Meetings, Walt Disney and Disturbing Childs Play

So, the second meeting of the Cycling Embassy of Great Britain took place in Manchester last Saturday. On the train up I ended up chatting with a potential cyclist or what I like to call a ‘WALT DISNEY’ (Would Actually Love To. Danger Is Stopping Nearly Everyone Y’know). I would have pressed him further on why he didn’t cycle but more pressing matters were on his mind. He was an AFC Wimbledon supporter on his way to Manchester City’s ground for the play off against Luton Town with the winner gaining promotion to the football league. All the Luton Town fans got on at Milton Keynes Central and the atmosphere was packed but surprisingly convivial. I was the only one with a Brompton.

I was looking forward to this meeting for ages, partly because in my 38 years on this planet, I had never been to Manchester [and for which I must hold my head in shame] but also the Embassy has received some excellent support (not to mention the fantastic logo design) from the North West. It was organised by Mr C of MCR Cycling and it was lovely to meet other wonderful bloggers such as Naturally Cycling Manchester & Sheffield Cycle Chic, local cycle campaigners and welcome representation from Inclusive Cycling. The Infrastructure Safari led by Mr C to and from the venue was quite psychedelic as we took a trip through a kaleidoscope of different types of cycle facilities that had been clearly shoehorned into a car-centric area. It was only a 10 minute ride but we saw shared use off road paths, on road with-flow cycle lanes (with cars parked in them), shared use pedestrianised areas, some not bad, some clearly designed by someone on LSD and Windowlene with no continuity or priority on any of it.

A few Ambassadors on a Manchester 'Infrastructure Safari'

A lot was discussed. In fact it was a pleasurable problem trying to stick to the agenda. The minutes will be published very shortly but four points I’d like to mention are as follows:

  • I’ve just paid my deposit and will be chasing up others soon for a trip to the Netherlands to meet David Hembrow and go on one of his study tours. If you are free on the week beginning 21st September and would like to go please let me know by email as soon as possible ( as I close the book at the end of this week. All people that have already committed will be given further instruction by email for what will be a very worthwhile trip (as it was in this instance).
  • The Embassy website will have an official blog where people can submit material. This is partly to keep the ideas flowing and the website fresh but also because Embassy followers have written personal blog posts in the past to suddenly get leapt on by others wrongly assuming that they are speaking officially on behalf of the Embassy and their words are Embassy policy.
  • The constitution was altered slightly and then ratified. People were nominated for posts and these will be published in the minutes. I officially became Chair and I would like to thank everyone for allowing me the chance to serve.  A further motion was carried unanimously that I should be Cannonised despite being Church of England and still alive. I was then unanimously carried through the streets of Manchester through cheering crowds being the hero that I am. Actually, I might have dreamt the last couple of bits. I had spent a lot of time on the train. Sadly, I could only spend a few hours in Manchester which is no time to meet such nice people. I vowed to return for one of these.
  • It looks as though the next venue will be Newcastle. This will be confirmed along with the date

The following day, The Wife, The Boy and I went for a stroll along Worthing Prom. One of The Wife’s friends has bought a toy that attaches to the front of a buggy. The fact that The Boy keeps pressing the button that plays ‘Pop Goes The Weasel’ isn’t the most annoying thing about it…..

A Very Windswept Boy using the same equipment that most people presumbly use to pass their driving tests in the UK these days

…….it basically resembles the plastic dashboard of a Smart Car or the Kia range. I don’t wish to sound ungrateful of course. Anything that keeps The Boy amused for hours on end is happily recieved. Luckily I’ve bought one of these (with seal of approval from Mumsnet no less!) with one of these so The Boy isn’t quite so windswept on lazy Dutch Bike rides along the seafront – the correct & civilized way for a young child to see the World.

6 responses to “Meetings, Walt Disney and Disturbing Childs Play

    • Don’t say ‘looks like his Dad’.. It’ll only disturb The Boy. :-)

      I was going to get him a cargo bike later on in life so he can cart his dear old Dad around in future years. Mainly to the pub and back.

  1. ‘Walt Disney’ – how apt!

    I was both surprised and encouraged to see my local MP (Martin Horwood) stand up and speak out for proper cycling infrastructure in my home town. It made the front page of the local paper today:

    Note the predictable motorist’s comment that ‘there just isn’t room’ and John Franklin’s comment that ‘cyclists don’t want cycle routes’.

    Whatever the arguments for and against, I wanted to thank Mr. Horwood for speaking out, so I have written to tell him. Naturally I copied a link to this site and the Cycling Embassy into my e-mail!

    • Thank you!

      Funnily enough, that story has made todays Crap Cycling and Walking in Waltham Forest

      One day a town will be brave enough to think beyond shared use pavements and narrow lanes and be bold with it’s provision that benefits everyone (not just cyclists of course). With John Franklin as Treasurer of the local cycle campaign, I can predict that Cheltenham with be the last place in the UK and its Commonwealth where this will occur :-)

    • I am curious about John Franklin’s comment that ‘cyclists don’t want cycle routes’. This could be taken as cyclist don’t want to take the long way round, which what a lot of planners (and Sustrans) seem to think is what cycle route should be. This is absolutely true for most people, we just want to get where want to go with the minimum amount of fuss. However, being familiar some of Mr Franklin’s writing I suspect that he may mean something else.

      As for the motorist’s comment, the reply should be there is plenty of room, we just need to use it more efficiently, for the good of everyone.

      • Cyclists don’t want cycle routes? Really? Does Edmund King go on BBC Breakfast and say that we don’t need new motorways because “we’ll run out of petrol anyway, why bother”? Do shoppers say “we don’t want Oxford Street pedestrianised, we’d rather put up with the dozens of injuries and several deaths a year on this traffic sewer”? What we don’t want is unuseable convoluted crap, which unfortunately has become conflated with the word “cycle facility” in the same way that “Lancia” became conflated with “rust” or “**** ***** with “Superinjuction”.

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