No lycra required!

With our first official ‘Women’s Ride’ coming up, we’ve been chatting about the things that put women off getting on their bikes.  There are many things – and the next issue of London Cyclist magazine will have a feature on this.

It’s pretty obvious that infrastructure – or lack of it – is a huge factor, but it’s more than that.  Some women feel threatened by having to share a cycle lane with more confident, faster cyclists, others are concerned about the safety aspect of using quieter routes through parks and along towpaths.

Some are just put off by the clothing!!

The infrastructure and safety aspects are harder to tackle quickly – but the clothing one is not.  It is perfectly possibly to ride a bike in your normal clothes!  If you’re just doing a short journey, it’s really easy – you’re not likely to get too hot and sweaty and saddle comfort isn’t really an issue.  If you’re doing longer rides – commuting or travelling around for work – and are worried about comfort, it’s not much harder.  There are some great brands out there who have started to think about simple things like nice light floaty tops that don’t make you all sweaty and shorts or trousers that are cut so that there are no seams where you don’t want them.  There are also some very stylish padded knickers out there – one particular brand you would hardly know they were padded to look at them.

One of our members and regular marshals (soon to be ride leader too) rides miles around Tower Hamlets every day in her job as a breast feeding specialist.  Wearing a helmet & sometimes gloves is her only concession to the fact that she’s on a bike.  In fact when I bumped in to her earlier this week, she looked positively glamorous in her summer dress and heels!

Our ride later this month will very much be embracing the social and relaxed aspect of cycling – wear whatever you will be comfortable and feel yourself in.

Don’t forget, if your bike needs a bit of TLC ahead of the ride, we’ll be at the Forest Gate Festival on the 15th – bring your bike along and learn how to do the basics (fixing a puncture etc).  If you’ve got a friend who would like to come on the ride but doesn’t have a bike – they’ll be able to hire one from our lovely friend (and Newham Cyclist member) Nigel at View Tube Bikes.

TfL & Mayor of London’s Strategic Cycling Analysis

This is a fairly substantial, but hugely important document.  The committee will be reviewing it, but there is some big stuff in here and it would be good to get thoughts from as many people as possible.  It’s also worth reading Simon Munk’s (LCC’s infrastructure guru and Waltham Forest campaigner) blog which gives a good summary.

strategic-cycling-analysis

Infrastucture Update

On 13 June Newham Cyclists met Councillor Patrick Murphy, the new Delivery Lead Councillor for Environment, who includes cycling in his his portfolio.  This is progress as his predecessor showed a marked disinterest in cycling, or even antipathy.

Although not a cyclist himself Councillor Murphy appreciated the benefits that increasing cycling (and walking) in Newham could bring to its residents and referred in particular to the need to improve air quality.

We made the following strategic points which were sympathetically received:

  • The benefit of positive participation by Newham Council in TfL Living Neighbourhoods/Healthy Streets initiative.  Councillor Murphy had met Will Norman, the Greater London Commissioner for Walking and cycling that morning.  In doing so he passed to Will Norman some observations from us on strategic and cross borough walking and cycling issues (see below) on which we hope to get a reply.  We understand Newham Council was waiting for further guidance from TfL before formulating its bid for resources.
  • The imperative of the Newham Council adopting a cycle strategy (at present a cycle strategy remains only a draft document) to feed into its other work and build cycling into its early plans.
  • The need for coherence in establishing decent quality cycle and living neighbourhood, projects  which  will ultimately link up throughout the borough and with other boroughs, such as Waltham Forest’s mini-Holland initiatives.
  • The need for Newham to take development opportunities to improve the cycling and walking infrastructure as Waltham Forest Council have done to significantly supplement the mini-Holland money it has received from TfL.

Councillor Murphy indicated his willingness to hear further from us on specific matters.

