I finally left the flat for something other than work or food shopping. Just an easy ride into Manchester city centre to check out car free Deansgate, then around a few familiar places, and back again. You may have to click through to enjoy the full gallery, depending upon what mood the embedding code is in.
I’ve been meaning to do this for a while. Today, I finally got around to it.
Getting up at 4am, I had a cup of tea, pumped the bike’s tyres up to a good running pressure, and headed into Manchester city centre. I videoed my ride around some random streets, and added some music, and here it is.
Okay, it’s no C’etait Un Rendezvous, but I had fun. If someone would like to lend me an electric motored mountain bike, and maybe some GoPros, I’d have a go at a point to point across the city centre, with a higher speed up the hills, and overall. (I might set out later, though. I hadn’t expected there to be so many people still around at 5am. Maybe at 7 or 8, the clubbers would mostly have made it home, and there’d be fewer cabs on the road.)
I put off writing about it at the time, but The Helmet Debate resurfaced just before Christmas, along with rumours that the Government may consider making cycle helmets compulsory*.
So a few quick thoughts on the subject.
The argument for making helmets compulsory is that they’ll make cyclists safer. This is toss. My helmet doesn’t make me any safer. It doesn’t throw up a forcefield to deflect close passing cars, or fill in potholes in the road ahead. Nor does it psychically alert pedestrians that they should look both ways before stepping into the road- even if all those cars are standing still. It’s not there to make me safer. It’s there to minimise a specific type of damage, for when its nonexistent magical abilities don’t prevent an accident caused by bad driving, crap roads, inattentive pedestrians, or my own mistakes.
So many of the things that people think of as safety devices are, likewise, really just damage limitation features. Staying on the roads, seatbelts aren’t safety devices. Nor are airbags, crumple zones, side impact protection, or strengthened pillars. Whilst you want your car to have all those things built in, to save your life, you don’t want to ever have to use them.
Safety devices are the things that can help you prevent the damage limitation features being used. Brakes, good tyres and suspension, a well maintained and marked road, and, most of all, actually using that thing between your ears.
If campaigners and politicians are genuinely interested in making the roads safer for all (but especially cyclists, in this context), they should ignore all calls for mandatory helmets, and look at ways to improve driver awareness, and build better cycling infrastructure.
*Based upon flimsy evidence, admittedly. But we have a ridiculously flimsy Government at the moment.
Shortly after the service launched in Manchester, I took a Mobike hire bike out for a test ride. Whilst I was about it, I visited some of the locations of Northern Gorehouse (aka Zombies V Vampires). Here’s A Writer’s Life, episode 3.
I’ve been quite busy since the Naked Bike Ride, and only just managed to get a few images edited and uploaded. Unfortunately, Flickr won’t let me embed the gallery here, because of the flesh. But you can visit it here.
I went out for a ride in the sun last Sunday, and recorded this trip through the back streets of the Northern Quarter and Ancoats. I’ve sped it up, to suit the bounce of the soundtrack I found for it.
Music- EDM Detection Mode by Kevin MacLeod is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution licence (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/)
I got a clip on wide angle lens for the phone, which will be good for photos and timelapse, but upsets the autofocus when there’s too much movement. I’ll know better next time.
Rather shaky. It’s not easy cycling whilst filming with your phone.
I found this whilst looking for something else completely. It looks awesome, though I imagine the weight of that hose so high up in the frame would make cornering scary.
Craziest Bike or Bike Parts!! in Bikes, Parts, and Gear
Police in America say veteran X Games biker Dave Mirra has died aged 41.
2015 isn’t likely to give us many more days as nice as today. So I got on the bike and went for a little ride- something I’ve consistently failed to do this year.
I followed a route I took several times last year- down to the Irwell, then upstream a way, freestyling the exact route on the many tracks available. If you’ve read Solstice, the weir above is the spot where the first body is found. In the story, it’s June, and the river is lower than this.
This rather lovely location is just over two and a half miles from where I live. Two and a half miles in the other direction is Manchester city centre.
At one point, the track got a little crazy. Lacking Boudicca style scythes on the bike, I worked a little way back and crossed the river on an old canal bridge nerby.
Having taken a photo of the weir where the body was found, I had to make it far enough upstream to get a shot of the location of the first murder, and opening scene, of Solstice. This track runs under the M60. I turned around and headed back along trails I didn’t discover last year. The ride was just under ten miles long. I did much longer ones last year when I was in the habit of heading out for a random ride most weeks. I need to get on my bike more often.
I spotted this across the road whilst wandering around town, and just had to have a picture. How cool is this rat rod style scooter?
When I stop living in the sky and find somewhere with a garage (which won’t be for a while), I’d love to have something like this for the occasional cool buzz around town. Of course, I’ve heard that older scooter engines can be very polluting for their size, so it would have to have a newer motor fitted instead or, for the ultimate mod (but not Mod), it could go electric.
I also spotted this cool chopper. The riding position looks close to that of a recumbent, so it mightn’t be as hard to pedal as you’d first think. Steering could be tricky, though.
That back tyre is actually three mountain bike tyres fitted to some sort of custom rim, which is an interesting way of doing things.
I nearly didn’t bother taking pictures at this year’s Naked Bike Ride. The first and second times I did the ride, it was a bit of a surprise to have photos taken from inside the pack, rather than by giggling folks on their mobiles. So I was getting something a bit special.
Yesterday, it seemed that every other rider had a camera, some of them had more than one, and there were GoPros in evidence. So I set off thinking that it would be okay, I’d let everyone else take photos.
But, I’d brought my camera, and then we stopped on Oxford Road and this was the view ahead-
And this was the view behind-
I knew I had to get a few.
Most of the shots came out dark or blurred because of the overcast, but there were a few more I liked.
These guys had issues. But they’re the sort of people who have issues with everything, and whatever the guy with the megaphone was saying was drowned out by the sarcastic cheering of a hundred or so naked folk.
On the left hand side of this shot, you’ll see the coolest rider of all of us, a three year old kid on a balance bike, who managed to keep up with us for nearly half the ride. He’s a star.
Obligatory Beetham Tower with naked riders in front of it picture.
Dutch driving laws force motorists to play it safe. Isn’t it time we adopted strict liability to protect cyclists in Britain?
There’s a vote option at the bottom of the piece. The result won’t make a difference in the grand scheme, but I recommend clicking Yes for the benefit of Metro readers.
After lobbying by several cycling and road safety groups, TfL have agreed to phase out the yellow ‘Cyclists Stay Back’ stickers which were on their vehicles and those of their contractors. They’re going to work on something with better wording. And, hopefully, reminding their drivers how they should be behaving on the road.
Road safety organisations have for several months been pressuring TfL to act on the stickers, described as “offensive” by London Cycling Campaign (LCC). Evidence has mounted that drivers of stickered vehicles have acted as though the stickers gave them the right to harass and endanger cyclists.
If you are, or know, a driver who’d like to convey a more positive message, the road.cc website have some ‘Cyclists, Stay Awesome’ stickers.
You should be able to scroll through them all using the arrows. There’s a Manchester Naked Bike Ride group on Flickr which has other people’s photos as well.
Not many photos, because the camera was shooting video for the first half of the ride and then the battery was near flat.
I need a proper bike cam setup (possibly a GoPro), because the best footage was from when I got off the bike and stood at the lights to watch the ride go past.