New training blog – www.decaironman-training.com

Apologies for no recent updates – I will seek to amend this in the coming week. I have been working on a separate training blog – http://www.decaironman-training.com, in order to keep this site quite focused on the ‘how to meet a million people’ challenge.

Interestingly the new blog has featured in the Telegraph online yesterday in an article by the Olympic rower, James Cracknell. I have posted details of this article below.

Thank you for your patience!

Original article:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/men/active/10472742/James-Cracknell-my-recommended-brain-injury-charities.html

James Cracknell: my recommended brain injury charities

image

@JamesCracknell Had bike crash 2yrs ago & helmet saved me, fundraisin in DecaIronman decaironman-training.com/2013/11/18/1strecommended charities? @NWlongworth

I think I should be recommending you a therapist rather than a charity! I’m not one to instantly dismiss an endurance challenge, but the thought of a 2.4 mile swim, a 112 mile bike ride, and then a 26.2 mile marathon – in other words an Ironman – never struck me as the most pleasurable way to spend all the hours of the day.

That being said, it must subconsciously be on my radar, simply because I already know what a DecaIronman is. For the sane out there who have never heard of the term before, a DecaIronman is ten Ironmans back to back!

Once you’ve finished the marathon in the first Ironman, you get straight back into the water to start Ironman 2 and another 2.4 mile swim. A process that you repeat, repeat, and repeat, either for a lifetime or until you reach 10, whichever comes first.

While we don’t share a DecaIronman as an ambition, what we do have in common is that we’ve both been saved by a bike helmet and now want to raise money and help others by taking on challenges.

Headway (The Brain Injury Association) is who I raise money for. They help victims and the families of Acquired and Traumatic Brain Injury (ABI & TBI) sufferers. Headway were the charity that helped my family and I understand the impacts and effects of T/ABI on my life and how to cope with them.

Through Headway I was able to build strategies to cope with my injuries, gaining an understanding/insight into an illness that I’d never been exposed to previously. Today I fully appreciate how lucky I was to survive, and feel privileged to be able to raise money for a charity that helps so many people.

At this stage I should point out a potential conflict of interest: I’m the Vice President of Headway – but don’t let that dissuade you from raising money for a charity that does phenomenal work for sufferers and their families.

Other charities dedicated to helping brain injury sufferers are the Child Brain Injury Trust (CBIT) and The United Kingdom Acquired Brain Injury Forum (UKABIF).

Like so many victims of TBI or ABI I now have epilepsy, which shamefully still has a stigma associated with it that prevents people feeling able to talk about their condition. The Epilepsy Society does amazing work in this area.

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100 ways to meet a million people – Part 1/2

Imagine the Mexican wave......

Imagine the Mexican wave……

With all the cycling, running and triathlon blogs in the last few weeks, I thought I would go back and touch on what exactly is ‘How to meet a million people’ – with 100 on how you could do this massive task. Perhaps one day a brand manager will take me up on the challenge, but if it takes cycling around the world – so be it!

This whole phrase/idea/obsession started 5 years ago, when I was lucky enough to be elected as to the SU in my uni through an intensive two weeks of student canvassing, which relies on 1. A very enthusiastic small group of friends; who worked their butts off for me (thanks lads) and 2. a keen interest in meeting new people. I soon realized the dramatic impact of just ‘meeting’ people and alongside the influence of posted videos on college humour & other sites, I thought  has anyone ever gone out & documented the goal of meeting a million people? Here is the first 50 ways I would go out to do it. Note quite a few videos here so give it a moment to load!

Share a comment with your ideas!

1, Inspirational from College Humour Prank Wars (x2)

I LOVE the fact that the crowd just gets absorbed by the whole concept of the prank – I think you could do the same thing on ‘How to meet a million people’ – want 40,000 tweets at one time, thats how you do it!

2. Be part of the largest gathering of people of Earth – held every 12 years, the Maha Kumbh Mela, a religious festival in India; over 100million visited the festival last year!

3. Playing striker in the Ashbourne Shrovetide Football match

4. Take the gold at RedNeck Olympics

5.Become a refugee at Sealand, the world’s smallest ‘nation’

6. Already planning the costume for RedBull Flugtag

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7. Join an isolated tribe festival; yes you can survive without an iPhone

8. Ice fishing with eskimo community, granted there might not be many of them but these are peoples that most of us will never meet in a lifetime!

