morning, I saw...

... a council van and trailer, parked in the contraflow bike lane on Northgate while power washing the pedestrian 'tunnel' to Union Street;

... a motorbike and a scooter parked in the bike racks outside Barratt's shoe shop, which must have both illegally ridden down Northgate to get there;

... a Citroen Piccasso waiting to get into the gated alleyway by Evans, which must have illegally driven down Northgate to get there;

... a Veolia bin wagon driving through the No Entry signs on Bondgate and then the wrong way down the one way street.

Update: and yesterday, Ralph's daughter saw his stolen bike

Monday, October 12, 2009

20mph limits cut speed, crashes and casualties in Portsmouth

The first city in the UK to introduce 20mph limits on almost all residential streets has seen very encouraging results published in an interim report (Surveyor 1/10/09).

In March 2008, Portsmouth completed a nine-month programme to implement signed-only 20mph speed limits on 410 of its 438km road network.

A report commissioned by the DfT has revealed that on roads where the average speed before the scheme was above 24mph, a reduction of seven mph has been achieved. This change was described in the Atkins report as ‘statistically significant’.

The report also found collisions dropped by 13% and the number of casualties by 15%.

Duncan Price, branch head of road safety at the DfT, said there was ‘general support’ for a ‘substantial expansion of 20mph areas’.

Simon Moon, Portsmouth’s head of transport and street managements, said: “This interim report is limited in what it can say about the 20mph scheme – we’ll have to wait until it has been running for three years before we get the full picture.

“But there are some encouraging signs, especially on roads where speeds were significantly higher than 20mph when we imposed the new limit.”

Darlington Cycling Campaign has been calling for a similar scheme to be introduced in the town at our AGM in February 2007.

Monday, September 07, 2009

Who, where and what is the real danger for pedestrians in Darlo?

If you would like to get a flavour of our town's view about tolerance towards young people, and the strange sense of perspective that underpins "risk assessment" thinking around cycling in Darlington, read the report of "The Economy and Environment Scrutiny Committee“ on the 10th of September 2009 about cycling in the town centre, monitoring accidents and incidents and behaviour involving cyclists during the summer of 2009:

„There have been six incidents involving pedestrians either on the ring road or in the town centre.” Now you are waiting for a report about rowdies on bikes injuring innocent pedestrians:

„One incident was with a HGV (Heavy Goods Vehicle), two with a car and three with buses.
Two of the casualties were classed as serious.”

So we know now that there were at least two serious accidents in the summer 2009 involving motorised traffic injuring pedestrians. But then t
he report continues with its real subject, i.e. reported incidents with bicycles:

During the period 1st June to 31st July there were two emails recorded regarding people on bikes in the town centre.
One comment gave information about a report from a member of the public regarding youths sitting on bikes blocking the pavement on Tubwell Row near the Nags Head pub. The second email was regarding young people doing ‘wheelies’ on High Row. A phone call was also recorded regarding an incident that had occurred in Northgate Subway when a cyclist, carrying a stick, almost hit someone. Nobody was hurt in the incident and the caller did not leave contact details or a time and date for the incident.

So there we have it. A few lads sitting on a wide pavement with their bikes requires the attentions of a council committee. Six accidents with cars and HGVs, two classed as serious? Well, that's the natural way of things, is it not? Clearly, however, wasting council time is not enough. More must be done to stamp out this appalling behaviour (by youths on bikes, not accident-causing motorists).

Luckily there is a Code of Conduct for Cyclists in Darlington printed on glossy paper: "The Neighbourhood Policing Team“, says the committee's report, „have taken a supply of the Code of Coduct leaflet to give out in schools. The leaflet will be used as part of a schools education programme to teach children about responsible cycling.”

Perhaps most pupils would rather see a Code of Conduct for Darlingtonian Car Drivers that reminds them of their responsibility (and the Highway Code) and is handed out to any driver parking around the town centre with the parking ticket.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Cycling Campaign Wins Bike Hub Funding

Darlington Cycling Campaign has been awarded one of just three New Ideas Fund to build on the work of the Beauty and the Bike project. The Campaign's submission is for a bike pool of the kind of dutch-style bikes that are proving so popular amongst young women who want to cycle. With funding for between 60 and 100 bikes, and support staff to promote the bike pool in workplaces, colleges and schools, the aim is to kick-start a cycling culture in the town that is more attractive to women in particular.

