• Real Dutch Courage

    There's a magnificent video doing the rounds called 'How the Dutch got their cycle paths'. Created by Mark Wagenbuur, a cycling enthusiast Dutchman, it's really inspiring stuff, especially the conclusion: The Netherlands' problems were and are not unique; their solutions shouldn't be that either. I love the narrator! In fact, I think he has become my second favourite Dutchman. (No-one's knocking number 1 off the top spot.)

  • Rollerblading

    An article on the Guardian website today inquires about the relationship between rollerbladers and cyclists, with the rather preemptive title: Why can't cyclists and rollerbladers get along? Strange that the author, a rollerblader, then goes on to admit that "overall we do get on", partly due to "common enemies on every front", including "bad lighting" and "cracked pavements".

    I'm not sure about the pavements - cyclists shouldn't be cycling on them. I'm even less sure about the point of the article, other than to attract readers of course. It seems to follow a familiar Guardian template. Rule number 1 is to polarise issues as much as possible - hence the title and the author's rather cryptic description of a one-off incident that took place on a cycle path along the Serpentine, when "cyclists, lots of cyclists, were coming at me, in front of me and behind me. I kept getting bells chiming in my direction - and they weren't playing Happy Birthday".

    Rule number 2 - because it's the Guardian, a slightly nicer newspaper - is to follow up this antagonism with an insufficient dose of moral reassurance; not enough to dispel the faint sense of anxiety resulting from the suggestion that everyone seemingly hates each other, but enough to make the reader feel better about that spurious fact.

    For what it's worth, I say well done to rollerbladers for beating the traffic in their own idiosyncratic way. Mind you, blades are nowhere near as good as bikes.

  • Play's the Thing

    Anyone who cycles will tell you about the childish pleasure to be gained from swooping on two wheels through streets, parks and traffic. Many cyclists report that sometimes when they're riding they burst spontaneously into a broad smile or even a song, such is their astonishment that getting from A to B could continue to be such fun!

    Let's face it, there isn't much room for fun in the modern world. Yes, we can watch others singing, dancing, or joking around on TV, but that's the point; in our busy stressful lives we only have time to enjoy ourselves by proxy, courtesy of overpaid 2D goons. 

    An ucpoming conference, which I'll be speaking at, is calling on artists, thinkers and social innovators to emphasise the importance of well-being in modern life. Called 'Play's The Thing', the event is talking place in London on 22 and 23 November and will encourage participants to prioritise self-expression, creativity, playfulness and fun - some of the lighter sides to well-being.

    It's a timely reminder that, in these troubled times, part of the problem is that we've all become too serious. We've all forgotten that life is "just a ride", as the late great Bill Hicks said.


    Tickets available now.

  • Is cycling bad for business?

    By Corrina Gordon-Barnes of http://youinspireme.co.uk

    Have you ever wondered if cycling might be damaging your business cred?

    I was at the first meeting with a new client, about to start helping her with marketing her business. We had just sat down with our drinks and were exchanging pleasantries before our session started, when she asked: “Where did you park?”

    “My bike’s just out there”, I replied, gesturing towards the cycle park.

    Her face fell. The spark went out of her eyes. She looked down at her cup awkwardly.

    What should I make of that, I wondered? Was she feeling guilty that she’d travelled to our meeting by car? Did she worry I’d think less of her because of her carbon footprint?

    Or... was she thinking to herself: “I can’t believe I’ve just hired a business coach who can’t even afford a car!?”

    It got me questioning: does cycling make us look less successful? Does it cramp our style, with its associations with free-wheeling childhood? If we’re to be taken seriously as grown-up professionals, should we just use our bikes at the weekend?

    A car is a status symbol, after all. Alan Sugar doesn’t whizz his wannabe apprentices around on bikes; they get chauffeured. A flash car is often touted as the ‘trophy’ you buy yourself to celebrate your achievements. (You’ve seen the sexy adverts).

    Even if you don’t feel you need to prove your success or bank balance, there are still practical considerations which make a bike less than ideal for working life. Cycling can dictate your clothing choices; maybe you opt for trousers and flats instead of skirt and heels, or worry about arriving at a meeting with your smart suit smeared with oil. And where do you put your high-vis jacket and night lights?

