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MP urges candidates to "be brave and take cycling out of the culture wars" during election; Cyclists slam Telegraph's quiet correction to story falsely claiming "death trap" cyclists hit "52mph" chasing London Strava segments; Giro + more on the live blog

Welcome to the Thursday live blog where Dan Alexander will be rounding up everything that's happening in the world of cycling today...

SUMMARY

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23 May 2024, 12:52
"People want to cycle more. We just need to help them do it": Conservative MP urges candidates to "be brave and take cycling out of the culture wars"
Jeremy Corbyn bikesatpollingstations May 2016 (source - Twitter).jpg

With the election build-up already well underway, Conservative MP Trudy Harrison has penned a post on The House website titled, "Let's take cycling out of the culture wars". Beginning by explaining how moving more is one of her goals for 2024 and highlighting the physical and mental benefits of walking or cycling your commute, Harrison urged "every candidate standing at the next election to include walking or cycling on their leaflets".

"And this shouldn’t be seen as a war between left and right," she said. "We've come far under Conservative governments, mayors and councils. Some of our cities are unrecognisable from ten years ago. Roads on which only those without other options would have cycled now serve thousands a day.

"We also mustn't make it an argument between rural and urban areas. My Copeland constituency is blessed with lakes, rivers, fells and mountains, being situated within the English Lake District. But just as importantly, people and communities are connected by miles of public paths and bridleways, quiet lanes, coastal routes, and the start of the Coast to Coast, soon to become the 17th National Trail, which I completed with my husband last summer. 

"We proudly boast the UK's most popular challenge cycle route, Sustrans' Sea to Sea (or C2C) – from the Irish Sea at Whitehaven to the North Sea at Sunderland, some 138 miles. These networks provide huge financial and social boosts, bringing visitors and business to the area, and are also relied upon by locals for everyday journeys and escaping into nature.

"It is often assumed that cycling is divisive. But the recently published, independently researched Sustrans walking and cycling index shows that people want to live in healthier places.

"Most people use all modes of transport depending on the journey. Sustrans found that 58 per cent of people support more cycle paths protected from traffic and 62 per cent would like more low-traffic neighbourhoods, while 24 per cent say they want to drive less, with 50 per cent wanting to walk more, and 43 per cent to cycle more. This should reassure us to use the systems set up across government to help more people to change gear and get active.

"Let's be brave and take cycling out of the culture wars. I encourage every candidate standing at the next election to include walking or cycling on their leaflets; it might just attract people who don't currently feel spoken to. People want to cycle more. We just need to help them do it."

23 May 2024, 16:11
Shimano finally introduces new electronic 12-speed GRX Di2 gravel groupset
23 May 2024, 15:41
Tim Merlier sprints to stage 18 victory

A second stage win for Tim Merlier at this year's Giro d'Italia, the Belgian going head-to-head with Jonathan Milan and coming out the victor... by a bike throw.

Both of the race's strongest sprinters were slightly out of position and had to come from a few lengths back as the line neared, the pair almost side by side as they launched their final efforts, kicking clear of everyone else, Merlier simply half a wheel faster than Milan today.

Kaden Groves, Alberto Dainese, Caleb Ewan, Juan Sebastián Molano and Tobias Lund Andresen's barren Grand Tour continues, the two at the top seemingly in a different league. Sunday's final stage, in Rome, should give them all one more shot.

Will Merlier match Milan's hat-trick? Can the Italian bag number four and confirm superiority as the Giro's top dog? Will someone else break their duck? There's plenty of climbing to get through before we know the answers to those...  

23 May 2024, 15:08
*Smiles smugly*
23 May 2024, 14:35
British Cycling announces "powerful new partnership" with Lloyds Bank (although Shell deal remains)
British Cycling (Alex Whitehead/SWpix.com)

British Cycling has announced a "major long-term partnership" which will see Lloyds Bank become the governing body's new "Lead Partner". Described as a multi-year commitment, British Cycling reports Lloyds will be the title partner of the returning Tour of Britain events to be held later this year and will also be a title partner of numerous other events including a national track league and urban cycling festival.

