Tag Archives: Sports

Cycling in London: how is it going?

Cover photo by Roman Koester on Unsplash.

“It’s as easy as riding a bike” is a common phrase used to say that, well, something is easy. But just how easy is it to do it in London, one of the most congested cities in the world? Transport for London’s 2017 Analysis estimated that 730,000 journeys are made daily with bicycles in the capital.

The Mayor of London recently announced a commitment of an average of £169m per year over the next five years to improve London’s cycling conditions, contributing to its target of 70 per cent of Londoners living within 400m of the cycle network by 2041.

Cyclists and campaign groups, however, want more than that. Yes, appropriate infrastructure is needed, but that also requires a transition of established societal and institutional ways. A study done by the Portland State University showed that changing cycling infrastructure won’t change culture.

Having blue lanes segregated from cars and other motorised vehicles won’t do anything if people don’t know how to use them. Bruce Lynn, from the London Cycling Campaign, says the infrastructure is there but people won’t use it.

There are bigger issues TfL and the Mayor of London have to consider to make cycling a possibility for every Londoner. Today, there is a common idea of the typical cyclist in London: young white men, environmentally-friendly and mostly liberal. This is supported by various studies that argue people who don’t identify as any of the above, feel less inclined to try cycling.

Who is cycling today

Who is cycling in london today_

Graphics by author

In TfL’s 2016 report, the fact that people are highly against changing their routines was assumed to be one of the main reasons they don’t try it. Their 2015 Attitudes towards cycling report also showed that safety concerns, fear of collisions, too much traffic, bad weather, lack of time, health reasons and lack of confidence and accessibility are some of the most common deterrents that put Londoners off using bikes.

Just last Saturday, around 4,000 riders took the streets of London for the #BikesUpKnivesDown demonstration led by the #BikeStormz movement to raise awareness to the rise of knife crime and murder rates in the city. They rode from London Bridge to Oxford Street in one of the biggest youth-led rides against knife crime, showing that the use of bikes has turned their lives around.

Current cycling network

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Central London’s cycling paths mapped by Route Plan Roll.

The current cycling network is made up of quietways and cycle superhighways for the most part. TfL defines them as “cycle routes running from outer London into and across central London. They give you safer, faster and more direct journeys into the city and could be your best and quickest way to get to work.”

Existing ones go from the City to Tottenham, Stratford to Aldgate, Barking to Tower Gateway, Oval to Pimlico, Merton to the City, and Wandsworth to Westminster. The east-west and north-south ones are the newest additions with proposed ones to go from Tower Bridge to Greenwich, Kensington Olympia to Brentford, and Swiss Cottage to the West End.

 

 

repared by the students from (1)

Graphic by author

 

Safety

Safety concerns is probably what discourages people from riding the most. A study done recently by Cambridge academics found that changes in behaviour and policies is what is needed to keep the system moving, and tackle these concerns. A change in work hours, in the number of cycleways and docking stations, and in how people cycle together are factors that will contribute to that.

Another study done by Injury Prevention found that the more number of cyclists and pedestrians, the less likely motorists are to collide with them. This is partly because they are more visible, but also because the so called “safety in numbers” makes riders feel more comfortable.

14.6 per cent of casualties in Greater London while travelling were of cyclists in 2016, according to TfL. However, only eight, out of 4,424, were fatal, a decrease of 11 per cent from the year before. It certainly shows how, compared to the car, the transport mode responsible for 39.3 per cent of the casualties, cycling is less likely to get people injured. The study by Cambridge academics, however, also points out that an increase in cycling traffic also means an increased risk for cycle coalitions.

Not every rider has the same experience levels, specially in urban area conditions. ‘Bikeability’ is something most of the campaign groups advocate for, because they know that is where it starts. The London Cycling Campaign offers free ‘bikeability’ training to anyone interested and the have regular group sessions. Everyone, not only cyclists, should know how to share a public road.

How is London doing compared to the rest of the world?

 

Not good. It isn’t even on the top 20 of bike-friendly cities in the world. Infrastructure, safety and diversity (or lack of) are some of the reasons why the British capital is not considered in the 2017 Copenhagenize Design Company Index.

Tokyo, Munich, Helsinki and Oslo are new to the list because they have worked to fix issues that didn’t allow their cycling levels to grow. Closing the center to private cars, bike sharing systems, growth of network, parking facilities, and the creation of the Cycling Embassy (Tokio) and the Cycling Federation (Helsinki) are some of the things that are on place in this cities to improve the levels of cycling urbanism.

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As much as it is common thinking that more and better infrastructure will make London a top bike-friendly city, if Londoners don’t learn (or don’t want to learn) about ‘bikeability’ and cycling urbanism, the city won’t see any major changes in the years to come. The Mayor of London is committed to increase the use of bicycles in the city as it has been demonstrated that not only will it help with air pollution, but will also provide better quality public spaces.

 

Are Kolpak contracts taking English cricket a step back?

