Pedal on Parliament

Pedal on ParliamentYesterday (Sunday, May 19) saw thousands of cyclists descend on the Scottish Parliament at Holyrood as part a campaign, supported by Olympic legend Chris Hoy and ‘The Flying Scotsman’ Graeme Obree, calling for 5% of Scotland’s transport budget to be spent on cycling. Pedal on Parliament, who describe themselves as, ‘a grass-roots group of cyclists of all kinds who want to see Scotland become a place where everyone can cycle safely and enjoyably,’ claimed some 3-4,000 cyclists look part, whilst police estimated just 2,500 participants. Beginning at 3pm with a minute’s silence to remember those who have lost their lives on Scottish roads, the cyclists headed for Holyrood through the centre of Edinburgh and down the Royal Mile.


Reiterating the campaigns ‘everyman’ approach, David Brennan – one of the Pedal on Parliament organisers – told the assembled crowd: ‘We aren’t “cyclists”, we’re everyone – from the mum taking her children to nursery to the road cyclist doing 100km at the weekend… But we’re also the kids in the back of the car looking wistfully out of the window because their parents can’t risk them riding to school, the people who drive to the gym to ride on stationary bikes because the roads are too fast and busy.’


The campaign’s manifesto is calling for:


Proper funding for cycling.

Design cycling into Scotland’s roads.

Slower speeds where people live, work and play

Integrate cycling into local transport strategies

Improved road traffic law and enforcement

Reduce the risk of HGVs to cyclists and pedestrians

A strategic and joined-up programme of road user training

Improved statistics supporting decision-making and policy


Further details can be found at




£40million of Cycle Safety Schemes

£40million of Cycle Safety SchemesThe Department for Transport has announced 78 cycle safety schemes which will benefit from £40million of national and local government investment, a move welcomed by British Cycling who worked with the DoT in selecting the proposals to improve the design and layout of roads in towns and cities across in England. The schemes are a mix of improvements including the reallocation of road space, ‘significant simplification’ of road layouts, changes to priority and junction layouts, designs that lower speed and changes to crossings.


Making the announcement Transport Minister Norman Baker commented, ‘This is part of the £107 million investment we have announced in cycling infrastructure over the last year, over and above the £600 million we have invested through the Local Sustainable Transport Fund…’


Martin Gibbs, British Cycling Director of Policy, added:  ‘The investment will pay real dividends because more people on bikes means a healthier population requiring less help from the NHS… Reducing congestion will make our towns and cities better places to live and if we want to continue to produce Tour de France winners and Olympic and Paralympic champions, we need as many people cycling as possible, especially young people.’


The schemes, which are funded via a £20m government grant and £20m of local authority match-funding, cover every part of the UK apart from London which is overseen by Transport for London. The regional breakdown is: East of England – £5.31m, East Midlands – £3.17m, the North East – £3.29m, the South West – £3.09m, the North West – £14.77m, the South East – £5.57m, West Midlands – £1.51m, and Yorkshire and Humber – £2.62m.


Extras Reviews


FlipFlapAs we never tire of mentioning: being seen at night and in low-light conditions is of paramount importance. Lights, lights and more lights is the sensible mantra but adding as much reflective surface as possible goes a long way to ensuring you (probably) won’t become another tragic statistic. An unusual solution has come our way in the form of the FlipFlap, a pocket sized reflective solution with plenty of commuter appeal.

Designed to flip out of front or rear pockets – hence really a commuter option, although arguably a rear race jersey pocket would do – one side of these reflective paddles is rubberised to grip the pocket, whilst the flap which… well, flaps out, is hi-viz, tested to (and exceeding) the EN13356 safety standard. The simplicity here is certainly one of the appeals. Tuck the whole thing back in the pocket when not in use and it’s on hand (technically on backside) and ready to be flipped out when set to hit the streets.


£16.95 (plus P&P) might sound a little steep, particularly when you could buy some simple Respro hi-viz stickers for less than £7, but the FlipFlap does offer something more substantial and certainly more portable in the sense that it can obviously be slipped into any pocket for use at any time, rather than permanently adhered.  Additionally the FlipFlap can be cut into smaller panels; on delivery each ‘paddle’ (two per pack) measures approximately 100x110mm, but by cutting between the sealed guides each can be divided into three reflectives – two of 25mm and one of 50mm; all of which starts looking far more reasonable for the price.