9. Life model in a warm drawing room

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10. Might be a bit nippy after that so better make a jumper at Sheep shearing World Championship

11. Will also need some wellies……Swamp Soccer Finland

12. Try to avoid making an ass out of myself as TV News Anchor…..extra points for being a weatherman!

13. This is where I should make an ass of myself – Clown College

14. After the pressures of entertainment I may want to escape it all – Mongol Rally by the Adventurists, you drive in a rubbish, completely unpractical car from London to Mongolia……really is making life less boring!

15. It was this or Oktoberfest….but would be interested in seeing what all the excitement is about – A Dart international tournament

16. Now this is exciting/terrifying……Wing walking on a plane at a International Flying festival

17. My mum might prefer this….Conduct an orchestra

18. We should all do this – Volunteer at soup kitchen (not just at Christmas!)

19. Aim high…Graduation speech at your old school

20. Caddie for a pro golfer, perhaps in sunny Australia!

21. You have 48 hours to get as far away as possible…..with no money……College Jailbreak

22. This is just plain stupid and I love it….Cheese rolling championship, try not to break anything

23. We all know you did it last night at the club…….Air Guitar World Championships

24.Before there was rugby there was Buzkashi….like rugby but on horses and with a dead goat, oh and also Afghanistan’s national sport!

25. Could I even be the first in like 20 years to score a goal at the Eton Wall Game?

26. All this rough and tumble, time to get some peace – Summer Solistice at Stonehenge

27. I’ll bring my mum on this one – London to Brighton Veteran Car Run

28. Although she might not appreciate me getting hitched at a mass wedding……wish that mock wedding we had planned in college had turned out better!

29. Might need to learn the legal system for that divorce…become a member of a jury; apparently you can get a verdict ‘wrong’! See below:

30. I wonder what I wonder what skill I can offer as currency, I’m told there is no money at the Burning Man festival

31. Watching hours of reruns is allowed while planning costume for Star Trek Convention

32. They might even give you the costume at historical mock battle

33. Way too much excitement for one day……24 Hours on a rollercoaster

34. 2 hours of madness at the tomato fight at La Tomatino

35. Become the host at Gay Bingo! My Monday night is made!

36. Trust me, Google this – Improv Everywhere; so simple, so brilliant – the high five escalator to cheer everyone up!

You may remember these guys from the Flash Mob idea!

High five escalator is closely followed by standing around in Best Buy

37. Busking on the Tube/Underground

38. Being forever immortalized on DAVE by taking part in a game show – take your pick!

Bright yellow T-shirt I think

Bright yellow T-shirt I think

39. Wreck my dad’s old car at a Destruction Derby

40. Racing a horse, nah too normal – Camel racing at The Two Tims, Alice Springs, Australia

41. Rowing is particularly hard when you are hanging and bumping into each other deliberately – Oxford Bumps

42. A mixture of brain and brawn – Chess Boxing

43. My body is my canvass – World Body Painting festival

44. Needs to be a bit more original than race car driving……..Hovercraft racing

45. Although there is always room for caravans – British Caravan Grand Prix

46. A test of true ‘Manliness’……Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest

47. Though eating that was hard?…..UK Nettle Eating Championships

48. Need to burn off all that eating…..World Sauna Championships

49. And get into shape – Natural Bodybuilding contest – quite impressed by Jodie Marsh on this

50. Its not for the glory or the money……maybe the free lunch? Become a movie extra

Got any suggestions on what should be in Part 2? Let me know in the comments! Don’t worry underwater ice hockey is number 51 :p

Dear TED,How to build a conference on Triathlon – Part 1,Day One

kona crawl

Looking at what goes behind the pain and suffering…..and I suppose also the sense of achievement

Good morning TED

Your work in providing a forum for innovative presentations on technology, entertainment and design has clearly left a mark on the conference industry (I should know, I work as a producer in it), prompting debate on the world wide web and inspiring the next generation. Great stuff. As an avid sports enthusiast, I have always wanted to produce/be involved in a thought-provoking, exciting event whereby the best sports athletes and scientists come together to challenge old ideas and establish new ones. Being in Singapore, there are present challenges in putting together a forum on my own using your TEDx platform (flight reimbursements etc. I dare say this is a call out to those organizers in the country :p!) and furthermore I think an exciting topic such as ‘Sport’ needs a full team behind it anyway. To that end, I thought I would put together a ‘wish list’ for an agenda  on the specific subject of triathlon – any further suggestions, just drop me a line.

We would definitely have athletes on spin bikes & infinity pools alongside the stage throughout the days proceedings!

We would definitely have athletes on spin bikes & infinity pools alongside the stage throughout the days proceedings!

