March 20, 2006

3 Interesting Articles on Cycling in Britain

Courtesy of Robert Hanks who writes The Cycling Column for The Independent:

2/28: About Fixed-Gear Bicycles.

The grit and slush of winter are thoroughly ingrained on my rear derailleur. Every gear-change sends a grinding tremor through the levers.

One solution would be to clean it all up. A more radical option would be to get rid of derailleurs altogether. Either you adopt a technological fix - those crazy Rohloff 14-speed hub gears - or you give up on gears altogether.

This is the solution favoured by Will Meister, who runs hubjub.co.uk. A few years ago, Will fell in love with riding fixed gear. He set up a website, 63xc.com, for fellow fixed off-road enthusiasts, and hubjub followed.

Read the full piece: Can I tame this Bucking Bronco?

3/7: On Abusive Drivers.

In this country, unlike most of Europe, there are still motorists who regard cyclists as intruders on the roads. But the only way to change that is just to keep on riding. Sooner or later, they'll get used to us.

Read the full piece: Don't be Driven Away by Drivers.

3/14: A recent interview with  Emily Thornberry, the Chair of the APPCG ( All Party Parliamentary Cycling Group).

A Tip of the Hat to Ian, of 2 Wheels Good, for the heads up.

Technorati Tags: Cycling, Cyclists, Europe, Motorists, Drivers

March 20, 2006 in United Kingdom Bicycle Watch | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

March 14, 2006

More Proof UK Parliamentary Group is Alive

I awoke this morning to comment to a post from Mid February in which it appeared to me that the UK Parliamentary Group was caput.

I wrote back alerting the writer to my later posts, and he fired back an addition that clears up what CB actually stands for:

MESSAGE 1:

The Group is NOT dead!

I assist the group with their activities and can assure you that the group is as active as ever.

The website has not been updated but another is in construction.

You are quite correct that each All Party Group is dissolved with Parliament and has to be reformed. However, the group reformed and already has around 50 members. There are plenty of committed cyclists still in Parliament!

Several pieces of legislation are passing through the UK Parliament at the moment with relevance to cyclists which the group's members are paying close attention to.

Officers of the group have managed to maintain the rights of cyclists to open up new paths across open countryside through active use - there was an ambiguity in a Bill banning off-road vehicles from using countryside paths and lanes.

Cycling MPs are closely scrutinising the Road Safety Bill which is progressing through the Commons at present - this Bill seeks to create a new offence of Death by Careless or Inconsiderate Driving which plugs a gap between existing offences.

Thank you for taking an interest in the activities of the All Party Parliamentary Cycle Group.

When our new website is up we will be sure to let you know!

MESSAGE 2:

Thanks for sending the links to all the entries.

All Party Groups are informal and have little in the way of administrative support – I only have a very limited amount of time reserved for the group’s activities each week.

BTW: CB stands for Cross-bencher, NOT Companion of the Order of Bath. Cross-benchers are Peers (Lords) with no party affiliation. The qualifying members have to come from the 10:7:3 split because that is the present political structure.

Your website is a very useful resource, keep up the good work!

Chris Peck

All Party Parliamentary Cycling Group Secretariat

Rule Britannia!!

God Save the Queenie!! ;-D

March 14, 2006 in United Kingdom Bicycle Watch | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

February 25, 2006

Wearing a Kilt While Cycling is OK, Though

Cycling on the pavement, in Edinburgh, Scotland, is illegal but until recently few riders in the city were prosecuted.

The times, they are a changin', as this January story reveals:

CYCLISTS face being hit with on-the-spot fines for riding on pavements under a new crackdown by council chiefs.

The get-tough approach comes after it was revealed that very few people in the city are prosecuted for riding their bikes on pavements, even though it is illegal.

Council leaders are set to call on officials to draw up proposals on how to tackle the growing problem, which has sparked scores of complaints from pedestrians.

Merchiston Lib Dem councillor Sue Tritton has tabled a motion at tomorrow's full council meeting, which is likely to attract support from other political parties.

She said the number of cyclists, especially teenagers, mounting busy pavements as a quick way to cycle around the Capital, is dangerous for pedestrians.

If the motion is passed, city development officials will draw up a list of measures to target offenders - with fines issued by police officers or council wardens a key consideration.

Full Story here:

SCOTSMAN.COM  ( 1/25 ): Fine Time for Cyclists Caught on Pavement by Alan Roden

February 25, 2006 in United Kingdom Bicycle Watch | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

February 18, 2006

Announcing a New Archive Category

While working on the latest entry in my look at the British it occurred to me that I should group some of my British related postings under a Category seperate from the rest.

So I created an Archive I call UNITED KINGDOM BICYCLE WATCH.

My research over the last few days has shown me that there is a huge amount of activism in the UK, and that it may be more comprehensive, and organized, than even in the US, and I'll be adding more links to the side bar in coming days.

February 18, 2006 in United Kingdom Bicycle Watch | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

UK Parliamentary Cycling Group: Introduction

An exploration of the United Kingdom All-Party Parliamentary Cycling Group page at the House of Commons Website proved most interesting.

The Purpose of the Group is listed as follows:

To promote the use of bicycles as a mode of transport and to raise, both inside and outside the House, the profile and status of cycling.

I'm Down with that! I'm sure most British Cyclists are too. ;-D

So what about the membership of the Group?

The Government Party is Labour, the Opposition Party is the Conservative Party, and there are reps from other minor Partys.

This is reflected in the membership of the Cycling Group.

There are 7 Officers, including a Sir, a Viscount, and a Lord.

The Chairman, a Vice-Chair, and the Secretary, are Labour.

A Vice-Chair, and a Patron, are Conservative.

A Vice-Chair is a Liberal Democrat.

The Treasurer is a CB ( Companion of the Order of the Bath -- See note at the end of this article for details ).

There are 20 Qualifying Members:

10 are Labour, including 1 Lord.

7 are Conservative, including 2 Lords.

2 are Liberal Democrats, including 1 Lord.

1 is a CB, and is a Lord.

There are 2 other pieces of important info on the page, but no Links to anything.

CONTACT DETAILS FOR CORRESPONDENCE AND GENERAL ENQUIRIES ABOUT THE GROUP = This is info on how to send a letter by regular mail to the Group Secretary, or call his office by phone.

There is no e-mail Address provided.

BENEFITS RECEIVED BY GROUP FROM SOURCES OUTSIDE PARLIAMENT = UK Cycling Alliance provides administrative assistance.

That last is interesting, but trying to find more information about the Alliance is difficult.

I so far have not found a Website for it, but this is what I HAVE found...

The Cycling Campaign Network Website has a Couple of PDF Documents of interest:

1, from January 2005, has an Announcement on page 3:

The UK Cycling Alliance is to be the new name for CPAG (the Cyclists' Parliamentary Affairs Group).
UKCA will focus on maintaining good liaison between the various cycling interests, including the cycle trade and industry, and on cultivating pro-cycling support amongst MPs and Peers.

As appropriate, it will coordinate action on behalf of cycling as a whole, or ensure that there is mutual understanding of the issues when lobbying activities are undertaken by individual
organisations.

From Pages 4 to 6 are some brief articles, under the CPAG title, about Cycling issues of the time.

Go here to read the Document.

The other key info comes from the Website of the Ancient and Honourable ( MY Title ) CTC:

What's the CTC?

CTC is the UK and Ireland’s largest and longest established national cycling membership organisation. It was founded in 1878 as the Bicycle Touring Club, subsequently becoming the Cyclists' Touring Club. In 2003 CTC celebrated 125 years of working for traveling, recreational and utility cycle users. We were the forerunners of the world wide network of cycling, motoring and tourism organisations, many of whom based their services on CTC’s.

The organisation has its origins in the early days of cycling when the bicycle opened up new horizons for independent travel. CTC set out to identify suitable hostelries for its members and include them in members’ guides and handbooks. Occasionally you will spot a round plaque on the wall of older hotels showing the CTC emblem of a winged wheel, indicating a long history of welcoming cyclists.

So what did I find on the CTC Website?

This:

CTC liaises with other organisations with related interests through participation in various umbrella groups, as follows:

CYCLISTS' PUBLIC AFFAIRS GROUP (C-PAG):

C-PAG provides a forum for co-ordination and information exchange with other cycling organisations.  Besides CTC, these include:

1. Association of Cycle Traders (ACT).

2. Bicycle Association (the association of cycle manufacturers).

3. British Cycling (the governing body for sports cycling).

4. Cycle Campaign Network (CCN – the network of local cycle campaigning groups).

5. London Cycling Campaign (by far the biggest of the CCN groups, with a place on CPAG in its own right).

6. Sustrans.     Sustrans safe routes to schools website.

7. C-PAG plays a key role in co-ordinating parliamentary lobbying on legislation affecting cyclists’ interests.  It organises an annual MPs’ bike ride in Bike Week.  It also provides support for the All Party Parliamentary Cycling Group (APPCG) of MPs and Lords who take an interest in cycling matters.

Found here.

***NOTE = WHAT IS CB? -- 2/22/06***

From the House of Commons Information Office:

Dear Kiril Kundurazieff,
Thank you for your enquiry.
There is no Political Party with the initials "CB", however I believe what you are referring to is an honour called Companion of the Order of the Bath.
Here is a link to the Wikipedia page on this.
Regards,
Miranda Olivier Wright

***END NOTE***

***Update to NOTE - 3/14***

Miranda must have had too much Tea and Scones, or something, because I got the correct definition this morning:

CB stands for Cross-bencher, NOT Companion of the Order of Bath. Cross-benchers are Peers (Lords) with no party affiliation. The qualifying members have to come from the 10:7:3 split because that is the present political structure.

Chris Peck

All Party Parliamentary Cycling Group Secretariat

***END UPDATE***

Okay so we now know a bit more about this C-PAG.

It's a Lobbying Group that provides support to the Parliamentary Cycling Group.

But still no central website can be found that promotes its membership, organizers, and activities.

I know, I know... "Blimey, but this Bloke is a NOSEY Bastard!"

Well.... that's what Bloggers do in order to find interesting stories to write about....

We poke around the Internet until we find something interesting to write about then do so.

That's what this year on The Cycling Dude is all about: Expanding on this Blogs Original Mission of informing myself, and my readers, about Bicycling, and Cycling Resources.

February 18, 2006 in United Kingdom Bicycle Watch | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

February 17, 2006

British Cycling Group still Pedalling

After writing this article, on the 15th, I wrote the office of the Chairman of the UK House of Commons: All-Party Parliamentary CYCLING Group to let her know of my findings, and about The Cycling Dude.

I received a prompt response that was at once an update, and a tad frustrating:

Dear Kiril,

Emily's website with information on the APPCG is here. Click under 'campaigns' see information on cycling.

The official register entry is here.

All Party groups need to be re-registered after a general election and
this might explain why the old link does not work.

All the best,

Omar Salem
Researcher to Emily Thornberry MP
Islington South, and Finsbury

None of the above address the question of why the old Links have yet to be Updated by her Office.

My reply to this was sent to Omar's e-mail, and I've yet to hear back.

Dear Omar,

Thank you so much for your reply, and the info about the new link.

As I mentioned on my Blog The Link listed on Her Website is inaccurate, and in need of updating to the new one for the Official Site that you have given me.

The same link is used in her notice for someone to fill a Job in the Group.

Anyone looking for the Group website, and its info, will have the same problem I described when they go to her site, and the sites of the other Officers, until you make corrections.

Also they might not even bother doing THAT if they saw the listing I did that said that only Groups with an Asterisk next to their name were newly re-registered, and thus still active.

Your group did not have such a mark.

I will update my link, and post an update report on my Blog.

Sincerely yours,

KIRIL KUNDURAZIEFF

This experience has shown me the importance of doing an investigative series on not just the UK Cycling Group, but the Congressional Bicycle Caucus here in the US.

Do the members have active links to their Group List?

Do the members have ANYTHING on their sites about cycling, and cycling issues?

How many members actually DO Bicycle?

I DID discover, this morning, that there IS an updated link to a list of ACTIVE Parliamentary Groups ( As of 2/10/06 ) that lists the new website for the Cycling Group.

Due to my Eye Surgery next week I will have a month full of free time, and figure that now is as good a time as any to begin this project.

Stay tuned! ;-D

February 17, 2006 in United Kingdom Bicycle Watch | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

February 15, 2006

UK Parliamentary Cycling Group may be dead

I have discovered a missing link in the List!

When you click on this UK House of Commons: All-Party Parliamentary CYCLING Group, the message on the page is as follows:

NOT FOUND: The requested object does not exist on this server. The link you followed is either outdated, inaccurate, or the server has been instructed not to let you have it.

Hmmm...

Here's the SCOOP!

According to a Document Ifound, that lists all Groups in th ALL-PARTY Group list, only those with an Asterisk are still active:

At dissolution of Parliament (11 April 2005), before the General Election, every All Party Group was disbanded. These groups had until 14 July 2005 to re-register, shortly after this date the lists were updated with the new APPG’s.

Some groups have been registered, these entries are indicated with an asterisk (*) before the group name. All other entries have not yet reregistered and so information present may not be accurate.

So what ARE these Groups all about, anyway?

From the same Document:

All-party groups are unofficial, and have a membership of backbench Members of the House of Commons, or of both Houses. They are classified either as subject groups(relating to a particular topic eg. forestry) or relating to a particular country or region).

The groups tend on the whole to cover subjects which are not generally contentious in party terms. These groups flourish and wane according to the interests and enthusiasm of Members and with the topicality of various subjects. They reflect the interests of the day and therefore may change frequently.

Over the years since 1945, it has been argued, less and less influence has been exerted by backbench Members in the formulation of government policy, and there has been insufficient consultation between backbenchers and Ministers.

All-party groups can sometimes serve as a counterbalance to this. They have a liaison function and can, when necessary, exert pressure on a Minister to modify policy or influence legislation and further action in particular areas. They thus play a part in the flexible pattern of consultation that Governments nowadays employ in order to sound out views both inside and outside Parliament. Non party activity is important, for it ensures that parliamentary life is not wholly dominated by party feeling. It helps Members to appreciate the qualities of their political opponents, and to establish yet more firmly an underlying consensus about the value of parliamentary institutions.

To sum up, all-party groups may draw attention to certain aspects of public affairs, may assist in keeping the Government informed of parliamentary opinion, and may act as pressure-groups to promote some particular cause.

And as Peter Richards said in The Backbenchers ( Faber & Faber, 1974): Non party activity is important, for it ensures that parliamentary life is not wholly dominated by party feeling. It helps Members to appreciate the qualities of their political opponents, and to establish yet more firmly an underlying consensus about the value of parliamentary institutions.

Very Interesting.

So I checked the list for the Bike Group's Status.

There was no Asterisk next the entry:

CYCLING GROUP (APPG)

Statement of Purpose: To promote the use of bicycles as a mode of transport and to raise the profile and status of

cycling both inside and outside the House.

Ch. Emily Thornberry MP (Lab); VCh. Andrew Stunell MP (LD), Andrew Robathan MP (Con), Gwyn Prosser MP (Lab);

Sec. Lord Berkeley (Lab); Tre: Viscount Craigavon (CB);Patron: Sir George Young MP (Con); Contact: Mr Oliver Hatch,

31 Arodene Road, London, SW2 2BQ Tel. 020 8671 7561

Thornberry's site has an inoperative link to the Group Page.

Stunell's site has no link at all.

Robathan has no website.

Prosser's site has no link at all.

Young's site has no link at all.

As for His Lordship and His Viscountship... I found pages with pictures, and not much else.

I have no idea who Mr. Hatch is.

I REALLY need to keep up with the fate of my links. ;-D

Stay tuned as I will try to ascertain wassup with the Group ( E-mail sent to Chairman ), and if it still exists at all. ;-D

February 15, 2006 in United Kingdom Bicycle Watch | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack