1st Cycle Rides For All of 2015 this Sunday in Beacon Park, Lichfield

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This Sunday morning (29th March) is the first Cycle Rides For All ride of 2015. The first of the season is always a gentle opener. This one is just 3.5 miles in a circular loop from Beacon Park. Meet at 11am by the Pavilion in the park, opposite side of the lake from the playground. Your bike will get a safety check from Freedom Cycles and the trained volunteers will take you round the route. Totally free and very friendly especially for families. All welcome.

More details can be found here.

Locked up at Lichfield City

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Liked these hefty chains on the racks at Lichfield City train station today. Obviously left there for another day to save them weighing the rider down on the way home. There was another bike that was well secured with two D Locks and three chains locking everything down. If you rely on your bike to get you about that’s one may to make sure it’s going to be there when you get back.

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Do it again! The Lichfield Jolly 2015

Last years Lichfield Jolly turned out such fun we may as well do it again. Originally conceived as a bit of a laugh with Ian from Vickers Bicycle Company it ended up as a really good event. You can see photos from the day here.

We had a wonderful mix of bikes, people and families. It finished up in the beer garden and judging by the comments and the smiles it will be worth doing again. So, Sunday 28th June 2015 meeting at Market Square in Lichfield at 4:30 (for a 5.00 start?) seems like the plan. We will work out a 3 to 5 mile ride through and round the city centre and end up at Prince Ruperts Mount.

More details nearer the time (Facebook page here) and I managed to pick up something in town the other day that might just do the job for an outfit.

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Lichfield Re:Cycle – spare part of the jigsaw

The Lichfield Re:Cycle project continues to be busy. A couple of pieces in the Lichfield Gazette and Darwin Advertiser have led to a good number of donations of usable bikes. More details of some of them can be seen on the Thank Yous page on the website.

A pattern has been emerging. The bikes we have been getting have mainly been rigid frame mountain bike types from ten to twenty years ago. The older ones are often examples of very well made bikes and though worth little nowadays, if well maintained and looked after, will work perfectly for many years to come.

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Not all of the bikes will go back out. Sometimes it’s not worth the expense or effort required but we always take usable parts. Tony, a volunteer at Jigsaw for North Lichfield Initiative contacted us to ask about parts to build up a bike. He had been given a frame and wanted a pair of wheels and some tyres. Just the sort of thing we can oblige with. Tony expressed an interest in learning more about making adjustments to the brakes and gears on his bike and we will invite him along when we start to do skill sharing workshops now the weather is getting better. This week we have helped a lady who was after a comfy sprung saddle and we had one of those too.

Now we have these generous donations and volunteers who are able to refurbish and service them, we need to make sure we can use them in the best way possible. We are working with a number of local organisations who can refer people to use the project, North Lichfield Initiative now being one of them.

If you work for, or know of a group or organisation who might be able to refer people to us, please get in touch.

Time to close the gates?

Went up Abnalls Lane again yesterday. I have written about the cycle route through there a few times now, most recently after Staffordshire County Council had done some work to clear the paths around the two gates. The gate at the Burntwood end had recently been scraped clear of mud, though it will inevitably slide back after the first decent rainfall.

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Is it now time to see the gates closed again and regular enforcement by the police? Speaking to them last year it was clear that they felt it was a good use of their time to point out to motorists that the short gated section of the lane is access only for motorised vehicles. The gates have been closed in the past then damaged either deliberately or by cars driving into them when they expected them to be open. I received the following message from someone who has been involved in the long campaign to get better enforcement and the gates and bypasses on the lane used as they were intended to be:

“I would appreciate it if you could again urge all cyclists who use the lane, be they leisure riders, commuters or club cyclists on training runs and rides, to help create a safe route by using the bypass routes now they are clear, to close the gates if they are open and if they must use a gate rather than a bypass to close it after the last person goes through.  We cyclists are always bemoaning the fact that cycling is perceived as dangerous, drivers do not respect us and that we lack proper infrastructure when compared with the continent.  In Abnalls Lane we have been given improved infrastructure and the onus is now on us to use it fully and responsibly.”

Cycle Rides For All 2015

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Just had the latest details for this seasons Cycle Rides For All. The full colour flyers will be available soon and can be found in places like Freedom Cycles, Jigsaw at Dimbles shops and from the Rangers in Beacon Park.