Granted, not all of these presentations are as wacky or striking as some of your other installments but I think it is a careful balance between recognized veterans of the sports/its disciplines and the highest respected innovators in the sport. Whatever it is, the speaker line up is an extremely exciting prospect and I think the triathlon industry will queue up to get into the front row – no risk of a ‘quiet’ day two morning (as can be the case with conferences) at this one! Hope you enjoy and sure if nothing else it will break up the late afternoon in the office!

Day One – Excelling in the three disciplines of Triathlon

Session 1: Opening remarks

To start the day off, well there are dozens of great quotes but I found this one, that is not by a triathlete but I think sets the spirit of why in our often comfortable day to day lives we still challenge ourselves with a triathlon:

We run, not because we think it is doing us good, but because we enjoy it and cannot help ourselves…The more restricted our society and work become, the more necessary it will be to find some outlet for this craving for freedom. No one can say, ‘You must not run faster than this, or jump higher than that.’ The human spirit is indomitable.” – Sir Roger Bannister, first runner to run a sub-4 minute mile

Now to the opening speeches: I think this has to come from a respected and prolific winner of the Ironman Kona World Championship, as it will really set the tone of the meeting to come & certainly get people to sit down & listen! They won’t even need a coffee. My vote for opening day one or two (depending on their own schedules and I picked retired athletes because of training schedules etc)

Chrissie WellingtonChrissie Wellington is the queen of Ironman triathlon and has been World Champion 4 times. She holds, or held, all three world and championship records relating to ironman-distance  triathlon races: firstly, the overall world record, secondly, the Ironman World Championship course record (from 2009 until Mirinda Carfrae lowered it in 2013), and thirdly, the official world record for all Ironman-branded triathlon races over the full Ironman distance. She won the World Championship in three consecutive years (2007–2009), but could not start the 2010 World Championship race because of illness, but regained the title in 2011. Furthermore (there is quite a big list here!) she was undefeated in all thirteen of her races over the ironman distance and is the only triathlete, male or female, to have won the World Championship less than a year after turning professional. This achievement was described by the British Triathlon Federation as “a remarkable feat, deemed to be a near impossible task for any athlete racing as a rookie at their first Ironman World Championships’.

Dave Scott

Dave Scott, is a former US triathlete and the first six-time Ironman Triathon World Champion. He won in Kona six times in 1980, 1982, 1983, 1984, 1986, and 1987, with only his rival, Mark Allen, managing to match these six titles eight years later. Scott is also referred to as “The Man.” Remarkably Dave Scott came out of ‘retirement’ in 1994 at age 40 to take second place in Kona and 2 years later he returned again to place 5th, running the marathon in 2:45!

Of course there is a whole host of great triathletes, some of which can be found in this list below:

http://triathlon.competitor.com/2011/02/news/inside-triathlon-the-15-greatest-male-triathletes-of-all-time_19561

http://triathlon.competitor.com/2011/02/news/inside-triathlon-the-10-greatest-female-triathletes-of-all-time_19996

Session 2: Panel discussion on ‘The future of Olympic distance triathlon’

[1] Andy Schmitz, USA Triathlon’s High Performance General Manager

[2] Ben Bright, Head Coach, British Triathlon

[3] Omar Gonzalez, Coach of Javier Gomez (Winner of ITU World Championship, literally by a few metres – great race report here)

[4] Dr Patrick Schamasch, Medical & Scientific Director, International Olympic Committee

Session 3: Breaking it down into the 3 disciplines; what advice do the most accomplished athletes have?

Swimming – Dr. Rondi Davies

Rondi Davies

Ok swimming is hard but marathon swimming is even harder! Rondi Davies is the American record holder for the fastest time around Manhattan Island (5:44:47) for a woman and holds the world record for a 10 mile swim. It doesn’t stop there, she also co-founded the 8 Bridges Hudson River Swim, a 7 day event of 120 miles, with David Barra and in 2012 was the only person besides Grace van der Byl to finish each of the stages on the race!

Cycling – Chris Broadman

Chris Broadman

Chris Broadman is a British former racing cyclist  who won an individual pursuit gold medal at the 1992 Summer Olympics and has broken the World Hour Record 3 times – including breaking Eddy Merckxx 28 year old record under the same conditions by only 10 metres in 2000. He has worn the yellow jersey on 3 separate occasions in the Tour de France and is nicknamed ‘The Professor’ for his meticulous attention to detail in preparation & training, and his technical know-how. Boardman had a huge focus on interval training and was a keen user of power measuring devices – something which was being developed in the early 1990s. He quite famously had an altitude tent  built in his house to help him prepare for the hour record attempt. Although suffering from low hormone levels which outside professional cycling competition would need testosterone therapy (and in 1998 he was diagnosed with an illness like osteoporosis) Broadman still holds the record for the fastest average speed in a time trial (of 55.152kph) in the 7.2km time trial prologue at the 1994 Tour de France.

