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Manchester Launches CYCLOPS Junction Design to Boost Bee Network

Manchester Launches CYCLOPS Junction Design to Boost Bee Network

This week sees the official opening of the Royce Road CYCLOPS junction, the first of its kind in this country. It is the next major part of the Chorlton to Manchester cycle route to be completed, and links up with the recently redesigned Deansgate Interchange. 

Hundreds of People Form ‘Human Bike Lanes’ Along the A6

Hundreds of People Form ‘Human Bike Lanes’ Along the A6

More than 150 people lined up alongside the A6 in Levenshulme on Saturday 27 June to form ‘human cycle lanes’, with everyone observing social distancing rules and most wearing masks. The aim was to call on Manchester City Council to address the lack of provision 

Getting Back On Your Bike: Cycling Essentials Part Five

Getting Back On Your Bike: Cycling Essentials Part Five

Words by Jane Bedford McLaren and Jonathan Keenan.
Image by Lucy Sykes.

Riding

Now that you have all the gear you need and the right bike for you, we thought some tips on riding might be helpful:

  1. Pedalling – this is most efficient if the ball of your foot is on the middle of the pedal. When setting off, have your foot on the pedal at the top of the pedal rotation so you get good momentum as you push off and have enough to get your other foot on the other pedal to begin pedalling.
  2. Gears – unless you have hub gears, you will probably want to change gears before you stop, so that you can set off easily. Try to change down gears (easiest to pedal) before you stop so it is easier to set off again. Same goes for hills – change down as you hit the hill to make it easier to pedal up the hill. Then, as you start to go downhill, change up (harder to pedal) so that your legs are not frantically spinning. I would recommend playing around with the gears (changing up and down) as you pedal to find the ones that feel right for you.
  3. Braking – use both brakes evenly and at the same time. Not braking evenly can cause wheels to lock up; particularly when it is wet. It is also a good idea to brake before you go into a bend on a road and not during.
  4. Route planning – Planning your route could make your journey much more enjoyable. Don’t assume the route you went by bus or car is the best way for you to cycle. If you can, spend some time looking at a map or asking around – those online cycling interest groups will be happy to help. Many people that cycle often have found great little routes that avoid heavy traffic or go through a park rather than down a main road without adding a great deal of time onto the journey. Gently pedalling through a park looking at the trees and flowers is a real luxury as far as commutes go!
  5. Bags on handlebars – they can get caught in wheels, so it is not worth it!

Cycling is not dangerous. Other road users can make it feel dangerous sometimes though. So here are some tips designed to improve your experience on the road:

    1. Positioning – try to ride about a metre from the pavement as this means you won’t be riding over drain covers and will give you some wiggle room as motorists overtake – you are also more visible.
    2. Primary position – sometimes it is a good idea to move into the middle of the lane if there is no space for a safe overtake (e.g. ahead of where there are traffic islands) or you are coming up to a right turn.
    3. Indicate – let other road users know what you are doing.
    4. Check around you – if you need to change your path of travel, make sure you check over your shoulder before you do and then indicate – much the same way you would if you were driving (i.e. 1. mirrors, 2. signal, 3. manoeuvre).
    5. Cycle lanes and other infrastructure – some bad infrastructure exists, so don’t follow it blindly and you don’t have to use it if you feel safer not using it.

Happy Pedalling!

Footnote:

The current circumstances we find ourselves in are scary and unusual. I find it reassuring in these times to see those helping and supporting others. I thought about what I might be able to offer. As an experienced cyclist seeing loads of new and returning cyclists out and about, I thought I might be able to give some simple tips on making your cycling experience easier and more comfortable. I have collaborated with Jonathan Keenan of Walk Ride Greater Manchester on putting this blog series together.

The main thing to remember is that cycling is a simple pleasure. It is easy to get overwhelmed by the amount of information out there. If you have a bike that you like and feel good riding, then read no further!

But if you are wanting some pointers on either improving your cycling experience or are looking to start riding, then I hope this series is helpful.

About the writers:

Jane Bedford McLaren – is solicitor acting for vulnerable road users at Leigh Day and also rides a bike regularly. She cycles to work and likes to ride bikes at the weekend with her local women’s cycling group, Team Glow, of which she is ride leader coordinator. She also gives her time and voice to Walk Ride Chorlton.

Links: Leigh Day website profile / Twitter: @JaneB_M / LinkedIn profile

Jonathan Keenan – is a freelance photographer based in his Northern Quarter studio and living in Chorlton. He’s a secret petrolhead and occasionally drives for work but it makes him very grumpy. He took to cycle touring as a youth, including organising an expedition to cross Iceland long before that was somewhere anyone went. Interest in architecture, regeneration and urbanism came together with his interest in cycling when kids came along and it became obvious how much their independence and freedom was stifled by our car-centric design and planning, so he became an activist for better cities through the medium of cycle infrastructure. He now has an unfortunate inclination to suggest a bike is the solution to any and every social problem. Because it is.

