Summer’s here! Get on your bike and ride

Velonotte Rome - picture by Alan Vouba/Moskultprog

With the start of British Summer Time we look ahead to two upcoming mass rides: Velonotte London and the Edinburgh Pedal on Parliament.

On the night of Saturday 23rd June, Sergey Nikitin‘s Velonotte (pictured in Rome, above) will come to London as part of the 2012 London Festival of Architecture. A night ride starting at St Paul’s cathedral, traversing the East End to the Olympic Park and finishing with a live orchestra welcoming the dawn at the London Pleasure Gardens. The ride will feature a simultaneous broadcast on Resonance FM of soundscapes and Velonotte’s expert guides including Peter Ackroyd, Ricky Burdett, David Adjaye, Sergey Romanyuk and Peter Murray.

Meanwhile, on 28 April, Scottish cyclists will take to the streets of Edinburgh to call for the Scottish government to put more investment in cycling infrastructure and cycle safety. Sally Hinchcliffe is one of the organisers of the Pedal on Parliament.

And if you’re taking part in either of these rides, there’s no more stylish and practical bike to ride than the Paper Bicycle. Its designer Nick Lobnitz explains the thinking behind a bicycle that could join the F-frame Moulton and the Brompton folding bicycle as a British design classic, pictured below.

Paper Bicycle Lausanne

Paper Bicycle in Lausanne

Christian Wolmar on London’s Transport Choice

A rolling interview with Christian Wolmar, journalist, cyclist and Britain’s leading transport commentator. We ride from Tufnell Park to St Pancras and encounter a flood, demon drivers and Camden Council’s contraflow cycle track. Christian explains where it went wrong with London transport and what’s needed to get things back on track. He also offers his take on choice facing Londoners at the upcoming Mayoral election.

How to get more women riding bikes

Image courtesy of the Breeze Network

To mark International Women’s Day, a discussion of women in cycling, from bygone days of the Rational Dress Society of the late Victorian era to Britain’s twenty-first century successes in competition on the track and on the road. With all the progress that’s been made, we ask why women are still three times less likely to ride bikes than men. Jen Kerrison and Jack Thurston are joined by Ann Kenrick, a trustee of the London Cycling Campaign and Natalie Justice of the Breeze Network at British Cycling.

The Cycling to Suffrage exhibition at the Women’s Library in London opens on 21st March.

Londoners On Bikes…with Votes!

Make our Junction Safer

In the studio with Stephen Taylor and Katherine Hibbert of Londoners On Bikes: a new group of London cyclists who want to put cycling front and centre in the London Mayoral elections this May.

We hear from Allister Carey, father of Ellie Carey, the 22 year old woman who was the 16th person to be killed while riding a bike on the streets of London last year. Allister talks about his family’s loss.

Jen Kerrison reports from the latest Bikes Alive protest – spiky or fluffy?

For more on how you can help make the Elephant & Castle a better place for cyclists, check this out. Please send your letter as soon as possible.

Red Flag, Yellow Flag

Oh, how the tables have turned.

In the late 19th century, people looked with alarm at the new ‘horseless carriages’ that were appearing on the public highways. Governments on both sides of the Atlantic responded by passing ‘red flag laws’ to regulate this new and potentially dangerous form of transport.

In the UK, the Locomotive Act of 1865 required motor vehicles (mostly steam engines at that time) to be led by a pedestrian, waving a red flag or carrying a lantern, to warn bystanders of the vehicle’s approach.

According to Wikipedia Quaker legislators in Pennsylvania unanimously passed a bill through both houses of the state legislature, which would require drivers of “horseless carriages”, upon chance encounters with cattle or livestock to

    (1) immediately stop the vehicle,

    (2) “immediately and as rapidly as possible… disassemble the automobile,” and

    (3) “conceal the various components out of sight, behind nearby bushes” until equestrian or livestock is sufficiently pacified.

The bill was vetoed by Pennsylvania’s governor.

With the coming of the internal combustion engine, steam gave way to petrol-power and a new breed of ‘automobiles’ took to the roads. The UK Parliament repealed the red flag law in 1896 and raised the speed limit from 4 mph on country roads (2 mph in towns) to 14 mph. Motorists celebrated with an ’emancipation run’ from London to Brighton, an event that is still commemorated in by a vintage car rally.

More than a century later and in the town of Kirkland, Washington, it is pedestrians who are encouraged to carry yellow warning flags when crossing the road.

Sergeant Mike Murray of the Kirkland Police Department is in no mistake about who’s to blame when a car runs down a pedestrian in his town:

“we had 62 car-pedestrian collisions in the city and of those 62, none of them were carrying a flag”

Progress, eh?

But don’t be downhearted. The fightback is underway. And it’s deliciously subversive:

Make Our Junctions Safer

Make our Junction Safer

Flowers and candles for Ellie Carey, a 22-year old woman killed while cycling on Tower Bridge Road on 2 December 2011. The flowers and candles were left by family and friends on 14 December following a short vigil at the spot where she was killed by a left-turning heavy goods vehicle.

Ellie’s father Allister has led calls for the Mayor of London to step in and reduce the danger to all road users of a junction that has been the subject of safety campaigns by cyclists and pedestrians for at least two years. Politicians and campaigners are pressing the Mayor to take action to reduce road danger at many of London’s busy junctions. In response, the Mayor has promised a safety review of 300 junctions but remains committed to a policy of ‘smoothing traffic flow’ that precludes significant reengineering of layouts to give cyclists protected space on the roads.

Fatal collision sign on Abbey Street junction with Tower Bridge Road

2011 has seen 16 cyclists killed on the streets of London.