Tuesday, 10 March 2015

Harrogate Cycle Delivery Plan Launch - Come see the paradise

What if I and others lobbied for an integrated plan for cycling infrastructure development in Harrogate and Knaresborough and decent provision for bikey types on the Knaresborough Road and then it came to pass?

Well it is about too get a damn site more likely with the launch of the Harrogate Cycling Delivery Plan.

If you are bothered about this stuff you can come along get an insight into the detail, ask questions, comment, and talk to your Cabinet Member for Sustainability Rebecca Burnet. All this at the mighty Veloheads. For there is to be a launch of the afore mentioned visionary initiative. I hope to see as many of you as possible there. I will be the one with the two tired children, who have been bribed with sweets and want to go home.

This from Rebbeca.

Date: Tuesday 24 March
Time: 4pm to 6pm
Venue: Veloheads, Provincial Works, off The Avenue, Starbeck, HG1 4QE.

As you will know I have been working with members of the cycling community, including Sustrans and North Yorkshire County Council, through the Harrogate Cycle Forum.
We have been drawing up plans for infrastructure improvements to complete the cycle network in Harrogate, including a flagship scheme to provide a direct and separated cycleway between Harrogate and Knaresborough. It has been a community-led process, with local cyclists making the suggestions for where the improvements are needed.
We have prepared an event for Councillors and members of the public to come and see the plans for what we have been working on, make comments, suggestions and ask questions. I hope that you will be able to attend.
here is a map

Posted on 10.3.15 | Categories:

Tuesday, 3 March 2015

Bike lights, big city

I seem to be working in Leeds as a bike evangelist, come bicycle grease monkey. This has come as a bit of a surprise. I know applied for the job and everything, but the scale of the ambition here is quite something. Compared to the head banging I felt I was having to do for trying to do the same thing in Harrogate. It used to be hard to even get a hearing when I talked about utility cycling. More on the positive changes in that later in this post.

After three years spent smelling of gripfill and silicone sealant my hands now have the tell tale fading tattoo of road grime removed with too little degreaser and somebody who needs to remember to wear gloves before I start.

The Leeds Universities are part of a project called Utravelactive Sustrans were the instigators but I'm working for Leeds Beckett, the hospitals are involved too. They  run two workshops one at the Headingley Campus and a shared one with Leeds University in central Leeds. Bikes are hired out to students, 400 plus across both institutions. I help make that system work as well as repairing them and also helping anybody who walks in off the streets with problems with their own bikes. It gets pretty busy on a Wednesday afternoon with a mix of those in need of some targeted help, (you will know them by their orange chains), and the able bike nerds who are glad of a stand and some tools and just get on with it.

There is a cycling festival this week on both campuses the usual stuff: some films, some silly bikes and trying to get people to change their behaviour one or more days a week and leave the car at home. Or at least do part of their journey by methods other than the car. That in exchange for some shiny plastic or non ferrous metal object of their choice.

I forgot to mention the facilities on site here. My bike is in a secure undercover storage bike park. I have a locker and showers within a minutes walk of my office.  This stuff is everywhere and judging by the recognisable detritus of the commuter cyclist, it is being used by many.

Non cycling staff here are offered a sort of "gateway drug" into the world of cycling; a free five weeks loan of a bike with even the hard stuff in the form of a Brompton on offer for those with refined  tastes. The whole package too, lights, lock, helmet and pannier. There are as few barriers to just getting on with it as possible. Better yet they get followed up weekly and helped if the wheels come off. So after 5 weeks they convert 80% of people onto the cycle to work scheme, this is a good thing.

There is a lunchtime walking club run as it happens by a mate of mine who works for the well being department who is trying to get people moving too. The activity agenda is being attacked as well, there is talk of some collaboration going forward, we shall see.

The flaw and massive cosmic irony with all this is that muggins here is driving to Leeds three days a week as the trains don't really connect, even though I live a 5 minute walk from a station. At least I am dumping my car by the ring road and cycling in to the centre as I beat the cars and buses easy in rush hour, but If you want to do this kind of thing for a living you have to go where the people are I suppose. I need to do better, I will do better.

What of the Harrogate scene? Well I think things might just be starting to gather some useful momentum. Over at Veloheads Carl Nelson is slowly taking over the world one service at a time. I went round for a chat on Friday. Carl was good enough to vouch for me on the strength of two cups of tea and a sniff round this blog. So I reckon I owe him a favour or two. Anyway his bike shed had some really nice bikes which I drooled over. Including a fairly special Colnago the like of which I hadn't seen before. All was quiet efficiency as the bikes where bought back to top performance. If you want a simple service or something more high end go and see him, the prices are good and him and his people know their stuff.

In infrastructure news the talk of a dedicated separated Cycle superhighway between Harrogate and Knaresborough seems to be firming up. It is early days but it does look like Rebecca Burnett and Harrogate Borough Council are starting to take cycling more seriously and good on them. This would be a big project and something I have argued for nearly 3 years now. I would like it finished before my children vote, Ideally before the youngest goes to secondary school.

