Tag Archives: Cycling in London

Chain reaction for climate change

The story of the Brompton bicycle is much more than a tale of British engineering achievement.

It is a story of loyalty, passion and true British grit of how a bright young engineering graduate with a dogged determination spent years trying to persuade a sceptical world that his ingenious little bike would challenge the very way we all use urban transport.

For this Guest Post Eve Pearce writes that this tiny wheeled wonder that is still manufactured in London integrates perfectly with the London cab.

Cabs Form Part Of Integrated Transport Solution In London

When reading newspapers it is possible to form the opinion that cab drivers and cyclists do not get on. Competing for the same road space with vastly different vehicles is not a recipe for harmony. London leads the way when it comes to cycling in the United Kingdom, the streets are full of cyclists with differing objectives. Commuters speed to work trying to gain an edge over four-wheeled transport whilst leisure cyclists take in the sights of the capital and the hardcore try to emulate London born Tour De France winner Bradley Wiggins. The streets are also full of cycles, more than eight thousand are located in docking stations as part of a city-wide initiative to make cycling accessible by introducing pay as you ride bikes in all areas of London. Affectionately known as “Boris Bikes” the distinctive machines were actually proposed by Ken Livingstone during his term of office before being enthusiastically embraced by the current London Mayor, Boris Johnson. There is another London cycling success story that has provided an integrated transport solution that links cycles and cabs for thousands of commuters across the city.

British Manufacturing Leads The Way

The Brompton bicycle is a modern British manufacturing success story. The company employs over one hundred and forty people in its factory in Brentford and manufactures a range of folding bikes that are exported all over the world. In London, it is hard to miss commuters using their machines as the riding style is upright owing to the styling of the cycle. With smaller wheels than a typical cycle and folding joints in strategic places, the cycle folds down into a small unit that can be carried in one arm without disrupting passers-by. The cycle is so small when folded down it can be deposited in the back of a London cab quite easily and this is the key to the success of Brompton as a manufacturer. Its users are not restricted in the same way other cyclists are. If they choose to cycle to work in a morning they are not obliged to cycle on the return leg. If they are not motivated to cycle or the weather is inclement it is easy to hail a cab and travel with the bike to any destination. A folding bike that compacts to the size of a small piece of hand luggage is the perfect solution for the occasional cyclist. Cab drivers do not have to worry about the terms of their taxi insurance because they are not carrying a bike in a way that affects other road users. There is no increased risk of liability for any driver carrying a passenger travelling with a folding bike.

Quality Ride

Despite its quirky looks and unusual riding style, the Brompton folding bike offers a fun yet comfortable ride. The frame is resilient enough to cope with the streets of London and the addition of mudguards as standard protects riders from any spray thrown up during wet weather. There are many folding bikes on the market but Brompton is the most distinctive and in many ways a trendsetter for that sector. Whilst the Brompton World Championships take place at Goodwood Motor Circuit, London has its own event, the Brompton Urban Challenge. One hundred and twenty-five participants compete in an event that has an orienteering style format and encourages riders to use their skill and ingenuity to make the most out of their folding bike.

The Future

Whilst there may still exist some antipathy between motorists and cyclists in London, the development of London made Brompton in reshaping London as a cycling city has been exciting to watch. Londoners are now used to seeing riders pedalling furiously along the roads in that familiar style or scurrying along the pavement with a bike tucked under their arm. In many cities with a lower participation rate for cycling the machines still, draw incredulous looks from passers-by. In London, there is probably no cab driver that has not had one in the back and in times of poor weather, the London cabbie is the saviour of many stranded commuters. The Office of the Mayor of London announced in 2012 as part of the Olympic Legacy programme, ambitious plans to make cycling in the city even more attractive. The plans are several years from fruition but it is anticipated that cycling knowledge of London cabbies will be developed as demand for its services increases at strategic points on the London cycle path network.

Photo from Lady Fleur who when visiting London wrote an account of 48 hours in London with a Brompton Bike.

A version of this post was published by CabbieBlog on 24th May 2013

Tunnel vision for cyclists

London has a labyrinth of disused tunnels. In this Guest Post from Taxi Leaks the licensed taxi trade’s leading website.

Dave Davis has come up with a novel way of protecting cyclists while freeing up some much needed space on the capital’s overcrowded streets.

Could abandoned Tube stations and tunnels be solution to cycle safety?

[T]hey are the subject of fascination for many Londoners, but disused Tube stations are set to be sold off for more lucrative purposes.