A simple solution to better visibility, the FlipFlap adds a neat little dash of safety to the ride. And for that it should be highly commended.


For further details and online orders see


Extras Reviews

Angel Cycle Helmet

Bicygnal Angel Safety Light HelmetIf you’re looking for additional cycle safety during the darker winter months, or indeed just looking to up your visibility in general, then the Angel cycle helmet from Bicygnals offers an interesting solution. Fundamentally a regular cycle helmet in appearance (although with rather sleek ‘designy’ affectations), the Angel has an integrated band of fibre optic light, which illuminates around the full circumference at the push of a button.


Created by Gavin Thomson, who has produced designs for companies ranging from BA and Samsung to MontBlanc and BT, the Angel certainly looks the part – combining matte black elements with a print-textured polycarbonate shell upper that’s clearly intended to give that carbon-look edge to proceedings. The illuminated yellow band – which creates the angelic halo effect, giving the helmet both its unique selling point and name – is powered by a battery recharged via a supplied USB cable; the light is by far the brightest to the rear, diminishing substantially to the front of the helmet. A nice inclusion though is the ability to use the band in either solid or flashing mode.


As you might suspect the Angel is not the lightest (no pun intended) of affairs, weighing in at a bulky 535g – around double the weight of an average road helmet – but then this is hardly the lid of choice for those looking for speed or aerodynamics; as a straight commuter option the trade off between weight and additional safety may well be worth considering.


Despite the weight, a fairly basic internal cradle and minimal padding the Angel is surprisingly comfortable for day-to-day use, the universal sizing (54-61cm) can be ratcheted up and down with a simple dial-wheel and the strap adjusts easily and incorporates a detachable beard-guard/chin pad. The venting is bare-minimal (which is telling in the weight department) but adequate enough for the intended commute rather than sportive use.


Easy to dismiss as a novelty item, the Angel is in fact a useful safety addition to the commuters’ arsenal. Priced at £49.95, further details and online purchase via



Q&A: Maria Eagle MP – Part 2

Maria Eagle MP Q and A cycling safety and cycling fundingA vocal advocate for cyclists’ needs, Labour’s Maria Eagle MP is passionate about getting the country truly fit for life again and with recent – and very public – backing from party leader Ed Miliband, this seemed like an ideal time to catch up with her and talk ‘two wheels good’. In this second part of our Q&A with the Shadow Secretary of State for Transport we talk funding, health benefits and cycle helmets…





Cyclo: You have said that ‘Councils should also be supported to extend 20mph zones in residential areas and the axed ring-fenced road safety grants to local authorities should be restored.’ How could this be funded when budgets are already so tight?


Maria Eagle: It’s absolutely right that there would be significant pressures on public spending whoever was in government because of the legacy of the banking crash which has left a deficit that needs to be brought down. That’s why, for example, I have not opposed more than half of the £9bn of cuts to transport spending being enacted by the Government. However, it’s about priorities. I have agreed with the decision to axe £3bn from the budget for road building, while opposing the speed and scale of cuts for local transport. Some of the decisions that the Government has taken are nothing to do with money, but dogma.


Cyclo: Can you give us an example?


Maria Eagle: I think it’s a huge mistake to have axed national targets to cut deaths and serious injuries on our roads which really focused minds on improving safety. The decision to allow longer HGVs on our roads and to increase the speed limit for HGVs on single carriageways are very worrying when we know the disproportionate number of deaths and injuries amongst cyclists caused by lorries.


Cyclo: It has been reported that the health benefits of cycling out way the risks 20 times, how can we promote that simple fact?


Maria Eagle: The benefits of cycling are clear. Someone who cycles regularly in mid-adulthood typically has a level of fitness equivalent to being 10 years younger, and a life expectancy two years above the average…


Cyclo: Mikael Colville-Anderse calls the bicycle, ‘…the most potent medicine we possess’. (see his TED Talk here).


Maria Eagle: Increasing levels of physical activity can have significant health benefits, yet two-thirds of adults don’t achieve the minimum recommended amount of physical activity. We need a more joined up approach between Government departments to get this message across – promoting cycling should be as much an aim of the Department for Health as the Department for Transport.