Finally there a few things lurking in the wings which if they come off have the potential to massively change investment levels in Harrogate cycling. I am loathe to say anything at the moment, but behind the scenes a fair few people are trying to make Harrogate a bike town.

So we live in interesting times perhaps there will be some Tour De France legacy after all and there is always that UCI race coming this summer, what is it called again?

Posted on 3.3.15 | Categories:

Friday, 13 February 2015

NYCC change their mind over the Leeds Road Junction - now to make it cycle friendly

We pretty much lost a battle over the Leeds Road junction last year with North Yorkshire County Council. They went ahead and remodelled the junction making it rubbish for bikes and it appears rubbish for everyone else. This after a concerted campaign by local activist asking them to think about bike riders and pedestrians more in their design We lobbied they did a bit, but not it appears enough.

They have just announced they are to have another go. Lets hope this time they do something rather than the bare minimum for cyclists, pedestrians and everyone else whoo uses it. Good on them for thinking again, if only they would think first.

Posted on 13.2.15 | Categories:

Tuesday, 27 January 2015

REJOICE - Well you know, things are getting better

It looks like the cycling argument is being won nationally. Everyone has been rather more pro cycling recently, but you know what, show me the money. You can't change behaviour or give people more choices without investing some of everyone's hard earned and it looks like that is about to start happening in a more structured way.

Last night an amendment to the infrastructure bill in parliament was passed. This obliges Government to set budgets for sustainable transport nationally. Now we have no guarantee of funding for projects as a result of this, but at least we are arguing about the size of the cake now, not whether or not there should be a cake at all.

Andrew Jones Mp had this to say to me and you
Hello Dave,

Thank you for contacting me on Twitter regarding the cycling and walking amendment to the Infrastructure Bill. Twitter is a wonderful thing, but I do often find it hard to fit a proper reply into 140 characters!

You will be pleased to know that the amendment, tabled by the Secretary of State for Transport, which commits the Government to set out objectives for cycling and walking infrastructure and the funding to meet these objectives was passed last evening.

I was pleased to support this amendment and it was reassuring that it included a commitment to funding as well as to strategy.

You will know that Rebecca Burnett, in her Cabinet Member role, is working to push forward the issue on a local level and I have offered her any support she needs to make progress.

I know you are a regular blogger and tweeter so please do feel free to share the good news about this commitment from Government with your contacts.

I hope this email finds you well.

Kind regards


So this is not the end of cycle campaigning, but I do think it represents government finally taking the needs of all road users seriously.

Posted on 27.1.15 | Categories:

Saturday, 8 November 2014

Come and adore the mighty Veloheads

I spent some of this morning with my boys down at Veloheads a new business come social enterprise in my neck of the woods, down the Avenue in Starbeck. Harrogate has it's fair share of bike businesses. Why am I getting excited about this one, I hear you murmur with barely repressed indifference? It opened for business this morning and I had the heads up, as I met the owner a couple of months back.

Carl Nelson said owner, seems to have a different agenda to most businesses. Sure he wants to make a living, who doesn't, but 10% of Veloheads proceeds will go into local cycling projects. Unsurprisingly this got my attention. He is keen that there is a plan to develop infrastructure locally and that is just the start of his ambitions.

He also sees Veloheads as a place for local bikey types to meet and have a brew and plan global domination or at least how we really turn Harrogate into a bike town. If there has been a flaw with what Cycle Harrogate has been about it is that we are a largely web based organisation that has struggled to make the jump into a more real, less virtual world.

You can help yourself to tea and coffee down at the workshop. Did I mention that Carl is offering very reasonably priced bike maintenance and repair, catering to a more down to earth market than some of the other local offerings?  If you feel like making a donation for your brew that is going into the local cycling projects pot too. He has a telly showing the cycling, you could find worse places to be when the the big stage races are finishing. Oh and as he is at one end of a leg of the Greeenway he has bike hire available as well.

Whilst he is covering all the bases and more, a couple of days a week he will be offering workshop training to local school kids who might otherwise slip through the academic net and end up the ghetto that is not in education or training, he already has these places filled.  This is good stuff you have got to love it.

You know having met and spoke to Carl, I see someone this town should be proud of and who we should all get behind. When someone is doing rather than saying, when they are putting their money into something and they want to build something sustainable for both them and the community. It is time to really get behind them. So Veloheads gets my vote. I hope as a town we support them and this  can be a catalyst for an even brighter and stronger local cycling culture.

To this end next Saturday the 15th November at 10am Andrew Jones MP and Rebecca Burnett Harrogate Borough Council Cycling champion are coming down to wish him well and help launch what I hope will be something all Harrogate bike riders want to support and who knows contribute too.