Transport for London (TFL) is planning to invite companies to bid to convert the abandoned spaces into tourist attractions including hotels, shops and museums, the London Evening Standard reported.

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There are at least 40 derelict Overground and Underground stations, as well as hundreds of old horse tunnels snaking deep below the capital.

Dave Davies has come up with a fantastic idea.

TFL and The Mayor are planning to create cycle routes by closing off lanes to traffic which will increase congestion and therefore increase pollution.

There are many miles of disused tunnels in London; surely, if these were converted to cycle routes it would provide a clean, warm, dry and safe environment for cyclists as well as keeping roads clear for traffic?

Apparently TFL own 750 tunnels according to the article below

TFL, who owns 750 of the tunnels, is said to be in talks over whether it should invite construction firms to bid for a single site to begin the project, or for a group of the vacant subterranean spaces.

Tube stations have been closed for a variety of reasons over the years, ranging from low passenger numbers to re-routing. One of the most famous locations is Aldwych, which was used to hide the National Gallery’s collection during the First World War and then British Museum artefacts during the Second World War.

The rejuvenation idea was first proposed in 2009 by former banker Ajit Chambers, who estimates that an untapped £3.6bn is harboured by the network.

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Chambers came up with the idea after finding a map detailing the 26 “ghost stations” concealed within the Tube network. He identified several that could potentially be transformed and formed start-up The Old London Underground Company.

After meeting with London Mayor Boris Johnson in 2011, Chambers identified 34 sites suitable for his project. The first stage encompasses 13 of these, with plans to convert them into arts galleries, nightclubs and, potentially, a National Fire Brigade museum.

However, TfL has said there is “no affiliation” with the Old London Underground Company.

A spokeswoman for TfL said: “We cannot show any prejudice ahead of a public tender.”

This idea is now being discussed in Parliament Taxi Leaks gives us an update.

Chain reaction

The story of the Brompton bicycle is much more than a tale of British engineering achievement.

It is a story of loyalty, passion and true
British grit of how a bright young engineering graduate with a dogged determination spent years trying to persuade a sceptical world that his ingenious little bike would
challenge the very way we all use urban transport.

For this Guest Post Eve Pearce writes that this tiny wheeled wonder that is still manufactured in London integrates perfectly with the London cab.

Cabs Form Part Of Integrated Transport Solution In London

When reading newspapers it is possible to form the opinion that cab drivers and cyclists do not get on. Competing for the same road space with vastly different vehicles is not a recipe for harmony. London leads the way when it comes to cycling in the United Kingdom, the streets are full of cyclists with differing objectives. Commuters speed to work trying to gain an edge over four wheeled transport whilst leisure cyclists take in the sights of the capital and the hard core try to emulate London born Tour De France winner Bradley Wiggins. The streets are also full of cycles, more than eight thousand are located in docking stations as part of a city wide initiative to make cycling accessible by introducing pay as you ride bikes in all areas of London. Affectionately known as “Boris Bikes” the distinctive machines were actually proposed by Ken Livingstone during his term of office before being enthusiastically embraced by the current London Mayor, Boris Johnson. There is another London cycling success story that has provided an integrated transport solution that links cycles and cabs for thousands of commuters across the city.

British Manufacturing Leads The Way

The Brompton bicycle is a modern British manufacturing success story. The company employs over one hundred and forty people in its factory in Brentford and manufactures a range of folding bikes that are exported all over the world. In London it is hard to miss commuters using their machines as the riding style is upright owing to the styling of the cycle. With smaller wheels than a typical cycle and folding joints in strategic places the cycle folds down into a small unit that can by carried in one arm without disrupting passers-by. The cycle is so small when folded down it can be deposited in the back of a London cab quite easily and this is the key to the success of Brompton as a manufacturer. Its users are not restricted in the same way other cyclists are. If they choose to cycle to work in a morning they are not obliged to cycle on the return leg. If they are not motivated to cycle or the weather is inclement it is easy to hail a cab and travel with the bike to any destination. A folding bike that compacts to the size of a small piece of hand luggage is the perfect solution for the occasional cyclist. Cab drivers do not have to worry about the terms of their taxi insurance because they are not carrying a bike in a way that affects other road users. There is no increased risk of liability for any driver carrying a passenger travelling with a folding bike.