Running – Paula Radcliffe

Paula RadcliffePaula Radcliffe is the current world record holder for the marathon distance at a time of 2:15:25 hours. She is 3 time winner of the London Marathon (2002, 2003, 2005), the NYC Marathon (2004, 2007, 2008) and also winner of the Chicago Marathon in 2002. She is also the former world champion in the marathon, half marathon, cross country and winner of 10k silver medal at the 1999 World Championships & 2002 Commonwealth champion at 5k. Paula has represented Great Britain in 4 consecutive Olympic Games. All this and she is an asthma sufferer! In addition to her running titles she is an MBE, winner of IAAF World Athlete of the Year, Laureus World Comeback of the Year, AIMS World Athlete of the Year (3 times) and the BBC Sports Personality of the Year.

Session 4: On the day , looking at the grub & the gear

Why proper race nutrition is so important – Mark Allen, 2nd six-time Ironman Triathlon World Champion. 

Quick background, can’t really use that phrase with the mountain of stuff coming next, to Mark Allen: Competing in six Ironman Triathlon Championships up to 1989 before emerging victorious that year. That would be the first of six Ironman victories, the last coming in 1995 at age 37. He has also excelled at the Olympic distance, winning the sport’s inaugural World Championships in 1989 in Avignon, France by more than a minute. He also went undefeated in 10 trips to the Nice International Championships and from 1988-1990 he put together a winning streak of 20 races. Over the course of his racing career, which ended in 1996, he maintained a 90% average in top-three finishes. He was named Triathlete of the Year six times by Triathlete magazine, and in 1997 Outside magazine tabbed him The World’s Fittest Man. Allen was inducted into the Ironman Triathlon Hall of Fame in 1997.

Session 5 – What’s next in wetsuit innovation?

Xavier Merian, Founder, Aquaman

In 1983, triathlon started on the world scene and with the lack of wetsuits in the sport – much like this epic 80s advert:

Then Xavier Merian changed it all and started working on the world’s first 1984 Triathlon wetsuit. AQUAMAN, as the company became known, put together the first wetsuit in 1984 which could provide warmth, freedom of movement, low water friction, and easy to take off. Even to this day AQUAMAN is dedicated to finding technological advancements that make a suit quicker and more comfortable. @triathleteurope recently reviewed the latest model – AQUAMAN ART – to have the ultimate in suit flexibility,link

[LUNCH TIME!]

And with all that talk on innovations in making you go faster in the water, my recommendations is the lunchtime talk should be about being invisible to sharks…..

Session 6 – Its all about the bike

Cervélo Triathlon/Time trial bicycles have won more pro races than any other, and they are by far the most popular bicycles at Ironman and time trial events for athletes of all levels. Enough said. I think we should get the whole time to join us………

Session 7 : How to get a powerful running experience

Ian Adamson, Director of Education & R&D, Newton Running Shoes

Ian is not only an expert in shoe design but an extremely successful adventure racer with six world championship wins, 15 world championship podium finishes and 14 international adventure race championship titles. He is a three time and current world record holder for endurance kayaking (262 miles in 24 hours.) Additionally Ian has competed internationally in adventure racing, canoeing, kayaking, orienteering and sailing. Ian holds a BS in Bio-mechanical engineering and an MS in Sports Medicine, and is featured regularly in the educational videos posted on the Newton website (also on the Newton Channel on YouTube).  You can read a great Q&A session with Ian on runblogger .

Session 8: IRONMAN Panel session – Still stuck on where to phrase this as the next trends/innovations in the sport or perhaps more ‘the future’.

Remarks – ‘From the Trenches’ with Diana Bertsch, Eleven Year Race Director of Ironman Kona – might go something like this

[1] Asker Jeukendrup Global Senior Director of the Gatorade Sports Science Institute (@Jeukendrup).

Jeukendrup, a distinguished author, Ironman triathlete and registered sports and exercise nutritionist, comes to GSSI from his position as Professor of Exercise Metabolism and Director of the Human Performance lab at the University of Birmingham in England.

