Saturday, 12 November 2016

The Worcester Whirlwind

Worcester celebrates Ernest Payne, the local cyclist who won gold at the 1908 London Olympics.  But there is another ‘Worcester’ cyclist who, 9 years earlier, became world champion and held seven world track cycling records.

Marshall ‘Major’ Taylor was born in Indiana in 1878. His father worked as coachman for a wealthy local family. Aged 12 his father’s employers gave him a bike. He quickly became such an expert trick rider that a local bike shop paid him to perform stunts wearing a soldier’s uniform - hence his nickname ‘Major’.



 Marshall won his first race aged only 13 and by 15 he’d beaten the one-mile track cycling record, before being barred from his local track because of his colour. A year later he won his first big road race, but after racial threats and being banned from competing in Indiana he moved north to a more racially tolerant Worcester, Massachusetts.

In 1896, aged 18, Taylor turned professional and was soon known as ‘The Worcester Whirlwind’. President Roosevelt was one of his biggest supporters.

Over a six-week period, in 1899, he set seven world track cycling records and went on to become world champion after completing a mile from a standing start in 1min 41secs - a record unbroken until1927.  In doing so, Taylor became the first African-American world cycling champion and only the second black man to win a world championship in any sport.

Taylor participated in a European tour in 1902 winning 40 of his 57 races and beating the English, French and German champions. He was still breaking world records when Ernest Payne won his Olympic gold in 1908, but retired in 1910 aged 32.

Earning up to $30,000 a year by the time he returned to Worcester at the end of his cycling career, Taylor lost it all in bad investments before dying a pauper in 1932, aged 53.

Worcester’s US twin town, Worcester, Massachusetts, still commemorate his achievements. In 2006 they renamed one of the City’s main streets Major Taylor Boulevard and in 2008 a statue (see photo) was erected in his honour in front of their Public Library.

Date for your Diary

Push Bike! produces an annual What’s On Guide to cycling events around  Worcestershire. This year we highlighted and helped to promote over 60 events. The majority have already taken place, but there's one that may tempt you to get your bike out, take some exercise and enjoy the County’s wonderful countryside.

Sunday 13 November – RIDE IT Malvern Hills Sportive


A new event that’s being organised by Evans Cycles. It starts form Worcester Racecourse and has a choice of 30, 45 and 70 mile routes. www.evanscycles.com

Saturday, 10 September 2016

Cycle to Work Day



cycle commuting

Wednesday 14 September is Cycle to Work Day. You’ll find further information at www.cyclingtowork.org , but here’s a few top tips for negotiating traffic safely.

Leave that lorry alone 
Never undertake a lorry on the left, especially at a junction and even if there’s a cycle lane. If you do you’ll be in the driver’s blind spot and if the lorry turns you have no escape.

Make eye contact
Making eye contact with other road users, particularly at junctions and roundabouts is a good way of checking the driver has seen you.

Look over your shoulder
Regularly check what’s happening behind you. Always look behind before signaling or changing your road position.

Look ahead
Look well ahead for hazards such as potholes and parked cars, so you don’t have to suddenly swerve to avoid them. It also helps in prepare and position yourself safely for junctions, roundabouts and traffic lights.

Get out of the gutter!
Cycle at least 1 metre from the kerb and further out if its not safe for a vehicle to pass. In this position you’re more visible to drivers, you avoid hazards such as debris, potholes and grates and it’s easier to get out of harm’s way if a vehicle passes too close.

Don’t be floored by car doors
Leave plenty of room when passing parked vehicles and watch out for doors being opened.

Make your intentions clear
Signal and manoeuvre well in advance and only when its safe to do so. Keep a central position in your lane so vehicles can’t undertake too closely on the left.

Cover your brakes
Keep your hands on your brake levers, so you’re always ready to use them. Always use both brakes at the same time. Take extra care when it is wet or icy.

Lights
When dark or there is bad visibility you must, by law, have lights on the front and rear of your bike.

As its often cheaper, quicker and certainly healthier to commute by bike rather than car hopefully more will be tempted to give it a try on 14th September.

Thursday, 8 September 2016

Teme Valley Cycle Routes

Over the spring Push Bike! has been working with Malcolm Salisbury, Economic Development Officer for Malvern Hills District Council and Andy Stevenson from Worcester University’s Graphic Design Department to pull together and check out six new family friendly cycle rides in and around the Teme Valley.

The rides start at Stamford-on-Teme, Martley, Bransford, Tenbury Wells, Pencombe and Cleobury Mortimer. They vary in length from 5.5 to 8.5 miles and have been carefully selected to use quiet, scenic lanes, include various local attractions and either a café or pub en route for vital refreshments.

Lecturer Andy Stevenson and his graphic design students have done a brilliant job to prepare six very user friendly and well-illustrated route sheets for each ride. These include an annotated map, a route profile, clear direction notes and factual information on local places of interest that will be passed.

The cycle routes, together with six walking trails, will supersede the Council’s existing leisure drive guide. The ‘Teme Valley Tour Guide’ is available free from tourist information centres, libraries, and other public outlets. It can also be downloaded from the Malvern Hills District Council tourism website www.vistthemalverns.org

The paper guide will be complemented on-line by downloadable cycling (and walking) routes to print off as A4 PDF files or transferring to mobile devices such as phones and i-pads. In the longer term its planned to provide GPX and KML files so the routes can be followed on GPS enabled smart phones and navigation devices.
  

Sunday, 14 August 2016

"The Worcester Wonder"

Ernest Payne was born on 23 December 1884 at 221 London Road. Payne worked in the City as a carpenter. 

In 1902 “Ernie” started his amateur cycling career as a grass-track racer. In his first season he won 13 of his 14 races, coming second in the other. By June 1903 ‘The Cyclist’ magazine had already christened him ‘The Worcester Wonder”.  About that time he joined Worcester St John’s Cycling Club and trained with his brother Walter on their grass-track circuit at Boughton Park.

He continued to compete until 1910, winning more than 150 races at regional, national and British Empire championships. It is however the Olympic gold medal he won, when only 23, that he’s most famous for.

In 1908 the Olympic Games were held in London. By then Ernie had moved on to cycling on banked velodromes and was a member of the Great Britain squad.  The team pursuit took place over three 660 yard laps of the White City Stadium. Ernie made up the four-man team with Benjamin Jones, Clarence Kingsbury and Leonard Meredith.

Their first race was a walkover when the Belgium team failed to show. In the semi-final they beat Canada (who went on to win bronze) by 9.6 seconds in a time of 2mins 29.6 seconds. In the final Payne led the team to a 10 second victory over the Germans in a blistering 2mins 18.6 seconds.

Payne also competed individually in the 660 yard, 5,000 metre and sprint events. He managed to get to the semi-finals in all three, but was unsuccessful in winning another medal.

Ernest Payne died on 10 September 1961 aged 76. The Worcester Evening News reported his death, but made no mention of his Olympic success. His gold medal was lost whilst serving as a motorcycle dispatch rider in France during WW1, but a replica can be seen at the City Museum and Art Gallery. The statue of him, on the St John’s side of the ‘new’ Diglis cycle and footbridge, is also a fitting tribute to his achievements.

Here’s hoping the GB squad in Rio can add to the 8 gold, 2 silver and 2 bronze medals they won at the last London Olympics in 2012.

Wednesday, 10 August 2016

Warmshowers

L to R: Hector Blazquez Hernado and Luis Sancho Gonzalez
Cycle touring is not only a great way to see another country, but also to meet and get to know its people. One initiative that makes this even easier is a free worldwide hospitality exchange network called www.warmshowers.org

Started in 1993 Warm Showers is run by volunteers and funded through voluntary donations. Numbers signing up have increased every year with over 25,000 registering in 2015. Currently there are 88,676 members and 38,419 hosts worldwide. 46% are based in Europe and 36% in North America.

