28 November 2005: Surviving the winter on two wheels

This week newbie cyclist Alex Crawford and veteran London bike messenger Buffalo Bill swap notes on how to survive the winter on two wheels. Featuring interviews with Simon from Brixton Cycles and Simon Mottram from Rapha. We also discuss the distressing news of yet another killing of a London cyclist by a left-turning heavy goods vehicle and what this means in terms of road safety policy.

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21 November 2005 Show: Sheldon Brown

Featuring the mighty Sheldon Brown on the marvels of classic English 3-speed bicycles. Sheldon Brown is the technical guru at Harris Cyclery and owns one of the world’s greatest collections of weird and wonderful bikes, including a bizarre fixed gear tandem, a bike that allows its rider to choose between drop and straight handlebars whilst riding and a roadster dating from 1916. Also in the show is Astrid Van Herpen of Pro Velo in Brussels talking about cycling in the Belgian capital.

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The Bike Show wins award!

The Bike Show has won the award for ‘Best Media Initiative’ at the London Cycling Campaign’s annual awards.

Emily Thornberry, MP for Islington South and chair of the All Party Parliamentary Cycling Group, presented the award to Jack Thurston and Kieron Yates at the London Cycling Campaign’s AGM on Wednesday 2 November.

The Bike Show was described as follows: ‘The UK’s only radio show devoted to the miracle of the bicycle and the transcendental pleasures of cycling’. One devoted listener writes: ‘The Bike show is a very welcome addition to London’s cycle culture that has a loyal following and does its own quirky bit to get people on bikes’.

Hooray! Thanks to the LCC and to everyone who nominated us!

The Bike Show crosses the North Atlantic

In an exciting development, the Bike Show has been syndicated by CKDU in Halifax, Nova Scotia, and will be broadcast in glorious FM across the icy waters of the North Atlantic.

Currently scheduled in the sought-after ‘graveyard’ slot of Tuesdays at 4.30am, sandwiched between ‘Radio Goethe’ and ‘The Lost Discs Radio Show’, the Bike Show is bound to find equal appeal among the late night toilers at Dalhousie University, the early morning go-getters of Halifax and the impressive population of wood turtles, muskrat, mink, and beaver native to the floodplains of the Musquodoboit River.

Explaining the thinking behind her inspired move, CKDU Program Manager, Melissa Buote, told the Bike Show, “We’re really happy to include your voice, ideas and creativity on our station. [It will] give our late night programming a diverse and different feel from the programming we offer from our live, local programmers.”

Chapeaux! (as they probably say in French-speaking Canada)

Critical Mass: For London, it’s time to move on

Like many hundreds of London cyclists I went along to critical mass last Friday night. I’d heard about the possible crackdown by the Metropolitan Police under the Government’s new public order legislation and I wanted to express my right to ride. I’ve been riding in Critical Mass rides in London, Oxford and San Francisco for more than a decade and I’ve usually enjoyed the fun and friendship and the amazing feeling of riding along the city streets in large numbers, safely, showing how a bicycle can solve the problems of congestion.

Last Friday’s ride attracted more than 1000 people. It was an impressive show of solidarity, and to give them their due, the Police acted in an overwhelmingly friendly and cooperative way. But by the time the ride had reached Parliament Square and a group of people decided to brandish their bikes aloft and bring the ride to a complete standstill, I had decided enough was enough.

I’m glad I didn’t stay with the ride as it went back towards the West End but I’ve heard from others that people blocked Oxford Street for almost an hour, held up buses and generally caused disruption to everyone. Spare a though for all those shopworkers on minimum wage trying to get home on a dark Friday night. What kind of a message does that send out to people about cycling and cyclists?

Friday’s ride marked a turning point for me. London’s Critical Mass has always quietly tolerated those people who tried to hijack it for their own causes, whether they’re against Shell, McDonalds or the Iraq War. But now it seems that Critical Mass has inverted its own founding creed of being a bike ride not a protest. It is abundantly clear that it is now a protest, not a bike ride. And in doing so, it has become a convenient vehicle for the angry mob who like to be anti-everything.

Over the years Critical Mass has undoubtedly raised the profile of cycling and contributed in its own way to the massive growth of cycling in the capital. Riding a bike is now a perfectly ordinary way of getting around town, and Governments are broadly supportive, although it is always possible for them to do better. I ride my bike in London and see so many other riders around me that it feels like a Critical Mass every day.

A conversation I overheard on Friday sums it up perfectly. It was a bike messenger complaining, in very good humour, that he rode 100 miles a day, every day, and hadn’t had a mechanical failure for months. But he’d come on Critical Mass for the first time in years and been rear-ended by another rider, buckling his back wheel.

Cycling in London has moved on and Critical Mass now does more harm than good. But this doesn’t mean giving up on group riding, far from it. Any day of the month is a good day to get together with bunch of friends or join up with a local group like Southwark Cyclists for one of their regular Thursday night rides. 6.30pm on the South Side of London Bridge. I’ll see you there.

31 October 2005: Roller-racing, Ghostcycle and Critical Mass London

Joining Buffalo Bill and the hardcore of London’s bike messengers for chaotic indoor racing action at Rollapalooza IV (and live music from the Deadley Treadleys). In the studio Scott and Steve explain their Ghostcycle project to mark and map traffic collisions involving bicycles. Jack and Rakan court controversy by saying enough is enough to London Critical Mass, which attracted more than 1000 riders for the Halloween ride.