• Cycle Lifestyle issue 5 now available online

    Issue 5 of Cycle Lifestyle is now available to view in our online magazine browser. Thanks to all those generous people who have offered contributions or helped out.

    In a fun-packed issue we show how to defend yourself against a leopard, how to get a tramp to carry you up a hill in Norway, and how to ‘Velib’ in Paris.

    We showcase the latest version of Simon Parker’s London Cycle Map, with its coloured lines that make simple sense of the thousands of squiggly kilometres of routes making up the London Cycle Network.

    And, above all, we show regular Londoners that cycling’s not just for ‘cyclists’ – it’s for anyone who wants to get about in London quickly, affordably, healthily, and with a smile on their face.

    Paper copies of issue 5 of Cycle Lifestyle will be available from our distributors early next week.

  • Cycle helmets

    One time when it certainly is advisable to wear a cycle helmet is if you are going to get in a debate about whether cyclists should wear them or not. Controversy has been caused recently by transport minister Norman Baker's insistence that he chooses 'to enjoy the wind in his hair'. The same was once true of Boris Johnson and David Cameron, but each of them has given in to calls for them to 'lead by example' and don a helmet, as a recent blog laments.

    What example is Cycle Lifestyle setting on helmets? Ours is informed by a couple of significant facts. First: none of the three major cycling organisations we follow - CTC, LCC and Sustrans - advocate wearing a helmet while on a bike. Second: it is not illegal to cycle without a helmet in the UK. Until we hear otherwise, our policy as a magazine will be to endorse the 'individual choice' policy advocated by the above authorities. You could call it a non-policy.

    What about my own personal opinion? This is not necessarily the opinion of everyone associated with the magazine, but I too like to enjoy the wind in my hair. I would wear a helmet if I rode a racing bike at high speeds; but when I'm meandering around the backstreets of London on my rusty hybrid, with my panniers and front basket full of clobber, I don't.

    I'm not stupid: I know that wearing head protection is likely to be helpful if a person bangs their head - whether playing sports, using a motor-vehicle, being a contestent on Gladiators, or riding a bike. I just don't wear a cycle helmet for the same reason I don't wear head protection when I'm playing football, in a car, or pugil-sticking at a fairground. It seems unnecessarily cautious; as it seemed to my parents uneccesarily cautious for me to wear a cycle helmet when I was a toddler wobbling my way to proficiency on stabilisers, an exuberant kid wheelying over divots in Epping Forest, or a teenager riding to college quicker than the bus could ever get me there.  

    But that's just me: make up your own mind about wearing a cycle helmet. That's the policy of Cycle Lifestyle as well as the prevailing authorities.

  • What's your bag?

    If I need to carry a load on my bike, panniers are my preference. I love the feeling of having my body completely free while cycling. It makes me feel boyish, and reminds me of exploring by bike when I was young and the marvellous expansion of freedom that involved. Sometimes when cycling I'm almost amazed at the fact that I'm going so fast and so smoothly with such little effort - even though I've done it a million times before. It's like when an old couple look into each others eyes and fall in love all over again - the innocent thrill of cycling has a habit of reccuring.

    Anyway, back to the topic. My second choice of bag would be a rucksack. The double straps still offer quite a lot of freedom, so you can easily forget you're carrying anything. Somehow, you don't feel heavier, despite your extra load.

    Some people swear by messenger bags. I like them, but I do feel as if they're not quite as securely in place as a rucksack, since they can revolve around your body. Admittedly they probably look the coolest - if that's important to you. 

    Baskets are another good option. Front baskets are probably the most popular but they do suffer from the drawback that the heavier the load they carry, the more the steering is affected. Back baskets less so, but they are a little trickier to fit.

    They great thing about having a basket on your bike is that you've always got some luggage capacity, so you can carry things safely (much of the time, anyway) even if you haven't prepared to do so. This is a useful insurance: because the very worst thing to do is to not bother getting a proper cycle bag or basket, and just dangle luggage - carrier bags, or any other objects - on the handlebars. This is so dangerous, and affects your control of the bike very badly. Don't even be tempted to do it.

  • Thank you, thief

    Just want to say a big sarcastic 'thank you' to the thief who stole my back wheel, and after replacing his with mine, carefully - lovingly, even - leaned his old one up against the frame of my bike. This was an act of generosity beyond the call of duty. Perhaps Dylan was right: to live outside the law you must be honest.

    Thinking back to my previous experiences with bike theft, I am reminded not just of the bikes lost and the websites trawled looking for them, but, most of all, of the time I checked out a room for rent near Brick Lane. You couldn't close the back door to the house (I kid you not), so I enquired as to what the security arrangements were. 'Trust life', was the nonchalent, slightly condescending (and probably drug-induced) reply from one of the cooler-than-thou inhabitants. Fair enough, I thought... for a few seconds anyway. We were soon discussing where I could buy a secondhand bike in the area. 'I got mine from the market', my interlocutor proudly told me, adding: 'they're all stolen, so they're cheap'. Didn't sound like life could be trusted inside or outside the house.

    The reason I am recounting this story is because it's not just criminals replacing bike wheels who are manifesting a fake kind of goodness. The regular folk who moan about crime then buy stolen goods are faking it as well. My point is: it is living inside the law that really requires honesty beyond the call of duty. In the book Bowling Alone, the author laments the decline of civic life in America; and it's hard not to think of Britain in the same vein. For as long as regular citizens kid themselves into thinking that they're good (tax-paying, carbon-neutral, fine wine-drinking) people, but don't have a role to play in fostering and bolstering their local community - in upholding the values they profess to stand for - communities will be rudderless, lawless and backwheel-less. 

  • Like Riding a Bike

    Featuring images by award-winning photographer Caroline Irby, this exhibition of prints celebrates the diversity of cyclists in Kensington & Chelsea - local people who just like riding a bike!


  • We’re in the GeoVation final!

    After an intense and exhilarating weekend at Geovation camp, I’m delighted to say that the London Cycle Map Campaign has made it through to the final of the competition.

    The theme of this year’s challenge is ‘How can we improve transport in Britain?’. With so many experts and innovators in attendence, we learned so much, and are really grateful to all the people we met whose insights helped us to developed our campaign. A huge thank you to the organisers for an inspiring event.

    Watch this space. Our noses are back to the grindstone preparing for the Showcase final on the 4th of May.

  • After Cycling England...

    Russell Honeyman has written a useful article about the demise of Cycling England. For those looking for a digest of the digest: the success of the government's localisation drive in supporting cycling will depend on the capability and willingness of local authorities. Can they deliver? I wish them luck. But hopefully the emphasis on bottom-up approaches is good news for those who want to see a London Cycle Map delivered; ever since it started at the bottom of Simon Parker's subconsciousness a decade ago, the idea has been on the up ever since. 

  • Beautiful Bicycles

    A new book by Michael Embacher - Cyclepedia: A Tour of Iconic Bicycle Designs - shows that bikes are about more than speed and gears - they can be beautiful, too.

  • Olympic tickets Q and A

    For those interested in finding out more, here's a useful guide to buying Olympic tickets.

  • Olympic ticket applications open

    Ticket applications for the 2012 Olympics are open for the next six weeks, until April 26, and there are 6.6 million available. A ballot will be used to decide which applicants get tickets for the most popular events. Speaking of which, here's a useful rundown of the cycling events.


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