Docked Bike Sharing Works. What About People Who Don’t Want to Ride?

As much as we cyclists would rather not accept it, the fact is that some people will never want to ride a bike. So for them, I propose the solution for last mile transport could be large wheel, bicycle style stand up electric scooters. We’ve seen small wheel eScooters, but the dockless system doesn’t work in my view, and the small wheels and narrow bars make for a vehicle that’s hard to handle for new riders. This can cause crashes and injuries.

Larger wheeled, wider handlebar eScooters operating in a docked system would go a long way towards making eScooters as widely successful as bike share schemes such as the Santander Cycles in London.

I can imagine docks of these things next to bike share docks, and people just go with whichever vehicle they want, or which one suits that particular journey. I think a lot of people will choose the scooters, but we will have to embrace it as cyclists because it’s a hell of a lot better than the status quo. And it will give a massive boost to the pressure on councils and the government to fully back Dutch style infrastructure.

I could certainly see myself owning a stand up scooter and alternating between cycling and scooting. And then also using the share schemes when I’m visiting other towns and cities.

I realised at a meeting about cycle infrastructure in Worthing that basically nothing has happened due to the Tories. They’ve tried every trick in the book not to do something. So in that case, what do you do? I think the best way is civil disobedience. XR has shown it works, and I think it will work for micromobility too. I think if it remains illegal to ride scooters on local roads in the same way we cycle, then people will be forced to act. Taking my backroad, almost car free commute on a big wheel scooter isn’t exactly going to attract a lot of attention, but I think every little will help. I could see myself resorting to that in a year or so if we don’t see movement on the ridiculous law that currently exists.

Why Are There So Many Bike Brands? And Why Are None of Them Selling The Bikes We Need?

Specialized, Trek, Giant, Scott, Cannondale, BMC, Cervelo, Bianchi and hundreds of others I could list. What’s the difference? Well, if you’re looking for any kind of road or mountain bike, honestly not much. There are differences, but they’re so subtle that no normal person would notice. Put it this way, even professionals who basically live on their bikes have to ride whatever their team’s bike sponsor provides. Mark Cavendish has won on all sorts of bikes for example on road and track.

If you walk into your local bike shop, they are likely to carry one or more brands. If you’re looking for a road, hybrid style or mountain bike then you’ll find one to suit without going to another store. They all use the same components, generally either SRAM or Shimano. The only differences will be in geometry and any number of gimmicks, for example the Lefty fork from Cannondale, or the specialized Future Shock suspended handlebar design. They’re not things that will make huge differences. The frame and rear suspension linkage designs on mountain bikes do differ, but again, unless you’re a very serious rider, it won’t matter.

I don’t like agreeing with Lance Armstrong particularly, but he was right when he said that when buying a bike, just go with whatever brand you like, and which colour you like. Because they’re all basically the same.

While this is true for road and mountain bikes, it isn’t the case if you want something else. If you want a folding bike, there is an enormous variance in folding mechanisms for example. Brompton being by far the best in my opinion.

If you want a bike for commuting, I’d personally recommend a Dutch style upright bike and for those, you’ll have to go to a specialist retailer or online if you’re in the U.K. As we’ve lost our minds and sold mountain bikes as commuters for some reason I can’t fathom.

When you get to e-Bikes, it gets more complicated as the different motor systems actually do make enough of a difference to the point that you might want to do your research, and then figure out which dealer you need to visit. And if you want something really special, such as a belt driven, full suspension urban e-Bike with full fenders and wider tyres, then Riese & Muller are there for you.

Simply put, the mainstream bicycle industry has lost its way completely and the only way to buy the types of bikes that in my opinion, most people would benefit from, you have to go to niche brands. That cannot be right.

The types of bikes that are popular in the Netherlands, where cycling is a normal, daily activity that almost everyone does are upright bikes with chain cases and heavy duty luggage racks, and cargo bikes which are incredibly useful and will be indispensable tools in fighting air pollution and congestion in our towns and cities.

We’re not going to solve all of the transport related issues we have in the U.K. with road bikes and mountain bikes. It’s not going to happen. Things need to change, and quickly. We need the infrastructure to be built first and foremost, but we also need to be seeing huge numbers of Dutch and cargo bike shops opening up.

The Quirks of Dutch Bikes, and Don’t Ride without Fenders

Yesterday I was fitting a new saddle to my Batavus Personal Bike, and because it was the second one I’d bought for this bike (had to take it to bike shop that time because it was so tight from the factory), I had a spare Ergon model. I’ll get back to that later.

Fitting the new seat, you have to deal with the Dutch style seatpost clamp, which allows the seat to slide side to side. This makes lining it up straight unnecessarily difficult. It’s the same thing I found with the Dunlop / Woods valves. The Dutch have a way of making everything so practical, but at the same time have this little quirks which contradict the overall Dutch cycling experience in the country.

Perhaps the reason they get away with it is because everyone in the Netherlands takes their bikes to the shop for maintenance and to inflate the tyres, but I can’t imagine that’s really the case. It’s something I think they really need to address.

As far as the spare Ergon saddle, I thought it would be a good idea to fit it to my brother’s single speed commuter bike. There were two lessons learned from this. Firstly, the seat clamp on that bike was so much simpler. You just have two bolts underneath the clamp, and the way it’s designed forces the saddle into a straight line. There’s no chance of it being off to the side, which makes it so much easier.

The second thing I noticed was that the clamp was really dirty. The bike hasn’t really been cleaned thoroughly ever, so all those days commuting in the rain, the tyres flicked up the dirt into the area. Something that would not happen if you run with fenders. Yes, on a road bike it maybe doesn’t look so cool but on an urban bike, the hassle just isn’t worth it. At least not for me. And fenders just look cool anyway. It’s a no brainer.

My letter to West Sussex County Council regarding bicycle infrastructure

This was sent in November 2017 (and lead to nothing as you would expect). WSCC now appear to be focusing more on cycling short distances and discouraging people from driving fossils on those trips especially. But sadly this just extends to telling people to ride bikes and not installing any infrastructure that would give them a real incentive to change their habits.

Hi, I just want to ask about cycling infrastructure in the county and specifically in Worthing. My opinion is that this area is incredibly unfriendly to cyclists in terms of road provision and design. The only area I know of that makes cycling feel enjoyable and safe is along the seafront from West Worthing to shoreham and beyond.

But it is not enough, and I’m worried that cycling is not going to be prioritised in the way it should be in the coming years. We need to be able to get on our bikes and be able to go anywhere without even thinking about cars. Segregated cycle lanes, totally independent cycle routes and other similar ideas would be huge for our area. They would cut down on unnecessary short car journeys, massively reduce congestion and most importantly clean up our air and at the same time reduce our carbon emissions. Not to mention, people will be outside and exercising. Even if they’re riding an electric bike, it’s a massively more efficient way to move people around than driving gigantic diesel powered SUVs with only one person occupying them.

Thank you for considering this.

Chris Till