The documentary Beauty and the Bike, which will be premiered in Darlington Arts Centre on Wednesday 9th December, found that peer group culture is an important barrier to young women cycling. But where small groups got together to start using stylish bikes, the barriers began to crumble.

The Campaign also hopes that a growing culture of gentle cycling in the town will lead to better quality infrastructure. As one of the Beauty and the Bike girls said, "We're getting the lovely bikes, we've got the lovely girls to ride them. Now we are looking forward to the lovely cycle paths".

See also: BikeBiz: Bike industry grants cash to three 'increase cycling' schemes

Monday, July 20, 2009

Beauty and the Bike - Our Changing Face

Darlington Cycling Campaign organised a farewell party on Thursday for the many participants of the Beauty and the Bike project. It marked the end of one year of filming the remarkable story of these young women by Darlington Media Group, who hosted the event. Girls from cycling-friendly Bremen in Germany had just spent a week in Darlington exploring what it is like to cycle in a typical British town.

Editing now begins in earnest, whilst photographer Phil Dixon will be continuing to document the Darlington girls for a few more weeks. He and German portrait photographer Sabine Bungert are working towards a book about the project, which will also feature an essay by cycling activist and Cycling Campaign member Beatrix Wupperman.

The project began a year ago with just one regular cyclist amongst these teenagers. Now there are 13 bikes out on long-term loan, and a waiting list of 7 more. Plans are now afoot to formally constitute the scheme.

The film, which will be premiered in December, explores why so many British teenage girls give up cycling - and what needs to be done to reverse the trend. Perhaps these photographs are a clue. They are all regular cyclists, and most are now members of our Campaign.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Another incident at the Dolphin Centre bike racks

After at least two, but possibly more, bikes were stolen from the racks outside the Dolphin Centre recently, the racks have been modified to make them more secure. However, there now looks to be a new method being used:

Left it outside the dolphin centre at 8 this evening, locked on rack. Went out to ride it home at 9 and some helpful person had attached a massive padlock to one of the spokes so that I couldn't ride it home. Managed to wheel it into the dolphin centre where the duty manager attempted to remove the padlock. Unfortunately he was unable to so the bike is spending the night at the doli pending use of some serious bolt cutting equipment in the morning.

This sounds similar to a strategy I've heard is used by thieves in several places. They will use their own lock to lock a bike to a rack, sometimes with "their own" bike also attached. When the owner comes back, they assume that someone has accidentally locked their bike up, and will get home by some other means, thinking they will be able to retrieve the bike the following day. The thief them comes back in the night, and cuts the owner's lock while nobody is around.

If this happens to your bike, make sure you report it, and do as much as you can to keep your bike safe and secure. In this instance, as there was just a padlock attached to a wheel, the bike could be moved to safety.

We will be pushing for extra CCTV coverage on these racks.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Darlington: stolen bike (updated)

A silver Carrera Vulcan (black wheels, skinny Conti sports contact tyres, Flite TT saddle & big red flat pedals, LX cranks, XT mech, Avid Vs) was nicked from outside the Dolphin centre yesterday evening - all locked up through both wheels & the frame.

(Image credit:

Update: As a result of this theft, we noticed that it was possible to pull the vertical posts apart and so remove a horizontal bar and unthread any locks on that bar. The council have repaired the racks, and have welded the bars in place.

Extra: A teenager is appealing for help to find his bike, which was nicked from outside Darlington College a few weeks ago.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

The Guardian launches new bike blog and podcast

The Guardian's award-winning portfolio of podcasts will soon be welcoming a new addition to its ranks. The Bike Podcast will be the first UK-based podcast to cater for everyday cyclists, and the first edition will be available on the brand new Bike Blog on on Wednesday 24 June.

Released monthly, the podcast will feature reviews of new bikes, essential biking accessories, discussion of issues important to cyclists, interviews with celebrity cyclists and reports on cycle holidays and expeditions. The first edition of the podcast includes an interview with Triple Olympic champion Sir Chris Hoy.

