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SPOKES an active campaign group set up to encourage cycling and publicise its benefits. We are based in the East Kent area of the UK but have an interest in better conditions for cyclists everywhere.

We publish a free quarterly newsletter in which we air our views and the views of others on cycling issues and ensure its widest possible distribution. You can read the latest edition here as well as recent back issues.

We also organise a full programme of rides and cycling events in and around Kent to be enjoyed by ordinary people.


Next Spokes-led ride: Saturday 26 April 2014. Spokes is off again on a day trip to Ardres in France. It is a lovely relaxing trip. We leave on the 0825 P&O Ferry. Then cycle 10 miles inland along the canal to Ardres where we stop for a very leisurely lunch and perhaps a bit of shopping & site-seeing. Then back to Calais for the 1850 Ferry . Contact ride leader for ferry & ticket details. 08:00 at Dover Eastern Docks booking office
Next stall event: Saturday 17 May 2014. Canterbury Climate Fair, Canterbury high street (www.canterburyclimatefair.org). Helpers needed on Spokes stand from before 09.00 until 17.00.

Help out on the cycle network

If you've ever wanted to help out with maintaining the cycle network, please take a look at our Sustrans Volunteer Rangers page for details of how to get started.

Spokes blog

We've recently launched the Spokes blog. We'll post the very latest cycling news and commentary there and we welcome your comments on our posts.

Here's our most recent blog postings:

European Cycle Logistics Federation Conference 2014 at Nijmegen

April 13th, 2014

This weekend Andrew Fenyo, Isabelle Cornet and I attended the ECLF  Conference in Nijmegen, a 2,000 year old City of 160,000 in the South East of the Netherlands. 250 people from 25 different countries attended the Conference . The key note speaker was (an amusingly hungover) Mikael Colville-Andersen.

The conference took place at Cultuurspinnerij de Vasim

The conference took place at Cultuurspinnerij de Vasim

Here is key note speaker Mikael Coalville Andersen in full flow talking about Bicycle Urbanism

Here is key note speaker Mikael Colville Andersen in full flow talking about Bicycle Urbanism

 

Dr Steven Fleming from the University of Tasmania flew in to show how if we idolise bicycles in the same way we have previously done with cars we can bring the bike inside and how we can imagine new bicycling cities.

Dr Steven Fleming from the University of Tasmania flew in to show how if we idolise bicycles in the same way we have previously done with cars we can bring the bike inside and how we can imagine new bicycling cities.

There were presentations throughout the day by cycle logistic companies from the enormous DHL to new businesses from Sweden down to San Sebastian and numerous places in-between. All talking about the transformation their bike businesses are having on their cities. Inspiring stuff!

It was a full day of brilliant stories. Over the next few weeks I’ll try and add more from the conference.

In the meantime, big thank you must go to Gary Armstrong of Outspoken Delivery in Cambridge for organising the Conference.

Adrian.

 

Chief Medical Officer’s Annual Report

April 2nd, 2014

Our very own Dr Gill has reviewed the Chief Medical Officer’s Annual Report. Well the bit that’s relevant to Spokes, that’s the section on diet, obesity and physical activity.
Here’s her comment:
“It’s all very obvious stuff, nothing new – although I hadn’t realised that the proportion of the population that is now overweight or obese has risen to 62%! Horrifying.”
Here’s the full thing if you’d like to read it yourself:

https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/298297/cmo-report-2012.pdf

May we politely suggest that cycling could help here?

Perhaps if “Health” and “Transport” departments were not quite so silo based, cocooned in their own narrow worlds, they might make better decisions?

After all, if  more people cycled there would be:

  • LESS traffic
  • LESS air pollution
  • LESS stress
  • LESS noise
  • LESS injuries
  • LESS obesity
  • LESS diabetes
  • LESS asthma
  • MORE economic prosperity

So cycling is the panacea we need!

Spokes April News Update

April 1st, 2014

Here’s a link to the latest email Update from Spokes: April Update 

Health effects of the London bicycle sharing scheme.

February 28th, 2014

The British Medical Journal has published a study of the health impact of the bike hire scheme in London. (BMJ 2014;348:g425 Woodcock et al.)

Our very own Doctor in the House, Dr Gill Corble, has written this Precis.

Introduction.  Physical inactivity is a major cause of morbidity and mortality and the creation of opportunities for safe, active mobility has been identified as one central feature of a “healthy city.”  Promoting a shift away from motorised vehicle travel towards walking and cycling would also be expected to yield additional health, economic, and environmental benefits, including reducing traffic congestion, noise, and the emission of greenhouse gases. One way in which cities can seek to realise these benefits is by implementing bicycle sharing systems to facilitate short term bicycle rental in urban areas. London is just one of those cities, with the so-called “Boris” Bike Scheme.