Quality Ride

Despite its quirky looks and unusual riding style the Brompton folding bike offers a fun yet comfortable ride. The frame is resilient enough to cope with the streets of London and the addition of mudguards as standard protects riders from any spray thrown up during wet weather. There are many folding bikes on the market but Brompton is the most distinctive and in many ways a trend setter for that sector. Whilst the Brompton World Championships take place at Goodwood Motor Circuit, London has its own event, the Brompton Urban Challenge. One hundred and twenty five participants compete in an event that has an orienteering style format and encourages riders to use their skill and ingenuity to make the most out of their folding bike.

The Future

Whilst there may still exist some antipathy between motorists and cyclists in London, the development of London made Brompton in reshaping London as a cycling city has been exciting to watch. Londoners are now used to seeing riders pedalling furiously along the roads in that familiar style or scurrying along the pavement with a bike tucked under their arm. In many cities with a lower participation rate for cycling the machines still draw incredulous looks from passers by. In London there is probably no cab driver that has not had one in the back and in times of poor weather the London cabbie is the saviour of many stranded commuters. The Office of the Mayor of London announced in 2012 as part of the Olympic Legacy programme, ambitious plans to make cycling in the city even more attractive. The plans are several years from fruition but it is anticipated that cycling knowledge of London cabbies will be developed as demand for its services increases at strategic points on the London cycle path network.

Photo from Lady Fleur who when visiting London wrote an account of 48 hours in London with a Brompton Bike.

Eating humble pie

[I]t is now two months since it started, and although it sticks in the craw to say it: I think Bicycle Clips Boris may have picked a winner with his cycle hire scheme.

After some initial technology problems, the bikes are popular and, are usually ridden carefully, probably their weight precluding any Lycra loutish behaviour.

I’m quite happy to see more cyclists take to London’s roads, but I have grave reservation about the two new Super Highways (with a further 10 planned by 2015). These are just strips of blue paint on the tarmac, but they give the impression that cyclists have a divine right to their exclusive use.

TfL’s website informs us that ‘they will provide cyclists with SAFER and FASTER journeys’. Just the jolly job you might say, encouraging more use of bikes, getting fitter and save the planet. Further inquiry will lead you to realise that Blue Routes are intended to highlight the presence of cyclists and are advisory rather than enforceable, a bit like red traffic lights or priority to pedestrians on zebra crossings for some cyclists.

The first two routes are pilots to enable TfL to assess (and here I would suggest TfL consider a different verb) the impact on traffic and cyclists, and if successful Boris plans to increase the use of bikes by 400 per cent.

They say the worst kind of security is a false sense of security and this is where Super Highway madness concerns me. These lanes will be used by riders with little experience of riding in London and they could think they are protected in some way, but in fact any vehicle can drive down a blue lane at any time. It is a sad statistic that this year’s casualties have been mostly women cycling sensibly along London’s roads. It’s the Lycra clad lads on racing bikes with saddles like razor blades who are far more adept at keeping alive.

If Boris is serious about increasing London’s road bike capacity he should insist that councils are forced to provide dedicated lanes for their use, identification on bikes increasing the ability to prosecute law breakers and cyclists take out 3rd party insurance, then we can all jog along happily, as for joggers that’s for another post.

Be careful out there.

Pedal Power

Today’s the day were gearing up to Boris’ big one, his pet project, that is. Well, it would be his idea if he hadn’t stolen it from Ken Livingstone, who adopted it from Paris mayor Bertrand Delande. Yes, today marks the start of a new revolution in which Boris intends to bring pedal power to London (at a cost of £140 million).

Boris believes the London Cycle Hire Scheme will encourage reluctant pedallers on to two wheels. Already under fire for having the bikes built 3,200 miles away and shipped here from Canada, what will happen to Boris’ credibility if they end up trashed or slung in the Thames?

[T]he bikes are built like tanks, so say the manufacturers claiming the bikes will last more than seven years. Forty-two modifications have been made to the original design to make it more suitable for London’s weather. But one change Boris insisted on was to spray them Tory blue, the question needs to be asked, if Ken Livingstone get back into City Hall, will he have them sprayed red?

They may be indestructible to all but the criminally insane, but will Londoner’s who infrequently ride them have the survival streak necessary on today’s roads. And built with only three gears you’ll need the thighs of Chris Hoy to make it up Highgate Hill.

London seeks to emulate Montreal’s success where demand jumped from 3,000 to 5,000 in just one year. But Montreal is a much smaller city which hasn’t gone down the London route, beloved by yobbos, if you can break it, if you can’t paint it.

So a word to Boris; why have you not got the Oyster Card to work at the docking stations? Most users will be reluctant to use their credit card and get yourself a fishing rod, you might need it for fishing the bikes out of the Thames.