Here’s how it works:

·         Cycle tourists and hosts sign up on the website for free.
·         Hosts indicate the type of accommodation offered and usually provide a little information about themselves.
·         An interactive map and search tools help travellers find hosts on their route.
·         Cycle tourists send a private message to potential hosts through the website.
·         Hosts let the enquirer know whether its convenient for them to stay on the night requested.

The hospitality offered is down to the host. It may be a couch or floor to sleep on, a bed for the night or somewhere to pitch a tent.  Some hosts offer an evening meal and breakfast, but its not expected. Unlike airbnb, hosts aren’t allowed to accept any payment. Its also expected that guests are true cycle tourists and don’t turn up in a car or by public transport.

The number of hosting requests you get tends to depend on whether you’re on a well-cycled ‘tourist’ route. We’ve been registered for 9 years and have probably only been able to host about half who have requested accommodation. In that time we’ve had an American on a European tour, a Chinese guy who cycled over for the London Olympics, a Spanish vet on a year long world tour and three Brazilians who cycled from Land’s End to Orkney one January as part of their training for a planned world circumnavigation through both poles using bikes and snowkites. We’ve just welcomed another two guests, Hector and Luis from Madrid. They flew into Birmingham, bought a couple of secondhand bikes and, over 4 days, cycled to meet up with a friend in Lynton, North Devon.

Way to go!

Friday, 1 July 2016

Bicycle maintenance


Bicycle maintenance 'M' check
Here’s a few facts that may surprise you. 42% of us own a bike.  In 2013 bike sales exceeded car sales by over a million. The British may still be well behind the Danish, Dutch and Germans, but cycle use has increased every year since 2008 meaning we now cycle more than the French. That said 63% of us haven’t cycled in the last 12 months.  There’s a lot of unused bikes in our sheds and garages!

As the weather improves and the British cycling team inspire us by winning yet more medals in the Tour De France and at the Rio Olympics perhaps more of you can be tempted to get your bike out and get some exercise in Worcestershire’s wonderful countryside.

If you do, it’s best to do a full bike check to make sure its safe and mechanically sound before you ride it.  The M-check is something we’ve covered before and is a useful way to make sure you check everything’s in working order. You can find details here  on the Sustrans website.

If there are problems you can’t fix and your bike needs repairing or a service here’s a list of local bike shops and mobile cycle mechanics you can take it to.

Worcester
Barbourne Bicycles, 35 Barbourne  Road  Tel: 01905 729535
F Lewis Cycles, Arch 50, Farrier Street. Tel: 01905 26455
Onbike Ltd, 52-52 Upper Tything. Tel: 01905 611774 (electric bikes only)
Worcester Cycle Centre, 8 & 9 College Street. Tel :01905 611123

Malvern
Back On Track, Unit 2, 6 North Malvern Road. Tel: 01684 565 777
Detour Cycles, 78 Worcester Road. Tel: 01684 891555
Malvern Cycles, 271 Worcester Road. Tel: 01684 577238

Pershore
Echelon Cycles, 124 high Street. Tel: 01386 550606

Droitwich
Missing Link Bicycle Company, 2 Coleman Road. Tel: 01905 312567

Mobile Bicycle Mechanics
Cycle Worcester, 127 Columbia Road. Tel: 01905 429836
Daves Cycle Repairs, 24 Station Road, Fernhill Heath. Tel: 01905 454728
Happy Bike, 41 Ronkswood Hill. Tel: 07763 106847
Mobile Cycletech, 95 Droitwich Road. Tel: 01905 888333

Worcester Bicycle Repairs, 4 Lapal Close. Tel: 07402 663699

Thursday, 2 June 2016

Cycling for Charity

Every year thousands of people raise money for good causes through taking part in a charity bike ride.