Matt Wells, head of audio for the Guardian, who will also be one of the voices of the Bike Podcast, said: "Like all businesses, the Guardian office is full of staff – including me - who ride their bikes to work, go on cycling holidays or just enjoy cycling in their spare time. Although there are a number of fantastic podcasts out there which do a great job catering for professional and competitive cyclists with high-end knowledge, we began to realise there was nothing aimed at general cyclists.

"Unlike other Guardian podcasts, there will be no single presenter and no studio-based links. Everything will be recorded out and about as we’re testing new bikes, speaking to cyclists and generally having a good time on our bikes, which is what it's all about.

"We are also delighted to have partnered up with Evans Cycles for the first show, so anyone interested in getting a 10% in-store discount should listen to the first edition to find out how."

The podcast is being launched 'in tandem' with the Guardian's new Bike Blog, which has gone live this week to coincide with Bike Week - the biggest nationwide cycling event in the UK. Guardian reporter Peter Walker, who is editing the new blog, said: "The new Bike Blog is part of the Guardian’s popular Ethical Living blog, and is for every cyclist – commuters, beginners, families – not just the Lycra brigade. As well as the new podcast, the blog will include a wide range of cycling features, analysis of cycling initiatives and – as with all of our blogs – loads of input and participation from our readers."

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Northern Echo: Transport seminar to discover project results

TRANSPORT, health and environmental professionals will hear how residents' travel habits have changed across Darlington during the past five years on Wednesday. A seminar has been organised to hear how the Local Motion project has changed how people travel across the town.

-Read the full story at The Northern Echo: Transport seminar to discover project results

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Great north bike Ride 2009


Seahouses to Tynemouth Northumberland
54 miles of beautiful Northumberland coastline.
Sunday 30th August 2009 (bank holiday weekend)

Last year 1800 cyclists took part, the oldest was 76 years young. We raised £100.000 towards childhood cancer research.

Transport to and from start can now be arranged if booked early.

Only £10 to register free refreshments Nike t-shirt and well earned medal.
You can register on-line...... or

Tel 0191 2632884

This event started with only 6 cyclists last year 1800 took part comming from all over UK to Northumberland to take part.

Would it be possible to give your support to this event or our charity in any way maybe put the word around enter a team?

Every penny raised goes to childhood cancer research. Our son was named by Evening Chronicle A TRUE LOCAL HERO.

We have raised over £500,000 by events. No funding from lottery, etc.

Beauty and the Bike film wins poster competition at national conference

On Saturday, myself and Richard represented the campaign at the CTC/Cyclenation/GMCC spring conference: "Cycling as a solution".

Between the morning's speakers (Koy Thomson of London Cycling Campaign, Roger Geffen of CTC) and discussions on Health (Joe Mellor, NHS), Wealth (Bruce Macdonald, SQW Consulting/Cycle England), Environment (Richard George, Campaign for Better Transport), Community (Juliet Jardine, CTC) and Style (Amy Fleuriot, Cyclodelic) and the afternoon's workshops, there was a poster competition.

We entered four posters for the campaign-supported Beauty and The Bike film and won first prize as the poster with the most votes from delegates!

Special praise should go to Darlington photographer Phil Dixon, who is doing the stills work for the project. His photographs, and those of German portrait photographer Sabine Bungert, will feature in a book and exhibition of the same name.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Campaign Rapid Response for Bike Beauties

Nicole watching on as Andy and Marie crack on with the repair.

The Campaign was called out today on its first urgent repair job for the Beauty and the Bike project. The Cycling Campaign has been commissioned to provide a repair and maintenance service for the wonderful dutch bikes for the duration of the project. The bikes are being hired by the young women from Velodarlo, a self-managed bicycle sharing scheme that makes attractive dutch bikes available to the people of Darlington for a small charge.

Until now, we've been dealing with minor issues such as cabling, basket installs and re-tightening nuts and bolts after bike transit. But today Nicole called with a rear tyre puncture, after a thorn got into the inner tube. The Excelsior bike, like most in the Velodarlo fleet, has 28" wheels. A call to Halfords revealed that these are regarded as "rare these days" in this country. Funny how a town can be so behind the times that "modern" here is already becoming "out of date" elsewhere, but that's so-called entrepreneurial capitalism for you.

