Archive for June, 2011

8th Cycling and Society Research Group Symposium

June 27, 2011

Nicholas Oddy, organiser of this year’s Cycling and Society Research Group Symposium, has just announced the programme, which I’ve copied below. The Symposium takes place on Monday 5th September 2011, at Glasgow School of Art. (We also have a meeting the following day, which anyone interested in cycling research is welcome to attend.)

On Monday there will be ten presentations spanning a broad range of topics (though all of course in some way or another to do with cycling!).

The event is free, but registration is essential. To register, contact Nicholas (n dot oddy at gsa dot ac dot uk)

We’re a friendly bunch, and our annual gatherings are informal and relaxed. So whatever your background, it’d be great to see you there!


Dave Horton

Cycling in Britain: historical roots, current state, future prospects


Sarah Leonard

Understanding the image of cycling in the UK: a social marketing case study


Henrietta Sherwin, Kiron Chatterjee and Juliet Jain

What counts as ‘social influence’? pondering the complexities of social influence and cycling






Justin Spinney

Lost in the crowd: video, affect and the (re)production of an urban bike messenger identity


Rachel Dilley & Katrina Brown

The role of mobile video methods in the (re)production and disruption of gendered subjectivities in cycling






Tim Jones

Understanding everyday cycling in cities: identities,  practices, experiences and visions


Alan J Munro

Ushering in banality: cycling as infrastructure and the infrastructure for cycling




Cathy Jarvis

Oh, what a feeling! cycling, space and safety


Richard Mann

The seven ages of cycling: How Oxford’s middle classes have adapted an English city – and themselves – for cycling


Plenary and tea


Andrew Millward

Cycling and tobacco




Last night my son shook hands with Bradley Wiggins …

June 22, 2011

and how chuffed he was! (My son; I can’t speak for Bradley ….)

Bobby congratulated Bradley on his splendid recent victory in the Critérium du Dauphiné stage race. And Bradley signed Bobby’s Salt Ayre Cog Set racing top, having first sensibly checked that he did really want his autograph scrawled across it.

Bobby was understandably nervous to meet face-to-face, and actually get to speak to, someone he has previously only seen thundering round Manchester’s velodrome, as well as on many more occasions on TV, winning Olympic gold medals, breaking world records, riding time trials, and sometimes clearly suffering alongside the world’s other top riders in the high mountains which are the crowning glory – the pinnacle – of our sport.

So it was good it was Sue, with her much cooler and more sociable personality, rather than I who accompanied Bobby to the track last night. I’d have been useless, but Sue can strike up a conversation with anyone, and usually does. So she chatted easily to Bradley and Ben, and ensured Bobby met a cycling champion.

Bobby has been riding the Tuesday night crits at Salt Ayre, our local cycling track. Last night, Bradley’s son Ben rode in the same youth race as Bobby, whilst his wife Cath rode in the senior’s event. Bradley was there to support his family. How great is that? Fresh from winning a major stage race, and just before heading back to France for the really big one, a cycling star comes down to your local bike track, and mixes with club riders at the sport’s grass-roots.

Very good luck on the Tour Bradley – like people everywhere, many of us in Lancaster are wishing you and the rest of Team Sky well, and will be shouting you on, next month.

Building Cycling Cultures, Leicester

June 16, 2011

Here’s Andy Salkeld, Leicester’s fantastic man of cycling, urging us all on in the business of building cycling cultures, at The Phoenix in Leicester. Although it was a team effort, and many other people on the ground in Leicester helped pull the whole thing together so successfully (especially Janet Hudson of British Cycling, and John Coster of Citizens’ Eye), Andy must take much of the credit.

There were around 120 adults and 30 young people crowded into The Phoenix on Sunday, for a hectic and inspiring afternoon of talks, discussions and workshops.

After a great buffet lunch (I hope others feel the event, at £10 including food and drinks, was as much of a bargain as I do), formal business began with a series of presentations. Andy kicked things off, and was followed by Leicester City Council’s Deputy Mayor Rory Palmer, myself, Rachel Aldred of the University of East London, Roger Geffen of CTC, and Jon Orcutt of New York City Department of Transportation. Here are Jon, Rachel and I, waiting our turns to speak.

Jon talked about recent changes to cycling in New York; as Policy Director he has been centrally involved. It was a really great presentation, with Jon’s hard-earned wisdom and insightful details accompanied by splendid photos. I was particularly taken with this slide, introducing a typology that could have come straight out of our own Understanding Walking and Cycling research.

Jon explained how the recent boost in New York’s cycling levels has been achieved through increasing dedicated and segregated space for cycling along some big and busy roads; again, an intervention our research concludes is needed in the UK if we’re to move beyond the ‘strong and fearless’ and even the ‘enthused and confident’, and start tapping into the ‘interested but concerned’.

Workshop sessions followed these presentations. There were also great stalls to check out, and far too many inspiring people to try to find time to talk to. And the afternoon closed with us all getting back together to knock around ideas on how to keep building cycling cultures, and make cycling bigger.