Peter Atkinson, Dean of Worcester Cathedral, is one of them. He plans to cycle 1,000 kilometres around monasteries in Normandy to raise funds for The Friends of Worcester Cathedral. He’ll be following in the pedal strokes of Percy Dearmer, an English clergyman who cycled there in 1897 and subsequently published a travel book based on his journey. For more information and to sponsor ‘The Dean’s Challenge’ pick up a leaflet from Worcester Tourist Office or see www.worcestercathedral.co.uk/Friends.php

If you want to set yourself a challenge and raise funds for charity here’s details of several local charity rides you could sign up for. Most charge an entry fee and don’t involve raising sponsorship.

Sat 4 June - Get to the Rec A 100 mile ride from Worcester, through the Cotswolds to Bath supporting Acorns Children’s Hospice. www.letsgovelo.co.uk

Sun 10 July – Worcester Classic Bike Ride Three 25, 60 and 100mile routes from the Worcester Warrior’s ground. www.worcesterclassicbikeride.com

Sun 21 August – Severn Valley Cycle Challenge Supporting Acorns Children’s Hospice with 20 and 40 mile routes between Bridgnorth and Bewdley with a return on the Severn Valley Railway. www.acorns.org.uk/svc  

Sun 4 September – The Elgar Vintage Ride offers a short family ride and 42 mile sportive starting in Malvern Link and supporting Motor Nurone Disease Association. www.malverncycles.org.uk

Sat 10 September – Ride and Stride Bear Grylls invites you to organise your own sponsored ride around local churches for the Worcestershire and Dudley Historic Churches Trust. Alternatively the ‘Towers and Spires’ leaflet (available from the Tourist Office or Cathedral) has 25 and 42 mile routes you could use. www.rideandstrideuk.org

Sun 11 September – Ride for Rory 18 and 36 mile family rides starting in Redditch to support Prostate Cancer surgery in Worcestershire. www.worcsacute.nhs.uk/rorytherobot

Sun 16 October – Bredon Hill Bikeaway 8, 19 and 40 mile routes starting at Pershore College to raise funds for St John’s Ambulance. Date still to be confirmed. For information contact angela.tidmarsh@wychavon.gov.uk

To help you prepare for taking part in a charity ride, you’ll find lots of information available on the new Cycling UK website www.cyclinguk.org

Monday, 23 May 2016

Bikes on Trains (2)


Following on from our last article on the cycle policies of the Great Western and London Midland railways here’s a couple of suggestions for using their trains to explore quiet country lanes further away from Worcester.

Worcester to Oxford

The Cotswold Line Cycle Route (NCN 442) is the latest local addition to the 15,000 mile long National Cycle Network being developed by the national cycle charity Sustrans www.sustrans.org.uk .

It’s a 75 mile route between Worcester and Oxford that roughly follows the main Worcester to London Paddington line operated by Great Western Railway.

Apart from a 6 mile stretch between Evesham and Honeybourne the route is already fully signed. It passes close to every railway station between Worcester and Oxford. The latter makes it an ideal route for combining a bike and train journey to cover the whole route over a couple of days or for completing sections over a few months.

Full details and downloadable maps are available from the Cotswold Cycling website www.cotswoldcycling.com

Worcester to Droitwich

Sustrans also have two signed routes between Worcester and Droitwich. NCN 45 heads north along the Worcester & Birmingham Canal and then uses quiet lanes into Droitwich. NCN 46 takes a more westerly route through the racecourse and Claines.

You may want to join the two to form a 16 mile round trip, but if that’s too far you can use London Midland trains from (or back to) Foregate or Shrub Hill stations to create two great one way cycle routes, both about 8 miles long.

Worcestershire County Council has produced excellent maps of the first 20 miles of the Cotswold Line Route between Worcester and Evesham and the two routes between Worcester and Droitwich. Free printed copies are available at County Hall and may be available in local Tourist Information Centres and some of the independent cycle shops.

Along with the County’s increasing range of cycle maps they’re also available to download from the cycling section of their website www.worcestershire.gov.uk  

Before travelling its important to check out the rail operators cycling policy. Either pick up a leaflet or ask at your local station or check out online at www.gwr.com or www.londonmidland.com

Monday, 18 April 2016

Bikes on Trains

Using a bicycle and train combination can offer a healthier, more pleasant and often cheaper and quicker way of getting to work or for leisure and holiday purposes.

