• Winter issue of Cycle Lifestyle - publishing in October, ad space available

    I'm excited to announce that issue 6 of Cycle Lifestyle will be publishing in late October this year.

    Now is a great time to be involved in our unique project to bring the good news about cycling to more commuters, families and students across London.

    This year we won Ordnance Survey’s ‘How Can we Improve Transport in Britain?’ competition with our innovative London Cycle Map Campaign. As the Olympics approaches, our call for a Tube-style map and network of signed cycle routes in the capital is growing in influence.

    To advertise in Cycle Lifestyle and feature in (at least) 20,000 real copies of the magazine distributed all over the capital, plus on cyclelifestyle.co.uk, please get in touch.

    The deadline for copy/artwork is 16 September 2011.

    Keep warm this winter – keep cycling!

    Best Wishes – Ben Irvine

  • Dublin Cycle Hire

    Dublin's cycle hire scheme has been a big success. During its first year, each of its bikes made an average of more than 2,200 journeys, compared to London's cycle hire scheme which recorded an average of 1,000 journeys per bike in its first year. London's figures are no shame, but why the difference, asks a recent Guardian blog? The lower annual fee for Dublin's scheme? Or, as Jason Frehill of Dublin city council suggests, "the fact that the public in Dublin embraced the scheme and are now its guardians, the time taken to find the best location of each station, and the quality of the service delivered by JC Decaux"?

    I'm not convinced by any of these explanations. The fee in the capital (£45) is, although higher than Dublin's (10 euros), peanuts by the standards of millions of Londoners. As for the service provision in London, there's nothing apparently wrong there. Likewise, finding a docking station is unproblematic - either by using one of the online location maps or just asking a passerby. What about Dubliners 'embracing' cycle hire more than Londoners? Well, that's not an explanation; it repeats the very fact that needs explaining.

    Here's my (simple) theory: people find it easier to navigate around the streets by bike in Dublin, because it's not as big as London. Compared to Dublin, there are probably just too many occasions in London when you've got no choice but to get a bus or catch the Tube - because you just don't know how to navigate on your own: in effect, the public transport network navigates on your behalf. Therefore (you know what's coming)... what London needs is a cycle network that makes it as easy to navigate by bike as it is to use public transport. Hmmm. Someone should come up with a Tube-style London Cycle Map...

  • The Journal of Modern Wisdom

    Dear readers,

    I’m very excited to announce that Cycle Lifestyle magazine now has a sibling: the Journal of Modern Wisdom.

    It’s a new collection of writings from leading public thinkers, including Lord Richard Layard, Theodore Dalrymple and Judith Rich Harris, aiming to discover new ways of achieving enduring virtues and pleasures, and to put wisdom back on the agenda.

    I’ve always thought of cycling as an enduring virtue, not to mention a huge pleasure. The bicycle has been around for nearly 200 years, and, despite the odd false promise, what other invention can be said to be so useful and so fun? It seems to me that wise people cycle – and cycling makes people wiser.

    The Journal of Modern Wisdom (www.modernwisdom.co.uk) features writings on food, parenting, happiness, depression, manufacturing, social deviance, painting and the comedy of Bill Hicks. I hope that among these topics, too, avid ‘cycle lifestylers’ will find some inspiration.

    Best wishes – Ben

  • Copenhagenization

    This is a fantastically heart-warming video about the popularity of cycling in Copenhagen - a place where, believe it or not, they even have bike congestion! It's a problem of which they're understandably "proud", although in characteristically efficient manner, they're addressing it without fuss through more and more provisioning for bikes. I particularly love the guy at 4.02. Great stuff. As a cycling campaigner this really reminds you of what it's all about.


  • Cycle Hire: one year on

    I've just enjoyed reading the Guardian's latest blog about the Cycle Hire Scheme, one year on. There are some negative remarks about demand exceeding supply at many of the docking points, causing some cyclists to neither be able to find a bike nor dock the one they're riding. But the figures on safety are extremely encouraging: just 100 accidents in a year and none of them serious. That's 100 too many of course, but it's not the multitudes of lemmings people predicted.

    I was also fascinated to read about the demographic data: apparently the bikes are being used  'overwhelmingly' by 'white men aged between 25 and 44, many of whom earn more than £50,000 a year'. Now, I don't know why there's a racial/financial effect involved here (although I suspect it's simply based on the fact that people working in the viscinity of the docking stations 'overwhelmingly' tend to be white and rich: this would mean that it's not riding a hire bike which attracts the people in question, but the city institutions they work for).