Links: JK Photography website / Instagram (@jkphotography_work) / Instagram (@JonathanKeenan) / Twitter @JonathanKeenan

Getting Back On Your Bike: Cycling Essentials Part Four

Getting Back On Your Bike: Cycling Essentials Part Four

Words by Jane Bedford McLaren and Jonathan Keenan. Image by Lucy Sykes. Clothing The main thing is to wear whatever you feel comfortable in. You don’t need any special clothing, unless you are planning a long ride. That said, here are some tips that might 

Getting Back On Your Bike: Cycling Essentials Part Three

Getting Back On Your Bike: Cycling Essentials Part Three

Words by Jane Bedford McLaren and Jonathan Keenan. Image by Lucy Sykes. Kit: Now that you have sorted your bike, you need to think about what sort of accessories you will need. As I have said in Part One of this series, you don’t need 

Getting Back On Your Bike: Cycling Essentials Part Two

Getting Back On Your Bike: Cycling Essentials Part Two

Words by Jane Bedford McLaren and Jonathan Keenan.
Image by Lucy Sykes.

Purpose:

There are loads of different bikes intended for different things and there is a lot to consider. This section of the blog series is the longest – we have tried to keep it as short as possible and we really want to avoid overwhelming people with too much information. However, we have tried to balance that with equipping you with the essentials as this is probably the most crucial stage in your cycling journey.

If you are digging out a bike that has been in your shed for a number of years, you might be limited on what you can do to make it fit for your purposes. I would recommend taking it to your local independent bike shop so that they can give it a service before you start riding it. You can also have a conversation with them about what you will be using it for as they might be able to offer some modifications so that it better suits your needs. The list below are some things to consider.

If you are buying a bike, then you should think about what you will be doing on it. There is a bike for every occasion, for every budget and taste. This piece is aimed at everyday journeys such as short commutes, shopping, schools, friends and similar trips. Probably only a few miles, possibly carrying shopping or work stuff.

There are a few types of bikes that are often preferred by people using a bike for the above sorts of journeys:

  1. Dutch style bikes – If you look at somewhere like the Netherlands, where cycling is a part of everyday life, the majority of people are using simple bikes with few gears that aren’t light but are strong, uncomplicated, comfortable and capable of years of use with relatively little maintenance. They get you about with all the wonderful sense of freedom that riding a bike brings. If slow and steady is your thing then seeking out a ‘Dutch’ bike may be a way to go.
  2. Hybrid – The nearest equivalent is the ‘Hybrid’, so called because it is a mix of a touring, racing and utility bike kitted out to make the sort of journeys this blog series is about. They come in many budgets, shapes, and sizes, so if you are visiting a shop then try a few.

Gears: These are your secret weapon. Generally speaking, the more you have the easier your riding will be, so long as you make use of them.

Gears can be built into the hub of a wheel, which keeps out the dirt and requires little maintenance – a lot of Dutch style bikes have these gears. Hub gears have the advantage of being able to change gear whilst stationary (say whilst waiting at traffic lights) so you can always be in the right gear to set off again, but it is also easy to get used to changing gear as you slow so you are ready to set off.

If you are trying out a second-hand bike, make sure the gears work and that the lowest gear (easiest to pedal) is plenty easy enough for you to pull away on a hill or whilst carrying a load. You’ll be glad of this if you find yourself heading home against the wind one day!

Here are some features you will probably want but are often overlooked:

    1. Mudguards or mounts – so you can ride the bike in wet weather. Trust me when I say you do NOT want to ride in the rain without mudguards and other bike riders you encounter won’t want you to either! If you have a bike without these or the mounts for them, you can buy clip-on mudguards.
    2. Rack or mounts for it – this is so that you can carry your stuff in rack-mounted bags (called panniers) instead of on your back, which will leave your back sweaty. It is not something you might want to use immediately, but it’s good to have the rack or mounts for it if you end up wanting to use panniers.
    3. Tyres – clearance for tyres that are wide enough to cope with potholed roads, canal paths or other off-road cycling paths – I don’t mean full on mountain bike tyres, but say around 28mm to 42mm (this is the width of the tyre). This will mean a smoother ride and makes the bike more versatile.
    4. E-bike – these are bikes that have a small motor to assist when you encounter a hill or just need a boost. I love e-bikes – they have made cycling accessible for so many.
    5. Pedals – bikes generally don’t come with pedals so you will need to order those too. I would suggest going with standard flat pedals so that you are not having to change your shoes.
    6. Dynamo hub – this is definitely not essential, but if a bike has one fitted it means that you don’t have to think about lights, as these are powered by the dynamo which is powered by the rotation of the wheels.

Quick note on frame materials / design:

  1. Steel – this can be a great material, as it can be strong, cheap, can be light, last indefinitely if cared for and is fixable. It can also be very heavy depending on the quality and how it is constructed.
  2. Aluminium – strong and relatively cheap and light.
  3. Carbon Fibre – strong and expensive and can be super light. Used mainly on racing bikes, but is increasingly used on some parts of the frame, like the forks, as they can absorb a lot of road vibration.