Unfortunately each rail operator has different policies. To avoid potential problems pick up a copy of the latest ‘National Rail Cycling by Train’ leaflet from the station. Its also available to read and download at www.nationalrail.co.uk 

What prompted this article is the announcement that Great Western Railway is about to change its cycle policy.

Great Western Railway

From 16 May it will be mandatory to make a reservation on all their High Speed trains. Locally this means their faster trains operating on the London Paddington to Hereford route. You’ll need to make your reservation at least 2 hours before either by phoning 0345 7000 125 between 7am and 10pm or at a station ticket office.

Storage for six bikes will be in Carriage A where you’ll need to secure your bike with the strap provided, but not lock it. You’re also advised to tell the train manager your destination.

On their local trains there’s only space for 2 bikes and reservations can’t be made.  No bikes will be allowed on trains arriving at London Paddington Monday to Friday between 07.45 and 09.45 and departing 16.30 and 19.00.

London Midland

London Midland is the other main operator of trains through Worcester with services from Hereford to Birmingham and onward to Liverpool and London Euston.

Their policy is less complicated, but you can’t book a space in advance.  They accept two bikes on each train and if the train is quiet the Conductor may allow more.  The exception is services arriving in London Euston between 07.00 and 09.59 and departing from London Euston between 16.00 and 18.59 when no bikes are allowed.

The good news is that its free to take a bike on any train on the national network. There’s also no need to book and no restrictions on taking a fully folding bike such as a Bromptom.

Thursday, 31 March 2016

The Big Pedal



By the time children leave Worcestershire’s Primary Schools the latest statistics show that 30.5% are overweight (with 17.9% being obese). A healthy diet is obviously important, but a more active lifestyle is also critical if the health of the next generation isn’t going to worse than the last.

Experts say, to stay fit, children need at least an hour of moderately physical exercise a day. Cycling to school is a great way to help ensure this happens. In surveys a third of children say they’d like to, yet only 2% do.

The Big Pedal is a UK-wide inter-school cycling and scooting challenge that inspires pupils, staff and parents to choose two wheels for their journey to school.

Powered by Sustrans and funded by the Bike Hub, the 2016 challenge will run from 18 to 29 April and is open to individual classes as well as whole schools.

On each day of the challenge schools compete to see who can record the greatest number of pupils, staff and parents cycling or scooting to school. A school’s best five days will determine their final position, but they can log journeys on all ten days if they wish.

For schools unable to take part in the main challenge there’s also a one-day version, which can include cycling and scooting activities in the school day as well as on the journey to school.

To celebrate the finale of the challenge there is also the option to join a superhero fundraising day.
All schools will be entered into daily prize draws for rewards including bike and scooter stunt shows, equipment and storage if over 15% of your school cycle or scoot on each day of the challenge.

If you’re a pupil, parent teacher or governor and keen to encourage your school to take part, full information and resources for promoting the Big Pedal are available at www.bigpedal.org.uk

Thursday, 24 March 2016

Cycling's dangerous. Isn't it?


Cycling is perceived to be exceptionally dangerous. It's the single biggest factor stopping people from getting on their bikes. The reality? The risks are a lot less than you think. Here’s a few facts.
  • On average, one cyclist is killed per 27.7 million miles cycled (more than 1,000 times around the world).
  • Per mile travelled on our roads, you’re as likely to be killed walking.
  • The general risk of injury is 0.05 injuries per 1,000 hours of cycling.
  • Per hour of activity, you’re more likely to be injured playing tennis or gardening.

There’s also lots of ways to further reduce your personal risk.  A lot of injuries can be avoided altogether by having a decent, well-maintained bike that stops effectively. Choosing safer routes, adopting a better road position, regulating your speed to road conditions and generally improving your cycle skills can significantly reduce your chances of injury.