Now in it’s sixth year and run by trained volunteers, this fantastic programme offers on road group riding for all abilities and ages. It is free and totally family friendly. The first ride is the end of this month and a perfect introduction for those who want to do a bit more cycling round the city centre streets with the support of other more experienced riders. Our new ride this year is a Burntwood taster ride heading out to Chasewater in July.

The volunteers work hard to put the programme together with the support of Lichfield District Council, Freedom Cycles, North Lichfield Initiative and others. More details below.

www.lichfielddc.gov.uk/cyclerides

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New edge of city centre parking unveiled in Lichfield

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In a bid to ease city centre parking problems while Bird Street car park is being resurfaced later this month, Lichfield District Council have announced the opening of a new edge of city centre micro car park.

The unveiling coincides with a legal challenge to the council from a local firm of solicitors in an attempt to protect the local greenbelt. In a landmark case they have reached an agreement with the local authority to protect a small strip of land and forced local rule makers to zone the former cycle path as parking.

Spokesperson for nearby Beacon Street Area Residents Association, Sidney Sprite said, “We welcome all measures that protect the greenbelt. It is clear that the actions of Lichfield District Council has preserved this driveway for generations to come.”

If you are effected by the same problems contact Southwell Mott for representation.

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A close scrape

Got hit by a car today for the first time. These things happen I suppose. I do know it wasn’t because I wasn’t seen. I was near the middle of the lane in primary position at the back of my kids on Beacon Street, parked cars on the opposite side and traffic coming the other way. Only an idiot would have tried to pass. But he did, sounding his horn as he did so and clipped my handlebar before forcing his way past at speed. I always say Lichfield is a small place and lo and behold not five minutes later as we pulled into the library there was the car that was driven by the person who did it, complete with small scrape mark on the wing mirror just at the same height as my handlebars.

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I do a lot of cycling with my kids and my guestimate is that for every hour of city centre riding we encounter a driver who is incensed so much by our presence, to the point where they will force their way past whatever the conditions or regard for our safety. We take positions on the road depending on terrain, parked cars and traffic that we judge to be the safest for us. As a solo cyclist I hardly get any bother, the odd idiot but not as much as when cycling as a family. The difference between the two is the speed. As a family we are a lot slower. For some people it seems our safety is not any concern to them. We are merely an impediment to the swift return of a library book.

History being revealed and rebuilt

Had a short ride around the centre of town today with a friend getting back into the saddle after a fair while away. It’s not all about the long rides down country lanes and there was plenty to see as we stopped for a breather and a chat. Noticed the flats on the corner of Swan Road are in the process of being demolished.

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There’s change afoot on this side of the city centre. The Friary car park and Premier Inn have been finished and now a couple of nearby sites are being developed. Plus the furore over the library and its future. We paused round the back for a photo you don’t often see. A good sized parcel of land earmarked for more retirement flats according to this weeks Mercury.

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I’ve seen the Friends of Lichfield Archive and Heritage group are trying to get people to engage with the consultation around the future of Lichfield Records Office. Seems like it will be centralised in a new purpose built centre in Stafford. Recent announcements from the council suggest the whole site including the library is lined up for redevelopment.

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We cycled a bit further and turned into Davidson Road. I saw a question on Twitter the other day wondering why Davidson House didn’t face onto the main road. Someone told me that this was because in the 19th Century the road as it is now was a wharf from the canal.

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I could imagine this building on the opposite side of the wharf was something to do with the canal too. Just up a bit is Venture House, built as a training centre and empty for a while though a Google search suggests may now be home to social services. If Lichfield library was to relocate could it be to somewhere that is less about books and more about accessing IT to be able to search catalogues and digitised archives?

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Probably questions not best asked by a mere cycling ‘blog’. Further up again Midland Heart are building new houses opposite this covered bike lock up. I thought I recognised the bikes. If you look back to this post from July 2013 you will see the same abandoned bikes are still there, discouraging people from using the stands I would think. Would anyone object if Lichfield Re:Cycle removed them and tried to salvage parts from the rusting wrecks?

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You don’t have to go far to see stuff. Often it is right under our noses. There are plenty of people around interested in the stories behind these buildings, both old and new, and the times when our interests cross over can be a source of real inspiration. When local councils make decisions about the services they provide us, from libraries and record offices through to play provision, housing, even cycle infrastructure, surely that’s something that’s worth doing?