[2] Joe Friel is an endurance sports coach best known as an elite triathlon and cycling coach as well as the author of The Triathlete’s Training BibleThe Cyclist’s Training BibleThe Mountain Biker’s Training BibleGoing Long: Training for Ironman-Distance Triathlons, and Your First Triathlon. Joe has trained endurance athletes since 1980. His clients are elite amateur and professional road cyclists, mountain bikers, triathletes, and duathletes. They come from all corners of the globe and include American and foreign national champions, world championship competitors, and an Olympian. He is the author of ten books on training for endurance athletes including the popular and best-selling Training Bible book series. He holds a masters degree in exercise science, is a USA Triathlon and USA Cycling certified Elite-level coach, and is a founder and past Chairman of the USA Triathlon National Coaching Commission.

[3] Walt LoweMedical Director of the IRONMAN Sports Medicine Institute at Memorial Hermann. 

The Memorial Hermann IRONMAN Sports Medicine Institute is a comprehensive sports medicine clinic providing elite care for athletes of all ages and skill levels. The institute is based in Houston, Texas, serving the community with locations in the world-renowned Texas Medical Center, Memorial City Medical Center, and The Woodlands. The Institute brings together highly trained experts in sports science, orthopedics,orthopedic surgery, sports physical therapy, human performance, strength and conditioning and sport nutrition to help athletes of all ages and abilities prevent injury, recover from injury and improve performance to reach their personal athletic goals.

Followed by REFRESHMENTS

I HAVE to get one of these!

I HAVE to get one of these!

Afternoon sessions take a further look behind at keynote researchers & advocates of our three disciplines

Session 9 – Perfecting that swim stroke

Rajat Mittel, Professor of mechanical engineering at Johns Hopkins

Rajat oversaw the famous ‘Paddle vs Propeller: Which Olympic swimming stroke is superior?‘. Using high-precision laser scans and underwater videos of elite swimmers, and additionally using animation software to match the video sequence. The study supervised by the fluid dynamics expert found that the deep catch stroke, resembling a paddle, has the edge over sculling, the bent-arm, propeller-inspired motion. This research was later published in the Journal of Biomechanical Engineering but you can find a popular science write-up here – ‘Delineating the Perfect Swim Stroke’

Session 10 – Aerodynamic Cycling Analysis

David Salazar, General Manger, A2 Wind Tunnel

David manages the world’s first wind tunnel which can measure aerodynamic forces and can capture biomechanics as they occur in a real-time, frame-by-frame fashion throughout the entire tunnel session. The tunnel provides a consistent aerodynamic environment at speeds ranging from 30 to 85 mph and clients include everything from triathletes, time trialist to motorcycle manufacturers, racing cars!

Session 11 – Barefoot Running – should this be how you should train & race?

An the debate ravages on – Barefoot running advocates argue minimal running is better for the feet in that it strengthens them and reduces chronic injuries such as IT Band Syndrome, Runner’s Knee, shinsplints and other common running injuries. The side of the oppostions argue the barefoot running forces runners to forestrike as opposed to heel-strike, which is the result of the evolution of the running shoe to exhibit a cushioned heel.

I think with all this running around in preparation for an Ironman we should get one of barefoot running’s greatest supporters in; Christopher McDougall  is an the author of the best-selling book Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen. He is also a contributing editor for Men’s Health and a host of other major magazines. And of course is quite a good runner as well!!!

Session 12 – Altitude training research

Mo Farah is arguably as Lord Coe put it ‘the greatest British athlete of all time’. Maybe we should find out how and why he is so good, might help that dreaded final 10k on the Ironman marathon right? Alberto Salazar is the American coach of Mo Farah and Galen Rupp (Olympic silver medalist and current American recorder holder of 10k)……I bet he has a few interesting things to say!

Evening session bonanza – Determination & guts

I would NOT like to get in a ring with this guy!

I would NOT like to get in a ring with this guy!

‘Guts and Glory’

Baxter Humby is a Canadian kickboxer known as “The One Armed Bandit” due to his missing right hand, which was amputated at birth just below his elbow after becoming entangled with the umbilical cord. He is the only man in the world to win world titles with only one hand. Baxter is the current IMTC (International Muay Thai Council) World Super Welterweight Champion. He holds a number of different title belts including WBC Super Welterweight National Champion (2010), IKKC USA Kickboxing Champion, IMTC World Middleweight Champion and IKBA International Kickboxing Champion.

‘Yes you can’ with Team Hoyt

Team Hoyt is father and son Dick Hoyt and Rick Hoyt, from Massachusetts, who have competed together in various athletic endeavors, including marathons and triathlons. Rick has cerebral palsy and during competition Dick pulls Rick in a special boat as they swim, carries him in a special seat in the front of a bicycle, and pushes him in a special wheelchair as they run. Team Hoyt was inducted to the Ironman Hall of Fame in 2008

Now delegates you can go out and enjoy the town………but get ready for Day Two!!!

