About 18 months ago Manchester Friends of the Earth launched an excellent campaign called Love Your Bike in conjunction with Manchester City Council to encourage commuting by bike. It was a professional campaign and I was partcularly impressed with its cheeky and witty billboards, bus adverts and postcards. I don’t really know how effective it was in turning people to their bikes but one excellent initiative to result from it was the Critical Commute on the last Friday of the month. The idea is to attract new or returning riders by offering them the protection and commeradery of riding into the city centre amongst a group.
Now I’m no tree hugger, I do my ‘bit’ through recycling, I’ve got a wormery and despite the growing demand for AA batteries in our young household I have only ever purchased rechargeable ones this year, however, my love of cycling and burning desire to spread the 2 wheeled gospel has little to do with our poluted planet. Granted I don’t want to see it deteriorate too much, but there are much better reasons for cycling than ‘saving’ the planet such as saving yourself stacks of time and money and keeping yourself fit, oh yes and it’s good fun too. I still get a buzz from freewheeling down Rainsough Brow at about 30mph, makes me feel 12 years old every working morning.
The critical commutes set off from points around the city to meet at the town hall, on some occassions for a reason but on others just to have a 15 minute chinwag about bike stuff. Prestwich was the last ride to become established and on the occassions I have riden with them the number has not exceeded 3. With a couple of people giving good reason for not being at last month’s Prestwich ride I thought that this month there was a possibility we might break through the 3 barrier but no, I was wrong.
I turned up this morning 1 minute after the 8am start time to find nobody there. I waited an extra 5 minutes then decided that the miserable sods had probably set off on the dot of 8pm without me. I cycled like fury down Bury New Road (all the lights were with me too) to chase down the non-existant peloton. I arrived in Albert Square 15 minutes before the other riders from Chorlton and Levenshulme appeared. The total turnout was poor too, especially considering the weather was perfect for cycling: cool and dry. Just the hardcore of the GMCC were there and nobody from Mancheser FoE.
There’s a ride next month too but I expect the weather will be crap and so turnout isn’t likely to leap up to the sort of numbers which will attract novice riders out of their warm and dry cars. It’s lucky I can work flexy hours and that the ride doesn’t take me too far out of my way or I would give up on it too after today’s disappointment.