So if you can why not get yourself down to :

Unit 5bProvincial Works
The Avenue

That's halfway down the Avenue in Starbeck on the left as though you were going to Winkies or SAS. Or on the right if you come down the Greeenway. I want to show Carl we support what he is doing, that all this noise that me and a few of you have been making on twitter and facebook actually has human faces. I want to let our MP know that as cyclists we value Andrew Jones' support, but that we have ambitions to do more in Harrogate for all things bike. I will be there, probably after I have finished the Park Run. I really hope to see you there too.

If we build it they will come.

Posted on 8.11.14 | Categories:

Thursday, 16 October 2014

They work for you - Richard Cooper and NYCC fail to spend the cycling money they do have

I know I know, I had retired from this campaigning lark but this one has me spitting feathers. So there is money in the pot for a toucan crossing (bike traffic lights) on Wetherby Road/Slingsby Walk by the hospital. This is part of a government grant for bike infrastructure in Harrogate (LSTF if you are nerdy). What could possibly go wrong?

Without this crossing, on a bike, North Yorkshire Area 6 (transport dept) believe this crossing is dangerous. They are right, I wheel my bike into the road when I'm with my kids here and the cars stop rather than kill me, so my boys can then get across, it requires self belief though. They (Area 6) asked the councils LSTF steering group to consult on this. The steering group is: councillors, Richard Cooper (leader of Harrogate Borough Council), Jean Butterfield and Rebecca Burnett (HBC cycling champion).

Apparently Richard and Jean said no, Rebecca said yes.

This decision then went to NYCC Executive, Gareth Dadd for final decision. Harrogate Cycle Action submitted many emails, supporting the case presented by the Area 6 officers. Last Friday HCA received an email that the NYCC executive had approved the toucan crossing. 

Then something a bit odd happened. Monday they received an email from NYCC that the decision had been "wrongly recorded" and that the toucan had been refused. Instead there will be some signs and a rumble strip.

Now that is either democracy working or local government failing, but from where I'm sat it looks like a shite cop out. Remember for once we have the money, the transport experts say we need this crossing to make the cycleway safe, but our elected officials say no. 

Notice the word "elected" here, they work for you these people and you can contact Richard Cooper at richard.cooper@harrogate.gov.uk to tell him what you think about this decision. 

Update 17/10/2014

24 hours and things have moved on. Richard is to meet with HCA but seems to be sticking to his and the council's final position on the toucan crossing. Bikey types seem to be the losers again, actually we all lose as it was never a war it was about the bigger picture in a congested urban environment. I have decided to get back out of this campaigning lark as I'm tired of arguing with local government about an agenda that in all honesty they really aren't that interested in.

I guess we get the politicians we deserve and I'm not prepared to do it, good on them that are. I'm going to climb rocks, and run and ride my bike. It's more fun and you die in the end.

Posted on 16.10.14 | Categories:

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Sutton Bank MTB trails

I got out with the family at the weekend to the trails at the top of Sutton Bank. Park up by the visitors centre at the top of the hill and there is a new shop Sutton Bank Bikes. Take some change for the parking meters it's four quid and you can't use a card, I ended up parking down on the road but there are only a few spots.

You can hire bikes, we had our own but if you need them there is a good choice of sizes and kids bikes and tagalongs too. We rode the green trail and a bit of the blue. A trial map is a quid and it's a good one. There is a longer red trail that might be a little more involved, word is it is still pretty steady. We rode maybe 6 miles or so though the woods on some nice prepared trials and then over the road with a slight pull uphill that had my youngest whinging on bridleways. This before before the payback of a beautiful view over the escarpment and apparently the whole world as your ride back along the path on the very edge of the ridge. Then zoom down hill though some swooping corners back to the centre. A good cafe and a skills loop to warm up at the back of the shop with a bike wash, what is not to like. Not for your full susser downhill types, but a cracking family day out. Reccomended
Posted on 15.10.14 | Categories:

Monday, 15 September 2014

Open Harrogate A review

So whilst I was off my holidays the Open Harrogate App/website thingy came out. What of it?
There is a website with some info on it for residents and visitors which is nice to look at and easy to follow. It includes some good advice on why cycling walking and public transport are sensible decisions. There are some suggested routes as a walker and a bike rider which are good as far as they go. Along with the above there are some links to bike shops which once more is dandy. But nothing is terribly comprehensive and no links to clubs or Sports Development Harrogate for instance and it doesn't really integrate into Harrogate's online web presence.

The new cycling map is good but it's a pdf which I suppose is at least printable, but not very interactive so you have to use the mapping via the app. Again the app is fine, the interface works well, but when you ask it to route you on a journey, it sometimes takes you down the main arterial roads when there are traffic free or traffic calmed options nearby. It's a bit "dumb" it doesn't really have the "knowledge". The app will suggest places of interest and cycle routes nearby through the inspire me button, and that is good at least for visitors.

Thing is there seems to be no social media campaign or presence other than an instagram feed and there seems to have been no structured attempt to promote the app, other than an abortive thing on the Stray which was rather vague. I tried to attend but couldn't even work out what I was going to or when it started and I'm a full on nerd for this kind of thing. My worry is, if it is not evolving, or being pushed it seems destined to become an expensive white elephant. Which seems a pity as the slick and effective interface is currently let down by immature and incomplete content.