Cyclo: Ed Miliband has been vocal recently in backing your position – how does this move things on and what are the next steps?


Maria Eagle: Ed has been very clear that he is personally 100% behind my determination to give cycling a much higher profile within Labour’s approach to transport. He has personally backed The Times’ Cities Fit for Cyclists campaign. As Ed has said, his wife Justine is a cyclist in London and this has added to his own understanding of the need to urgently take steps to improve the safety of cyclists.


Cyclo: But as the opposition party, what can be done in practical terms to begin implementing change to ensure a safer future for cyclists?


Maria Eagle: There are a number of things that I believe we can do in opposition. First, we can ensure that if we win the next election we already have a carefully worked through plan for cycling so we don’t waste time when we are in government. I want to make an immediate start after the election if we win to raise the importance of cycling within the DfT.


For example, as a start I will immediately review planned expenditure on roads to reallocate funding to cycling infrastructure, restore targets to cut deaths and serious injuries, require Cycling Safety Assessments of all transport schemes and put support for cycling proficiency on a long term footing.


Also, we can keep up our pressure on the Government to do more over the next two years. I believe this has already had some notable successes, including the Government’s u-turn on the dedicated funding for cycling, which they scrapped after the election. They axed £80million a year and after two years without a fund in place have now announced £15million of funding to tackle dangerous junctions and improve safety – that’s not enough but it’s a start and shows what campaigning can do.


Cyclo: And, for now, what about at a council level?


Maria Eagle: I want to see Labour councils taking action to make cycling a real priority. It’s tough when the Government is cutting their funding by 28%, but within the incredibly difficult circumstances in which they are operating, I have called on our Council Leaders to demonstrate a real commitment to promoting cycling and, in particular, to improving safety – especially at dangerous junctions. As a first step, councils should be ensuring they know – not least by talking to cyclists – which are the priorities for action and have a plan in place to tackle them.


Cyclo: Compulsory cycling helmets are a perennially thorny issue and massively divisive. What are your thoughts on the subject?


I do not support making the wearing of a cycle helmet compulsory and this is not going to be something we will pursue in Government if we win the election. In the same way I wouldn’t propose to make it compulsory to wear a helmet when driving, even though it no doubt could also offer protection in the event of a crash. There is obviously a role for helmets in protecting from head injuries and I would of course encourage people to wear a helmet, particularly children and young people.


However, all the evidence shows that compulsion has a disastrous effect on the numbers of people cycling, with all the worse health impacts of reduced activity. Of course, many injuries and tragic deaths are not caused by trauma to the head but, for example, crush injuries which a helmet cannot prevent. That’s why we need to focus on proper separated cycling infrastructure, safer junctions where shared road space is necessary, lower speed limits in residential areas and getting more freight off the roads and onto rail.


Finally, I want to see a review of the sentencing guidelines as they relate to serious injuries resulting from vehicles on the road. There are real concerns at cases where the penalties for causing hurt or serious injury to cyclists are not adequate or sending a clear enough signal to motorists.


For more on this subject see:


Maria Eagle MP: Speech during parliamentary debate on Cycling (February 2012) here.

Maria Eagle MP: Speech to Labour Party conference (October 2012) here.

Lilian Greenwood MP: Speech during parliamentary debate on Cycling Safety (November 2012) here.


You can read part 1 of our Q&A with Maria Eagle MP here.


Reviews Tech

AfterShokz Sportz 2 Headphones

AfterShokz Sportz 2 Bone Conduction Headphones - cycling safetyWhere do you stand on the issue of listening to music whilst cycling? It’s a divisive subject, one that splits riders almost as equally as the great helmet debate, but what is certain is that if you do want to while away those saddle-hours to thumping tunes (or some Kenny G) then you’ll be a whole heap safer using AfterShokz Sportz 2 headphones.


The reason for this is simple: rather than plugging into (and therefore blocking) you ears, AfterShokz use bone conduction technology – the kind used by ‘special forces ops’ apparently – to deliver sound through the cheekbones to the inner ear, leaving the way clear for riders to hear traffic and other crucial audio cues. Held in place by a rigid, but perfectly comfortable headband, the buds sit just in front of the ears and the quality and clarity of sound is remarkably good – slightly on the tinny side, but then no one is arguing that the bike is the perfect spot of picking up every nuance of your favourite tracks.