Lloyds will also be title sponsor of British Cycling's elite National Series and National Championship events. In short, if it's a British Cycling event, you can expect to see Lloyds' logo for the foreseeable. So too can you still expect to see Shell's, the oil giants' deal unaffected by this latest investment.

"As two British institutions, British Cycling and Lloyds Bank have a natural affinity and we share a commitment to supporting a more healthy, inclusive and prosperous Britain," the governing body's CEO John Dutton said. "In the last twelve months, a third of UK adults have ridden a bike and we want to see more people experiencing the joy of cycling.

“Through this partnership with Lloyds Bank, we can embark together on a journey to not only champion the sport but also harness its potential to deliver liberating experiences to families and communities nationwide. We are collectively committed to tackling social inequality and inspiring a nation to move together towards a healthier and more inclusive future."

Track star Katie Archibald may be fielding some calls from Soudal Quick-Step after this Wolfpack-worthy sponsor shout-out (check out yesterday's blog if you've got no idea what I'm talking about)... "British Cycling partnering with Lloyds Bank is really exciting as it means we can inspire even more people of all ages across Britain to get on a bike and experience the joy of cycling," Archibald said. "From world-class events to grassroots initiatives, it's clear that this new partnership will be a game-changer, bringing even more excitement and inclusivity to cycling."

Is it too facetious of us to suggest we're not exactly sure "excitement" or "inclusivity" are two words commonly associated with banking? Of course, we're just being a bit disingenuous, we get she means the investment...

23 May 2024, 13:46
'Dangerous cycling bill' will not be made into a law after UK general election announced by Rishi Sunak
23 May 2024, 13:38
"Haters gonna flag": Tadej Pogačar flagged (again)
23 May 2024, 09:46
A Thursday dose of envy-inducing Norwegian cycling infrastructure

Look at this masterpiece filmed by Stuart Baillie (StuInNorway on Twitter)... and I don't just mean the cycling in a kilt...

"The new missing segment in the middle of our cycle expressway opened today, so it would have been rude to not turn up to the opening suitable attired... Yes I'm cycling in kilt and jacket, including bow tie. The bridge over the motorway's going to make a huge difference." 

Excuse me while I nip to the shops on my cracked shared-use path covered with broken glass and give way signs at every turning... no, I'm not bitter.

23 May 2024, 09:35
"Stating the blindingly obvious, cyclists whether new or experienced will be less inclined to ride on the roads if there is perceived or real danger and more people will cycle less as that danger increases"
Cyclist in London cyclists dismount sign in background - copyright Simon MacMichael

Let's dive into some of your reaction to this.

> "The UK is travelling in the wrong direction": Cycling miles travelled down and car journeys up according to latest government stats

Pub bike: "My own experience is that for many years from the mid-2000s to around 2020 or so the roads seemed to get a little bit safer but since then they seem to have become more dangerous. I thought things got yet more dangerous after the changes to the Highway Code which should have had the opposite effect.   

"The 'Plan for Drivers' is just making things even worse. Stating the blindingly obvious, cyclists whether new or experienced will be less inclined to ride on the roads if there is perceived or real danger and more people will cycle less as that danger increases. These cycling miles figures do not surprise me, but they do sadden me."

Ryanbybike: "Actively encouraged by the government. I'm not surprised!" 

Live blog comment 30 May 2024
23 May 2024, 09:32
Mercian Cycles ceases trading and enters voluntary liquidation
23 May 2024, 08:41
Something tells me this is going to be a sprint
Giro d'Italia stage 18 2024 (RCS)

A well deserved easy day at the Giro, the sprinters and their teams emerging from hibernation to take the first of two more days where they can win. After today it's back to the mountains for stages 19 and 20, the latter of the two featuring a double ascent of the Monte Grappa, before the final stage in Rome.

Can anyone stop Jonathan Milan making it four? If the Lidl-Trek man does that'll mean half the stages of this year's race will have been won by him or Tadej Pogačar.

