i b i k e l o n d o n

You're invited to the CycleLove x ibikelondon Christmas Ride

London's streets are sparkling with illuminations as Christmas approaches - and there's no better way to take in the festive scenes than on a bike ride rounded off with drinks in good company...

 Regent Street Christmas lights, by Tom Payne with thanks.

So join James from CycleLove and me, Mark from ibikelondon, for a festive lighthearted spin around the seasonal lights and sites of London's West End on Thursday 18th December.  It's a chance to get in to the Christmas spirit, celebrate the success of the year and to catch up over mince pies and a beer or four with friends old and new.  

After an incredible year of the most stylish cycling reportage and one amazing summer adventure by Boris Bike, CycleLove is coming to a close very soon so this is a good chance to say "chapeau" to James in person.  And after a year of relentless cycle campaigning I'm looking forward to having a fun night out on my bike that simply celebrates the best way to get around town, in the company of like-minded cyclists.

Setting off from Look Mum No Hands on Old Street at 6:30PM we'll see the Norwegian Christmas tree in Trafalgar Square, the twinkling white lights of Long Acre and the beautiful illuminated Peacocks of New Bond Street.  We've devised a special route that packs in maximum Christmas dazzle for your seasonal delectation, so wind some fairy lights around your bike frame, don your best Christmas jumper, and I'll bring the playlist of cringeworthy Christmas tunes.  After taking in the sites on our easy and steady-paced ride we'll return to Old Street for drinks and to see out the night.

Hope to see you there! 

CycleLove x ibikelondon Christmas Ride
Thursday 18th December 2014

5.30—6.30PM: Meet at Look Mum No Hands! (Old St) for drinks.
6.30—7.45PM: Ride around the Christmas lights.
7.45PM: Return to LMNH, more drinks.

Bikes of all style and riders of all abilities are welcome; just let us know you're coming on the Facebook event page.  
Got a question? Ask James or me on Twitter: CycleLove or markbikeslondon


Friday Throwback: would you let your kids ride this bike?

It's nearly the weekend, which means it is time for another in our occasional series of Friday Throwbacks, looking at the best images of bicycles and cyclists from days gone by which have been uploaded to the Flickr Commons.

Children riding a bicycle and sidecar, about 1930 - 1

I'm all up for children's freedom, and despair at what indoor and restrained lives kids today lead, but even I am not sure if I'd let me kids ride this bike around town...  Still, it looks like they're having a great time, doesn't it?

This photo is via the National Media Museum, who host a wealth of historic photographs online.

Whatever your cycling plans this weekend, whether two-wheeled or three, be sure never to miss another post from ibikelondon again! You can join the conversation on Twitter or follow our Facebook page. Happy cycling!

What next for London's Cycle Superhighways?

The official consultation on the Mayor of London's ambition to build two new separated Cycle Superhighways across the city has come to an end, but those who are against the plans are still making their case strongly behind closed doors.

Transport for London received over 20,000 consultation responses, one of their highest response rates ever.  Of those, approximately 80% are said to be in favour.  Transport commissioner Sir Peter Hendy has hinted that TfL will listen to all concerns raised, and will publish revisions to their designs in approximately two months "that will work for everybody."

Cyclists make their concerns known in May's Space4Cycling protest.

Talking with the Evening Standard's correspondent Matthew Beard, Hendy said:
“One of the characteristics of this is that it’s highly emotional. I think the support for the scheme from the cyclists and the objections from the businesses are both heartfelt.  For one side to represent that the other has no case is false.”

However Chris Kenyon from CyclingWorks.London has been quick to point out that it is not accurate to portray the debate around the cycle tracks as one just between cyclists and business leaders:

“Rarely if ever has a scheme by TfL gathered so many CEO level signatures of support.  Surely that is the big story.  The backers represent every major industry sector and show that Londoners are in it together and believe that it's time for kerb protected lanes in the heart of the city.”

When the consultation closed at the weekend over 160 city businesses, institutes and organisations had written to Transport for London expressing their support for the Cycle Superhighway plans.  Support has continued to roll in past the deadline, including that of publishing group Pearson who employ over 4,000 staff, many of who cycle in London.

Whilst London Assembly member Kit Malthouse was busy last week telling the Mayor his constituents were desperate for the Cycle Superhighways to be extended through his borough, opposing forces were working to undermine the plans.

The London Chamber of Commerce and Industry has proposed that the cycle tracks should be narrowed and only 'partially segregated' from traffic, allowing other road users to utilise the same space as cyclists.  A similar system operates for the existing Cycle Superhighways which have seen an increase in cycling numbers but have been roundly criticised by campaigners following a series of deaths on the routes.

Cyclists take over part of the proposed route of the east / west Cycle Superhighway.

Meanwhile lobbyist Howard Dawber, Strategic Adviser for the Canary Wharf Group, is clear that they believe the Cycle Superhighways will lead to unacceptable traffic congestion in east London.  He would do well to talk to academic and modelling expert Dr Rachel Aldred who goes in to detail on her blog as to why he needn't worry about the 'worst case scenario'.  Detail aside, the Canary Wharf Group is not an opponent the cycling community can afford to underestimate; they have unprecedented access to influential ears and a lie - or a badly researched briefing document - will get half way around the world before the truth has got it's shoes on...

All this is set against the backdrop of more consultations on further significant changes planned for London's road network; on revisions to Cycle Superhighway route 5 through Oval and Vauxhall, at Archway Gyratory, at Stockwell Cross, and plans to remove the Old Street roundabout.

Those who were around for the Battle of Blackfriars just a few short years ago will remember how cyclists had to fight and fight just to stop cycle lanes being ripped out in order to "maintain traffic flow".  It would seem that some elements of Transport for London have come a very, very long way since then.

But when it comes to winning over the rest of London - most especially its most influential interests - we can't afford to rest easily just yet.  Watch this space.

Think tank the Centre For London are hosting a debate on the 10th December; "Are Cycle Superhighways good for London?".  The Mayor's Cycling Commissioner Andrew Gilligan, CyclingWorksLondon's Chris Kenyon and Canary Wharf Group's Howard Dawber will all be there.  Register to attend here.


Is this London's most extreme bike ride? Danny Macaskill gets in a spin...

It's not every day you get invited on a mystery tour, to witness what was billed as "London's most extreme bike ride".   Planning the launch event for their virtual personal assistant, Cortana, Microsoft had been in touch promising thrills, spills, and world-famous trials bike rider Mr Danny Macaskill. Needless to say, I was excited!

Danny's stunt was kept under wraps right until the last minute, and the excitement built as darkness fell and we cruised up the river Thames on Wednesday evening. Everyone assembled on board snapped pictures of London's most famous landmarks as we neared our destination.

As the London Eye came in to view, so did a barge floating in the middle of the river with a massive slope and loop-the-loop built on top. What was about to unfold became clear, and I was blown away by just how epic the night was turning out to be.

Danny's London stunt is just another string to his bow, following the enormous success of his online videos including the most recent (and I'd argue best) film, The Ridge, which has already been viewed over 20 million times on Youtube.

Apparently Microsoft's Cortana acted as Danny’s personal assistant throughout his training for the event, arranging his meetings, setting appointment reminders, playing his favourite music, warning for bad weather and finding maps.  

He explains; "A career as a professional athlete can be quite hectic and as I prefer to spend as much time on my bike as possible – any help in organising meetings, travel plans and projects is great. This is one of the biggest set-ups I have ever ridden and the location is amazing. To have a five-metre loop floating on a barge is something surreal. I always look for new challenges and the chance to ride this massive loop with the help of Cortana is another achievement I can be proud of.”

Our boat moored by Victoria Embankment, putting Danny's loop in line with the London Eye.  As the crowd waited eagerly, I can't imagine what would be going through his mind.  Was he nervous? What if he fell? 
Would he over-shoot the slope and end up in the river?!

If Macaskill was nervous, he certainly didn't show it.  With a quick spin and a hop suddenly he was off, gathering speed on the steep slope before whizzing around the loop, then delivering a perfectly executed backwards wheelie on his front wheel.  

The crowd (which I noticed included trails pioneer Hans 'No Way' Rey) gave him a huge cheer, and it was all over too soon.

Riding a bike along the river Thames usually involves dodging lorries and massive pot holes, and there's been lots of talk recently about the idea of building a floating bike track down the middle of the river.  That's fine by me, just so long as it includes a 5 metre high loop the loop so we can all have a go!

Many thanks to Microsoft's Cortana for a great evening!


The SMIDSY-killing cycling jacket; we road test the dazzling Reflect360

We're often approached by companies interested in sharing their latest cycling "innovation" with us.  From gloves with built-in indicators, to cycling jackets with special pockets for storing a pizza, we've really seen it all.  So we were pleasantly surprised when a company got in touch claiming not only to have made the most reflective cycling jacket, but that it also started life here in London...

The REFLECT360 cycling jacket does exactly what it says on the tin; it reflects light back to other road users from every angle.  It's not just got a reflective strip or some shiny striping, the entire jacket is reflective, from top to bottom.  

I have my own reservations about 'safe' cycling wear, having started out my urban cycling career wearing a bright yellow builder's vest I grew to loathe.  But I've been pleasantly surprised by the REFELCT360 - here is a cycling jacket designed around safety features that you can actually wear in to the office or the pub without looking like an epic banana.  

I spoke to the founder of ProViz, Anthony Langly-Smith, to find out what inspired him to create the jacket:  "I'd been commuting by bike for about 12 years, and I was seeing lots of people going through Clapham up to London Bridge - on what is now the Cycle Superhighway route - and when I was at the traffic lights I would see three or four other people on bikes.  Now there are 30 or 40 people at every turn of the lights.  Unless you're actually there you can't quite fathom what a big change that was."

"At the same time there seemed to be a move away from cycling products that didn't just look like builder's jackets.  People wanted fitted stuff, waterproof stuff.  It started with me and my brother thinking about what our fellow cyclists might need on our commute to work, and has turned in to our business; now we're selling product in Chile, Colombia, China, Korea, Belgium, Denmark, Australia and New Zealand."

Anthony's latest product to come to market, the REFLECT360 range, has been garnering lots of interest with positive reviews on BikeRumor, the Evening Standard, and the Guardian among others. I found it was not just in reviews that this jacket got lots of attention; during our road test other cyclists came up to me at traffic lights to ask where it was from and where they could get one for themselves, astonished by the reflective quality now the nights are growing dark.

"We launched the jacket in February and suddenly we had so many people coming to talk to us, taking photos, wanting to know about the material, wanting to know how this product came about. It was astonishing.  The success has bred an entire line; a rucksack cover, a vest, a gillet and a children’s jacket."

So what about the jacket itself? How does it work, and what's it like to ride around town in?

The waterproof material is covered with thousands of tiny microscopic glass beads which reflect light, throwing back light that approaches it from any angle.  The jacket itself is a well constructed design for cyclists, with taped seams, waterproof zips and pockets, a longer tapered back for good positioning on the bike as well as lots of adjustable seams and flaps to increase or decrease its breathability.  It feels strong and sturdy and should last well.

Riding around town I found the jacket fitted well, performed brilliantly in the rain and stood up to everything London's mucky roads could throw at it.  Whilst the material is a touch on the warm side, the addition of under arm vents helped me to keep my cool.  I'm usually highly sceptical about the sort of claims made about these kind of products, but my reservations about the effectiveness of cycling "safety" kit evaporated too - I did feel noticeably more visible whilst riding around town in the jacket, and I think it would be invaluable on darker country roads.

London's cycle scene inspiring products which in turn help London's cyclists to feel more safe? We like that very much.

The REFLECT360 cycling jacket is available at Evans Cycles, Halfords and most good bike shops, or online directly from ProVisSports here.