I'm afraid this feels like a little like a contractual obligation solution, rather than one designed and built with love and enthusiasm.

Posted on 15.9.14 | Categories:

Friday, 18 July 2014

Cycle cultures

Whoosh they were gone. I shouted for Cav and the whole team Quickstep until my lungs burned. They had control of THE Tour De France with 2k to go, barreling in toward Parliment Street as the sun burned down. Until that is Spartacus spoiled the party. Then with everyone else in the fan park I watched the bottomless heartbreak unfold.

Next day in Starbeck and Kittel rides past in pole position, I clapped but I had hoped to be cheering a Manx man. Was this the tour where the baton was passed from one great sprinter to another? I hope not, Cav seems too great a rider to just fade away. I hope he has a few more stage wins in him.

Post Grand Depart and the Cycle Harrogate Peleton heads for the continent. Stage one Germany: Lubeck and Bremen. Two Northern German towns one workaday, one with a bit of tourist glamour. Cycle lanes were everywhere as were cyclists. Lots of shared use pavements with no more than a white line down them. The give way markings at the junctions are set back and cars do indeed give way to bikes. 

Everyone just gets on with it. Lots of people ride bikes, not Lycra clad athletes just people getting about. I start off as a pedestrian forgetting to look out for bikes, but after half an hour it's second nature. The roads seen a little quieter as far as car traffic goes around town. The autobahns are still busy enough and my battered old SUV hugs the inside lane as Mercs torpedo past and we head north toward the ferry to Denmark.

If Germany was an emerging bike culture Denmark was a country where bike use is an accepted fact of life. Copenhagen is ramned with bikes. I'm guessing 20 percent of traffic is two wheeled. This in a bustling capital city built on a series of Islands where it rains a fair bit. The Danes have shed loads of bike infrastructure. There are vast bike parks at the stations, with endless rows of commuter bikes in them. Lots of segregated cycle lanes and through the smaller parts of town with narrower roads, there are lots of car slowing traffic bollards to ease (but not stop car traffic). This means you drive closer to 20mph though town but you keep moving. All this makes it easier for bikes, pedestrians and cars to rub along. Again not much lycra, few helmets or drop bars, just normal people in everyday clothes getting on with their lives

Everyone said this was how it was on the continent, that it can and has been done. I have seen it now, it is so, it is good.

I should now once more get wound up about Harrogate and the UK's failure to get proper serious about cycling but I will not. Harrogate is a town that is now post Tour we are on the world map, A town that now can attact cycle funding like Coldplay attract negative critism. A town that now has some small but growing political will and an ongoing bike debate but not yet enough of either I fear to tip over the statues.

I should rage, rage against the dying of the light. Rage at North Yorkshire County Council's outdated traffic plans, which still puts the car first, last, always. Yet here on the 58 parallel of Sweden's West Coast. Where at 11 O'clock at night the light will still not die. Light which shines upon a sea of small islands off the Bohuslan Archipelago. I think it is time for me to roll the dice and move on.

As of now Cycle Harrogate will be campaigning no more. I'm going to be offering cycle training soon under the Cycle Harrogate name. I might make a few quid, I might help more people cycle, that's what I'm about. Some of what I do will be in partnership with Harrogate Borough Council. Some may well involve North Yorkshire County Council. I will have more details mid August. So I will berate, lobby and cajole these organisations no more. 2 years is enough. Whatever I might think about some of what they do. I can have more impact getting people using what we have. If I have had any impact at all that's great but it time to move on. From now on If you want better biking in Harrogate it is your turn to bang the drum and do your bit. I hope someone or maybe many of you will do just that. We had a truly Grand Depart we now need to build a Grander cycling Legacy. 

If we build it they will come.

Dave Prince July 2014

Friday, 27 June 2014

Play fantasy Tour de France

I posted this last year. Other than the venue for stages one and two its nearly all still true. But this time they are coming TO OUR TOWN

Its that time again Wiggo is out but Froome looks on form and the behemoth of Cav looks as good a bet as ever. Its tour De France time. Get yourself by a telly at about 4.15 in the afternoon for the next few weeks. The nice people over at velo games run a fantasy Tour De France game, league, thingy. You pick a team and as the results roll in stage by stage you get points and somebody wins.
This year Cycle Harrogate are running a mini league so you can see how you compare with other local folk and maybe consider a career change if it goes well. This time  you will be watching "your" riders for real.
If you want to join in and play along you sign up then pick a team. Next click the join league button at the bottom. Its a bit fiddly but you will work it out. Its free and no cyclists are hurt during the making of your team 
This is the league code you need: 27161101 to join the Cycle Harrogate League

The winner gets well nothing, but the kudos of being the best team manager in Harrogate unless any of our local cycle shops want to put some prizes up? Oh and don't pick anyone in my team, I'm usually rubbish. Mind you, that Cavendish fellow looks fast for a Brit.