23 May 2024, 08:08
"The UK is travelling in the wrong direction": Cycling miles travelled down and car journeys up according to latest government stats
23 May 2024, 07:44
"Too late, damage already done": Cyclists slam Telegraph's quiet correction to story falsely claiming "death trap" cyclists hit "52mph" chasing London Strava segments... despite that being faster than Tour de France sprinters

If you missed it yesterday evening (apparently something was happening in Westminster) The Daily Telegraph amended its story claiming "death trap" cyclists are riding at 52mph in pursuit of London Strava segments, removing the dodgy GPS data 'evidence' that the newspaper now admits was "erroneous". 

Curiously, the Telegraph claimed (in its very quietly corrected story with statement added at the bottom) that Strava data "cannot be checked or independently verified", somewhat ironic given the story was in part the work of a journalist who is a former BBC fact checker. Apparently, a quick internet search to realise not even peak Sir Chris Hoy could ride at 84km/h (indoors in a velodrome with perfect conditions while motor paced by a derny), was beyond its staff's fact-checking capabilities.

Which is how we ended up with one of the UK's largest newspapers putting this on its front page on Friday.

Telegraph front page

As many pointed out last night, the quiet correction and change of the online headline will do nothing to address the thousands of people who read it in print or saw it online before the amendment.

"Oops, too late. Damage already done," one road.cc reader said on social media.

Matt Jackson: "You can bet this change in detail won't be widely published unlike the original 'attention-grabbing' headline…"

Duncan Mackay: "It appears to be one of those 'Sorry if you're offended...' apologies. Their 'correction' is worded in such a way as to imply that Strava are deleting rides, to cover up dangerous cycling. Rather than them just admitting that their 'journalist' hasn't actually done their job properly, because he/she was too busy trying to provoke outrage."

eburtthebike: "Telegraph: 'We are happy to clarify this point and correct the record.'

"No, they aren't.  They're happy to publish a correction that almost nobody who read the original pile of excrement will read, and most people who read it will still believe it."

 AidanR suggested the people on social media saying they would report the piece to IPSO (the Independent Press Standards Organisation that regulates many of the UK's newspapers and magazines) might have contributed to the correction. 

"What I would love to see, though, is corrections have as prominent a place as the original article, i.e. splashed across the top of the front page. A guy can dream..." he added.

fincon1: "The Daily Telegraph is now as bad as the Mail. I cancelled my subscription earlier this year after yet another anti-cycling article. Chris Boardman is right."

Last weekend, Boardman called the article "hate speech" and demanded the press has "just got to stop" labelling cyclists as killers off the back of one widely reported incident from 2022 that informed the government's acceptance of introducing a new dangerous cycling law... more on that and the impact the upcoming general election might have later...

Dan is the road.cc news editor and has spent the past four years writing stories and features, as well as (hopefully) keeping you entertained on the live blog. Having previously written about nearly every other sport under the sun for the Express, and the weird and wonderful world of non-league football for the Non-League Paper, Dan joined road.cc in 2020. Come the weekend you'll find him labouring up a hill, probably with a mouth full of jelly babies, or making a bonk-induced trip to a south of England petrol station... in search of more jelly babies.

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61 comments

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ubercurmudgeon replied to ubercurmudgeon | 1 month ago
7 likes

The rest of the programme was in a similar vein. Not the worst example of the "War on Motorists" trope - not as bad as the last such show I could be bothered to watch on BBC for example - but generally pandering to the victimhood of drivers. And a lot of lying by omission.

For example, the presenter did say that surveys indicate that LTNs are generally liked, but then immediately asked, "So why are some of them being set on fire?" Er..... because a lot of motorists are entitled little pricks and mindless thugs? Nope, it can't be the fault of poor struggling drivers. Instead the blame was pinned on enforcement being some sinister revenue-generating scheme for councils. And in the final segment they tackled electric cars, and the issue of high electricity prices at public car chargers. They probably are a bit of a rip off but they do cost something to install and maintain. Reducing the VAT was suggested but no mention of how that would leave less money to fix potholes, just as years of frozen fuel duties has, something also not brought up when they compared the cost of fast charging to a tank of petrol. It was wrapped up by giving the boss of a major car company a few minutes airtime for unchallenged scaremongering about the effects of "rushing" the ICE to EV transition on jobs.