Bad things to look out for:

    1. Steel bikes pretending to be aluminium; these tend to have big tubes and be extra heavy and will be a horrible ride.
    2. Full suspension ‘mountain bikes’ that sell new for under £500. They will be very heavy and bounce along in a very tiring way, absorbing most of your energy into that bouncing movement. If you are intending on riding your bike down a rocky mountain, a full suspension mountain bike is definitely a good idea. However, one that is properly designed for that purpose will be much more than £500 as new and is not designed to be ridden on tarmac or flattish trails.

Footnote:

The current circumstances we find ourselves in are scary and unusual. I find it reassuring in these times to see those helping and supporting others. I thought about what I might be able to offer. As an experienced cyclist seeing loads of new and returning cyclists out and about, I thought I might be able to give some simple tips on making your cycling experience easier and more comfortable. I have collaborated with Jonathan Keenan of Walk Ride Greater Manchester on putting this blog series together.

The main thing to remember is that cycling is a simple pleasure. It is easy to get overwhelmed by the amount of information out there. If you have a bike that you like and feel good riding, then read no further!

But if you are wanting some pointers on either improving your cycling experience or are looking to start riding, then I hope this series is helpful.

About the writers:

Jane Bedford McLaren – is solicitor acting for vulnerable road users at Leigh Day and also rides a bike regularly. She cycles to work and likes to ride bikes at the weekend with her local women’s cycling group, Team Glow, of which she is ride leader coordinator. She also gives her time and voice to Walk Ride Chorlton.

Links: Leigh Day website profile / Twitter: @JaneB_M / LinkedIn profile

Jonathan Keenan – is a freelance photographer based in his Northern Quarter studio and living in Chorlton. He’s a secret petrolhead and occasionally drives for work but it makes him very grumpy. He took to cycle touring as a youth, including organising an expedition to cross Iceland long before that was somewhere anyone went. Interest in architecture, regeneration and urbanism came together with his interest in cycling when kids came along and it became obvious how much their independence and freedom was stifled by our car-centric design and planning, so he became an activist for better cities through the medium of cycle infrastructure. He now has an unfortunate inclination to suggest a bike is the solution to any and every social problem. Because it is.

Links: JK Photography website / Instagram (@jkphotography_work) / Instagram (@JonathanKeenan) / Twitter @JonathanKeenan

Getting Back On Your Bike: Cycling Essentials Part One

Getting Back On Your Bike: Cycling Essentials Part One

Words by Jane Bedford McLaren and Jonathan Keenan. Image by Lucy Sykes. Bicycle You do not need all the gear, or a £1000 bike or a professional bike fit. There is, of course, a place for these things if you decide you want to expand 

Walking and Cycling News Roundup: 21 June 2020

Walking and Cycling News Roundup: 21 June 2020

Welcome to our June newsletter which will focus on walking and cycling news both good and bad – including controversy still rumbling on within Manchester, where there is protest ride next Saturday (27th June). It seems like there has never been so much activity in the ‘active 

Over 400 Chorlton residents request COVID-19 distancing measures

Over 400 Chorlton residents request COVID-19 distancing measures

Image by Lucy Sykes.

Walk Ride Chorlton has written to councillors on behalf of over 400 respondents to their ongoing #safestreetssavelives questionnaire with the aim to help people stay safe during the pandemic.

The letter highlights the context of the recent statutory guidance, in which “The government … expects local authorities to make significant changes to their road layouts to give more space to cyclists and pedestrians,” and sets out the top five problems identified:

  1. Pavement parking.

  2. Cycle lane protection needed.

  3. More space for distancing needed.

  4. Speeding.

  5. Dangerous road crossings.

Residents were also asked about where interventions are needed, and respondents signed up to the following statement:

We, as residents of Chorlton, believe there is a need for some quick and easy safety measures in parts of our neighbourhood – these include more space for physical distancing and more protection from road traffic, such as expanded pavements, reduced pavement parking, and pop-up bike lanes for key workers and kids when they go back to school.

We believe we all – especially those who have extra mobility issues or with young children – need some low-cost temporary measures to ensure we feel safe enough to carry on walking, scooting, running, pushing buggies, using wheelchairs, or cycling safely.

By doing this, it means we can keep hold of the quieter, cleaner, safer streets we’ve enjoyed during lockdown, help Chorlton’s businesses thrive – and maybe make Chorlton a nicer place for all in the future.

Further actions requested of the council were for:

  1. Safe school streets

  2. Pop-up cycleways along Barlow Moor Road/Manchester Road (north-south) and Wilbraham Road (east-west)

  3. Erecting signage to ask drivers not to park on pavements

The questionnaire remains open, and Walk Ride Chorlton has collated this first batch of responses to prepare a letter to the local councillors.

Neighbouring Whalley Range ward also has an ongoing public questionnaire, which has been posted to residents in paper form for return to the Co-op on Withington Road, and is available to fill in online here.

Oldham becomes the sixth GM council to launch commonplace engagement map

Oldham becomes the sixth GM council to launch commonplace engagement map

Oldham Council has opened an engagement map to find out from participants where they need to install emergency COVID-19 safety measures in the borough. The map, which is hosted for free by the public engagement company Commonplace, requests comments from people who live or work