So a 27" inner it had to be. Step forward the heroes of the hour, Campaign members Andy and Marie. They were over to Nicole's house within the hour complete with tool kit, and had the tube replaced after another 30 minutes. After the job, they both said that the task with a dutch bike is totally different to the usual UK mountain bike, with chain guards and hub gears to grapple with. And with the size and type of spares also differing, the chances are that one of the local bike shops would have had problems. But they reckon that with a few more tube changes, the Campaign should have the collective knowledge to manage future issues without a problem.

Nicole is now back on two wheels again, and will be seen on the roads of the town tomorrow morning on her way to her Maths GCSE.

Good Luck Nicole!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Reducing car use by promoting cycling - how is Darlington doing?

In his excellent blog, David Hembrow posts to a story about how many of the ten most likely measures to decrease short car journeys made in towns involve promoting cycling. (I'm reproducing the list below, but you should click through to his blog, as he provides links to real life examples of each measure.)

Here's the list, with bike-promoting measures highlighted:

* priority for cyclists at traffic lights
* make a town impossible to traverse by car (segmentation)
* providing good and safe bicycle routes
* improve accessibility of schools for cyclists in comparison to motorists
* decrease number of parking places
* parking at a fee/higher parking fees
* maintenance of bicycle parking facilities
* free/high-quality bicycle parking
* delivery services
* promote independent cycling by children

As you can see, six of the ten measures involve promoting cycling.

Now for a fun game. How many of these measures have been implemented in Darlington?

Priority for cyclists at traffic lights? No. There still isn't a single Advanced Stop Line in the whole town. At some tucan crossings in town which are not signalised (i.e. not synchronised with other lights to promote traffic flow) there are very long waits when there's no reason they couldn't change straight away.

Make a town impossible to traverse by car (segmentation)? No. Though it is impossible to traverse by bike, if you still to "safe" routes.

Providing good and safe bicycle routes? There are now some safe cycle routes (such as the ETC, the Riverside Route, the black path) but they often require indirect routes, have missing sections, require dangerous road crossings, are ungritted in winter or have long sections which would feel unsafe in the dark.

Improve accessibility of schools for cyclists in comparison to motorists? Increasing the numbers of children travelling to schools by bike has been one of the major successes in Darlington. However, this has been through soft measures like bike training, reward schemes and easy infrastructure like covered bike parking. I don't know of any schools where measures have been put in place to actually make it easier to get to a school by bike than by car.

Decrease number of parking places? Not in public car parks, though I think new building schemes have had the parking spaces limited. There are several resident only parking schemes around the town centre periphery.

Parking at a fee/higher parking fees? The hourly parking charge has recently increased in council car parks, though parking is free after 9pm, all day parking is still very cheap and the 3 for 2 offer is, I think, still running.

Maintenance of bicycle parking facilities? What bike parking facilities? There are some sheffield stands scattered about, but parking when quickly calling in to the town centre or visiting a school or other building is still very poor.

Free/high-quality bicycle parking? See above. Also, where is the secure parking for commuters to the town centre?

Delivery services? Pretty much all the supermarkets offer deliveries for internet shopping, and some offer the chance to have shopping bought in store delivered. Is there scope for an enterprising person to offer a drop-off point in the town centre for people to leave their shopping and then deliver it later in the day?

Promote independent cycling by children? There has been a lot of promotion of cycling to school, but is there any to encourage children to cycle to their friends' houses, to after school clubs or the cinema? If they did, would there be secure parking available or safe, legal routes?

Have I missed any brilliant schemes? Car use in Darlington has supposedly fallen, but how much of that is down to the recession or limited to the school run? How much more could it be reduced with the above methods?

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Bike and Trains Study Tour, Netherlands

The All Party Parliamentary Cycling Group visited the Netherlands in April 2009 with officials from British cycling organisations. This excellent video by Newcastle-based Carlton Reid of QuickreleaseTV documents the group's findings.

Carlton Reid will be a guest speaker of Darlington Cycling Campaign this coming autumn.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

The Forgotten Art of Political Rebellion

Darlington's Beauty and the Bike project includes a youth exchange with the German state of Bremen.

On Monday one of the project's researchers will be meeting Dr. Reinhard Loske, Bremen's Senator for the Environment, Europe and Transport, to discuss his work on improving Bremen's already good cycling infrastructure.

