Friday, 10 December 2010

Bicycle Under Investigation!

As most Highways Agencies have been struggling to keep our roads and footpaths open, the 'bicycle police' at Brighton & Hove City Council have been busy investigating bicycles. 
The above picture shows the bicycle parking rack which is located opposite our Brighton Dutch Bike Shop. I believe that all the above pictured bikes are owned by local residents and used regularly. Understandably, the recent treacherous road conditions have meant that few have ventured out on their cycles, and perhaps give the appearance of being uncared for, but is this enough reason for Brighton & Hove Council to slap a legal Notice on your bicycle informing you your trusted cycle is now 'under investigation' and if you don't contact them will be removed and disposed of?
Compare this to the above picture, which I took during a recent visit to Amsterdam where literally every avaialble railing is home to bicycle parking. They've even provided a barge for overflow bicycle parking and no bicycles are 'under investigation.'
At the same time Brighton & Hove City Council slapped notices on everyone's bicycle - the latest edition of the council's own publication - City News - fell on our shop doormat. A feature on page 24 caught my attention as photographed above. If you have difficultly reading it, here's what is says -
 "Abandoned bicycles are being refurbished and sold in aid of charity. The Council's Highways enforcement team collects the bikes around the city and hands them to Sussex Central YMCA, which has trained Tariq Al-Mussawi to repair them. The bikes are sold on ebay and at the YMCA Centre at Chalk Pit, 213 Mile Oak Road, Portslade. Phone 01273 885505 or visit Money will go to expanding the scheme.

Where does the line between 'charity' and theft get drawn?

Sunday, 5 December 2010

Tips for riding in snowy icy conditions

The goods news is that things are now back to normal with the main bulk of the recent snow melted and although all roads and cycle tracks in and around Brighton & Hove are usable for bicycles, forecasts are warning of more icy conditions to come.

Some of my tips for cycling in snowy/icy conditions:
  1. Adjust your bike to the conditions - for example, if you're riding in really snowy conditions, I like to lower my seat down (which I wouldn't normally do) to allow myself the luxury of being able to put both feet down in the event I have to stop suddenly, or go into a skid.
  2. I also like to deflate my tyres to improve traction.
  3. Keep speeds low as braking in snow and ice can be lethal. 
  4. Cycle in a lower - more easier gear to ride in
  5. If you find yourself going into a skid, keep pedalling slowly, and if possible put your feet down to prevent falling over.
  6. Keep unnecessary weight off the handlebars. Don't use your basket and or/hang objects from the handlebars which might affect your balance and steering.
  7. Stay well clear of the kerbs and gutter where there's all sorts of hidden hazards such as frozen manhole covers, latent debris and untreated surfaces.
  8. Be prepared with lots of warm clothing. My view is that the more you wear the warmer you'll be. Far better to find yourself overheating and removing layers than finding yourself feezing cold where you cannot warm up.
  9. Wear sensible footwear - okay, you wouldn't normally cycle in boots, but remember snow melts into a sludgy, wet mess which sprays up on your feet as you ride. You're also more prone to getting sprayed by passing motorists - so be prepared.
  10. Keep your lights on front and rear and regularly clean the snow and spray from the lenses.
  11. Enjoy yourself - riding in cold, icy conditions can be a lot of fun. You're more likely to enjoy yourself if you relax as you ride as opposed to tensing up.
  12. If conditions become too bad, there's nothing wrong with walking with your bike until you reach better conditions.
  13. Black ice is lethal - you won't see it until it's too late but you could use your local knowledge to avoid the danger spots. For example, remember the parts of your previous journeys where the roads are always wet? These are the places that will now be home to black ice.
  14. If you can, take your bike out into a deserted park or cycle track, lower your saddle and get some practice at very low speeds. See how the bike reacts in these conditions and get used to riding before venturing out on the main roads.