Study and Results.  In this study in London, over the year examined, users made 7.4 million cycle hire trips (estimated 71% of cycling time by men). These trips would mostly otherwise have been made on foot (31%) or by public transport. Using observed injury rates and a computer-modelling system for health benefits, it was found that the population benefits from the cycle hire scheme substantially outweighed harms among men using cycle hire. There was no evidence of a benefit among women, this sex difference largely reflecting higher road collision fatality rates for female cyclists. At older ages the modelled benefits of cycling were much larger than the harms.

Conclusion.  London’s bicycle sharing system has positive health impacts overall, but these benefits are clearer for men than for women and for older users than for younger users.

See the original article for all details and references.

Great Stour Waves

February 11th, 2014

 

 

The two sets of hoop-shaped inhibitors have finally been removed on the Great Stour Way. However, if there is any resulting problem with unwanted motorbikes on the path, replacement inhibitors will be installed.

Wave 1: We’ve finally waved bye bye to the two sets of hoop-shaped inhibitors have finally been removed on the Great Stour Way. However, if there is any resulting problem with unwanted motorbikes on the path, replacement inhibitors will be installed.

 

Wave 2: The flooding is very bad on the Great Stour Way. Mother Nature has reclaimed the Hambrook Marshes.

Wave 2: The flooding is very bad on the Great Stour Way.
Mother Nature has reclaimed the Hambrook Marshes.

And finally, Wave 3: Farewell to two further surplus cattle grids that have been ‘re-moo-ved’ between Tonford and Chartham.

Happy pedalling and paddling!

Sheila Webb

Researchers show clear link between Air Pollution & Coronary Events

February 4th, 2014
There is a near-universal acceptance that air pollution, particularly that caused by vehicle emissions, causes lung damage and respiratory disease including lung cancer.
It is however, less well-known that such pollution also damages coronary arteries and the heart. Until now, this association has been somewhat controversial.
Much less controversial, though, after the publication of a paper in this week’s British Medical Journal (BMJ 2014;348:f7412 for the summary version).
Researchers followed up a very large number (>100,000) of healthy citizens from 11 European countries of differing latitudes, for >11years.  All confounding factors such as age, smoking, sociodemographic factors, BMI, alcohol consumption, noise exposure and cholesterol were eliminated statistically.
The results very clearly show an association between long-term exposure to particulate air pollution and incidence of coronary events, even for exposure concentrations below the current European air quality limits.
Analysis of the results indicate that, if anything, there is an underestimation bias; in other words, the association is even stronger than the results indicate.

Road Safety In Kent – We Need A New Approach

January 31st, 2014
The KCC draft Road Casualty Reduction Strategy 2014-2020 was published for consultation on Christmas Eve. It is a baffling document. It is so out of step with modern transportation thinking. 
There are three key strands for a Road Casualty Reduction Strategy that we cannot find in this document:
1. Reduce the amount of motorised traffic
2. Restrict the movement of the largest vehicles
3. Promote the walking & cycling infrastructure
In this document too much weight is given to analysing accidents, trying to find patterns and clusters when the datasets are too small and the variables too many to be significantly robust. We need a Road Danger Reduction Strategy. We need wide area reduced speed limits – especially 20mph in urban areas and 40mph on country lanes, out-of-hours deliveries, high quality strategic walking and cycling routes. We do need ETP initiatives to create a positive shift in road user’s behaviour making our roads a more civilised and tolerant place for everyone.
Kent is a sewer moving the effluent of trade between the UK and the continent. Essential. That doesn’t mean that beyond these strategic routes we should not try to create liveable streets that are free of danger. What people living in Kent say is that the streets are a danger for anyone not in a motorised vehicle. That is not civilised. That is not sustainable. It does not create a nice place to live. It does not create a place that people want to visit or invest.
Below are links to two documents from John Morrison of the Sevenoaks Cycle Forum. The first is a useful background document and the second is his own response to the Strategy.
We would encourage everyone to respond to this strategy. The deadline is 17 February 2014.

After The Storms

January 27th, 2014

As we come to the end of the first month of 2014, we look back at some of the carnage caused by the stormy start of the year.

A tree down on the Crab & Winkle Line - Large sections of the Crab & Winkle Line were covered in woodland debris as well as the odd fallen tree.

A tree down on the Crab & Winkle Line – Large sections of the Crab & Winkle Line were covered in woodland debris as well as the odd fallen tree.[Image: Matthew Banbury]

In deep water on the Crab & Winkle Line - As well as enormous amounts of woodland debris on the Crab & Winkle, there was quite a lot of water too.