Just by starting to cycle you’ll be helping reducing average risks. There’s a ‘safety in numbers’ effect. As cycling increases, motorists get more used to sharing the road safely. They’re also more likely to cycle themselves and understand the needs of cyclists.

Importantly, cycling helps keep you fit. Its one of the least time-consuming, most cost-effective and pleasurable ways of ensuring you get the recommended minimum of 30 minutes of exercise five times a week to stay healthy.

  • Adults who cycle regularly have a fitness level equivalent to someone 10 years younger.
  • Their average life expectancy is two years longer.
  • Together with a healthy diet, its a great way to help control your weight.
  • Cycling helps reduce stress and improve mental health.
  • It reduces the risk of developing coronary heart disease, strokes, type II diabetes and cancer.
One research study suggested the health benefits of cycling outweigh the risks by around 20 to 1. Another reckoned the health benefits are 9 times greater than the risks associated with driving a car.

So there you have it. Not cycling is more dangerous to your health than cycling.

Tuesday, 15 March 2016

Push Bike! - 10-Point Cycle Plan


Push Bike!’s last column commented on the City Council’s recent congestion report.  Encouraging more to cycle instead of always using the car has a role to play in helping reduce traffic levels. It has wider health, social, economic and environmental benefits too!

Encouragingly 42.5% of those surveyed by the Council said they would consider cycling more if there were ‘Improved cycle paths and storage provision’.

Recognising current budget constraints, Push Bike! offers the following 10 low-cost and no-cost measures the City Council could use to further improve Worcester’s Cycle Network and encourage an increase in cycling levels.

1. Audit the existing network to identify where maintenance is needed, metal barriers can be removed and better signage will increase usage and reduce potential conflicts with other users.

2. Work with the County to identify cycle-only contraflows and at least one continually open N-S and W-E route through the pedestrianised City Centre.

3. Identify locations and provide funding and/or seek sponsorship for more safe cycle storage.

4. Make better use of the City’s Planning powers to ensure new developments are cycle-friendly, better connected to the wider network and Travel Plans are more robust and fully implemented.

5. Engage with the LEP, Chamber, BID and ‘Working Well in Worcestershire’ to increase business awareness of the economic benefits and savings of encouraging more of their employees and customers to travel by bike.

6. Work with local communities, the County and Police to introduce more cycle and pedestrian friendly ‘sign only’ 20mph limits in residential areas.

7. Engage with the County to review the City’s Cycle Strategy and establish priorities for future investment.

8. Encourage Highways to ensure new infrastructure is fully cycle-proofed and opportunities are taken with maintenance and resurfacing works to make routes safer for cyclists.

9. Engage with Public Health and other local organisations on a social media campaign to promote the benefits of and encourage ‘active travel’.

10. As it’s in everyone’s interest to reduce Worcester’s congestion, all political parties to agree and support one councilor and an officer as cycle or ‘active travel’ champions.

Monday, 14 March 2016

Cycling Can We Help Reduce Worcester's Congestion?


The City Council has recently completed its six-month long investigation into Worcester’s congestion problems. The results point to the potential for encouraging more to cycle (and walk) as a way of helping reduce traffic volumes.

The report included Department for Transport (DfT) statistics on traffic volumes in the City. This data suggest just over 1% of journeys were by bike and this hasn’t increased since 2000. Traffic volumes have also decreased by 27%.  I’m sure most readers will find both statistics surprising.

So are we all imagining congestion and cycling in Worcester has increased, or is the data wrong?

Probing deeper it’s clear where the problem lies. The automatic traffic counters used by the DfT are at a limited number of points and only on the A–Roads into the City.

As someone pointed out at the Committee meeting it may well be that more drivers are avoiding the main roads and using residential streets as ‘rat runs’.

The main roads are also not where any increase in cycling would happen.  Although less than ideal, there are lots of quieter and safer routes around the City for cyclists. Certainly the cycle counts for the new Diglis Bridge and associated riverside cycle routes show a significant increase in cycle usage.

