Monday, 14 December 2015

#ChristmasTrees #CargoBikes

It is always good to find a new use for your bike and Christmas brings great seasonal opportunities. So when it came to getting our tree at the weekend I thought why not just bring it home by bike. I found the lock doubled as a useful mechanism for holding the tree in place and like many car owners with their magic trees my journey involved a fine pine aroma.
And only a few moments and a few cheers later we arrived home tree in place.
The following day and with a little bit of decorating we ended up with this! An artistic piece titled !Angel in a Balaclava" courtesy of PoP.
If you have time please visit the link and read about little Samira.

Wednesday, 9 December 2015

#CyclistsMustBeValued #Health

It is clear from the experience of commuter cycling or everyday cycling in Belfast that cyclists aren't valued. In part this is because we are still at a very early stage of infrastructure improvements but its also in part because there is limited appreciation of the broader societal benefits.

The UK "Cycling 10:10" study earlier this year confirmed that serious health benefits flow from cycling and for any Government that means money saved. Most interestingly it found that by becoming more regular cyclists people weren't only happier and less stressed but they adopted other healthier behaviour patterns, "the snowball effect". Whilst most people tend to underreport their alcohol consumption, certainly to their GPs, the study found that alcohol consumption dropped by 30% in cyclists and 50% of those getting around by bike had an improved diet.

 The 2012 Copenhagen bicycle account found a 30% decrease in mortality amongst those who cycle daily and quantified the annual health benefit of cycling to be a phenomenal 1.7 billion DKK per annum so around 200 million pounds. The 2014 Bicycle account assesses the socioeconomic benefit of a km being cycled compared to it not have taken place as 1.62 DKK so just shy of 20p.

So following this through, if you do this

You end up with this

Which means more of this

But to keep it going it's the little things that count. So do this
And say "tak" by doing this
And as @nigreenways rightly says, if you want them to buy stuff in your shops don't forget to give them somewhere to park.

If you have time please visit

Thursday, 3 December 2015

#Cycling #Benefits #PublicHealth #CyclingTsar

At a time when we have less available public money to spend in Northern Ireland, in part due to the fiscal policies of central Government and in part due to how regional Government has operated, it is important we adopt a longer term strategy and get policies right.

Despite investment in cycling infrastructure being relatively inexpensive set against other capital projects, it has been often viewed by civil servants and roads engineers as some sort of luxury or add on.

Yet far from being a luxury or add on, it is a must. It is a must because it allows the public to themselves through daily routine delivery important outcomes of better physical and mental health. It allows the public through habit to deliver positive outcomes for small retailers, reduced crime, reduced anti-social behaviour, an increase in the urban population and an improved urban environment. Increased population density makes public services more efficient and less expensive to deliver as well as providing a strong income stream for local councils. In turn a positive urban environment drives visitor numbers to a city as well as improves the lives of its citizens. The global column inches dedicated to Copenhagen as a cycling city provides a wealth of positive free publicity.

Whether you think of the growth in health expenditure or the cost of roads maintenance increasing the number of journeys on foot or by bike has positive outcomes for both.

To derive these benefits we need to have significant change in the quality and density of segregated cycle routes. The Belfast bike hire scheme has confirmed what many suspected, that Belfast could be a leading cycling city, but only through sustained (not huge sums) capital investment in infrastructure and an pro-cycling attitude right across Government can we deliver these favourable outcomes.

Danny Kennedy did set up a cross departmental working group on cycling to bridge the gaps between departments but maybe its time we had a cycling Tsar for Belfast or better still Northern Ireland to provide even greater focus.

In urban areas we should target improving the cycle commuter experience and in rural areas we could really get local Government to buy into cycle tourism on the Westport and Great Western Greenway model. A significant component of the European tourism market has already taken a foothold in the South and there is no reason whatsoever it couldn't bike North too.


Wednesday, 2 December 2015

#Alzheimers #Cycling #PositiveImpact #MentalHealth

There has been a slight delay in me updating with a new post because of a really important charity campaign I am trying to help for little Samira

It did get me thinking about cycling charity events and the work that is being undertaken in some countries in relation to those with Alzheimers. There has been evidence generated that older people who exercise (including those who cycle) are less likely to develop Alzheimers, but there is also evidence that taking sufferers out by bike slows the negative impacts of the condition. It compliments the argument that those who cycle has more positive wellbeing and mental health outcomes. Anyway in doing some reading into the topic I found @CycleWithoutAge and some wonderful images.

Therefore CargoBikes and Cycling are not just for those who can cycle or their kids. It is for lots of categories of people less able to cycle who can still experience the elements. A volunteer programme operates with people taking residents out for a bike ride to get the "wind in their hair". Could this happen in Northern Ireland too????

Interesting links on this topic appear below