In deep water on the Crab & Winkle Line – As well as enormous amounts of woodland debris on the Crab & Winkle, there was quite a lot of water too. [Image: Matthew Banbury]

Those mileposts are amazingly strong! A milepost on the Crab & Winkle Line holds up a fallen tree. [Image: Matthew Banbury]

Those mileposts are amazingly strong! A milepost on the Crab & Winkle Line holds up a fallen tree. [Image: Matthew Banbury]

A tree has fallen onto the bike polo court. Canterbury City Cycle Polo play at the Riverside Youth Centre at Kingsmead but the tree means a temporary relocation. [Image: Kristian Gill]

A tree has fallen onto the bike polo court. Canterbury City Cycle Polo play at the Riverside Youth Centre at Kingsmead but the tree means a temporary relocation. [Image: Kristian Gill]

The Great Stour Way flooded [Image: Sheila Webb]

The Great Stour Way flooded [Image: Sheila Webb]

The river takes over the Riverside route in Canterbury [Image: Sheila Webb]

The river takes over the Riverside route in Canterbury [Image: Sheila Webb]

Another tree blocks the route [Image: Sheila Webb]

Another tree blocks the route [Image: Sheila Webb]

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Mudguard Issue 72 Online Now

January 14th, 2014

The January edition of The Mudguard has been dropping on to members’ doormats this week.
Here’s the online version for your perusal.

Mudguard 72 covernewsletter72-v10-2

 

The Master Builder of Canterbury

January 11th, 2014

The Middle Ages, starting with the Normans, produced a crop of Romanesque and Gothic Master Builders. They built cathedrals, parish churches, city walls, gates and castles in a property boom not seen in Europe since the Romans. Their names are little known today and don’t tend to trip off the tongue like those of Christopher Wren, Inigo Jones or Hawksmore, but their designs achieve landmark status. Often these buildings are admired. Sometimes sadly they are not, even by those closest to them who cannot recognise what they see when they step out of their own front door.

One of the greatest of these Master Builders was paid wages on a par with a Premier League footballer today. He was Master James of St George 1230-1309, brought to England from Savoy by Edward I in a move to defeat the Welsh. A castle builder of genius, he was supported by a cast of thousands, comprising diggers from the Fens, master carpenters and stone masons. Not only did the castles have to be built, these men had to be housed, fed, paid and protected. All in the middle of a bitter guerrilla war.

Harlech Castle was completed in six years, Rhuddlan Castle within four. Beaumaris Castle was his last. In all he built ten castles in Wales. Often he oversaw the construction of a string of castles, all at the same time. Modern contractors would be hard put to rival this feat today on even one of them.

Canterbury too, boasted Master Builders to rival him. Henry Yevele 1320-1400 and John Wastell 1460-1515 came to work on Canterbury Cathedral. Wastell, the inventor of fan vaulting and the architect of Kings College Chapel in Cambridge, designed and built Bell Harry Tower. When it was half way up the Pope made Archbishop Morton, of Morton’s Fork fame, a Cardinal. To celebrate this Wastell was instructed to double the height. It’s difficult to know what the planners would have made of this today or any modern contractor faced with such a task.

Yevele, fresh from his triumph at Westminster Abbey, where he redesigned the nave and cloister, came to Canterbury a century earlier, to redesign the nave of the cathedral in a completely new Perpendicular style, inventing Gothic Architecture as he did so.  He also designed the south cloister. Archbishop Sudbury commissioned Yevele to build a new fortified gate, completed in 1378, to control the entrance into the city. Sudbury, a powerful man, had introduced the Poll Tax. That made him extremely unpopular. In the Peasant’s Revolt in 1381, which it provoked, he was seized by rebels in the Tower of London, as Watt Tyler negotiated with the young King Richard II. His head was cut off and stuck on a pike over London Bridge.

Westgate_087-1After Sudbury’s death, Canterbury was enclosed by Yevele’s city walls in 1385. They were dangerous times. Today 636 years after it was built, Westgate Towers is marooned by traffic, like Eros was once in Piccadilly Circus.  When a scheme was first floated for pedestrianizing the road in front of the National Gallery there was an outcry from taxi drivers that they would have nowhere to stop and would be driven out of business. Once there were equally loud and successful cries for the demolition of Hardwick’s magnificent Euston Arch. Today, as even louder cries come for more traffic to pour through the opening in Henry Yevele’s masterpiece, one of the greatest city gates in Europe although you would be hard put to recognise that in the columns of the Kentish Gazette, we should perhaps pause and question. What irreversible damage is that traffic doing to the stone work?  Why does no one question whether this is a fit and proper way to treat a Gothic masterpiece by a Master Builder?

Sam Webb

January 11th 2014