Q5 in the Council’s survey asked “What would encourage you to walk or cycle more? ” The responses were:

Improved cycle paths and storage provision       42.5%
Improved walkways and routes                           34.4%
Other (please specify)                                         33.6%
Improved public transport facilities                      29.4%
Nothing                                                                 25.5%
Increased awareness of alternative options          9.9%
Increased awareness of health benefits                5.3%

Hopefully the City and County Councils will use these results to help prioritise their actions and investment if they are to encourage more people to leave their cars at home and cycle or walk for more of their shorter journeys.

In Push Bike!‘s next column we’ll be suggesting a few low cost ways in which we feel more can be done to encourage cycling in the City.

Thursday, 18 February 2016

Keep Cyclists' Safe - AA Advice to Drivers


Despite what you might expect the AA see positive benefits in encouraging more people to cycle. They are therefore keen to ensure motorists are considerate to cyclists Here’s a summary of their advice.

  • ·        Expect cyclists in unexpected places – always check your mirrors for cyclists before turning.
  • ·        If you're uncertain as to the intention of a cyclist – hold back rather than risk a wrong assumption.
  • ·        Watch out for cyclists coming up on your near side when turning or moving left – check mirrors and blind spots carefully.
  • ·        Give as much room as practically possible when over-taking a cycle – Highway Code Rule 163 illustrates one car's width – they may have to move out to avoid drains, potholes or debris on the road that you may not be able to see.
  • ·        When parking check the door mirror and look behind you before you open the door to make sure you don't hit a cyclist.
  • ·        When turning left allow any cyclist ahead of you to pass the junction rather than overtake them and turn sharply across their front wheel.
  • ·        Don't overtake a cyclist if you can see that the road narrows ahead.
  • ·        Don't drive aggressively around cyclists or sound your horn.
  • ·        Cyclists may be travelling faster than you think - judge their approaching speed with care before pulling out at a junction.
  • ·        Take special care on roundabouts – you must give way to any vehicle approaching from the right and that includes cyclists.
  • ·        Be prepared to wait behind a cyclist turning right in the same way you would for a car – rather than squeezing past or getting impatient.
  • ·        Don't park in cycle lanes – you could be forcing a cyclist into a dangerous situation and will be committing a road traffic offence.
  • ·        Don't drive into the 'advanced stop area' for cyclists at lights.
  • ·        Match your speed to the conditions and make sure you can stop well within the distance that you can see to be clear – on country roads there could be a group of cyclists around the next bend.
  • ·        At night, use dipped headlights when approaching cyclists
  • ·        Allow cyclists extra room in wet weather.
  • Consider riding a bicycle for some of your own journeys to get a better understanding of the risks cyclists face.

Sunday, 24 January 2016

Push Bike 2015 Review

2015 was a busy year for Push Bike! volunteers. We produced a “What’s On Guide to Cycling Events Around Worcestershire” and a “Guide to Cycle Clubs in Worcestershire”.

Copies were distributed through bike shops, tourist offices and other venues around Worcestershire. They were handed out at events we attended. The “What’s On” was updated on-line and promoted 85 cycle events, details of which were widely circulated through, e-mails, social media and other websites.

Push Bike! helped with planning for the Tour Ride. We had information stands at the Tour Ride, Worcester Show, Evesham Cyclefest and provided publicity materials for stands at the Tour Series races in Redditch and Bewdley’s first ‘Cycle Week’.

On the campaigning front Push Bike! supported the national ‘Space for Cycling’ and ‘Vote Bike’ campaigns. The former highlighted the benefits of cycling and encouraged County Councillors to make it easier and safer to cycle in Worcestershire. We’re pleased to say 25% of our 55 local councillors, from all political parties, formally registered their support. That’s one of the highest percentages for any County. ‘Vote Bike’ encouraged candidates standing for Parliament in May to support, if elected, an increase in Government funding for cycle infrastructure. Thanks to Robin Walker (Worcester) and Nigel Huddleston (Mid Worcestershire) for offering their support.