Posted on 27.6.14 | Categories:

Saturday, 31 May 2014

This years hot ticket

This from Andy Grinter, about an exciting one off Performance by the West Yorkshire Playhouse in Knaresborough, as well as a chance to talk to some of the people involved in the drama. It will sell out as there are not many tickets, I would suggest if you want to go you act now.

excerpts from the West Yorkshire Playhouse production
of the play by Maxine Peake
at the Frazer Theatre, Knaresborough.

Start: 12 June 2014 7:30 pm.   
Tickets: £5 from Art in the Mill Knaresborough. Tel 01423 862963

To celebrate Yorkshires role in this years Tour de France, West Yorkshire Playhouse has commissioned 'Beryl' a special stage adaptation of Maxine Peakes acclaimed 2012 Radio 4 play, 'Beryl: A Love Affair on Two Wheels'
'Beryl' celebrates the extraordinary sporting achievements of Morley cyclist and one time Knaresborough resident, Beryl Burton.
Running alongside The Playhouses production of Beryl are a series of events outside of the theatre to celebrate the life of Beryl Burton and her outstanding achievement in the world of cycling.
The Frazer Theatre are proud and excited to be hosting one of these events on Thursday 12th June at 7.30pm.

Actors from the playhouses production of Beryl will perform a short extract of the play. This will be followed by a short talk and a Q&A event with director Rebecca Gatward the actors and Beryls husband Charlie and daughter Denise Burton-Cole.

About Beryl Burton:-

It was 1954 when Beryl Charnock met keen cyclist Charlie Burton. In those days they cycled in clubs and once Beryl started she was smitten, not only with Charlie but by the thrill and freedom found on two wheels. Beryl was better than good, she was the best and she was determined to stay that way.
Five times world pursuit champion, thirteen times national champion, twice road-racing world champion and twelve times national champion. Her accolades include time trials, former world record holder, former British record holder, numerous sports awards an MBE and an OBE.

Beryl Burton was one of the most astonishing sports people ever to have lived but with her down to earth, no-nonsense approach to life and to success, she remains a mystery.

Posted on 31.5.14 | Categories:

Tuesday, 27 May 2014

Tuesday, 13 May 2014

If you want it you can have it

Can't decide whether to sell this story as local government going wrong or right, it is a bit of both. Here goes, Liberal Democrat councillor and prospective parliamentary candidate Helen Flynn is trying to get Sustrans gawd bless 'em to do a feasibility study on how Harrogate could build more bike infrastructure. Here is her briefing document on what she proposes.

I'm supporting it, not because I'm a Liberal Democrat, I'm not. For what its worth, politically I'm somewhere to the left of Denis Skinner on taxation and somewhere to the right of Jeremy Clarkson on personal freedom, so finding a political party to align myself with has always been tricky.  

I'm supporting it, because I think it is the most useful, cost effective thing we could do as a town currently to try and solve our congestion problems. It won't solve the problem but it might mean we have a way of getting some more people onto bikes or walking and that, will do for me. 

It's not sexy though a feasibility study is it? The Beryl Burton story had a nice human interest angle. A feasibility study, just screams dull. But without a word of lie this is the one that could actually make a difference long term. 

Getting a Top Coat on the Beryl Burton Cycleway cost 80K  this is a mere 15 grand but it could prime the pump. What worries me is at the moment people are arguing that the Tour De France legacy will be funding that was in place before the Tour De France even had Harrogate in it's sights, that is just a distortion of where we are. At the moment when the current money is all spent (soon) there is no funding for cycle infrastructure in the medium term and no plans to get any.

How about this angle to sex it up a bit...

Local Council in Tour De France town refuse gift horse from Cycle Charity.

Sustran's have offered to do the study for 15 grand. Which is well under what it would cost them, but they are in the bike infrastructure business, so they want it to happen, this is a good offer from the best outfit we currently have in this country. 

Sustrans know that funding for cycling is sporadic, unpredictable and when it is around you have to grab it fast and hold on tight. One thing they have found is if you have a feasibility study full of what they call "shovel ready' projects. When the money is there you can be first in the queue bidding for it.

Helen Flynn has asked HBC to help with funding, as of today she has 3.5K pledged from local businesses and individuals. HBC said no, I suspect because she is a Liberal and well they 'aint. It's not a lot of cash is it? So it is a political decision, which is poor but then transport policy is political so, here we are.

So she is looking to you the local community. If you are a business and you want to help talk to Helen you can get her here: Helenflynn@me.com , If I had the money I would fund it myself.

If you are an individual, muggins here is going to be setting up a crowd funding campaign as soon as I can get details off Helen of where to send the money. I was going to set it up with my own bank account, but how dodgy does that sound?

Wouldn't it be great if we had the money in place before Cav got here. If as a community we could show our council that we want this stuff.

It can be done. When I'm not riding a bike I'm a climber. The UK bouldering team (small climbing with crash mats) had a sponsor pull out last month. They crowd funded the necessary 12K sponsorship in 24 hours so they could compete. It came from people like me, I was in for a tenner.