Why we need to stop talking & make London cycling safe

Anyone else sees this as a potential  side collision coming right up?

Anyone else sees this as a potential side collision coming right up?

As we build up to Adelaide Velo-City Global 2014, the world’s foremost conference on cycling planning; including discussions on the benefits of cycling for city infrastructure – including urban design, traffic planning, economic prosperity & population health – and the role of cycling in better social development, I thought I would comment on the need for safe cycling infrastructure in London, one of the world’s great cities. After all I have seen first hand the enthusiasm for cycling in the city – a considerable influence no doubt coming from the popularity of British Cycling from the Olympics and even the Mayor of London’s initiatives – both as a past time and to commute to work. But I have also witness the real fear that many people have to get on the road with their bikes because of the numerous cyclist deaths which plague the city and it’s morning headlines. I myself smashed all my teeth out of my front jaw (surgeons were pretty sure my obliterated helmet saved me from serious head trauma I must add) from a poorly maintained road surface in South London 2 years ago, so if that adds any weight to these arguments below, please use them to stop the talking and get things done.

London could be one of the great cycling cities and it’s presence at the heart of the world economy, cultural exchanges (it is after all the world’s most diverse city) and global transport connections (we will leave the future of Heathrow airport for another day!) means that it could have a profound influence across the planet – NYC you could even be next! However with these ongoing protests, petitions and preventable cycling deaths in London, a profound sense of reality must fall on *cough* Boris and Mr Cameron, take the same amount of money you spend doing up Buckingham place (no dig at royalty there, promise, just an example), what like 67p per person in the UK and make proper changes to the cycling infrastructure in the capital and a firm inclusion here – the rest of the UK!

imageOne day after the RideLondon event (3-4 August 2013), where tens of thousands of participants rode through the city in traffic free space, a 67 year old retired GP Clive Richard became the fourth victim on the capital roads in as many weeks to be killed in a fatal collision. A collision which took place, like all the others, on a street where cyclists have to share space with fast-moving heavy motor traffic. This has to stop now. Enough with the debate-MPs will be talking over the Get Britain Cycling report that proposes a host of measures to make cycling safer-it is time to construct Dutch style segregated   tracks (Cycling Embassy of Great Britain does a nice job on summarizing the ‘Dutch Cycling Infrastructure‘) alongside cycling specific traffic lights & frankly whatever the London Cycling Campaign proposes!

The mayor is facing tough questions from several political inquests because simply when you are spending £10million on cycle superhighways while does it normally just consist of blue paint&often to dangerous traffic junctions?

As many cyclists know, the current infrastructure in place is often summarizes as follows (a video entitled ‘A short journey’ by Chris Broadman for British Cycling and put together for the ‘Get Britain Cycling” Parliamentary inquiry in Feb 2013, note another inquiry, talk, chance for our leaders to have yet another meeting)

Being a cycling enthusiast I am drawn to the quotes of activists like Fred Armisen;

“Cars. They’re noisy and ugly. They smell terrible and cause disease on an epidemic proportion. They move way too fast, take up an extraordinary amount of space, are a leech on the economy, and have a propensity to run people over, especially kids. What’s to love?”

But let’s be a bit more diplomatic and put a simple summary list together for the politicians who have that well-complied report in their desk drawer:

[1] No other mode of transport is better value you money.

7.4% of EU citizens use bicycle as their primary mode of transportation although overall investment for the EU-27 on cycling infrastructure and promotion amounts to a measly 3 billion euro annually. The mayor of Portland (Oregon, US and a city considered one of the most cycling friendly urban areas in the country) Sam Adams is on record saying that the entire biking network cost $60million, about the cost of 1 MILE of highway. Further examples were raised in a recent blog from David Suzuki, a Japanese Canadian broadcaster, science broadcaster & environmental activist, including a study by Stantec Consulting Ltd on traffic delays in Vancouver area which showed that travelling by a new bike lane in the city was actually faster than by car. To quote Mr Suzuki ‘As oil becomes scarce and pollution and climate change increase, people are finally realizing that transporting a 90-kilogram person in two tonnes of metal just isn’t sustainable, especially in urban areas’ – that just about sums it up, doesn’t it?

[2] Bicycling’s healthcare savings are huge.