He also appears in the following video, advocating speed limits for Germany's motorway network. In fact, he is imposing these speed limits on all the motorways in Bremen State anyway.

In Germany, motorways without speed limits is gospel. Like America's freedom to bear weapons, the vast majority of Germans see fast driving on motorways as sacrosanct. Dr. Loske is not exactly the establishment's favourite politician, limiting their god-given freedom to burn fuel. But he understands when it's necessary to confront national orthodoxy - to rebel. Even when this means taking on the most powerful political lobby in Germany, the car industry.

Our own "national orthodoxy", as far as transport is concerned, also revolves around the car. To deny our citizens their god-given right to drive the kids 500 yards to school, to the shops, or to the local office, is not only too much for our politicians, but "corridors of certainty" are required to make the trip faster, easier, and more direct.

Heaven forbid the idea that we might disrupt this sacred tarmac by taking a square inch of road space away from the car to construct safe cycle paths. The only space available for such fanciful stuff round here seems to be pavements. If there is a definition of the political rebel that we need here in Darlington, it is the politician brave enough to state the obvious - road space, especially on our main roads, needs to be taken from cars.

The local authority have successfully encouraged many Darlingtonians to switch from car to bicycle. But a cursory count on the streets of the town will tell you that, unlike we seasoned cyclists, these beginners are very often seen on our pavements. The main roads are clearly regarded as just too dangerous.

Our "national orthodoxy" reaction to this, of course, is to curse and scream at those wicked cyclists - and we all know how easily this attitude spreads to include all cyclists. But the brave politician, the politician willing to reflect and understand, must rebel against this orthodoxy, defend cyclists, and state the obvious conclusion. These new cyclists need proper infrastructure.

So until the day we hear this on our own transport agenda, lets celebrate the art of political rebellion, German style.

...and by the way, we hope to invite Dr. Loske to Darlington in the future.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

20MPH in Darlington Getting Closer

Darlington Cycling Campaign's policy of a 20mph speed limit for the town is a step closer to becoming reality.

Proposals to bring down speed limits in areas of Britain where there is a higher risk of accidents have been announced by the government.

Reductions from 30mph to 20mph in urban locations and 60mph to 50mph in the countryside are being considered.

Road safety minister Jim Fitzpatrick said the way people learn to drive and are tested is also set for reform.

The plans are part of a new strategy to reduce road deaths in England, Scotland and Wales by one-third by 2020.

Places such as Newcastle, Portsmouth, Oxford and Leicester already use 20mph speed limits in residential areas, and other local councils will be given new guidance to cut speed limits in residential areas and outside schools.

Darlington Borough Council have been introducing 20mph zones in selected residential areas, but have been hampered by a "can't do" mentality amongst local professionals, who for example cite the need for regular signage and speed bumps as a barrier to the wider use of 20mph.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Create more bike-friendly streets by empowering councils

Councils should be given greater powers to create designated streets that favour cyclists over cars, a national inquiry has concluded.

'Active communities: cycling to a better quality of life' is the report of an inquiry held by the Local Government Information Unit (LGiU) and Cycling England.

This report has found that transport regulations should be reviewed to give councils greater control over cycling routes to get more people out of their cars and onto their bikes.

Councils would be able to design the street to favour cyclists while also making it accessible for cars and pedestrians.

For every car driver converted to a bike, the UK economy saves around £400 a year through reduced medical bills, congestion and pollution, according to research conducted by Cycling England.

The inquiry report - downloadable as a PDF here - also calls for every public building to be an exemplar to encourage cycling, for example by implementing storage facilities and bike loan schemes.

LGiU Centre for Local Sustainability policy analyst Gemma Roberts said: "Councils should be given greater control over cycling routes to ensure more roads are made cycle friendly. We need to make it easier and safer for people to cycle.

"Local authorities need to take the lead and make cycling a priority in their communities," she said.

"But the efforts to promote cycling do not stop with the council. We also need the professional and political backing to invest more heavily in cycling so we can really tackle some of the wider issues communities face, such as obesity, climate change and congestion."

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Darlington Girls visit Bremen

Seven girls from the Beauty and the Bike project are this week visiting Bremen to experience cycling in a cycle-friendly environment. The project has been running in Darlington for almost a year. It is documenting, via video and photography, the reasons why teenage girls typically stop cycling in the UK, but continue in cycling-friendly countries.

