Last night via Facebook I chatted with the lovely Donna of the She Spoke Of Bikes In Birmingham blog. Donna is one of the people I have asked to write a guest blog for me but she has been so busy we decided to do a Q & A along the lines of the questions she asks of the cyclists she meets in Brum.
Tell me about your bike and where you got it?
I have two bicycles. The bike in the picture (above) is a Dawes Duchess. She is called the “The Duchess of Kings Norton.” I purchased it from Bike Pro in Kings Heath, Birmingham about three years ago. She’s not fast but she has a sturdy steel frame that I have customised to my own specification.
My other bicycle is a Globe Work 2 Mixte frame, that I purchased five months ago from the Specialized Concept Store in Erdington. This is called Francois.
Where did your bike take you the last time you rode it?
My bicycle took me from home to Kings Heath, then Kings Heath to Gas Street Basin, then from Gas Street Basin back to home. The round trip was approx 18 miles done by road and segregated bike lanes on National Cycle Network 5.
Why do you cycle?
As a child I always wanted my own a bike and travel places on it. I never did because I didn’t own a bike of my own and I couldn’t cycle. In my family we had one bike to share between six children, and by the time I could ride our Raleigh Traveller was mashed up. I did have a Raleigh Tiger trike, but it really didn’t “cut it” when it came to travelling further than the local sweet shop.
I cycle today because I love travelling by bike and train because I get to see so much more and meet some great people. It keeps me fit and healthy, it’s clean and green. I also like the freedom of cycling. I love the buzz and happiness it gives me and I believe it is a sensible and very accessible choice of transportation.
What do you think could be done to improve the cycling experience and encourage people to do it more?
Educate motorists through the media. Provide more on road cycle lanes. Maintain traffic free cycle routes and lay them with tarmac instead of gravel that wears away quickly. In some areas give cycles priority over the motor car. Advertise the benefits of cycling more widely.
Finally, why did you choose to write a blog, and what do you hope to do with it in the future?
I began to blog about cycling in Birmingham because in three years as a commuter cyclist, I was surprised at how many people I met saw cycling as something unusual, something of a novelty and not as a realistic and sensible choice of transportation. By presenting these real life stories, I could hopefully paint a picture for cyclists, none cyclists and maybe cyclists, that presents transportation cycling in Birmingham as realistic, accessible and a sensible choice. My hope is that people who stumble upon She Spoke of Bikes in Birmingham, will either find inspiration to try cycling, get an idea for a type of bike, or find something or someone that they can connect with. I hope it helps to do away with some of the limiting beliefs that people have about cycling for transportation and leisure.
I am not sure that I plan to do anything with it, however it has raised some attention in Birmingham and I now hope that it can give Birmingham some ideas about what people do and don’t like about Birmingham as a city for cycling and cyclists.
Thanks very much Donna, a real pleasure – you can read more from her blog here and on Facebook here.