NB  Here are the points passed on to Will Norman:

  • “Newham Cyclists would welcome active and wholehearted participation in TfL’s Living Neighbourhood initiative.  Newham Council’s mini-Holland bid includes some excellent plans  and there is scope for achieving a critical mass of added value by linking with, and expanding on, neighbouring Waltham Forest’s successful schemes – for example the link from the remodelled Stratford Gyratory (for which the plans are good)   to Leyton via the “Leyton Ladder” or creating areas without through traffic in the areas of Newham adjacent to  proposed Waltham Forest “Villages”.  
  • CS2: (a)  there is an the urgent need to upgrade the dangerous Warton Rd and Carpenters Rd junctions, and (b) Tfl should not abandon its original plan to extend CS2 to Ilford.  The former is an example of poor TfL design.
  • Whilst the Greenway upgrade demonstrates good design and is a clear improvement (with the notable exception of the continued embarassment of the traffic light sequencing on the A13), Quietway 6 across the north of the borough will not be fit for purpose unless the junctions are adequately dealt with.  At present plans for a number of these would result in “critical fails” for general cycling, and therefore will put off less confident cyclists for whom the quietways are intended. 
  •  Future Quietway programmes could help alleviate the critical strategic issue in urban Newham of north south connections.
  • LLDC have not done a good job in creating cycle facilities to realise the potential of the Olympic Park as a node for cycling with access to the Lea Valley (north and south) Victoria Park and Epping Forest (e.g via a  good quality QW6).  In particular the predicted issue of rat running through the Olympic Park appears to be is coming to pass and will likely increase -especially if Bridge H14 is upgraded to vehicular traffic as planned.
  • Important areas for better connectivity remain (a) the  Lower Lea, (b) the Leyton Ladder (see above) (c) to Redbridge where connectivity could be improved by extending CS2, by linking QW 6 and the Roding Way to Ilford via a bridge north of the Romford Rd  (c)  a bridge south of Little Ilford Park at Millais Ave (which we understand Redbridge Council is keen on) and (d) CS3 link to Barking Town Centre.
  • The Silvertown Tunnel will undoubtedly present Newham with environmental challenges.  Newham Cyclists opposed it,  but if it has to go ahead we share the wide concerns expressed at various levels in the Borough which indicate the need for alleviating measures, in particular upgrading the cycle facilities of CS3 and Silvertown Way, and the Lea Path in and around Canning Town.”

On 15 June Newham Cyclists met with a Maryland Resident’s Group to discuss the Council’s proposals for Maryland.  That group was lively and included some keen cyclists.  They were very receptive to our suggestions (for improving the junctions, to improve the pedestrian experience and to ensure coherence with the Stratford Gyratory Scheme.

However from that meeting emerged some disturbing information indicating that the Council were backtracking on 20mph for the Stratford gyratory (and elsewhere in the borough on what it classified as strategic routes) leading the Maryland residents and us to expect the Council also to row back from its consultation position of 20 mph in Maryland.

Ride Report: East London brewery ride 17 June 17

‘Very hot’ is an understatement of Saturday’s brewery  ride!

But great fun –we visited 18 breweries & indicated where another 4 were and made 4 stops for welcome refreshments (5 for those who made it to end!)

Route was off road when possible or on quiet roads and canal towpaths -except for a busy bit in Hackney (where I added some unintentional diversions!) -we even took in a couple of busy markets -Broadway & Ridley road! Continue reading “Ride Report: East London brewery ride 17 June 17”

Ride Report: River Ride of 11 June

We profited from the usual good weather to reprise our earlier River Ride, with Steve leading, despite this being a flatter and shorter ride than his usual.

We ventured very slightly south of the river overcoming all obstacles, notably a lack of a lift on the Greenwich side of the foot tunnel.

Instead of photos here is a video of the route taken.

Arnold

A Celebration of Cycling

On Sunday morning, thanks to the nomination I received from the group, I got to ride in a celebration of Women’s Cycling, on closed roads in central London as part of the events preceding The Women’s Tour.

It was a short ride but the women taking part were all there because of the part they play in inspiring other women to ride – whether by providing training, or leading rides, or campaigning to make the city a place where women feel safe to cycle with their children.  Some of the other LCC local groups were represented as was LCC HQ. There were bikes of all shapes and sizes – cargo bikes, side by sides,  an elliptical bike and even a penny farthing!

Both the Mayor of London and his walking & cycling commissioner, Will Norman, were there to wave us off as we rode out on part of the route that was ridden much faster later in the day by the elite women in the final stage of the Tour; along Piccadilly, Regents Street, Haymarket and around Trafalgar Square, before finishing on Pall Mall.

 

Update on tomorrow’s ride

From Robin:

Did a trial run from Ramsgate to Canterbury yesterday (it was very nice) and have slightly updated the route & tried to remember any notable features/hazards:

SRA ticket office opens at 09:00, we should be at the front of the queue with cash in hand! Very slow lift will only take 2 bikes down at a time, and there are a lot of stairs. Train departs 09:16, arrives 10:27.

