Some facts about cycling – a poor front for a shameless charity plug!

Cycling.  Is it new?  No.  Is it a niche activity?  No.  Do hundreds of millions of people do it every year?  Yes.

Why are writing about it then?  Well, essentially because we’re doing a lot of it at the moment for some good charities and wanted to tell you about it – but more on that later.  So, as some preamble to this shameless plug, we just wanted to make the case for why cycling is such a good thing for us all to do!

The world faces some truly huge problems when it comes to its growing populations, increasingly strained resources as well as huge transport and infrastructure problems.  It’s a no-brainer really, but cycling really is a way in which a huge number of us could reduce our resource requirements, cut the level of pollution we cause and get a bit fitter and healthier at the same time.

Randstad (the conurbation comprising Amsterdam, Rotterdam, The Hague & Utrecht in The Netherlands) is a great example of where cycling has been given top priority.  Whereas many countries around the world are investing in multi-lane highways for increasing volumes of cars, in Randstad there are dedicated bicycle-highways which allow people to travel in and around the largest cities in Holland.

You might argue that it’s easy to create cycle routes in The Netherlands, because the country is so flat!  But what about elsewhere?  Interestingly Japan (yes, a fairly mountainous place) offers my next example: parking lots for bicycles.  Places for thousands of commuters to leave their bikes safely and securely each and every day.

Why does infrastructure like this not exist elsewhere?  The answer is simple really: because there isn’t the demand for it.  But that’s something we can all change!

Anyway, we said this was a shameless plug, and it is.  Having set off on July 9th from Sheffield, we (your very own writers Rob and Dave) are cycling to Stuttgart, in order to raise money for Cancer Research UK and Engineers Without Borders (Sheffield Branch).  Unlike many large scale charity bike rides, we are doing this completely un-aided – except from the support that people give us as we go!

To that end we’d like to encourage you all to follow our travels on our Facebook page.  And if you’re feeling super generous, visit our donations page as well!

If nothing else, send us some luck?


Rob Thornton

I’m a Lecturer in Mechanics of Materials at the University of Leicester with specialist interests in manufacturing tribology and metallurgy, with an MEng and PhD in Mechanical Engineering from The University of Sheffield.

I’m a registered PRINCE2 Practitioner and an Associate Member of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers. While I do stick my nose into other areas of interest/outrage, you’ll probably find most of my blog posts are about research and higher education issues.

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