The new Mark 2 model features an impressive 21 improvements over the earlier device, itself already pretty damn good, and several of these are immediately apparent. Sleeker (and blacker) than its predecessors, with a reflective safety strip thrown in for good measure, the aesthetic improvements continue through to the in-line controller, which is now smaller and far less of an ugly box.


Love them or hate them, the in-line controller is something of a necessity as the tech requires its own power to deliver the bone conduction sound and it houses, along with the obvious volume controls, the rechargeable lithium ion battery that facilitates this. Powered-up via micro-USB (another improvement over the original fiddly arrangement), the battery promises up to 12 hours of playback from a three hour charge – this can vary, we found, depending on the level of volume used.


Under test Cyclo found the AfterShokz to be undeniably comfortable (weighing in at around 45g) and, perhaps more importantly, stayed absolutely put even with some (unintentional, don’t ask…) off-road action that rattled the bones, but left the music still serving as a soundtrack to our misfortunes. Being able to still hear and react to ambient sound whilst enjoying music on the ride was a true revelation and has gone a long way towards changing our minds about the possible distraction of ride play-lists. If you like music on the move then the AfterShokz Sportz 2 are an essential bit of kit.


Priced at 49.96 (ex VAT) – further information and online purchase at



Miliband Backs the Bike

British Cycling LogoLabour leader Ed Miliband has stated that he is fully in favour of making Britain into a nation of cyclists on a par with Holland and has endorsed the views of shadow transport secretary Maria Eagle that cycling should play a key role in any new transport projects in the UK. Speaking at the headquarters of British Cycling in Manchester, Miliband said he felt it was, ‘…incredibly important that people have safe places to cycle” in the UK.’


Also endorsed British Cycling’s campaign for improved conditions for cyclists, Miliband said, ‘Every incident involving a cyclist, the terrible tragedies that can happen, is a reminder that there is a lot more to do to make cycling safer in our cities.’


Extras Reviews

Lezyne Femto Drive LED

We hate to say it but the nights are drawing in aren’t they? Time then for all sensible cyclists to have their thoughts turn to safety and lighting and here at Cyclo we’ve been having fun playing with the oh-so-cute (but at the same time deeply practical) Lezyne Femto Drive LED lights.


Barely 5 years old as a company, Lezyne’s express goal was and remains, ‘…to engineer and produce premium quality accessories that meet the same high standards as high-end bicycle components’. With the Femto Drives they have combined their passion for design aesthetics (these are as close to a thing of beauty as a simple bike light could be), with an impressively functional approach and a careful eye to cost, coming in at a reasonable £12.99 for a single front/rear or £21.99 a pair.


The machined aluminum body, durable and Brit-weather resistant, is just 30mm long with the unit coming in at sub-25mm diameter, small and light enough (29g with bracket) for tucking into a jersey pocket, meaning there can never be an excuse for getting caught out at dusk ill-prepared again. Although not brilliantly bright – 15 lumens front and 7 lumens rear – the crisp, clear quality makes them seem more powerful than mere numbers suggest and with five modes (flash, slow flash, rapid flash, strobe and solid) are hard to fault as backup or additional lighting. Turning the Femtos on and off and switching between modes involves pressing and holding the lens directly, ideal for tackling in gloves, but, given Cyclo’s reluctance to ever read instructions, something it took us longer than we care to admit to figure out.


The Femtos use a nifty silicon sling bracket, one end of which attaches semi-permanently to the light’s asymmetric hooks, to wrap around and hold pretty much any part of the bike. This quick fix option, with a wealth of permutations, is a key selling point and improves over, say, Knog Frogs or NiteRiders – the alternatives they most closely resemble.


The only (very) minor gripe Cyclo has is that battery insertion (two x replaceable CR2032 batteries per light) is slightly fiddly with the screw thread having a tendency to cross, but weigh this against their plus points – durability, practicality, ease of fit, gorgeous looks – and it’s easy to forgive.


Available in anodised black, silver, red or blue the Lezyne Femto Drive LEDs are widely available including from