Lichfield Re:Cycle – back on the road

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(l to r) PCSO Maggie Griffiths, Inspector Rachel Joyce, recipient Terry, project volunteers Adam and Alan

It’s been a busy few days for the Lichfield Re:Cycle bike re-use, repair and skill sharing project. I took a call last week from a local PCSO asking if we could make use of a number of unclaimed lost or stolen bikes they had. They wanted them to be used by a local project for the benefit of the community.

A couple of days earlier I had seen a twitter exchange between our MP and a local man called Terry who had his bike stolen in the town. He had left his mountain bike locked up outside HSBC in the thought it would be under the gaze of the CCTV camera on the corner of the bank. Turns out it wasn’t and that probably contributed to someone thinking they could get away with cropping his lock and taking his bike.

Terry uses his bike to get to work up at Fradley and has been walking the five miles there and back for a week now. The generous donation we received couldn’t have come at a better time and we were able to offer Terry a replacement at no cost that we had cleaned and serviced. As part of our volunteer project we offer bikes to people on free long term loan for as long as they want to use them. We ask that when they have finished with them they return so we can pass it on to someone else.

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Another recipient of a bike from the same donation has been Chris. He has scrapped his car this week as it was costing too much to run. He too works on the industrial estate in Fradley and the cost of getting a bus up there was going to put a serious dent in his wages. He’s a tall fellow but luckily we had this large frame mountain bike ready to roll.

Our project has been going for nearly a year now. Volunteers work out of their own sheds and garages, using their own tools and work on the project for free. We have attended community events and offered advice and skill sharing demonstrations as well as refurbishing and rescuing abandoned and donated bikes for re-use.

If anybody is in need of a bike we are happy to take your details and requirements and add you to our wait list. We are always looking for volunteers to help out and donations of time, bikes and expertise would be most welcomed. You can find out more about the project on the following website or by contacting Lichwheeld.


Jolly good read

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Recently came across another blog about cycling and the author is in Lichfield too. Old English Bicycle is a site celebrating those overlooked and often inexpensive machines and the art of doing them up and bringing them back into use. Apparently one project is a restoration of a 1936 Sunbeam. Would be great to see it on this years Lichfield Jolly. It’s looking like 28th of June for the 2015 ride. No posts for a few months but I am assured more on the way. Toodle pip!

Clear as mud

Cycled along NCN54 yesterday and stopped to take a couple of photos of the work done by Staffordshire County Council around the gate posts at either end of the gated section at Spade Green.

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The path around the post at the Lichfield end of the lane has been exposed with the soil that was covering it removed. The point is that should we ever go back to the situation where the gates are closed, cyclists and pedestrians could navigate past the gate without having to open it. The post at the Burntwood end had been done too, but rain has washed a lot of the sediment back onto the path. I would imagine a more thorough or regular job would be needed to keep that clearer.

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I spoke to someone recently who was involved at the time the road became part of the Sustrans network. He told me that the intention was to minimise traffic in Abnalls Lane, because it was to be designated as part of NCN54, by closing a 300 yard section to traffic, except for the five properties that would require access. At the time the road was used as a cut through in part to avoid a poor road link between Burntwood and Lichfield and the lights at Pipe Hill. That junction has recently been improved. The subsequent development on the St Matthews hospital site has seen a greater number of people located at the top end of Abnalls Lane and a lack of policing and broken gates over the years has understandably led to more people driving up and down Abnalls Lane via Spade Green.

I’ve written before about infrastructure and the fact that the road network should be sufficient for all road users including cyclists. In this case I don’t see a contradiction in defending this piece of infrastructure as it is useful for ordinary cyclists trying to go between Lichfield and Burntwood when there aren’t better or more convenient alternatives. I don’t know if the gates will be fixed and closed again, but know that the police officers I spoke to last year thought that spending time deterring motorists from using the gated section was a very worthwhile use of their time and resources, hoping the threat of a fine and points on the licence and word of mouth would be a sufficient deterrent.

The family way

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This year I hope to do a lot on this blog about on road family cycling. We’ve been experimenting with visibility recently and tonight tested out some jogging lights on sale in Lidl at two for a tenner. There are fabric ones with an LED strip for the arms that fasten with velcro and some plastic ones that go round your ankle. Both were quite good. Strong 1600 lumens lights were £15 from ebay and I’ve tried LED dust caps recently that do a job for less than a couple of quid each and the replacement batteries cost just pennies. Good road positioning and visibility required, especially side on, by any means necessary.

Winter warmer

I’ve been lucky to be invited to ride out with lots of different people since I started this blog. This morning I went with a group of friends, all people in retirement who enjoy cycling for fitness, mobility and like to share this experience with others. If any readers would like to join them on social rides at a steady pace, with a tea and chin wag stop, get in touch and I can pass on your details.

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We started off towards Rugeley heading for Shugborough. Today was possibly the perfect day for winter cycling. Early frost and mist and bits of ice but not in the wrong places. I was just one layer of socks off the sweet spot of just the right clothes for the conditions. Smashing riding as we passed through Colwich and the Haywoods for our stop for tea and cake just before the grand hall, now in its closed season. Riding back we came through alpaca/llama country in the Trent Valley.

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As mentioned the other day in the post about events and rides in 2015, the stuff this blog is about are those people who use their bikes for a variety of purposes but fall somewhere outside the local clubs or the competitive riders, but all are part of a cycling culture. People who ride for fun and friendship mainly and todays ride was a great start to the year.