12 avr. 2015

Bicycle culture in London part 2: London's Brompton championship

In such a city like London where you have to pay to access the city center by car and where you can rely on good public transport networks, lots of people are combining them with folding bikes and especially Brompton bikes for their transportation.

This model, built since the beginning of the 80’s in London, is probably the most popular folding bike. It was declared bicycle of the year 1996 by the German bicycle association and since 2006 a Brompton national championship takes place in 20 countries (but not in France). There’s also a Brompton world championship for all the winner of the national challenge. For me it's like the UK Brompton national championship runs every day in the city of London because there are so many people performing a daily London Brompton championship…


 
 





 

If you're going to visit London and have a special interest about folding bikes and especially the Brompton's, don't forget to have a look at the official Brompton shop. Opened since September 2013 in the heart of London, the store “Brompton junction” includes a bike and accessories show room and a workshop. As lot of London’s bike shops, you can even have a coffee or a tea while your Brompton is being repaired.

9 avr. 2015

Bicycle culture in London part 1: London's cycling policy...

The only informations I had about biking in London were strange projects of cycle tracks disconnected to urban life, cyclists killed by trucks, the blue colour of Barclays bank trying to do some greenwashing by promoting a cycle superhighway network or cycle renting and the mayor of London, the famous Boris Johnson who was predicting that London will become as welcoming to bikes as Amsterdam or Copenhagen. It was time for me to see with my own eyes what was happening in London, for real…

Exiting the railway station I was pleased to see a lots of cyclists riding downtown. I was much less pleased to observe they were riding in the middle of the traffic, slaloming between trucks, buses, taxis and cars because there actually is no cycling infrastructure in London. My apology, there is but it's so rare and narrow, (the average width for a cycle track is 1 meter -1,5 m in France-) you can't call it a specific biking pathway.




Therefore, most part of London's cyclists are hardcore male who are training for the Tour de France or for the cycle messenger world championships. They're all riding with racing bicycles or fixies, and lots of them are wearing flashing cycling clothes and helmets. 





Fortunately, from time to time, you can see cyclists riding with style, in everyday clothes, on a Barclay rental bike or a classical one. 

 

 

I didn’t see any kids riding their bikes to go to school during the three days I spent in London, nor superpops, nor mums going to the nursery with their baby in a rear seat or in a cargo bike, nor old people riding their bike to stay in good health… Instead I saw lots of cyclists pedalling with a gas mask to prevent them from air pollution…


Trying to promote public transports use by taxing cars in the city center is good (drivers have to pay 10,5£ (14,5 €) per day to move in the congestion charge zone) but it seems like London has forgotten for many decades to promote bicycle at the same time. The congestion charge is working since July 2005 and the first actions of London to promote bicycle was put in service in 2010 with the Barclays cycle hire and the first Barclays cycle superhighway (more informations about this two projects in following articles...)

But to put different people then hardcore cyclists on bikes, City of London has to improve roads safety. This the only city where I saw ghost bikes, exactly three... Cars and trucks have killed so many cyclists they have forced the city of London to do something good for the cyclists. First one is communication about trucks blind spots. Buses and many trucks have flyers in the rear to remember cyclists the danger of overtaking this kind of vehicles. City is also preventing cyclists to respect the traffic laws and cycling policemen are watching out reckless cyclists who jump the traffic lights... 







At last, thanks to the work of lots of people, associations and especially the London cycling campaign, things are going to move. The city is planning new segregated cycle superhighway... Maybe I have to come back in several years to see if London is becoming Amsterhagen or Copendam. But for the moment London is the least bicycle friendly city I rode!

1 avr. 2015

Les Vélhopers de Mars 2015.

Les Vélhopers de Mars ont progressivement recommencé quand la température le permettait à rouler sans gants, écharpes ou bonnets. Certains ont même ressortit les lunettes de soleil...







Le Vélhoper du mois est ce père de famille qui se déplace en compagnie de son enfant bien emmitouflé et confortablement assis dans son siège.


Rendez-vous fin Avril pour voir si les Vélhopers ne se découvrent pas d'un style...