Then something incredible happened. I wrote a piece to the climbers saying how we were all behind them now and they climbed for us too as we had put our hands in pockets and maybe they would climb a little better knowing this. On Sunday Shauna Coxsey won the first british gold medal this country has ever won in bouldering, in Gridlewald. I'm not saying it made any difference but I'm not ruling it out.

Sometimes if you put your money where your mouth is the effects can be extraordinary. If as a town we said we want this and if you won't fund it we will, perhaps a few people in the soon to be new and I believe slightly more than 15 grand in cost, council offices would have to sit up and take note.

Posted on 13.5.14 | Categories:

Wednesday, 9 April 2014

Who wants to be famous?

Just got this sent my way

From: "liz stainthorpe" <liz.stainthorpe@hotmail.co.uk>
Subject: Brief - cyclists Video Shoot - Alistair Griffin - Tuesday 15th April

Hoping you and your cycling pals may be able to help. We are shooting the music video to accompany "The Road" next week just outside Leeds and need some cyclists as extras. Hoping you might be able to add to my numbers. We need 20-25 people.]

Here are the details for the video shoot. I have attached a basic outline of the video and some references for the era/style of the shoot.It's very "classic". These pics are what Alistair will be wearing so are reference only.Please do come back to me with any questions.I should have the exact location and timings later this week.

Cheers. Any questions please give me a callSpeak soonKind RegardsLiz07967 327709
Project: Be part of "The Road" video shoot - the official song of the Grand Depart featuring Alistair GriffinDate: Tuesday 15th AprilTime: daytime - probably 3 hours max. Arrival time @1:30pmLocation: TBC probably Otley/Harrogate area. Scargill ReservoirWe are looking for approximately 20 to 25 cyclists. Minimum 20Mixture of men and womenAged 20-40

Styling: Specifically not dressed as professional cyclists… i.e. no lycra, everyday clothes. think more spring/summer than winter they need to look as though they are out on a casual Sunday ride through the countryside. Civilian clothes, not cycling clothes.Please see the attached images for the style of the characters in the videoWardrobe - Colours - must be Grey, Brown, Black, Off white. No strong colours. Natural colours. Nothing garish. Bring some options. smart/casual rather than formal but nothing too ill fitting. We can help with this with some references at a later date if anyone is unsure.Bikes - mixture of styles and types - if you have any less "techy" bikes please bring thoseRequirement: to cycle in a group along a country road past the singers, parting either side of the singers as you pass them

Make your own way there No fee An artist waiver form will need to be signed as well as a confidentiality agreement No photography/tweeting/social media posting allowed on the day (sorry)Amazing experience on the set of the video for the official theme of Yorkshire's Grand Depart
Contact details: liz.stainthorpe@hotmail.co.ukIf you have any questions please call Liz on 07967 327709If yes, please send your name and contact details - email address, daytime telephone number:Thanks!
Posted on 9.4.14 | Categories:

Wednesday, 2 April 2014

Liberal Democrat Helen Flynn responds to Cycle Harrogate's questions

This from Helen Flynn in response to my recent questions in the run up to the Council elections.

1. If elected how will you work to get more people in Harrogate cycling as part of the Cycle Yorkshire 10 year plan? The whole agenda rests largely around behaviour change which takes time. Think how long it took to stop smoking in public places--a long public information campaign to describe the benefits and get "buy-in". So, much of the work will be about having an ongoing "conversation" (achieved through PR, poster campaigns, partnership working, etc) with people about the benefits of cycling both for them from a health point of view and from an environmental point of view. Engaging with young people through schools and with employees through the workplace will be critical. I am sure the council can do more, but needs leadership and priority setting.

2. What are your priorities for new infrastructure and funding in Harrogate and Knaresborough to make cycling and walking easier? I would like to take forward the idea of Harrogate and Knaresborough as a cycle town with the necessary investment in infrastructure to make it a reality, rather than incremental change. The problem with incremental change is that it is not joined up, so you can end up spending more money than if you have a big plan. Like all these things, it's about having a vision and then a timetable for achieving it that is realistic (in this case quite a long one, I would imagine). I would ideally like a private/public partnership to make it a reality, and to make it more sustainable, and get more buy-in.
3. Are you in favour of 20 mile per hour speed limits on minor residential roads around our towns?
4. Will you support our plan to double the spending on cycling locally from the current 2% to 5% of the road budget for the next ten years?


5. What initiatives will you bring forward to get more people active and impact on heart disease and stroke rates as part of local government's responsibilities under the recent NICE guidelines? This would involve partnership working with the HaRD CCG and probably the Health and Wellbeing Board as well, to see what monies they have to bring to the table and what other funds might be available, and to work out achievable initiatives that will make a difference. To me the health agenda is the really important agenda driving the need for people to cycle more, so this is an area that is particularly important to get right.

