Last Friday of the month means its a Critical Commute morning and today 4 cyclists set off from Prestwich including a guy on his way through from Holcombe Brook to Manchester. 5 of us posed earlier in the week for the local paper to rise the profile of the event but it didn’t draw in any extra riders this time. The weather was kind to us as it tipped down at lunchtime and was very windy this evening and yet again we were quicker into Manchester than all the cars on the A56 and I wasn’t aware of a reason for any extra congestion today. The turnout from the other 3 starting points around the city was much better than last month and enabled us to assemble and pose for a photograph spelling out a "Cycling Matters" message aimed at the City Council. We even managed to rope in a slightly dazed and confused passing cyclist to hold a letter as he was trying to make his way home after a night-shift.
At work there has been some cycling progress with a first employee from the Manchester office picking up his bike through the Cycle to Work scheme. There are 2 more people waiting for their vouchers at the moment. One of them, Richard, will be our first convert to cycling as he currently takes a couple of buses into the office on what should be a straightforward 5 mile journey along one of the main commuter routes. Quite often 1 of his 4 buses doesn’t turn up and the others don’t seem to keep to any sort of schedule. Richard has been threatening to do all sorts of unspeakable things to the bus drivers and needs his CTW scheme bike ASAP to avoid ending up in court on an assault charge. I reckon it’s a 20 minutes ride in for him with an extra 5 – 10 minutes going home as there’s more uphill. He currently spends £14 a week on his bus pass and the bike is going to cost him about £30 a month out of his wages so he’s going to save time and money as well as avoiding a criminal record! I’ve just found out that our new department head rides in most days, so in the next month I expect to see more than half of the 10 bike rack spaces recently provided being taken up by members of our R&D department alone – it might be time to set up a Bike User Group for the office.