Perhaps the last word should go to our great friend and film-maker Mike Rubbo, who made this short film a while ago about an Australian cyclist who refuses to obey the compulsory helmet law down there.
Darlington Cycling Campaign has been awarded one of just three New Ideas Fund to build on the work of the Beauty and the Bike project. The Campaign’s submission is for a bike pool of the kind of dutch-style bikes that are proving so popular amongst young women who want to cycle. With funding for between 60 and 100 bikes, and support staff to promote the bike pool in workplaces, colleges and schools, the aim is to kick-start a cycling culture in the town that is more attractive to women in particular.
The documentary Beauty and the Bike, which will be premiered in Darlington Arts Centre on Wednesday 9th December, found that peer group culture is an important barrier to young women cycling. But where small groups got together to start using stylish bikes, the barriers began to crumble.
The Campaign also hopes that a growing culture of gentle cycling in the town will lead to better quality infrastructure. As one of the Beauty and the Bike girls said, “We’re getting the lovely bikes, we’ve got the lovely girls to ride them. Now we are looking forward to the lovely cycle paths”.
The Campaign was called out today on its first urgent repair job for the Beauty and the Bike project. The Cycling Campaign has been commissioned to provide a repair and maintenance service for the wonderful dutch bikes for the duration of the project. The bikes are being hired by the young women from Velodarlo, a self-managed bicycle sharing scheme that makes attractive dutch bikes available to the people of Darlington for a small charge.
Until now, we’ve been dealing with minor issues such as cabling, basket installs and re-tightening nuts and bolts after bike transit. But today Nicole called with a rear tyre puncture, after a thorn got into the inner tube. The Excelsior bike, like most in the Velodarlo fleet, has 28″ wheels. A call to Halfords revealed that these are regarded as “rare these days” in this country. Funny how a town can be so behind the times that “modern” here is already becoming “out of date” elsewhere, but that’s so-called entrepreneurial capitalism for you.
So a 27″ inner it had to be. Step forward the heroes of the hour, Campaign members Andy and Marie. They were over to Nicole’s house within the hour complete with tool kit, and had the tube replaced after another 30 minutes. After the job, they both said that the task with a dutch bike is totally different to the usual UK mountain bike, with chain guards and hub gears to grapple with. And with the size and type of spares also differing, the chances are that one of the local bike shops would have had problems. But they reckon that with a few more tube changes, the Campaign should have the collective knowledge to manage future issues without a problem.
Nicole is now back on two wheels again, and will be seen on the roads of the town tomorrow morning on her way to her Maths GCSE.
Good Luck Nicole!
A FASHION show on bikes will launch a cycle sharing scheme tomorrow.
Velodarlo will make stylish Dutch city bikes available for use by Darlington residents for a small weekly charge as part of Darlington Media Group’s Beauty and the Bike project.
The project involves a film crew and photographer following a group of young women as they cycle around Darlington, showing that cycling can by stylish and has raised grants needed to fund Velodarlo.
To launch the bike hire scheme, members of the Beauty and the Bike project will be on their bikes modeling clothes from the Leggs, in Skinnergate, in the town centre at noon tomorrow.
If you are interested in joining Velodarlo call Darlington Media Workshop on 01325-488139 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
The event will be held in Pease Place (below the statue) at 12noon.
This morning’s cycling item on Radio Four’s Today programme raised the idea that cycling is a natural Tory past-time. No doubt prompted by the number of Tory MPs who now cycle to work at the House of Commons, correspondent Norman Smith asked Tory MPs what was so “right wing” about cycling.
This intriguing answer emerged from Ed Vasey MP:
The heritage of cycling (is) very much woven into the British character. It’s also a right wing issue, because it’s about the freedom of the individual. It’s about taking one’s own action against an over-bearing state.
Setting aside for a minute the vast numbers of Tory councillors we see regularly cycling through Darlington, does this imply that the next Tory government will be challenging the hegemony of the motor car, due to the latter’s role as the bastion of our over-bearing state?
Or will this lead to cycle-friendly towns and cities becoming the new bastions of state control, with Tory MPs (and councillors) driving their cars as a statement of individual freedom?