2 Apr 2014

Chiltern Cyclist festival July 13th

Already booked into my diary, the Chiltern Bike festival has something for everyone from toddlers to sportif riders. The festival will run on Sunday July 13th in Old Amersham. You can get there by bike too- about 1 hour 50 each way which is a nice summer ride!

Wouldn't it be nice if the council listened to what STACC is saying and helped us put something like this on in St Albans?

31 Mar 2014

Gone in 30 seconds?

There's a sad story of bike theft in the Advertiser at the moment. Westminster Lodge bike racks appear to be a bit of a theft hotspot at the moment, but the way people are locking their bikes up isn't helping.

On Saturday me and my daughter rode to Westminster Lodge to go for a swim. Arriving at the bike racks I looked around at the other bikes locked up in the racks and found most could have been stolen in less than 30 seconds, some without tools.

This one, locked with a cable lock which could be cut with scissors:

This one, only 'locked' around the seat pin, gone in 30 seconds without tools:

and this one, asking for its wheels to be stolen:

There was another bike, which had its front wheel locked to the frame, but it wasn't locked to the bike rack. I didn't take a photo of that one as the owner arrived at the time, but I did show him how to lock his bike up properly.

Out of all the bikes there, only mine and two others were locked with decent locks applied properly.

Follow these hints, lock it and don't lose it!

28 Mar 2014

Bike commuters up 26% in St Albans since 2001

..but we're still only 1.7% of the commuting share, according to the 2011 census.

Press stories both locally and nationally are talking about huge increases in people riding bikes to work in cities where significant investment has been made like London and Bristol. Outside these areas the picture isn't as rosy and we're seeing static or decreasing numbers especially in rural areas.

Here is St Albans the 2011 census shows we've seen an increase of 26% in the number of people cycling to work since 2001. That's something over 600 people, but it only puts the cycle commuter percentage up 0.4 percentage points to 1.7%. This short sells cycling as a daily activity in St Albans by a touch since the census figures don't include people who ride their bikes to the station as part of their daily commute, and there are a lot of rail commuters filling up the bike racks at the station these days.

Surveys from the Department Of Transport in 2012 show a better picture for cycling in the city:

22% cycle once a month or more in 2012 , up 2% from 20% in 2011
13% cycle once a week or more in 2012, up 1% from 12% in 2011
6% cycle three times a week or more in 2012, up 1% from 5% in 2011
4% cycle 5 times a week or more, static against 2011 figures.

So we have what is probably a fairly active community of people riding bikes for leisure too, and if you've been out in the lanes at the weekends or along the Alban Way you'll see lots of evidence of this.

So, what can be done to increase cycling here? What the census figures show us is that investment in cycling facilities is key. We need a city where people don't have a perception that cycling is dangerous and cycling becomes more of a default choice for local journeys- people need to believe that you don't need to dress up, you don't need to fight your way through traffic, you just get on your bike and ride safely and easily to work, school, the shops, the park, the pub, the doctors, the library- wherever.

To do this we need better cycling facilities provided by a significant increase in funding and real commitment and leadership from St Albans and Hertfordshire councils to provide safe on and off road facilities for cycling. linking where people live to where they want to go. We're not going to get Dutch style segregation any time soon, but some more strategic spoke routes linking the Green Ring to the city centre would be a good start, as would 20mph limits and signposted routes into town along less busy streets.

Cycling isn't a political issue.Active travel like cycling addresses issues about congestion, pollution, activity, health and transport poverty which are common to all of us, regardless of politics.

7 Mar 2014

Where will you ride this weekend?

The weather is improving how about joining the growing throng of riders out each weekend and go for a ride in the countryside? You can go solo, with friends or out with the family but it's often good to join in with organised rides where the route is planned and stops for refreshment at suitable places are already thought out. 

There are many local groups for all levels of cyclist running rides starting from the St Albans area, often free as clubs usually offer free rides before asking for membership. If you like the club experience join up- the annual membership is often less than the cost of entering a charity ride and you will get rides throughout the year.

Here's a selection of what's on offer at the moment

Women-only rides:
Five Miles to Fabulous. Run by STACC's own Rona, the rides are for women who want to cycle, but are put off by the state of the roads and the traffic and the lack of suitable group rides.  The format is an easy ride incorporating a coffee stop, using quieter roads and traffic free-routes.  The ride thus gives an opportunity both to gain confidence in traffic and discover routes that avoid busy roads.