But at least cyclists weren't demonized. We were only mentioned in one throwaway remark about "pedestrian and cyclists" benefitting from LTNs at the expense of drivers. Of course, that means no recognition in the potholes segment that cyclists report many of them before they become a hazard to cars, and we risk our lives, not just a few hundred quid repair bill.

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brooksby replied to ubercurmudgeon | 1 month ago
3 likes

Talking about LTNs she said that, yes, LTNs are great for pedestrians and cyclists "but what about motorists?!".

And talking about EVs, she said how driving around Manchester City centre was *such* a nightmare that she had left her car at home and was using an electric hybrid taxi instead (?).  You know, I'm sure there were other ways she could have got conveniently around Manchester city centre...

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Clem Fandango replied to brooksby | 1 month ago
4 likes

Motor normativity innit. Probably never considered that, sure rat runs are great for motorists, but what about pedestrians & cyclists (won't somebody please think of the children....)

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wycombewheeler replied to ubercurmudgeon | 1 month ago
3 likes

ubercurmudgeon wrote:

So far, so terrible. The first segment is about potholes, so the presenter demonstrates the terrible state of Britain's roads by driving an uber-rugged, ex-army Mercedes G-Wagon. No recognition that the increased popularity of ludicrous two-tonne vehicles like that is part of the reason why roads are deteriorating.

closer to 3 tonnes, you wouldn't raise an eyebrow about a mondeo estate, and they weigh 1.7 tonnes, even a golf can weigh as much as 1.6 tonnes.

The 2010 golf gti weighed twice as much as the mk 1 golf gti, partly due to increased size, partly increased safety and party increased comfort.

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IanMK | 1 month ago
3 likes
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hawkinspeter replied to IanMK | 1 month ago
8 likes

IanMK wrote:

Interesting read in the the Guardian. https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/article/2024/may/23/call-for-stricte...

Whatever happened to valueing integrity?

To my mind, any political organisation should just expel any members that distribute false conspiracy theories. They bring the organisation into disrepute (well, possibly not the Tories as they must be rock bottom in terms of reputation) and pollute public discourse.

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brooksby replied to hawkinspeter | 1 month ago
8 likes

Exactly.  They shouldn't have to legislate to stop people spreading obvious lies.  As you say, whatever happened to honour and integrity in public life?

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chrisonabike replied to brooksby | 1 month ago
6 likes

Not a given.  See e.g. Ian Hislop (of Private Eye) arguing with Sir Bernard Jenkin MP in a session of a select committee for transparency after the Owen Paterson affair.  Hislop was rather outraged that Sir Bernard was arguing that (just like lawyers) there should be specific training for MPs because you could not take it for granted that MPs would be clear that getting large sums of cash / favours from an organisation while an MP might be seen as suspicious.  Or even cloud your judgement!

Sadly the MP is probably right; but we probably should still be outraged.  Dynamic equilibrium - some people seeking power will always be out for graft and we have to keep pushing back against that...

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chrisonabike replied to hawkinspeter | 1 month ago
0 likes

Nothing inherently good about "valuing integrity" for people seeking power.   (Which *must* be the ultimate aim of parties / MPs, otherwise they'll be out-competed by those who are).

While we might declare it a "good" / want to encourage it in politics it's just another tool in the box.  It can be a good play but its political value may be limited to certain environments.  From the likes of Trump etc. a wider interpretation of "integrity" is clearly accessible in some (still) democratic environments.

Organisations might be expected to try to limit heterodoxy but the bottom line is "what succeeds is success".  I'd like to see it be "a virtue" but ... I'm no longer shocked that people who aren't out-and-out gangsters* sometimes seem less concerned about it.

* Your degree of political cynicism / anarchism may vary.

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hawkinspeter | 1 month ago
9 likes

Death Cult Tories - making things worse so that they can trick the elderly into voting for them again.

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HLaB replied to hawkinspeter | 1 month ago
2 likes

Exactly I doubt they even had any intention of taking that stupid bill to parliament, it was just a trick to get the gulible to vote for them again  7

 

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Hirsute | 1 month ago
9 likes

Cyle miles down, car journeys up.

