Archive for December, 2009

Love in the teenies

December 27, 2009

I’ve noticed lots of ‘love’ messages around recently. Maybe it’s a Christmas thing. This picture is of Carnaby Street’s Christmas decorations. But I’ve also seen ads asking us to love our office (Clerkenwell), love your bank (Earls Court) and there’s the great Waltham Forest ‘heart’ recycling campaign designed by my friend Emily Wilkinson while at Futerra.

According to The Sunday Times ‘love’ is going to be a big theme of the teenies (the follower of the noughties). At number 18 in their 50 trends for the coming decade they pronounce that ‘Love is the new happiness’. They say: “this isn’t about smug, coupled-up bliss – more a big-hearted approach to work, money, family, community, even politics.” Sounds good to me.

As you may have gathered from this blog, I love my bike. This Christmas I haven’t been able to ride for various reasons including icy conditions and the fact that rail-replacement buses and bikes don’t mix. Instead I’ve been seeking mental escapism.

For my older brother’s Christmas present I bought him the latest issue of The Ride journal which I secretly wanted for myself but figured that three days at his would give me ample time to flick through it. Recommended it by a friend and old colleague Dave, a wise city cyclist, I’ve really enjoyed reading every issue so far. The articles are just the right length, the visuals beautiful, the stories inspiring, the contributors passionate people who happen to ride bikes, and the content varied enough that every kind of rider will find something for them.

I found myself identifying most with an article titled ‘The Chase’ written by Tammy Thorne from Toronto who is the editor-in-chief of a bike magazine called Dandyhorse. She describes her love of two wheels…

“I love that I am responsible for my actions and myself. I love that my method of transportation is responsible to the environment we all share, and does minimal harm to an already damaged earth. I love that it keeps traffic flowing. I love that it keeps me fit and sun-dappled. I love the speed and freedom.

I really love all the stops I can make on my way home. I can fill up my pannier and basket with groceries from the market, return library books, pick up dry-cleaning and maybe a bottle of wine for later, and a fresh homemade loaf of bread. I love that I can detour and chase a fixie boy who thinks he’s faster than me. I love that I meet new people and talk to old friends on my commute every day. I love that sometimes I am late for work because of it.

I’ll keep chasing through the city to improve safety on the streets, especially at the intersections and underpasses. But I’ll also chase fast boys on bikes, cold beers in parks and my imagination, to make this city a better, more beautiful and more bike-friendly place…

I love riding my bike. And I love the chase.”

I can’t put it any better. I love all of it too. Bring on love in 2010. May bikes become the new happiness.


Christmas as you like it

December 21, 2009

This is a picture I took of my Uncle on Christmas Day in 2007. It’s on Dorset’s Jurassic Coast on the walk down from Golden Cap to the pub. We were heading for a pint of beer and a plate of scampi and chips by the sea. A perfect Xmas lunch.

This picture was going to be one of my business card photos, but then I thought it might look more tree-destroyer than tree-hugger which would not be on message.

But I like this picture because I associate it with that Christmas two years ago. It reminds me of our blustery walk by the sea. Wellies and woolens on. Getting out of the house and away from the excesses and expectations of this time of year. Enjoying the crisp coastal air. Being free. And feeling like Christmas Day was ours.

I hope you get your moments of festive freedom and enjoy the holiday season as you like it.

Looking forward to seeing/ hearing from/ working with you in 2010.


Selling the sizzle of cycling

December 16, 2009

Today’s not the best day to write a post about the joys of cycling when we’ve had sleety snow in London and every rider in town has probably arrived at their destination with a wet bottom. More soggy than sizzle. Rain on that BBQ. But bear (bare?) with me.

Over the course of COP15 things have got a bit miserable, like the weather. Demonstrations. Arrests. Leaked documents. Mistrust. Power struggles. And there’s more to come now the world’s leaders are arriving. We haven’t heard much positivity. The Ecotopia event sounds like a rare light. The idea of positive visions is addressed by Futerra’s new report Sell the Sizzle which challenges communicators with where’s the sizzle? Where are our visions of a positive, exciting, desirable future? The ‘sizzle’ concept is that heaven sells better than hell. So why do we keep flogging hellish visions of climate apocalypse in the hope people will get it and change their behaviours and save the planet? The mouth-watering smells and the stomach-rumble inducing sounds of the sausage sizzling over the coals sells far better than a cold, limp lump of uncooked meat-of-sorts.

Take this analogy to the bicycle. And I speak from my point of view, but the kick comes from the ride, the wind in your hair, the adrenalin of weaving in and out of traffic, racing off the lights, getting to places faster, door-to-door and avoiding public transport. The feelings from riding are more than the sum of the bike parts. Not to say I didn’t carefully choose every part of my bike, I did and I love it. But the sizzle is in the ride and not the metal. The metal is the facilitator.

The awful accidents and vulnerability of riders on the roads doesn’t help win over new converts. My friend Bev works in the intensive care unit of a South London hospital where the latest woman to die in London this year in a bike accident was transferred before she very sadly died. Bev didn’t see her, but her friend did, and what I heard about her injuries was horrific. No wonder Bev, a very new cyclist, has been put off. There’s no sizzle in danger.

There are also the constant antagonisms between vehicles and riders, pedestrians and riders, and old and new riders. The last category I find the most upsetting. Where’s the solidarity? There’s definite sizzle in solidarity.

A recent Sunday Times feature on cycle rage asked if ‘cyclists should be give the red light’. Okay, so some cyclists are a little crazy and ride dangerously but so do drivers and they do far more harm to other people. But articles like this don’t really help sell the sizzle of cycling.

What does sizzle for a certain target audience is this music video featuring a critical mass of very cool looking cyclists. It won’t make cycling mainstream, but it’s a beautifully shot film and it’s a long way from the ‘Evansisation’ of cycling. There’s an interesting blog from Copenhaganize about it. I quote from the post: “Don’t we – the writer and reader of these words – sometimes secretly feel as though we are the cycling Kings and Queens of Promise?” Yes we do and let’s sell that sizzle!