A cycling revolution is within Greater Manchester’s grasp. A revolution that shows we’re as serious about cycling as cities such as Berlin, Amsterdam and Copenhagen.
But we need your support to make this vision a reality. Pledge your support right now by clicking the link on this page.
Greater Manchester is bidding for up to £20 million of government investment, to be spent over two years, to make cycling safer and easier.
Most of this investment will be in a series of more continental-style, largely segregated, cycle routes within the heart of the conurbation, together with the delivery of a number of cycle and ride stations.
£20 million’s not a lot, compared to the huge amounts spent on motor traffic, but it’s a start.
The petition needs over 100,000 signatories to get discussed in Parliament. It’s got over 25,000 in its first two days, so please help keep the momentum up.
We need to encourage more cycling, better infrastructure and more understanding from- and harsher punishment of, if necessary- drivers when it comes to sharing the road. The ‘Get Britain Cycling’ report is built upon an enquiry into the state of cycling in the UK and its recommendations are based upon input from a wide range of experts.
I met one of the Coffee Cranks Co-op last Saturday. They’ve built a cool cargo bike and are looking for Kickstarter funding to turn it into a mobile coffee stall. I shall be pledging some money later, and I think you should too.
If it were on the other side of the centre Pop Up Bikes might become my new favourite coffee shop. It’s an excellent idea- a cafe in a railway arch with bike parking and room to work on your ride included.
At least, that’s the excuse I give myself when I skim through the eBay classic cars section looking for things I’m not really going to bid on, like this dragster inspired Mk1 Ford Cortina. When I was a kid our neighbour ran a Lotus Cortina lookalike in local rallies, so I’d be more inclined to that look than the gasser, but it’s still cool.
I think I need to own a hot rod, such as this model A pickup or this 1932 Model B at some point in my life, even if it was only used for a few days at the height of summer.
If I wanted to scare other drivers, this 1978 Ford Thunderbird could be the right vehicle. I think it looks like the eponymous demon possessed automobile from The Car. Alternatively, I could try to play the hero and pretend to be Starsky (or was it Hutch) in this Ford Gran Torino.
I could spend the rest of the day doing this, but I’d better stop, and think about something nearer my price range and expertise- like an old Raleigh Twenty shopper looking for restoration.
I don’t do any of those things you keep complaining about cyclists doing. I don’t run red lights. I don’t cycle on the pavement. I wear clothes which are bright and/or have reflective patches and I have lights on my bikes. I also do some things you don’t know to tell me about, such as riding a sensible distance out from the kerb- when the traffic lets me- keeping clear of opening car doors and inattentive pedestrians. (I also wear a helmet, but that’s not a safety measure, it’s about damage reduction.)
So, when are you going to keep your side of the bargain? When will you start giving me enough room when you pass me? How long until you stop parking and driving in the cycle lane (or on the pavement, but that’s something for the pedestrians to take up with you)? When will you learn what advanced stop boxes are for and that amber means slow down and stop, not speed up to get through before the lights go red? It’s not much to ask, just that you show a little sense and courtesy when dealing with more vulnerable road users.
I’m sure you’ll all tell me that you’re wonderful, careful drivers. Many of you will be right. And then some of you will tell me all about the terrible things that cyclists do. I won’t refer you back to the first paragraph, you’re just making excuses for not changing your ways.
I’m not defending misbehaving cyclists, but I am getting tired of being told that I’m the problem when I’m not, or that we, as a group, are the most dangerous bunch on the roads. A cyclist would have to be pushing at the very far edges of bad luck or behaviour before they could do as much damage to another human as a driver is capable of just by forgetting to look around properly before opening their car door.
So- for Christmas and beyond- could you please be so kind as to give me my space on the road, look out for me and stop blaming me for problems created by bad road design or the failings of car culture.
Nottingham North MP Graham Allen and a delegation of councillors will travel to Westminster on Monday to meet with Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Transport Stephen Hammond.
They will be calling for changes in the law so that all cyclists must wear helmets and all bikes must be fitted with lights.
The delegation also wants all new bike sales to include helmets, reflective clothing and lights, and to ban BMX bikes on public roads as some do not have brakes or lights fitted and are only suitable for tracks.
Every so often someone comes up with the idea that they have to protect us cyclists from ourselves. This protection almost always takes the form of compulsory helmet wearing and banishment to the cycle path.
It’s not the solution.
Firstly, let’s make an important distinction about cycle helmets and “safety”. Cycle helmets do not make cyclists safer. Not one bit. (In fact, there’s one study which suggests that they actually make us less safe because, for some reason, they make drivers think they can give us less room when passing). However, I almost never go for a ride without my helmet on, because whilst it doesn’t throw up a forcefield to keep bad drivers away it will prevent or reduce damage to my brain box if something unfortunate should happen. I like my brain, it’s one of my favourite parts of my body.
Making us wear helmets all the time, or forcing us to stay within the poorly designed and maintained cycle paths, will do nothing to make us safer. Better enforcement of existing laws and improved training for drivers would be more effective. The return of Cycling Proficiency training in schools wouldn’t hurt either, but MPs and other wannabe safety campaigners have got to stop blaming the victims and start accepting that motorists cause most of the problems.