We’ve been working with officers at the County on Worcestershire’s first, and unfortunately much delayed, Cycle Strategy. We also contributed to Worcester City Council’s consultations on what can be done to help reduce congestion..

In addition we regularly comment on major Planning applications, Highway proposals and bridleway diversions to try and ensure they are cycle friendly.

Finally, this is one of our fortnightly articles we produce for our Worcester News cycling column. You can see copies of all past articles, together with the most up to date What’s On and Cycle Club Guides at www.pushbikecampaign.org

Push Bike

Wednesday, 13 January 2016

Maintaining Cycle Fitness Through Winter

Spin cycle class courtesy of www.localfitness.com.au
Its quite possible to continue cycling through the winter, but many are put off by the weather. There are however several options for maintaining and even improving your cycling fitness through the cold, dark winter months.

You’ll find cycling machines in most gyms, but for less than £100 you can buy an exercise bike to use in your spare room or garage. For a similar price you can convert your existing bike into a static trainer by buying a cycle turbo or set of rollers.

A more sociable and popular way of getting and keeping cycle fit is to join one of the spinning classes offered at your local gym or leisure centre. Here’s a quick run down on what’s on offer at the Council owned centres in and around Worcester.

Variously known as ‘Vibe Cycle’ and ‘RPM Cycle’, Advance Leisure in Worcester offer spinning classes 5 days a week at Nunnery Wood Sports Complex.  There’s also a ‘Cycle and Gym’ combo on Monday and Wednesday. www.advanceleisure.org.uk

In Malvern Hills, Freedom Leisure hold ‘Freedom Indoor Cycle’ sessions 4 days a week at Malvern Splash and Sport Martley and 2 days a week at Sport Dyson Perrins. www.freedom-leisure.co.uk

Over in Wychavon, Rivers have their ‘Riverlution’ classes 7 days a week at Droitwich, 6 days a week at Pershore. 5 days a week at Bromsgrove and 4 days a week at Evesham. www.wychavonleisure.co.uk

If you have the time, and money, an even better solution is to book a winter holiday to somewhere warm and sunny. Packed in a cycle bag or box its even possible to take your own bike either free if you keep within the scheduled airlines checked-in baggage allowance, or for an extra fee if using the budget airlines.

Friday, 1 January 2016

Cycling Through Winter

Fietsen in de sneeuw, by Joop van Dijk: Licensed under Creative Commons
There’s no need to put your bike away just because the weather turns cold. Here’s a few tips for making sure you and your bike are ready for the winter.

Be visible
As the nights’ lengthen its even more important to ensure you’re wearing hi-vis. If you cycle with a rucksack consider getting a reflective cover. By law you must have front and rear lights and a rear reflector if cycling between dusk and dawn. Keep your lights on in low light conditions and adding a couple of extra flashing lights will make you even more visible.

Dress for it
A water and windproof jacket is essential for keeping you warm and dry, but make sure it’s breathable and not too thick as its amazing how quick you can overheat. Gloves, a warm hat and possibly overshoes are recommended for keeping your extremities warm.  Use a helmet and/or a cap with a peak to help keep the rain and low winter sun out of your eyes. A waterproof pannier or rucksack cover will help to keep whatever you carry dry.

Winterize your bike
It’s a good idea to service your bike before the winter starts, but also regularly wash off the dirt and salt and keep the moving parts dry and well oiled. Pay particular attention to making sure your wheel rims are clean and brakes are effective. Mudguards will help to protect you and the bike from the water and grime. Consider getting wider, more puncture resistant tyres with thicker treads to give you better grip on wetter and icier roads.

Road conditions
Rain and damp reduces your bike’s braking efficiency so do take it slower and allow more time for your journey. Avoid puddles that may hide potholes and other hazards and inspection covers and other surfaces that are slippery in the wet. When there’s snow or ice do think twice before cycling. In such conditions you may be safer sticking to main roads that are gritted and cleared more quickly. Watch out for patches of ice in areas shaded from the sun.
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