6. Will you support the funding of £15,000 to fund a feasibility study into cycling and walking in Harrogate?
Yes and am actively working on getting private sponsorship even as I write!

Posted on 2.4.14 | Categories:

Tuesday, 1 April 2014

Question time - Calling local politicians and candidates

We have elections coming in May, I don't know if there is such a thing as a cycling vote in Harrogate, I suspect there are just a fair few people who already cycle and would like it to be easier and a few more who would take to two wheels if it was.

I posed some similar questions a year or so ago and got some limited responses but I think as a town we have moved on since then.

If local people care about cycling and if your read the advertiser a 40 page spread on the tour suggest it sells newspapers, at least when the show is coming. Here are a few questions that it would be nice to get some answers to.

1. If elected how will you work to get more people in Harrogate cycling as part of the Cycle Yorkshire 10 year plan?

2. What are your priorities for new infrastructure and funding in Harrogate and Knaresborough to make cycling and walking easier?

3. Are you in favour of 20 mile per hour speed limits on minor residential roads around our towns?

4. Will you support our plan to double the spending on cycling locally from the current 2% to 5% of the road budget for the next ten years?

5. What initiatives will you bring forward to get more people active and impact on heart disease and stroke rates as part of local government's responsibilities under the recent NICE guidelines?

6. Will you support the funding of £15,000 to fund a feasibility study into cycling and walking in Harrogate?

As ever I will publish the responses I get and I won't comment until after the elections.

Posted on 1.4.14 | Categories:

Friday, 28 March 2014

Cycle Yorkshire Cycle Harrogate

Cycle Yorkshire was launched yesterday the official Grand Depart legacy brand, the link is to their prospectus. It's a welcome to Yorkshire initiative. I was hoping to be at the launch at the International Centre but I had to work after taking the Wednesday off as the NUT were on strike. So I was on childcare duties.

What to make of the initiative? I have argued for a while now that cycling has failed to progress in these parts as much as it should have, due to a lack of strategic planning. Well this is a ten year plan so that's progress, there are five main objectives
1. Provide access to and training for bike riding
2. Increase the number and awareness of cycling events and increase participation for all age group and abilities.
3. Improved infrastructure & travel planning advice to make cycling an attractive travel choice
4. Support and increase awareness of community led cycling businesses
5. Promote cycling in the region as a leisure, sport and travel activity
They are all laudable aims and there are some targets for increased participation levels to so that's great as well. It seems to be a joint initiative between York Council and Sustrans and that is also good news.

How will it affect Harrogate? Well there is a question. My worry is that we drop off the back of the group or worse do no more than we were going to do anyway Andrew Jones has praised the initiative but when you get down to detail most of what looks set to happen round here is money that was committed before the Tour swung our way.

If as a town we are really to benefit from this legacy we need to look at how we can do more to deliver increased levels of cycling. I like the idea of number 4 - promoting social entrepreneurship to build some cycling businesses, something we are set up to do in Harrogate. That has links to training and the leisure cycling market. We already do well for event participation and I think it's reasonably well promoted, but we could do more outreach to target people who have never even thought about riding a bike for fun.

It's objective number 3 that's for me is the potential stumbling block. That is about infrastructure and easier travel choices, at least it made the list. Alas better infrastructure which has a huge effect on participation levels costs money and currently once the LSTF spending in Harrogate is over, I see no new money being earmarked to be spent on cycling infrastructure over the medium term.

If we are not careful, or more to the point if we don't plan for it we will be back to arguing with a reactive highways department for piecemeal provision rather than working together to build an integrated network. We need to put some money where our mouth is. A commitment from our politicians to a 5% slice of the Harrogate roads budget for cycle and pedestrian infrastructure for the next 10 years would make these fine words real.

My concern is that whilst this initiative looks great on paper and I welcome it, without a Harrogate specific cycling plan we run the risk of missing the peleton on this one.

Posted on 28.3.14 | Categories:

Monday, 17 March 2014

It's not about the bike - Nidd Valley Road Runners

I haven't been riding my bike much recently. I was a bike commuter for 6 years but a change of job means lugging tools around rather than pedalling. What cycling I have been doing has been with my kids and as a family. The kids are mad for it, I suppose we will be doing loads more.

So to close my activity gap, I have been doing a bit of running. To lose a bit of weight and to improve my climbing grade. Climbing has always been my one true exercise love and I guess it always will be. It engages your brain as much as your body, think of it as outdoor chess, with pull-ups. It has gotten me to places few have been and I have a lifetime's worth of memories already. I write on a climbing blog here if you want more about that game. Running though makes you feel off the scale good, even when your pavement pounding near your backdoor. It turns out your bodies own endorphins produce a better high than any chemical you could ever put into your body, who knew?

I re-started running after a long break as Mrs Cycle Harrogate had caught the bug, joined a club and it's something we can do together when we get the chance.