    The thing is, none of this can deter me from cycling. It keeps me fit, energized, alert and gets my skin glowing. The fresh air and endorphins clear my mind, and in pop new blog posts, programmes I can offer, solutions to dilemmas which have been bugging me. Being visible on a bike (rather than closed away behind metal doors and glass windows) means people spot me and say: “Oh, hey, come here... I was meaning to talk to you...”

    It means I can nip from consultation to client to bank to friends to shops so easily and with no traffic jams, petrol stops or parking fees. This freedom is the piece of the self-employed dream which my clients so often come to me seeking. I’m walking (or rather, cycling) my talk: that healthy profits follow healthy living, that well-being is primary, that we can be nurtured by our success, not in spite of it, that we can choose health, happiness and wealth, not have to decide between them.

    And travelling by bike is damn enterprising, in the truest sense of the word. It’s working smart, it’s being efficient, it’s using resources wisely and it’s saving me a whole ton of money. It fits with my message: that good people can earn good money doing good work – and they can do it on two wheels.

    What do you think? Is biking bad for business? Does it make you look less professional? Do you worry about turning up to a meeting flushed and sweaty?

    Or do you think cycling fits perfectly with being self-employed? Has being on a bike actually got you new clients?

    Leave a comment, let us know...

    Corrina Gordon-Barnes teaches marketing to women who’ve found their passion but haven’t yet found how to make that pay the bills. Her clients are mostly coaches and complementary therapists who want to have an impact and earn a good income. To find out more, visit: http://youinspireme.co.uk

  • Safer in the city?

    My mum now has another item to add to her list of things to things to worry about when I'm on my bike. The guy at 0.13 shouts out 'Holy Cow'. Nope, just an antelope.

  • New LCC proposals for Blackfriars Bridge

    The London Cycling Campaign have published a design for a more cycle friendly Blackfriars Bridge.

  • The School of Life

    For anyone who thinks there's only so much you can say about cycling, my opinionatedness is expanding to take in non-cycling related topics. Read my latest blogs for The School of Life here and here. Or just go for a bike ride.

  • Balance Bikes

    I was four when I had my first unaided cycle ride. My dad, an industrious New Zealander, had attached some rickety stabilisers to my bike and I was beginning to get the hang of it when I had a go on someone's else's 'proper' bike in Highams Park where we used to play out (do kids 'play out' these days?). I'll never forget the speed, the exhileration, the arc I traced down a grassy hill then back up the other side where I came to a stop, beaming with pride that I was really cycling.

    A new kind of child's bicycle is promising to make it easier for children to start riding. Called a 'balance bike', the design dispenses with stabilisers and even peddles, and instead puts the seat low enough for the child to be able to whizz along using their feet to propel them. It's an idea that makes balancing a priority right from the start, but because the child can use their feet to help them stay upright, perhaps it might help avoid some of those bumps and grazes which come with learning to cycle.

    If it helps get kids on bikes, and parents keen on the idea, then that's good news for cycling.

  • The truth about traffic...

  • A man on a mission - to raise money for Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease

    This week, Anthony Dettmar and two of his friends are setting out on a 350-mile bike ride from Cambridge to Paris in support of CMT United Kingdom. CMT (Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease) is the most common, yet least known about, inherited neurological condition. It affects approximately 1 in 2,500 people, including Anthony himself. In short, CMT causes impaired nerve conductivity, resulting in muscle wasting in the limbs and extremities, which, in turn, leads to weakness in these areas, inhibiting a sufferer's natural ability to run, walk and carry out basic manual tasks - things that any other person would take for granted.

    As part of CMT Awareness month, Anthony has not only set himself this physical challenge, but also aims to raise £9,000, which will be used for providing activity weekends for kids who suffer from CMT - allowing these young people the opportunity to realise their full potential despite their disability. Cycle Lifestyle wishes you all the best, Anthony.

    Donations (no matter how small) to this laudable endeavour would be truly appreciated. Please visit www.justgiving.com/CMTOnYourBike to pledge your support.

    If you would like to know more about CMT affects Anthony personally, then please feel free to read his candid press release here. And if you're interested in following the progress of his journey, please do check out the campaign's Facebook page, which will be updated on a regular basis. You can also follow the cyclists' journey in real time via their GPS tracking system. Simply register to log on.

    Anthony is the brother of Matt Dettmar, former designer of Cycle Lifestyle.


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