Woods and Wildflowers


Enjoying nature has always been one of the pleasures of cycling. This week we hear from two organisations working to protect and improve Britain’s natural places. Andy Byfield of the charity Plantlife explains his charity’s new campaign about road verges while Garfield Kennedy of the Woodland Trust, which manages hundreds of woods and forests across the country, explains why mountain-bikers and other cyclists are welcome in their woods.

Space for Cycling: The Big Campaign


In what may well be the biggest electoral campaign ever mounted by a cycle campaign group in Britain, Space for Cycling makes a very clear series of demands on candidates for local councils. To talk about Space for Cyclingand about the changing landscape of cycle campaigning is Ashok Sinha, chief executive of the London Cycling Campaign.

Take part in the Big Ride on Saturday 17 May. Full details including feeder rides led by local LCC borough groups.

Use the LCC’s web-based tool to contact candidates in your area.

Find out more about the Space for Cycling national campaign.

Cycling and the Countryside


Cycling in the countryside can be an unparalleled joy. But too often fast, hostile roads and make it worse than cycling in Britain’s urban streets. What’s gone wrong? And more importantly, what can be done about it? Ralph Smyth, transport campaigner at the Campaign for the Protection of Rural England, explains what the problems are and what his organisation is doing to improve conditions for cycling in the countryside.

School level data on cycling to school

Cycling Oxford

A recent flurry of twitter discussion on the very low level of cycling to school in Britain, and how poorly this country compares to more cycling-friendly places, prompted me to look for school level data on how children travel to school.

cycle to school

In the map below is every school in England, with data on mode of travel to school from the School Census 2011. The red dots denote schools where less than 2 per cent of children cycle, the purple dots where 2-5% cycle, the blue dots where 5-10% cycle and the green dots where more than 10% cycle.

Why 2011? It’s the most recent data there is since the government stopped collecting this data. It defies belief that with a growing epidemic of childhood obesity, and evidence that fewer kids are walking or cycling to school, the government should respond by pushing its head further into the sand.

Here’s a map of just the schools where more than 10% of children cycle to school:

The top schools in terms of cycling to school? Step forward the Parkside Federation Academies in Cambridge, who reported more than 60% cycling to school.

The schools with least car-dependent pupils were Sarah Bonnell School in Newham and Capital City Academy in Brent, both reporting less than 0.3% of children travelling to school by car. The most car-bound schools are Adlington Primary School in Cheshire, Windlestone School in County Durham and Pannal Primary School in North Yorkshire, which reported a full 99% of children travel to school by car.

Finally, here’s a map showing all schools reporting more than 80% of children get to school by car:

The raw data is available on a Google Fusion Table. I merged the census data with a different dataset containing school addresses, and geocoded that using Google’s geocode service. A few caveats:

1. The School Census on travel to school mode is conducted by a show of hands in assembly. So must be taken with some caution.

2. Some schools did not report cycling figures, all that appears in the data is an ‘x’.

3. Some schools on the map didn’t report any data at all. I think these are mostly independent schools, perhaps they are exempt from the reporting requirements.

4. It’s possible that Google’s geocode process has not processed all the schools, this may take a few more hours/days.

While the low levels of cycling to school is depressing, most primary school children and a large minority of secondary school children still walk to school, a healthy and sociable option, though it does seem walking to school rates are gradually declining in favour of the motorised ‘school run’.

The same data (and more) is presented in a less rough-and-ready way by the School Travel Health Check website.

Thanks to Richard Evans for pointing out that this data exists. And Tejvan Pettinger for the photo.

Campaigning for Cycling


In the middle of possibly the worst week for cycling fatalities in London Mike Cavenett of the London Cycling Campaign talks about what his organisation is doing to change things in the city and how an effective cycling campaign requires a single, simple message clearly and imaginatively presented, mass mobilisation and relentless pressure on political decision-makers.

Image credit: zefrog

High on a Mountain Top

Since the very earliest years of the bicycle, adventurous cyclists have been unable to resist the allure of the mountains – the challenge of riding up and the thrill of freewheeling down the other side. Mountains are also the crucible of many of the most dramatic moments in professional bike racing. Daniel Friebe and Pete Goding, the authors of Mountain Higher: Europe’s Extreme, Undiscovered and Unforgettable Cycle Climbs join host Jack Thurston to talk about the quest for ever more exhilarating climbs and breathtakingly beautiful places. I

In a podcast-only extra, Bill Chidley reports back from the Annual General Meeting of the London Cycling Campaign, where important details of the Space For Cycling campaign were agreed.

Photo credit: Pete Goding

What It Really Means to Go Dutch

To many UK cycling campaigners, David Hembrow is a Moses-type figure, handing down tablets of smooth, car-free red asphalt from the streets of Assen in the Netherlands where he lives and writes the blog A View from the Cycle Path. He’s also a controversial figure, arguing that separation of cars and bikes is essential for mass cycling and that many UK campaigners are either on the wrong track or suffering from hopelessly low expectations. In an extended interview David explains why he moved from England to the Netherlands in search of cycling nirvana and what the Dutch have got to teach the rest of the world when it comes to making cycling friendly towns and cities.

Image credit: David Hembrow