The girls are documenting their trip on video on a daily basis. You can catch their vblogs at the Beauty and the Bike site,, or on the project's youtube channel. Or watch one of the videos right here.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Do It By Cycle

Do It By Cycle has been designed to help people in the Tees Valley area get back into the saddle again. In it, you'll find a host of top tips, local cycle routes, cycling events, information on cycle training, videos describing everything from what clothing to wear; to how to tackle roundabouts, and a forum to share your thoughts about cycling and maybe find some cycling buddies.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Crossing of the ETC cycle path over Arnold Road

At the Council Cycle Forum, we were asked for ideas for making the crossing of the ETC cycle path over Arnold Road cycle path safer, as riders on the ETC were able to carry a lot of speed down the slope.

We pointed out that it was a bad idea to take cyclists down a hill and then back up again, and we should have been taken onto the bridge, so it's a problem that should never have happened. Nobody suggested anything (other than a monster under the bridge), so were were told to think about it for next time.

This morning on my way to work, I noticed some spray paint marks on the cycle path, which look like the markings for where to place some barriers. We hope that this isn't the case, as it would effectively make the route unusable for anyone with an unusual bike, a trailer, panniers and possibly even people with kids on the back. If barriers are needed, ones with no gate and a large enough gap to allow unusual bikes and trailers through would be preferable and would still slow bikes down adequately to avoid a collision.

Update: Have heard back from Council. Barriers should be 3 metres apart, which sounds ok. I agree that something is probably needed to slow down cyclists, but worry that they will attract 'yoofs' and associated broken glass.

Update: Had a look on my way home from work and got some funny looks pacing out the gap between the paint marks. They're ten of my shoes apart, which is about 3 metres (I have big feet). Even after pacing them out, they look closer than that, which is why I was concerned this morning. I could get my relatively long bike between them fine, and think a trailer would get through too.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

CO2 Reduction More feasible With More Cycling Infrastructure

According to research bureau CE it is much more effective to reduce CO2 by improving bicycle infrastructure than by investing in a better flow of motor vehicles. It is however unknown how much CO2 benefit bicycle measures would provide. Therefore effects should be better monitored.

The CE-study 'Minder emissies door investeren in infrastructuur' has investigated several options to reduce CO2 emissions. These are measures to improve traffic circulation, change the modal shift and reduce energy use of vehicles. According to CE improving bicycle infrastructure provides the highest return of all 'mobility measures' studied.

Investments in (car) infrastructure primarily aimed at improving traffic flow prove to be ineffective in fighting climate change. Improved traffic flow does cause lower emissions per vehicle kilometre but in the long term also an increase in overall traffic, states CE.

A better bicycle infrastructure may contribute to a substantial CO2 reduction according to CE. CE works out that if, for example, bicycle policy in a town results in 2,500 people driving 5 kilometres less a day that would save 1 kilotonne of CO2. The maximum potential for the Netherlands might possibly be in the range of 100 to 250 kilotonnes a year. Improving bicycle infrastructure has many positive side effects on air quality, noise pollution and public health, besides climate effects. Various measures are feasible to improve bicycle friendliness by adapting infrastructure, like:
- construction and/or improvement of bicycle parking facilities;
- construction of bike paths or e.g. bicycle routes through residential neighbourhoods or town centres, preferably separate from car traffic;
- construction of bicycle tunnels;
- adjusting traffic lights and adapting priority arrangements at intersections and roundabouts. It is however hard to quantify the potential of these measures as there are insufficient evaluations which quantify the effects of improved bicycle facilities on the decrease in car use, CE states. Better monitoring of the effects on investments in bicycle infrastructure is therefore recommended.

A wealth of information about Dutch cycling initiatives and research available here, the website of Dutch cycling consultancy company Fietsberaad.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Velodarlo: Dutch bike loan in Darlington

A FASHION show on bikes will launch a cycle sharing scheme tomorrow.

Velodarlo will make stylish Dutch city bikes available for use by Darlington residents for a small weekly charge as part of Darlington Media Group's Beauty and the Bike project.

The project involves a film crew and photographer following a group of young women as they cycle around Darlington, showing that cycling can by stylish and has raised grants needed to fund Velodarlo.