With millions of office workers having no or little exercise week in week out, that commute into work can have huge health benefits (in fact the British Medical Journal found no significant statistical difference between exercise & drug intervention for the treatment of heart failure and stroke – see here – and there is growing evidence that it clinically fights depression. In the US (which is health benefit crazy let’s face it) companies are starting to pay employees cash to bike commute to work including QBP in Minnesota which paid out $45,000 each year, saving $200,000 a year on healthcare claims. Looking globally the WHO even developed a Health Economic Assessment Tool (HEAT) for cycling and estimated that the health benefits of cycling just from reduced mortality was 114-121billion euro annually.

image

[3] The case for local economic prosperity from increased cycling;

Starting with a visual reference this was a great post by @carltonreid. Executive editor for BikeBiz.com, which demonstrated the economic prosperity for local business because of Cambridge’s love of cycling – and it’s not just the cycling shops but cafés, markets, we have think like a Danish cyclist I suppose.

On an academic scale, even the conservative fiscally arguments for bicycle infrastructure are numerous. A 2009 British study found that just a small number of additional regular riders is needed to repay the cost of new cycling infrastructure. In this research it was determined that an infrastructure investment equivalent to 10,000 pounds would be recouped over the life of the facility by enticing just one additional cyclist to ride 3 times a week. Furthermore a 2006 analysis by Sustrans, a major non-profit organization working for sustainable transportation in partnership with the U.K. government, demonstrated that the benefit-cost ratio of cycling infrastructure averaged 20 to 1 including estimated health savings. Across the pond, an Ottawa Cycling Plan, called for $26 million over 5 years, recognizing that it would entirely pay for itself with about 2,200 new regular cyclists. References for these and numerous other studies can be found at this great blog

To give even more weight to this argument; building bike lanes creates jobs  and other economic spin-offs, with many researchers arguing that more of the money on road-building efforts goes towards equipment and materials rather than a greater percentage on wages as with bicycle lanes. According to a study from the Political Economy Research Institute in Amherst, Massachusetts, titled “Pedestrian and Bicycle Infrastructure: A National Study of Employment Impacts”. Researchers found that “bicycling infrastructure creates the most jobs for a given level of spending.” For every $1 million spent, cycling projects created an average of 11.4 jobs in the state where the project was located, pedestrian-only projects created about 10 jobs, and multi-use trails created about 9.6 jobs. Infrastructure combining road construction with pedestrian and bicycle facilities created slightly fewer jobs for the same amount of spending, and road-only projects created the least, with a total of 7.8 jobs per $1 million.

And of course the list of benefits for cycling extend even further, including: reduced air and noise pollution, low demand on scarce (urban) space, a small carbon footprint, reduced fuel dependency etc etc. Because of this blindness to behaviour change, we in the UK are missing out on the vast societal beneifts of sustainable transport . And so the question is while do our inner city transport planners insist on giving space to car traffic – even with all the negative consequences of our car-centric culture – when it has been proven that cycling has dramatic health and social benefits, and in many cases gets you at your office desk faster & stop your boss shouting at you for being late? Cycling must be prioritized  in city planning, with serious targets on reducing serious injuries or death, as well as targets for safety, comfort, and speed. Future planning needs to call for rebuilding streets and intersections throughout the city and identify especially dangerous intersections. This all in tandem with safety and behavioural campaigns and resetting the mindset of motor traffic leaders in TfL.

To get a bit inspiration about it all, I always enjoy the quote:

When man invented the bicycle he reached the peak of his attainments. Here was a machine of precision and balance for the convenience of man. And (unlike subsequent inventions for man’s convenience) the more he used it, the fitter his body became. Here, for once, was a product of man’s brain that was entirely beneficial to those who used it, and of no harm or irritation to others. Progress should have stopped when man invented the bicycle. ” – Elizabeth West

Or to get a bit more ‘scientific’ about it all this is a quote from a systemic review in the British Medical Journal Clinical Research Edition on ‘Inventions to promote cycling’

Considering cycle lanes are waste of money and cycle tracks are inherently dangerous you should have no problem pointing out another report of comparable research that shows leaving out cycle lanes and cycle tracks would have resulted much more significant results.
Yang, L. et al., 2010. Interventions to promote cycling: systematic review. Bmj Clinical Research Ed., 341(c5293). 

So what should we do?

Ok the Olympic stadium may have gone up well but lets not get ahead of ourselves, or should we?

Ok the Olympic stadium may have gone up well but lets not get ahead of ourselves, or should we?