    But I have a suspicion that the gender effect may have something to do with navigation. Psychological research shows that men tend to be better at mentally rotating pictures of three dimensional objects - which translates practically into finding it easier to navigate around London's complex road network. Obviously, this is not true for all men, but it might explain why more men than women are willing to venture out on a bike. Why the gender difference should be so 'overwhelming' is still another question: maybe it's got to do with women, say, being more concerned about safety or getting sweaty or wearing inappropriate clothing: I don't know.

    There is, of course, a solution to the navigation problem: a London Cycle Map. A Tube-style map and signed network of cycle routes would make it a million times more simple to plot a journey through our labrynthine capital on a bicycle, and might encourage more women to give it a go. A London Cycle Map would also have the benefit of suiting the manner in which women tend to approach navigating. Psychologists suggest that women, on the whole, prefer to navigate in a rule-based way (e.g. follow the road until a, then turn onto b, then swap onto c, and so on) as opposed to men who, on the whole, use more of a 'homing-pigeon' technique - which involves having a strong sense of compass direction and using it to inform navigational decisions. The great thing about a London Cycle Map is that it would make almost any journey in London navigable using rules: you'd just have to remember a few routes (e.g. R1, C2, B3 - as easy as a, b, c!) and then follow the signs or markings till you get to your destination. Simple!

    At present, to navigate on a bike in London you need to either remember hundreds of turn-rights and turn-lefts (impractical) or have a very good sense of direction - which suggests why more men than women may be cycling. This also suggests why the figures may be so skewed for the hire bikes in particular: because these bikes, by their very nature, are used for spontaneous journeys; journeys with little planning; journeys you can only undertake if you have a damn good spatial sense of how the city connects together, so you can forge ahead without knowing all the exact directions. Young men please form an orderly queue.

    I say these things not to discourage female cyclists: quite the opposite. Cycle Lifestyle's goal is to help all kinds of people cycle in London; to help everyone experience the liberating effects of getting around on two wheels. We're just trying to be realistic about it. What realistically would help more women cycle is a decent London Cycle Map - to make navigating by bike as easy as catching the Tube. Initiatives aimed at encouraging participation are important, but when faced with a big bad city sprawling out in front of them, too many women are opting to choose transport options they feel more comfortable with. This is not a caricature: it's a fact.

    Something else which caught my eye about the Guardian article was the dynamic graphic showing where journeys were made on the hire bikes. One thing really stands out: the image looks nothing like the radial routes described by the Cycle Superhighways. Rather, it is clear that the route trajectories people are actually taking (even if 'overwhelmingly' male) look more like the muddled spaghetti of LCN routes so brilliantly rationalised by Parker's London Cycle Map.

    For goodness sake, then, let's stop spending literally hundreds of millions of pounds painting blue lines on major roads. Let's just get a decent London Cycle Map and network of quieter routes up and running (for much, much less money) in time for the Olympics, thereby making the LCN accessible and navigable by everyone, and showing the world that Britain is still streets ahead in terms of innovation.

  • Shambala riders

    Charity Sustrans will be leading guided cycle rides to this year's Shambala festival in Northamptonshire from eight towns and cities - Banbury, Birmingham, Bristol, London, Manchester, Sheffield, Stoke and Swindon - varying from three days to one day in length. Find out more at  www.sustrans.org.uk

    I think guided cycle rides are a great idea, with enormous potential to be applied to many areas. One in particular which would be extremely good fun is football matches. Whether in London or beyond, cycling with a bunch of supporters to an away game would add a great new dimension to the idea of being a 'travelling' fan.

  • Car-free routes, carefree cycling

    We're delighted to annouce that London Cycle Map inventor Simon Parker will be regularly blogging on cyclelifestyle.co.uk about cycling in London. Here is his first offering:

    As part of a little experiment prompted by a short piece in the latest issue of London Cyclist, I sought to get from Greenwich town centre to Tower Bridge whilst avoiding the roundabout at Rotherhithe tunnel, where, it is said, ‘you can feel invisible and vulnerable on a bike.’ The route I took can be described in terms of the London Cycle Map as follows: R5, C8, N6.

