The spoked wheel is the unsung hero of the bicycle. Jack Thurston embarks on a journey of discovery, to understand how a bicycle wheel works with the help of engineer and materials scientist Professor Mark Miodownik, and then tries to learn how to build one, taking a class at London’s Cycle Systems Academy.
Land’s End to John O’Groats is a classic cycle touring route. But it was also the blue riband distance among the long distance record-breaking heyday of the 1930s to the 1960s. In 1954 Eileen Sheridan, a diminutive cyclist from Coventry sponsored by the huge Hercules Bicycle Company, set a new record that stood for decades. Now 89, Eileen recounts a truly epic journey and tells the story of how she became one of the best-known, and best-paid, cyclists in Britain.
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.
Contemporary bike culture is blossoming into a mesmerising kaleidoscope of bicycle-related art, craft and graphic design. Small artisans are leading the way while big brands try to cash in on the action. Alice Marsh of Bike V Design leads a discussion recorded in front of a live audience at the Victoria and Albert Museum, bringing together a panel that includes Tom Donhou, a former product designer turned bicycle frame-builder, the founders of The Ride Journal and Boneshaker magazine and James Greig, a graphic designer and bike blogger.
London Mayor Boris Johnson’s new Vision for Cycling has won widespread praise for its ambition of making London streets more inviting for people on bikes, following the successes of cities like Amsterdam and Copenhagen. Jack Thurston is joined by three cycling activists for a look at the details and to share their views on what really needs to be done to make London a safer and more pleasant place to ride a bike. Featuring Trevor Parsons, coordinator of Hackney Cyclists, blogger Mark Treasure and ex-London bike messenger Buffalo Bill Chidley
As another cyclist is killed by a lorry in central London, Jack Thurston asks whether it’s time to take a harder line to make the city’s streets safer. Featuring Cynthia Barlow of RoadPeace, former bike messenger Bill Chidley and Mike Cavenett of the London Cycling Campaign, which has recently proposed a new design for lorries working in London.
Plus news of Jack’s new book, Lost Lanes: 36 Glorious Bike Rides in Southern England.
On the eve of Kraftwerk’s eight night residency at the Tate Modern, Jack is joined by David Buckley, music writer and author of a new biography of the German electronic pop pioneers. Among the revelations in his book is evidence that a serious obsession with cycling contributed to the slowing of the band’s musical output in the 1980s and, ultimately, the break-up of the group’s classic line-up. Jack and David talk about Kraftwerk’s journey from experimental music-making to the pinnacle of influence over pop, rock, hip-hop and dance music as well as their love affair with riding their bikes.