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24 September 2014

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Cycling on the Birmingham Canals
Cycling on the Birmingham Canals

Get in the saddle

By David Kinshuck
David Kinshuck says more needs to be done for cyclists to help create a greener Birmingham. He talks about his love of cycling from an early age and how you can get involved with the group Pushbikes.

Cycling Facts

On a bicycle you can travel up to 648 miles on the energy equivalent of a single litre of petrol.

On a bicycle you can expect to be as fit as an average person ten years younger, if you cycle frequently.

On a bicycle you protect yourself against heart disease, high blood pressure, obesity and stress.

On a bicycle you can travel four times faster than you can walk using the same amount of energy.

A reasonable half-hour each-way commute will burn eight calories a minute, or the equivalent of 11kg of fat in a year.

On a bicycle you are faster, friendlier and more free than any other vehicle in city traffic.

UK cycling contacts

The British Cycling Federation are the official cycling organisation in the UK for competitive cycling.

The website has information on how to take part in all disciplines of cycling covering all ages. Access the British Cycling Federation website from the link on the right. The telephone number for further information is 0870 871 2000.

We have a Council that encourages faster traffic and out of town developments, abandons bus lanes, and has seen 25% of children become obese, 50% overweight, and so on.

Cycling in London
It's easier to cycle in the jams

We, the cyclists, have been trying to make a difference and are hopeful that the health lobby will actually get the Council to act.

We simply cannot understand their logic. We know that 66% of motorists are happy to accept slower speeds, but they are not implemented. We know that 66% want more cycling, and are prepared to spend a little longer getting around to allow this, but nothing seems to change.

Making a difference

Cycling in Birmingham is scary, too scary.  That's why I joined Pushbikes, to help make cycling better for young people. Pushbikes has been going for about 25 years; founder members can still be found cycling round the city. It has run relentless campaigns, and tried really hard to get people onto bikes.

A packed bicycle stand in Amsterdam
A packed bicycle stand in Amsterdam

During that time, we have seen cycling safer and more fun than ever in Holland and German cities.

Birmingham just gets more cars, faster cars, cars that ignore you, cars that deliberately try to knock you off (yes, that does happen), cars that think the one inch space they have left for you is enough, buses (fully loaded) that also try to knock you off.

Cycle safer

I have been a cyclist as long as I can remember. I remember occasionally falling, occasionally getting wet, but it was always a great way to get around as a child. School was two miles away, or 10 minutes cycling. I could get up at 8:30am and still be there on time!

At University it was cheap and convenient, though by then not all that many students cycled. When I lived in London, cycling round the centre of the city was fantastic, the more the jams, the easier to cycle, and everything was in easy reach.

Be safe while cycling
Be safe while cycling

In spite of the drawbacks, Birmingham is still a wonderful place to cycle.  I can park outside the shops and in the market.  I can keep the bike with me and just load up the shopping.

My journey to work always takes a similar time, traffic jams don't slow you down, and I only rarely get soaked through! Coming home from work, I forget all the problems, it is really wonderful therapy.

Now I am part of a family, we all cycle. My sons can get up at 8:40am and still be in class on time, though thank goodness that is not their regular schedule.

How can I get involved?

You can contact myself at becycling@pushbikes.freeserve.co.uk or visit our website. We run regular rides. For the first time we are trailing family rides, which we hope to run regularly if successful. Join the longer guided rides, a must on a wonderful summer's evening.

Join for fun, join for support, and join to add your support.

last updated: 25/05/05
Have Your Say
Have you ever cycled in Birmingham or Solihull? How did you find it? Are things better for cyclist? What do you think? Let us know what you think.
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Gary Thomas
I've just moved from two cities (Oxford and Leeds) where although provision for cycling wasn't brilliant, at least an effort was being made. I'm shocked at the state of affairs in Birmingham and its environs. It's like going back 25 years! How about doing a comparative study, getting people in different cities (via some cycling web network) to rate their cities on cycle friendliness. Bad towns and cities (Birmingham?) could then be shamed into action.

I cycle everywhere and have done for the last 12 years. I have great respect for other trafic and am not shy to use the pavement if I have to. On two occasions only have I been knocked off my bike when drivers have opened their car doors on me. I am now always sure to give parked cars a wide berth. I've cycled with children on the back of my bike, and with children in a trailer. I have been known to pull three children - two in a trailer and one on the back while my other two children ride on their own bikes. Now they are older, I use the trailer to pull the shopping. Sadly my children have never been as interested in cycling as I'd like them to be, and would rather walk the two miles that we have to in order to get to school. I walk with them and cycle back. During school term time therefore I'm extremely fit as I walk 4 miles a day - and cycle at least the same distance. If Birmingham could provide more cycle tracks it would be wonderful. I can't understand why this phonomenal means of transport is not better supported.

Cycling in Solihull is appalling with a council that believes by painting a line 12 inches from the kerb it has created a cycle path! How about real imagination and using one of the disused rail lines from Dorridge through to Brum to creat a proper cycle lane with real commuting benefits. Nah ... council much prefer re-developing housing estates!

I would love to cycle in and out of the city centre to work but I am to scared. I have known two people killed in cycle accidents both involving large vehicles. I also want a greener Birmingham and choose not to drive. I take the bus or walk (4 miles) to and from work and my 4 yr old daughter walks everywhere too. Good luck in making cycling safer. I for one will get my bike out as soon as there are more safer cycle lanes.

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