    My journey-time was under twenty minutes. As can be seen here, about two-thirds of the route was on back streets. To the cyclist, they offer one BIG advantage over main roads: there is considerably less traffic on the back streets. This means, amongst other things, that there are fewer traffic lights, which otherwise make it difficult to maintain one’s momentum, but more important than that, the air is cleaner. According to the EU environment commissioner, ‘Air pollution reduces human life expectancy by more than eight months on average, and by more than two years in the most polluted cities and regions.’

    Another thing to say is that cyclists need to keep their wits about them when driving in heavy traffic. In other words, car-full routes demand careful cycling. When you think that the main benefit that cycling affords the individual - that it improves your physical and mental well-being - it seems to me that when cyclists use main roads, much of what they gain on the swings is going to be lost on the roundabouts - including the one at Rotherhithe tunnel!

    When using routes that follow main roads, cycling seems to be more about getting from A to B quickly and less about savouring the journey. Just the other day, for example, I stopped for a young woman who was waiting at a zebra crossing. ‘Thank you,’ she said, smiling. ‘No problem,’ I said, smiling back. Try doing that on a main road.

  • A Good Week

    On Monday morning (June 20, 2011, from 9.30 to 12.30) Cycle Lifestyle will be attending the launch event for 'A Good Week', at the Free Word Centre, 60 Farringdon Road, London, EC1R 3GA. We'll be giving out magazines, chatting about cycling, and promoting our London Cycle Map Campaign.

    A Good Week is a new initiative run by A Very Good Company, the idea being for people to spend a week (from June 20-26) doing some Good, talking about Good, attend a Good event or even running their own. And hopefully some of that Good will stay around all year!

    For A Good Week why not try cycling to work? It'll make you feel Good and make your capital a better place to live in. Or, if you already cycle, why not help your colleagues or friends to get started?

    There's more information about the events being run during A Good Week at www.agoodweek.com, and you can contact the organisers at hello@averygoodcompany.org.

  • Volunteers sought to join charity’s cycling support team

    Children’s charity Action Medical Research is looking for volunteers who could spare a few hours to help support its popular UK RIDE100 series events.

    Every year Action Medical Research runs a packed programme of long-distance bike rides, with 22 events taking place all over the UK in some stunning locations.

    The charity is looking for crew members to participate in all the activities related to the ride, except riding a bike! This includes things like route signage, car parking, registration and de-registration, manning feed stations and marshalling. 

    Mark Trott, Cycling Development Manager at Action Medical Research, says: “We pride ourselves in running some of the very best challenge bike rides in the UK. Giving our riders a trouble-free and enjoyable day in the saddle is paramount and it takes a dedicated crew of staff and volunteers to make this happen.

    “Whether you’re a keen cyclist yourself or just enjoy the sport then volunteering for us is a great way to meet like-minded people and be involved in an activity you enjoy. At the same time you will help us give our riders a great day in the saddle and raise money to fund medical research to help sick babies, children with disabilities and those suffering from a rare disease.”

    Volunteer crew members are fully supported, briefed and advised on all aspects of their duties.

    Money raised by the charity helps fund vital medical research into conditions affecting babies and children. Work currently being supported by Action Medical Research includes research into premature birth, cerebral palsy, meningitis and epilepsy, as well as some very rare and distressing conditions that severely affect children.

    If you can spare a few hours of your time to lend a hand then Action Medical Research would love to hear from you. For further information please visit www.action.org.uk/volunteering or email Nicky Clark at nclarke@action.org.uk

  • Specialized Concept Store in Covent Garden - Now Open

    CycleSurgery and Specialized have announced the opening of the latest Specialized Concept Store in Covent Garden. The new store is part of the newly-regenerated and pedestrian-friendly St Martin’s Courtyard, just a short walk from the Tube.

    The latest products from Specialized are displayed over two floors, with visitors able to browse through the range of mountain bikes, hybrids and road bikes, as well as accessories from Specialized and complimentary brands such as Altura, Camelbak and Garmin.

    Those visitors wishing to make sure they have their bikes and riding position set up correctly can take advantage of the in-store BG FIT studio. Every session starts with a detailed interview and flexibility assessment by the qualified technician, before updates in your position are carried out. Your position on the bike can make a huge difference to how comfortable you are when riding, so a session like this is highly recommended.

    The store also operates a state of the art workshop using the latest tools and equipment to maintain and service bikes from the local community. And staff members are on hand to offer expert advice for men and women of all ages and abilities.


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