 

//pbs.twimg.com/media/GOPnp54WIAANGk2?format=jpg&name=900x900)

 

" It's the only outcome for a country that set a strategy to destroy public transport, forcing people outside of London into car dependency and without the environment to walk & cycle safely. "

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Patrick9-32 replied to Hirsute | 1 month ago
15 likes

Hirsute wrote:

Cyle miles down, car journeys up.

" It's the only outcome for a country that set a strategy to destroy public transport, forcing people outside of London into car dependency and without the environment to walk & cycle safely. "

"No more war on drivers" = We want obese children and chronically ill adults causing enormous costs to the NHS. 

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60kg lean keen ... replied to Hirsute | 1 month ago
11 likes

There is some evidence that the fitter and more active you are as a child - adolescent then this can set a precedent for your fitness levels going into adulthood.  Some say, but not proven, that you can set your body's response and ability to tolerate and change when exposed to training loads at puberty.  That this can set your ability to get fit and maintain fitness throughout your adult life and can even make a difference to how we age, even slow our bodies decline into old age.  If this is so, then we should be doing all we can to encourage our children now to get out, get active and involved in sport whatever shape or form that takes!

 

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Patrick9-32 replied to 60kg lean keen climbing machine | 1 month ago
13 likes

Even if that's not the case, children being happier and healthier now is a good thing by itself. if it leads to healthier adults as a byproduct that's even better. 

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hawkinspeter replied to 60kg lean keen climbing machine | 1 month ago
16 likes

60kg lean keen climbing machine wrote:

There is some evidence that the fitter and more active you are as a child - adolescent then this can set a precedent for your fitness levels going into adulthood.  Some say, but not proven, that you can set your body's response and ability to tolerate and change when exposed to training loads at puberty.  That this can set your ability to get fit and maintain fitness throughout your adult life and can even make a difference to how we age, even slow our bodies decline into old age.  If this is so, then we should be doing all we can to encourage our children now to get out, get active and involved in sport whatever shape or form that takes!

We shouldn't forget the mental health angle either, especially as kids are suffering with exposure to toxic social media from a young age. Exercise can have a very beneficial effect on mood and even more so when it's in green spaces.

Society needs to push the message that exercise is walking/running/scooting/cycling in green spaces - not using a treadmill in a gym.

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60kg lean keen ... replied to hawkinspeter | 1 month ago
6 likes

I totally agree with you on this, I myself after a full on working day, just long to push my bike out the front door and go for a ride to some of my favourite places and lanes.  You need some level of fitness to do that and make it a worthwhile and enjoyable experience. Both physical and mental health are linked and can not be taken individually, so you are right to highlight that aspect.  

 

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The Larger Cyclist replied to 60kg lean keen climbing machine | 1 month ago
6 likes

60kg lean keen climbing machine wrote:

I totally agree with you on this, I myself after a full on working day, just long to push my bike out the front door and go for a ride to some of my favourite places and lanes.  You need some level of fitness to do that and make it a worthwhile and enjoyable experience. Both physical and mental health are linked and can not be taken individually, so you are right to highlight that aspect.  

I'm classed as morbidly obese but during the summer I regularly do a 30mile bike ride, it's not helped with any weight loss but mentally it's a huge benefit.

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Hirsute replied to hawkinspeter | 1 month ago
4 likes

That came up this week on radio4, (randomly heard). Also just call it activity not physical activity, as it can put some off.

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mctrials23 replied to 60kg lean keen climbing machine | 1 month ago
5 likes

Yes but how will I make sure that poor sweet Timothy and Tabitha don't have to scuff their nice new shoes on the way to school if I don't driver them the 1 mile to school in my 7 seater XC90. Sometimes I think you people hate children.  

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Patrick9-32 replied to mctrials23 | 1 month ago
14 likes

mctrials23 wrote:

Yes but how will I make sure that poor sweet Timothy and Tabitha don't have to scuff their nice new shoes on the way to school if I don't driver them the 1 mile to school in my 7 seater XC90. Sometimes I think you people hate children.  

My sister in law once got genuinely angry with me because I was playing with her kids on the grass, the grass was wet and ruined the 5 year old's suede shoes. 

No kid should have shoes they can't play in. 

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Backladder replied to Patrick9-32 | 1 month ago
4 likes

Patrick9-32 wrote:

No kid should have shoes they can't play in. 

