Tuesday, 15 October 2013

Cargo biking: Every Day a New Discovery No. 3

The freedom of being able to cycle through a patch of congestion (with all due care, of course) and sail off out of it.

Tuesday, 8 October 2013

Cargo biking: Every Day a New Discovery No. 2

Shopping is a lot easier by cargo bike. As I cycle along the Regent's Park Outer Circle through Clarence Gate at the top of Baker Street, I remember I need some DIY stuff and that there's a brilliant DIY shop in Melcombe Street. On foot, after a day's work, with toxic rivers of traffic heading south from Park Road and the Outer Circle, I might have just thought 'oh, forget it until next time'.

The cargo bike makes the spontaneous shopping stop easy. As the traffic grinds to a congested halt, I simply signal I'm slowing down to stop and roll her off the road onto a conveniently wide bit of pavement. She comes equipped with a frame lock. Seconds later she's locked and secure and I can walk down to the shop, load up, speak to the guys behind the counter without worrying about getting a parking fine, go back to where I've left the bike, load up the cargo box, unlock her and cycle back. The road traffic is often roughly where I left it.

Monday, 7 October 2013

Cargo biking: Every Day a New Discovery No. 1

The span of Borisette's two front wheels is only 85 cm but on roads which have lots of parked vehicles - or roads where vehicles park on both sides of the road - I often have to wait like everyone else behind a box van rattling with either a light load or emptiness before I can move when the lights change.

This morning ‏@K4RGO, helpfully translating from @Ecoprofile's Swedish, provided the following statistic:

Cyclelogistics: 51% of motorized freight transport in cities can be done by #cargobikes

Monday, 26 August 2013

Are We Getting Fat As A Nation?

I was certainly getting fat before I acquired my cargo bike. I sit at a desk all day. I like being thin, or at least thinner than I was. I have never been good at cutting down on food. And anyway it's a double fail. You cut down on food :( and cutting down on food makes only the most marginal difference to how much weight you lose :( :( 

I can only speak personally of course, but riding my cargo bike has, to my great surprise, taken off 5 kg of totally unnecessary body weight in 5 weeks - and I haven't even been trying. I love that Sextus Empiricus.

Saturday, 10 August 2013

Borisette the cargo bike rides to the park for some extra oxygen. A peacock stalks over, as only peacocks can, to investigate. This encounter with a particularly fancy bird reminds me of a further wonder of using a cargo bike to transport oneself: I can wear my ordinary clothes. The bike is clean. The lubricated bits and potentially road dirty bits (tyres and chain) are covered. This does not mean I won't clean and polish her from time to time but, day-to-day, she's the most step off and step into the office form of transport you could imagine. And she carries my paper-weighty back pack. PS: London Cyclist has just linked to his blog on bike cleaning on Twitter. You can find it here.

Wednesday, 7 August 2013

Here is the great and extremely prescient Martin Amis on the great American automobile age:

"The five lanes coming into the city were all blocked and the five lanes going out of the city were all blocked; between these two great metal Mississippis of steam and suffering, of spiritual durance, there lay a railtrack on which brightly lit and entirely empty trains sped past in both directions. No one ever used the trains. They had to be in the cars. Americans were martyrs to the motors; autos were their autos-da-fé. Never mind what cars have in store for us globally, biospherically; cars our cars hate us and humiliate us, at every turn, they humiliate us."

From The Information, 1995, HarperCollins (UK)

Monday, 5 August 2013

On the Dutch and Their Cycling: Do They Really Live on Another Planet?

No, obviously not (see mock questionnaire below). If their cycling culture can add to personal freedom and happiness for all ages and better city function overall (and anyone who has visited NL can confirm this), we can surely emulate this in GB. The RideLondon weekend is over. There was a bit of dropped handlebar, head down racing - not very urban-friendly - but it brought massive attention to cycling. And as @TeamGB said, the important thing was not to win or lose but that "More importantly 70,000 people cycled on car free streets in London & Surrey.” I agree. Experiencing roads in and out of London on a bike reinforces the message "don't just think about it, do it".

My own cycling aims are to get from A to B. Obviously, I want to do this in as safe and stress-free a way as possible.

I'm also interested in getting fit away from my desk. My gut feeling about this - and the gut/stomach complex, directly linked to the brain as it is, is a remarkably astute organ - is that activity slims you down but stress can fatten you up again.

Ergo, if you cycle in everyday urban conditions you lose weight. However, my gut feeling goes on, if you cycle in stressful conditions you will dismount so shaken up and p'd off that you will head straight for chilled lager or three or down to the KFC or whatever foodie emporium hits the spot for you.

Whereas, if you cycle in less stressful conditions (let us not talk about stress free, there being no such thing) it's a win-win. Your personal win-win every time you get on and off your bike.
The Regent's Park landscape scheme matures: years after it was laid out, the designer’s vision can be seen as it finally comes to fruition.

On cycling, once again let me mention the Dutch, the cycling nation par excellence: 

Are they stressed? y/n
Are they overweight? y/n
Do they exhibit beer guts? y/n
Do they look as if they're miserable? y/n
Do they frequent AA? y/n
Do they live on another planet? y/n