To launch the bike hire scheme, members of the Beauty and the Bike project will be on their bikes modeling clothes from the Leggs, in Skinnergate, in the town centre at noon tomorrow.

If you are interested in joining Velodarlo call Darlington Media Workshop on 01325-488139 or e-mail

- The Northern Echo: Beauties show model behaviour on bikes

The event will be held in Pease Place (below the statue) at 12noon.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Had a Boardman hybrid nicked in or near Darlington?

The stolen bike is described as an 18 speed Chris Boardman hybrid with a 49cm frame. Its frame number is SA61190771.

- The Northern Echo: Police seek owner of stolen bike

Statistics v Anecdotal Evidence – An Explanation

Why have there been so many reported “near misses” between cyclists and pedestrians in the pedestrian heart? When the Cycling Campaign’s own documented video evidence has found these incidents to be extremely rare?

Perhaps my experience on the way to the railway station this morning is one explanation. As usual I cycled into the town centre from Woodland Road and, on reaching the top of Priestgate, slowed down to walking pace (Bondgate was still relatively empty) to prepare to push my bike down the narrow pavement on the one-way part of that street. Nobody on the pavement, so a short one legged scooter to the first obstruction (a traffic sign) a few metres down and I stopped to get off. An elderly couple were slowly approaching from the other direction. I waited 15 seconds or so for them to approach, did my usual pleasant “good morning” (Code of Conduct rule 3?) to let them pass, and got an immediate earful of complaints.

“Why are you not on the road?” they complained to this stationery cyclist?

“Well, because it is a narrow, one-way street full of buses”, I replied. “Could you show me the cycle path, please?”

“You’re just totally selfish. You shouldn’t be on the pavement. You only think of yourselves”, and off they went, perhaps ready to announce another “near miss”. Certainly it was an unpleasant encounter.

But it also points to the problems inherent in definitions of “pavement cycling”. I scootered the first few metres (one leg on ground, the other on a pedal) simply to reach a point where I could fully dismount. If I had dismounted and pushed before these elderly people passed me, as opposed to stopped, I suspect the space was too narrow (two elderly people, a bike and a dismounted cyclist) for us all to comfortably pass. Better, I thought, to stop altogether behind the obstruction, take up less space, and allow them to pass. Was I breaking the law because I was not fully dismounted?

I have always felt that consideration for others should take precedence over strict legal concepts. Good cycling always involves judgement and interpretation on the road. With so little dedicated cycling space on Darlington’s streets, it is also needed on pavements. And the Home Office agrees.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Darlington Pedestrian Heart: Yes! You can ride your bike

Just over four years since Darlington Council agreed in principle to allowing cycling in the then to-be-created pedestrianised town centre, more than two years after work began and after two separate six month trial periods, the Cabinet of Darlington Borough Council this evening grasped the nettle and made cycling in the pedestrianised area a permanent arrangement.

By all accounts, just eight months ago in the wake of a lot of vocal opposition (despite the majority of residents being in favour), it was a very close run thing getting the trial extended for another six months. A lot of work has been carried out in the last few months to try to secure access. The town centre is a vital link in the cross-town cycle routes and having it closed to cycling would have been a major blow to cycling in the town.

The Council's officers had produced a fantastic, comprehensive report setting out all the evidence in favour of allowing cycling permanently and, thankfully, the Cabinet made their decision based upon the evidence available to them.

Darlington Cycling Campaign are overjoyed at this result.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

A View From The Cycle Path

I've had a couple of stories from David Hembrow's excellent blog, A View From The Cycle Path, that I've been meaning to blog about but haven't found the time.

David is Brit abroad, living in Assen in Holland. He makes and sells custom bike baskets and leads study tours of bike infrastructure. His blog does an excellent job of summing up the facilities there and highlighting the differences between the UK and Holland. When I realised that I had his last four posts marked as unread in my feed reader, I thought I should get around to linking to them, even if I didn't have time to write a full post about each!

* Funding priorities
* Anatomy of a reliable, everyday bicycle
* Leaving a village
* Cyclists are ill less often - Dutch companies gain competitive advantage

While you're there, have a look at the rest of David's site for a flavour of how cycling in Darlington could be.