Family/Shorter rides
This Saturday (8th March) there is a family ride along theAlban Way to partner a factfinding excercise about a mural on the Alban Way. There will be another similar ride in April.

Skyrides do organised rides at many ability levels- these are free to join but need booking.

Longer rides

Verulam Cycle club have club runs on Sunday mornings- the social ride is a good starter, roughly 40 miles at an easy pace of 11mph with a cafe stop for tea and cake and a guarantee that you won't be left behind. Contact them in advance because VVC are keen to ensure you lnow how to ride in groups before you go out- this is done with a quick an instructive briefing. You'll also need third party insurance which you will already have of you are a member of CTC or British Cycling.

CTC south Herts do rides on Wednesdays, Saturday and Sundays over a selection of distances, starting at 20 miles, with cafe and lunch stops.

For Mountain Bikers, Harpenden's OTT Mountain bike club do runs on Sundays and midweek with newbie rides for people who haven't ridden with them before on the first Sunday of the month.

40 plus Cycle Club do midweek rides on Tuesdays  and Thursdays- these are around between 10 and 20 miles at an easy pace.

5 Mar 2014

Spring's almost here- is your bike ready?

After the torrential rains of the winter it looks like spring is almost here- the days are lengthening, it's not raining quite as much and the weather's begging warmer. Bike racks at the station are filling up more each day, the St Albans Rotary bike ride is coming, there's a ride along the Alban Way next Saturday and if the number of people out riding last Sunday is anything to go by this will be a huge Summer of cycling here in St Albans.

If your bike is waking from its winter hibernation or is suffering from the effects of riding all winter, now is the time to check it. If you can't safely do the work yourself book it in for a service at one of the city's bike shops -  STACC has negotiated some good discounts at some local shops which will save you far more in one service than you pay in membership for your houshold for the year.

In St Albans:
Mobile bike mechanic Mike Narramore at Cycle Tech Herts will service your bike at City station on Mondays or Wednesdays, or by appointment most days. Show your STACC membership card and get 10% discount on parts and acessories.

On Victoria Street Addiktion Cycles give STACC members 10% discount (excluding bikes and servicing) and Rock and Road offer also offer us 10% discount (excluding labour)

Outside St Albans:
Head over to the Hub at Redbourne where you'll get 10% discount on servicing and accesories (20% on soem accessories) and 10% discount on cyclist essentials of excellent coffee and cake. Book in advance and drink coffee and munch cake while your bike is being serviced.

3 Mar 2014

Bike maintenance for kids

Halfords are running their Kids' bike club again this year. It's a short lesson covering safety checks and how to fix a puncture- free and well worth the effort to teach your children about how a bike works and what to check before riding. Here's a report from last year's course.

Spaces are limited so book here.

28 Feb 2014

Family Cycle Ride and Sustrans event on Alban Way - Saturday 8 March

Hello everybody I just wanted to let you all know that we are holding an event in St Albans on Saturday 8th of March. Sorry it is such short notice it’s a last minute  thing. There is an art project which is taking a local youth group to paint a mural under one of the bridges on the Alban Way. The bridge is where the Alban Way meets Orient Close. We are holding an information  stand there along with a smoothie bike and  a Dr Bike. We want to recruit more volunteers in St Albans to look after the Alban Way. The event will run from 12pm to 3pm concluding with a family cycle along the Alban Way towards Hatfield.
Siobhan McSwiggan
Community Champions Officer
East of England
Update: from St Albans City and District Council -
Creative ideas needed for Alban Way mural
Come to a fun, family event on Saturday 8 March and contribute ideas on what to include in a new street art community mural for the Alban Way.
You can take part in creative activities, get your bike safety checked and learn about the old railway that once ran along the Alban Way.
Provided by St Albans City and District Council and Sustrans, the event will take place from 12 noon to 3pm at the Alban Way entrance on Orient Close.
Young people from the Cunningham Hub Youth Café will be present to gather ideas for a mural they are creating to decorate the tunnel under London Road. Accompanied by a professional artist, they will be asking passers-by how they use the Alban Way as inspiration for the mural.
During the afternoon, there will also be an eight mile, off-road bike ride for families along the Alban Way to the outskirts of Hatfield.
Before setting off, cyclists will be able to test their pedal power by making a healthy drink on a specially adapted ‘Smoothie bike’. Dr Bike will also be on hand to carry out bicycle safety checks and simple maintenance.