From RAM station ~10:45, dip down to the seafront; a couple of sections here might be rather busy, but I don’t see much of an alternative and it’s not far. WC on the seafront before we climb back up on the shared path to the clifftop. We then follow an off-road path along the coast to Sandwich, passing the Viking ship (WC) and then skirting the Pfizer industrial estate. A quick go around the surprisingly picturesque Sandwich one-way system (WC), and then out into the countryside; relatively quiet roads should let us hear the skylarks. No hills in the first 2/3 of the distance, but don’t get complacent.

A brief diversion to the Mermaid pub in Bishopsbourne for lunch. I guess we will be there approx. 13:00-13:30. They have a couple of tables out the front, but more in the sun-trap garden at the back. Terrible phone reception here for some reason. Don’t know how busy it will be, but we should be able at the very least to get a beer / orange & soda with a packet of crisps. The menu is on their website http://www.mermaidinnbishopsbourne.co.uk/. If on offer, would be best not to have a full Sunday lunch with pudding, because after the pub ~14:30 are… the Duck pub, where we won’t be stopping, unless WC, Ian Fleming’s house, and…

…a couple of hills, both up and down; none are Mont Ventoux, but it would be sensible to check that both gears and brakes are functioning well beforehand. One section has grass up the middle and is adorned with some flint pebbles, and bonus potholes, but manageable on all bikes. Reward of the hills is a lovely long run back into Canterbury, with a view of the Cathedral in the distance.

We do have to cross a couple of big roads on the route, but the nastiest bit is probably the last few hundred metres into Canterbury including large roundabout.

I’ve ended at another Shepherd Neame pub in Canterbury, the Millers Arms ETA ~16:00, to refresh before heading to CBW and the ~1 hr train back to SRA. Trains: 14:43* / 15:25 / 15:43* / 16:25 / 16:43* / 17:25 etc (trains marked * require change at Ashford and take 15 mins longer). Could easily go straight to the station if the times don’t match up nicely.

Route is here, for some reason it comes up as 50km, but it’s really ~40km / 30miles: http://www.gpsies.com/map.do?fileId=kntddwmavaesqwvh

 

Readout from May Meeting

The meeting took place a week earlier than usual and in a new venue, the Terrence Brown Arc in Canning Town, currently the centre of the charity Ambition, Aspire, Achieve (AAA).

  • We started with a discussion of the breakup of proposed Quietway 6 by side roads from the new Chobham Manor Development in Stratford There are four side roads cutting through the cycle track.  This is being taken up with Newham Council who are responsible for designing the Quietway.  We discussed the need to document  setting out the “critical fails” on this route to alert stakeholders in this route.  Since the meeting we have also been pursing an audit ride with Council Officials.The conversation also drew attention to the frequent closures in the QEII Olympic Park and the lack of information on alternative routes.
  • We discussed the prospect of working  with AAA who are running a cycle club for children on Saturdays between 10.30 and 2.00pm as part of their wider Saturday children’s activities.  AAA has good facilities and funding and working with them would fit with some key objectives of Newham Cyclists.  However any  offer from us must be sustainable and beneficial to us.  With this in mind we decided to put together a pilot programme of a some  “Fix My Bike” and advice sessions aimed at the children and their parents/guardians leading to a family ride in September.  If you would be interested in participating  please let me know.
  • The Forest Gate “Fix My Ride” stall (second Saturday of the month at Woodgrange market) has been a success on the two occasions we have piloted it.  Ways of improving it were discussed.  It will run on 10 June but the July session will be an enhanced stall 9with a Dr Bike) at the Forest Gate Festival on 15 July.  This may include a bike jumble.  Since the meeting we have received the GOOD NEWS that our application for a grant from Newham Council for equipment and publicity for this venture has been successful.
  • We will meet for our evening guided tour of Waltham Forest mini-Holland facilities at 7.15 on 26 June outside Coffee 7 in Forest Gate.
  • We are still seeking to arrange a meeting with Councillors Murphy (responsible for cycling) and Christie (with overall responsibility for strategy).
  • We were alerted to infrastructure issues at Bank Junction (a trial closure to motor vehicles for 18 months) and royal Mint St (developers restricting CS3).
  • We did not think it practical for Newham Cyclists to volunteer to be a pilot campaigning group for LCC in respect of TfL’s Living Neighbourhood initiative, given our limited resources and the uncertain response of Newham Council.

Arnold