Thanks to Griet Scheldeman for the photos, and to all who came, in whatever capacity, and contributed to such a rich and rewarding event. I’m already looking forward to seeing some familiar faces as well as some new ones back at The Phoenix next year (because mad fools that we are, we’re planning to do it all again, but hopefully even bigger and better next time!).

The state of cycling in England

June 15, 2011

I wrote an article for BikeHub a few days ago, based on the preliminary findings of the Understanding Walking and Cycling project on which I work, and the presentation I made at the recent Building Cycling Cultures event in Leicester. I’m linking to it here, because otherwise some of you won’t find it.

It was quite ‘painful’ to write. I made myself write quickly, so I could send it off to Carlton Reid, BikeHub’s editor, before I had second thoughts. (My thanks to Carlton for giving my analysis greater publicity than it would otherwise have got.) It represents a shift in my thinking, which has come about because of the fieldwork across four English cities I’ve been doing these last couple of years. I’m currently wading through the data that fieldwork has produced, and trying to make sense of it all; the BikeHub article is part of that sense-making activity.

Some conclusions of our research contradict what I previously thought. So part of the analytical process has entailed, for me personally, thinking carefully about my responsibilities as an academic, and also about what matters most, both to me and the world. I’m convinced we need to step up our ambitions for cycling, to fundamentally re-make our cities around the bicycle.

Sportive riding for kids

June 8, 2011

I made a blunder on the domestic front when I agreed to the dates for the Building Cycling Cultures event, which took place in Leicester at the weekend (I’ll write about it later this week): I had to disappear down south on Saturday, Bobby’s 10th birthday, and completely missed our local sportive, run by our cycling club (Lancaster CC), which took place on Sunday.

Le Terrier is a wonderful event, with this year a choice of three distances through our local countryside around the Forest of Bowland. Before I mucked it up, we’d discussed riding the shortest route as a family, with Flo and me on the tandem. (Though I’d also have loved to try the new and tough looking 102 mile route with some of my cycling mates.)

But with me down south, Sue and Bobby decided they’d try the 43 mile route anyway, especially when Bobby’s classmate Ffion and her Dad Rick also opted to give it a go. Sue’s written a short report of the day, which I’ve copied below.

“Some people think I’m bonkers,

But I just think I’m free…”

This is the lyric which Rick kept singing as we began the Le Terrier short route on Sunday. A bit annoying, but he had a point. There’s nowt bonkers about going on a 45 mile bike ride, even if it is a bit cold and rainy, but taking two children with us? It felt a potentially daft thing to do. It’s true that Bobby (ten years and one day old) had cycled to Slaidburn last year, but he then stayed the night before coming back to Lancaster. Meanwhile his classmate Ffion (who’s just still 9) has been riding a 6 mile time trial regularly, but had never ridden up a steep hill. Could they do it, could they enjoy it, or might we have a moanfest of a day, have to call for a motorised rescue, and put them off cycling for ever?

The first hill, Jubilee Tower, is a bit of a workout – indeed, a climb I used to be scared of. The kids hit their bottom gears, danced on their pedals, but then Ffion got off and walked. I think she had exhausted herself by being undergeared! She also felt sick from the sight of so much fresh road kill … all those baby rabbits hoppity hopping to their deaths. Luckily she listened to her dad’s advice, and soon learned how to climb without needing to stop, and to look away from the tarmac carnage.

As we continued to the Trough of Bowland the rain got harder, so at Dunsop Bridge we treated our cold toes and fingers to the warmth of the café. Bobby and Ffion could probably have made their hot chocolates and flapjacks last until tea time, but we eventually got them back out into the rain with the promise of more treats at the Slaidburn stop. There the small kitchen was bustling with friendly cyclists in thin or non-existent rain coats having the same conversation: “this wasn’t forecast” and “I’ve not come prepared for this weather!” We indulged in the feast of unlimited sandwiches, malt loaf, cake, flapjacks and (most excitingly for the children) crisps and jelly babies.

Perhaps it was the quantity of food he’d just eaten which led Bob to have an emotional wobble on a climb soon after: “I’m not doing this next year”, “I’m going to be sick!” and “I can’t do it”. Or perhaps it was my honest reply to his question “are we half way there yet?” We weren’t, quite, but he recovered. The clouds cleared and the climb up to the Cross o’Greet was glorious.

Cruising down from the Cross was fabulous. Bob was absolutely beaming with the thrill and exhilaration of it, and asked if we could ride back up to do it again. Request denied. On we went, with Rick delighted to discover such beautiful lanes to ride on, after living in Lancaster for more than 20 years. Faster riders kept speeding past us, but we rolled on and down to Wray, and then hunkered down to the busier roads which complete the short course. As he had promised in the morning, Bob sprinted off as soon as we entered Williamson’s Park, closely followed by Ffion.

All in all it took us almost seven hours, with four and a half hours of riding – around one minute off the saddle for every two minutes on it! I think Rick and I were probably prouder of our offspring than they were of themselves. Both asked the same question on going to bed: “can I do the 67 mile route next year?”

Congratulations Bobby and Ffion – you’re both super stars! And well done Sue and Rick – if you like, you two can do the big one next year and the kids can coax me around one of the shorter options! And big thanks to the many people involved in making the event such a great success – I promise not to miss 2012’s Le Terrier!