No shoes should be ruined by a bit of moisture, not fit for purpose, take them back to the shop!

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chrisonabike replied to Hirsute | 1 month ago
2 likes

Meanwhile, in The Netherlands...

https://hollandinternationaldistributioncouncil.com/en/blog-dutch-childr...

https://www.childinthecity.org/2017/01/12/why-are-dutch-children-the-wor...

Of course there are lots of differences around kids and parenting and NL is not perfect.  But I'd say providing for and installing a sense of independent mobility from a young age (and indeed into older age) has is a significant component.

My feeling is that a (slightly) higher baseline level of exercise / time spent outdoors is important too - but since NL is also a "developed modern culture" with excellent public transport and high car ownership I'm not sure how much of a diffence there is.  I would guess overall activity levels in the UK and NL both show quite a drop from e.g. the 1980s (kids - get yourselves to school)...

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mctrials23 replied to chrisonabike | 1 month ago
10 likes

There is a youtube channel run by someone who moved to the Netherlands with his kids and goes back to the US occasionally. Its interesting to see his take on the difference. How children in the Netherlands still play outside in the street and have automy whereas in the UK the streets are empty and everything a child does is monitored by parents and usually involves driving them somewhere. 

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Patrick9-32 replied to mctrials23 | 1 month ago
7 likes

mctrials23 wrote:

There is a youtube channel run by someone who moved to the Netherlands with his kids and goes back to the US occasionally. Its interesting to see his take on the difference. How children in the Netherlands still play outside in the street and have automy whereas in the UK the streets are empty and everything a child does is monitored by parents and usually involves driving them somewhere. 

Not Just Bikes!

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chrisonabike replied to Patrick9-32 | 1 month ago
1 like

There are several notable "cycle refugees" from English-speaking places in NL - e.g. the Bruntletts, or even the Hembrows (of A View from the Cycle Path) from the UK (who have The Campaign for Childhood Freedom page - FWIW seems this site will now give you browser scare warnings).

But yes, NotJustBikes has one specifically about kids and how NL is better through urban planning.

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bikes replied to mctrials23 | 1 month ago
3 likes

I've seen a couple of clips on the NJB channel of groups of school children cycling to school, including the Finnish (?) town that has snow covered cycle paths. I've never seen such a thing in the UK. What a good way to socialise and build a lifelong active habit which the UK is missing out on due to bad cycling infrastructure.

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chrisonabike replied to bikes | 1 month ago
3 likes

bikes wrote:

I've seen a couple of clips on the NJB channel of groups of school children cycling to school, including the Finnish (?) town that has snow covered cycle paths. I've never seen such a thing in the UK. What a good way to socialise and build a lifelong active habit which the UK is missing out on due to bad cycling infrastructure.

Oulu I think - although other Finnish cities which also cycle in the winter are available e.g. Joensuu.  Several cycle bloggers have covered it (Bicycle Dutch has done Finnish cycle infra in the winter AND the summer).

You've made another very important point there too - social interaction is a crucial dimension which is largely missing in the UK.  With every other mode of travel, people like to travel socially.  Which ends up being "in a group" and specifically "side-by-side".

That is not only not emphasised in the UK, it's not facilitated - and in fact in many places is discouraged or specifically designed out!

(Also recall the ire that "cycling two abreast" generates in some people).

How many other activities do we have where we make noises about "encouraging" the activity while simultaneously discouraging kids from doing them socially?

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giff77 replied to mctrials23 | 1 month ago
3 likes

I came across an article the other day about an area in Inverness that ran a project called play streets I think. Basically the street in the estate was shut off to traffic to allow the youngsters to play without fear. Unfortunately the bulk of the comments on the article were more than negative. Ranging from streets designed for cars only to teaching kids to be irresponsible and how dangerous it was. 

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OnYerBike replied to Hirsute | 1 month ago
2 likes

Slightly pedantic point but it irks me that the headline suggests the problem is "laziness". I haven't read the full article, but from the quote you've picked out it would certainly seem that the author of the article doesn't actually subscribe to that view either (the article's author probably didn't come up with the headline). 

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