Well first of all let’s stop all this talking. Sign the checks and get going. $60 million was the price quoted for Portlands cycling infrastructure (granted not a world leading city for cycling but that price tag goes a long way to build dedicated cycling routes) let’s put together a list of 3 white elephant projects or other resultless pursuits that resemble that figure or totally eclipse it – aka lets show that money is there, or shall we say should be and is being wasted. These are some notable ‘red’ projects (which are at serious risk of failure) as drawn up by the Government’s own Major Project Authority:

1.  £34 billion on HS2 rail link from London to Manchester. Granted I think railways are an excellent way to get people off the roads (although I think the money would be better spent of higher capacity, eg double decker trains, Mr Prime Minister ever been standing for 5 hours all the way to Edinburgh in the corridor next to the toilet on your rail network?). Surely it is not too much to ask for segregated cycle lanes in probably the world’s greatest city – as already mentioned before this cuts down depression, is the most efficient way for mass transport of commuters, improves air quality etc etc.

NB and with this focus on rail transport can we also note the importance of the ability to bring bikes on a train. Not much point getting the UK active if you can only book 3 bikes on the train to the Lake District and so have to drive up – that’s a reference to you Virgin a Trains and the governments west coast franchise people (you get your own grilling in a sec)

2. West Coast Main Line franchise fiasco set to cost 50million mainly because the contract procedure wasn’t drawn up correctly – or at least that’s what I recall on the stupid fiasco, won’t waste my time looking it up more.

3. And of course this marble elephant – The failure of the FiReControl project469 million wasted according to the National Audit Office

Safe, segmented cycle lanes in London should be absolutely priority for any regional Government and before we laugh at some of the SkyRides proposed by the Boris and his office (some great thinking coming from that office really, just need to put the hard cash down & get going), just do a little research on those networks already in existance. Copenhagen for one has elevated bikeways and multilane highways. You can even used disused railway lanes as Boris has mentioned in interviews. Of course it is not all bad news, there have been progress in developing one way street into cycle lanes. Only this August the Department of Transport allocated 3.7million (in addition to the 1.8million of local money) to upgrade cycling infrastructure across Norwich and additionally there is the Bristol to Bath railway path. Yet really for the financial investment in motor travel these steps are really tiny – indeed there has been criticism that by focusing on small cycle lanes and not on establishing main routes you are causing a  risk of further injuries (don’t groan road users, our income tax subsidies road infrastructure – yes that’s right your road tax doesn’t cover it all).

A feature of the Copenhagen cycling infrastructure

A feature of the Copenhagen cycling infrastructure

With TfL estimating that cycling journeys will treble by 2020 (certainly if the Tube price keeps going up!) we need to get going on putting this cycling infrastructure into place. However as clearly pointed out by the London Cycling Campaign (LCC)  there has been countless urban improvement schemes which have been vetoed by TfL, with the focus on maintaining motor traffic capacity. All this in the face of an increasing body of compelling evidence from London, UK, Netherlands, EU and the USA that shows that installing high-quality cycling facilities increase the capacity for traffic on our streets. On that note this is a great interview with Peter Murray, LCC’s chair of New London Architecture and organizer of the London Cycle Summit – link

As the LCC keeps commenting, it’s desperately sad that so many urban improvement projects – Aldgate, Blackfriars, Elephant & Castle and Vauxhall – are vetoed because it’s not accepted that people can switch from one mode of transport to another. To get functional, safe cycling lanes a reality in London, why doesn’t the Mayor and his cycling commissioner, Andrew Gilligan give Chris Broadman and the folks at British Cycling (namely    the new officer for cycling infrastructure and development) 60million and a strong mandate to force transport for London to implement the proposals with immediate effect. This cycling institution knows exactly what it talking about – leave the elected politicans get the money together and perhaps chair some of the meetings (thats my little compromise). Boris and Mr Cameron I am pretty sure you haven’t cycled across the UK, so I don’t think you have much of the know how to recognize what a nationwide cycling network needs. Leaders such as Boris need to stop focusing on getting the newspaper headlines – I saw this one on E-bikes been mentioned by Boris recently [ Great opinion article here – ‘Before we go electric let’s get back to basics’ ] and just sign the checks. Additionally we might also want to work on that little bit of cyclist-driver tension……a particular scheme article here

And if you question whether this is all possible the 2006-2016 cycling plan in Copenhagen has been estimated to cost DKK 400million or about 45 million pounds and will form over 70km of new cycle tracks and cycle lanes -there is only 560,000 people living in the city, why can’t London afford anything near this investment?

P.S. [If you want further reading on this topic check out:  Infrastructure that will power cycling revolution]