In recent weeks the scrutiny of a lacklustre England side on their travel’s has ramped up the pressure on the teams hierarchy, with calls for change being considered.

The first place to look would seemingly be the county game, but there appears to be a big stumbling block.

A severe lack of English talent coming through county ranks has cause for concern. Only Jack Leach, Liam Livingstone and a developing Mason Crane are in line to replace failures in the batting line-up and spin departments, with no real exciting fast-paced bowlers waiting in the wings to take the reigns of James Anderson when he eventually retires.

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Mason Crane bowling in his first test against Australia in the final game of the 2017/18 Ashes series in Sydney.

Why is this?

Well, a number of county sides have taken advantage of Kolpak contracts, allowing them to sign seasoned professionals of the world game, instead of looking towards their academies.

WNOL’s Lee Pearson investigates why this is happening and the affects it has on all parties involved.

What are Kolpak contracts and how did they come about?

In 2000 Slovakian professional handball player Maros Kolpak was ejected from second division side TSV Ostringen because they had more than two non-EU players in their squad. Kolpak had been residing in Germany and working legally due to the Association Agreement between Slovakia and the EU.

But under the Bosman ruling, the German Handball Association said he was not under Rule 15, and had no rights. The case was referred to the European Court of Justice who ruled in favour of Kolpak, as it restricted his rights for freedom of movement to work under the Association Agreement.

This ruling, in 2003, allowed sportsmen and women, whose country had this agreement in place, to work legally in EU countries without having to count towards the overseas quota. Sports such as cricket and rugby, who have caps on foreign players, are most affected by this rule.

How do non-EU players obtain such contracts?

Former South African cricketer Alan Wilkins explains to Cricbuzz why non-EU players are allowed to sign such contracts and the reason behind the increase.

Why do players go down this route? 

Security. Players like David Weise (Sussex), the aforementioned Rilee Rossouw and Kyle Abbot (Hampshire) along with Hardus Viljoen (Derbyshire) all chose Kolpak’s instead of continuing their international careers because of the quota system in South Africa limits their selection.

“I don’t want to regret sitting here in 12 months time where everyone is fit again and i’m wearing a bib and I’m 30,”

Having a long-term contract, receiving a consistent salary, keeps them stable for life away from cricket. Kyle Abbot in his press conference last year said; “If you want to buy me groceries in ten years time you’re more than welcome to . I have bills to pay and groceries.”

“Ever since I started playing professional cricket at 19, there has been a quota system. I have grown-up with it. I’ve never used it as an excuse and will not now.”

But the quota system does have some part to play. The rules state that six players have to be of non-white dissent, two of which have to be black, limiting opportunity to use his talents for the Proteas.

“I don’t want to regret sitting here in 12 months time where everyone is fit again and i’m wearing a bib and I’m 30,” Abbot continued, “I want to show loyalty now, to Hampshire, to hopefully have future beyond playing cricket.”

No one can blame them for turning their backs on their country for future security, but this leaves others with less secure futures in the game.

a slice of history

The impact on the county game?

The counties that utilise the Kolpak rule seem to haven forgotten the players in their academies.

“I was given one game to show what I could do. Can you call that a chance?”

“I was falling out of love with the game. The demands, lack of stability and stress all took its toll” Jake Goodwin, 20, former Hampshire academy player told WNOL.

“I was given false hope that I would be getting games in the first team, whilst they knew Kolpak’s were going to be placed in front of me. I was given one game to show what I could do. Can you call that a chance?”

Jake scored 32 off 29 balls opening the batting in his one and only chance to impress against Somerset in the 2016 Natwest Blast, “I could have scored more, should have. But trying to the up the anti, I got stumped. We won the game, I didn’t feel out of place, I was expecting more game time in 2017.”

jake-goodwin

Jake playing in a Hampshire 2’s T20 game against Northamptonshire 2’s at the Ageas Bowl, Southampton

But that never came, instead Rilee Rossouw walked through the door demoting Jake further down the pecking order, “I knew that dented my chances, Tom (Allsop) had scored heavily and Rilee is world class, I was resigned to playing second team cricket. I felt a bit down and my scores suffered.”

“I guess it was a question of timing, if it was one year earlier I think I would have had a proper chance. I know I’m not the only one, we can’t sit and wait 3-4 years to not have a career, I thought it was best to leave.”

Even Jake’s former coach at Swindon Cricket Club, Chris Mabberley, thinks Kolpak contracts have gone too far, “The state of the game overall – including Kolpak’s- played a big part in my decision (to stop coaching).”

“You can see what I think on twitter, Kolpaks suffocate the game in this country, you don’t see Australia or South Africa allowing our has beens to play in their leagues.”

And it remains a wonder how many more talents are being shunned by counties? Is the increase of Kolpak cricketers actually improving county cricket for the long run? Will Brexit intervene or will it remain a problem long-term, shutting down the conveyor belt for young, talented English players that could potentially be mainstays for the national side?