She joined Nidd Valley Road Runners and Saturday night was their annual dinner at Harrogate Golf Club. I expected a load of young emaciated stick insects talking about times and PB's that would bring me out in a cold sweat. I was very wrong. At 45 I was one of the younger ones there and there were all shapes and sizes. Everyone did talk times actually, runners do but I was expecting to feel chronologically inadequate and I really didn't.

I got taking to a guy in his late 70's. he had done 26 marathons and didn't start running until he was 40. His marathon personal best was 3 hours 17 minutes which is proper good and he posted it when he was 56. He talked about a Berlin Marathon in the early 80's when the wall was still up and about  sneaking behind the East German side the day after as he had connections. He had a twinkle in his eyes and he still puts in the miles every week. I hope I'm half as vital when I'm his age, I might just look forward to my old age if he can be my inspiration.

His wife was near by, she has a terminal cancer diagnosis, but she was there amongst friends and seemed to be loved by one and all. I thought when she is gone the guy would have this club, a place to be amongst like minded people and although he looked a bit scared, his future looked a dam sight better than a comfy but bleak and lonely chair in a nursing home, which will be many of our fates.

I got nattering to a guy who had just done his first marathon. A year after he started doing the excellent Harrrogate Park Run. A 5K challenge on the Stray 9am every Saturday. There are over 300  of these across the UK. We did one down in Nottingham after a gig last month. Me with a medium sized hangover, still good fun. A new one has just started at Fountains Abbey which would be a cool place to spend a Saturday morning. We talked Park Run times (runners do), he was a tad slower than me, but I could no more run a marathon than I could free Syria, respect. If you have never park ran you should. Its free, register online and simply turn up. There are all shapes and sizes there too. I sound like I'm on commission, I'm not.

What shone thorough from the whole evening at the golf club was the, lets call it shared, individual endeavour. Everyone was competing but against themselves and they were doing it as a group, mutually supportive and having fun. The exercise will keep them alive a lot longer than clean living and self denial and its all free at point of use. We need more of these type of clubs in Harrogate. We are an ageing population and we need to get people moving if we are to impact on our stroke and heart disease rates. They have a junior section which has just started. When I have finished brainwashing my kids into the joys of mountain biking, camping, climbing and the outdoors. I might try and get them doing a bit of running with this lot, they could do worse.

Posted on 17.3.14 | Categories:

Thursday, 13 March 2014

Short term Hire Bikes at the Station - use them and tell your friends

Picture Patrick Dunlop stray Fm
There have been short term "Boris" style bikes at the station now since Christmas. Seems nobody knows and nobody is using them. Quite why Northern Rail and the bike hire company  have done nothing to promote them is beyond me and Patrick Dunlop at Stray FM.

Anyway they are available for short term hire if you need a bike for a few hours, tell your friends who are coming by train. If the people who are supposed to be promoting them won't, I will. It seems unlikely people will use them if they don't even know they are there.
Posted on 13.3.14 | Categories:

Saturday, 8 March 2014

Mint - Moutainbiking in Timble Woods

I took my kids to Swinsty/Fewston today to ride the new'ish Yorkshire Water Moutainbike trial.
One 8 year old and one 5 and a half. I wasn't sure if it would work out, but work out it did. You park in the car park by the dam, bizarrely there is a separate car park 50 metres away for horses and bikes, to protect who from who I'm not sure.

Come out of the car park take a right down the minor road to the junction at the other car park. Then head left and pick up the bridleway at the bottom of the short hill and follow it along through a gate. When you come to the woods and a junction, head left uphill toward the road. You will see the bike signs stencilled on the trees and a track heading off right, that's the one you want.

Or ride uphill  on the road from the car park and you will see a gate on your right after maybe 500m that's pretty much the same place. I wanted to get the kids away from the traffic so we went via the trails.

The first few hundred metres where really muddy in places, we had to push a fair bit. At one stage I was carrying two bikes, so the kids could wade though. It will be drier in a few weeks. As you get toward the top of the wood the path levels out and the fun starts. It's  the best part of a Km downhill not too steep with whoops and berms, drops offs and a few jumps which are all avoidable via "chicken runs". My youngest avoided most everything and still had a ball. The eldest whizzed off till he got to far ahead and waited, but he had a grin like an inflated frog when we caught him up. The last section was best of all.  Tree trunk balances some huge rocks to avoid or take on and a nice section of big ramps with lines of varying difficulty depending on your skill level. I bottomed out my front fork a few times, it's been a while.

We headed back to the car park, the kids were jabbering like the Jabba the Hutt and singing "everything is awesome". You know what? For an hour or so in a wood on the banks of the Washburn Valley, they were spot on.

There are loads more trails in the area we didn't ride them but you could probably put a longer fun loop together. A few years back I got onto Blubberhouses moor and came down the old road on Kex Gill that was a nice ride too if your young, fit and keen.

Here is a bit of a sketch map based  on Yorkshire Waters Image which is a bit of a shocker to read on their webpage as it rotated in a daft way, and the description is a bit crap too. Hope this helps as this deserves more riders, I rated it.

Posted on 8.3.14 | Categories: