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Posts Tagged ‘Revolution’

I have always been car free, never even driven one, I don’t actually know what the pedals do.  It was never a really big lifestyle choice, I cycled to school and to friends houses and just never felt the need to travel any other way.  When I was 17 I began touring and 100 miles a day was a breeze, I could go anywhere by bike.

My first cycle rides were on the narrow lanes around the village where I grew up.  I remember many wonderful family rides, zooming around the Somerset levels and stopping for picnic lunches.  We almost never saw a car and the sun always shone…happy days.

In 1990 a  most significant cycling moment came with my first ‘Young Bell Ringers Cycling Tour‘, a week long adventure ringing in churches around Oxfordshire.  We stayed in youth hostels and cycled to around six towers a day.  The 30 strong group of cyclists made quite an impression on me and I knew then that I would always want to make the bicycle my primary mode of transport.  I went on two further tours and remember them with great affection.  Geoff the organiser has continued to run the tours and I am sure has inspired many more young people to become serious cyclists.

Fast forward 20 years…I am married with two young children and a demanding full time job.  I no longer have time for endless days of touring but I still ride my bike every day.  I have a trailer for shopping and to take the children around and ride to work every day. I  love the feeling of whizzing along and day dreaming about the long summer days of my youth.

OK, so I know I have rather rose tinted spectacles on when it comes to my memories of childhood cycling, but the point is I have positive memories of cycling from a very early age.  In my teenage years I flew around everywhere by bicycle and just remember the pure freedom it gave me. Are today’s children having the same positive experiences? Some maybe, but with the roads increasingly clogged by maniacal car, van and lorry drivers the experience of those lucky enough to be allowed out on a bike is likely to be much less satisfying.  The 21st century teenager is probably far more likely to be a car driver or passenger than to be using a bicycle for daily transport.

If we are to see more young people cycling we have to make it feel safe and fast.  The only way I can see this being achieved is if we adopt the Dutch model of segregated infrastructure.  When parents feel cycling is safe they will begin to use the bicycle for everyday transport and children will be able to cycle to safely school.  Cycling children will become cycling adults.

Best

Nipper

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I love ukuleles. playing them, writing about them and teaching people how to play them.

I travel everywhere by bicycle.

In the last few months I have began reading several cycling blogs and thinking more about bicycle advocacy.  In the early 1990’s I rode in a few Critical Mass rides and thought the time was coming for a change in attitude toward bikes. Sadly the change here in the UK has been too slow and despite the advent of cycle paths and the ‘work’ of Sustrans our roads are still dominated by cars.

A few years ago I realised that allowing my blood to boil everyday as cars took risks with my life, was counter productive and causing me a great deal of stress.  I needed a change and the ukulele became my focus, I became part of the ukulele revolution, teaching ukulele, starting a uke club and writing about the benefits of the four string wonder.  I stopped worrying about cars and cycling, my stress reduced I just used my bike to get around and take me too and from work.

In Copenhagen there has been a bicycle revolution,  having worked out the cycling infrastructure, those stylish Danes have began to cycle in huge numbers.   They don’t cycle for leisure or sport but use the bike as an everyday mode of transport. Documented by Mikael Coleville Anderson, Cycle Chic is beginning to spread throughout the world.  It is the kind of cycling I want to see everywhere, an end to the tyranny of cars and a return to the days of mass utilitarian cycling.

In an article in ‘The Ride’ magazine Coleville Anderson describes how the way to inspire new cycle commuters is to show them how a real, everyday bicycle can be ridden with style by everyday folks in everyday clothes.  He describes how the Joe Everyman car driver needs to “see his own reflection in these cyclists.”

I am fed up with this ridiculous and dangerous car culture, it is time for bicycle revolution, but one led by infrastructural change and cyclists in everyday clothes on everyday bikes.  It is time to ‘Copenhagenise’.

So what of the ukulele?  Like the the bicycle, the ukulele was once a respected mainstream instrument, but over the years it has become a comic device, a children’s toy.  The ukulele revolution in uke clubs around the world has begun to change this, and like the bicycle it is time for it to once again become an everyday part of the mainstream.

BSY

Nipper

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