Wednesday 28 July 2010

Sometimes people get very confused

On the way home tonight, just 5 km from Assen, I passed a guy who I thought looked like a tourist on a bike. He was riding a mountain bike and carrying a huge rucksack on his back (a very uncomfortable way to carry weight on a bike).

A short distance further on I stopped to buy vegetables from a roadside stall (50 cm long marrows for 40 cents each - I put one either side in the back of the Mango) and while I was doing this, the tourist passed me.

As I came into Assen I could see him approaching a junction that I ride through every day, and which I've featured before on the blog.

The traffic light for bicycles was green, as it usually is because the light defaults to green for bikes and only switches to red if a car has approached the junction and (either from the side road or in lanes which lead this way on the main road). The light for pedestrians was red. Again, this is as usual. Those don't switch unless you press the pedestrian button. The tourist stopped, looking at the lights for pedestrians.

Even though the timing of this light is set up to favour bikes, there is also a loop under the cycle path as you approach the junction, and as a final backup just in case nothing else works there is also a button for cyclists to press. The tourist was pressing the button. And waiting. And waiting some more. If he'd pressed the separate button for pedestrians, that would have had an instant effect on the pedestrian lights. However, as he was pressing the button for cyclists, and the light was already green, it did nothing at all.

As I reached the traffic light, it was still green for bikes, so I rode straight over the junction. In my rear view mirror I could see the tourist was still waiting, and perhaps also nodding his head at me disapprovingly for "going through a red light."

So, why write this ? Well, sometimes people find what we have here in the Netherlands a bit confusing. This chap obviously did. One of the reasons why we organise study tours is to show how things really work as I've noticed that sometimes people simply don't understand. I've occasionally read some utter nonsense in the past from people who did things as extreme as not finding out in advance that "fietspad" means cycle path and not footpath, or from people who are outraged at the number of "wrong way cyclists" on one way streets because they don't know what "uitgezonderd" means.

I have a fear that this chap will return from his holiday with tales of how he visited the Netherlands, and even Assen which that David Hembrow bloke goes on so much about, and "found out" that traffic lights there were hopeless for cyclists and that the locals have to ride through on red because the lights never go green for cyclists.

Anyway, here's the same junction, in a video I made a couple of years back, heading in the opposite direction. You can clearly see the red pedestrian lights as well as the green cycle lights in the video:

The same traffic light also featured in another blog post. And if you're wondering, given that this one has now cropped up three times, it's not the only traffic light in Assen, and it's not the only one which defaults to green for bikes either.

Monday 26 July 2010

Another new "superhighway" for bikes

Wilfred Ketelaar has been documenting the progress of work on the route between his home in a village west of Groningen and the city itself.

The first photo shows the previous situation. By the standards of many countries this would be a very good cycling facility. It's separated from the road, and fairly wide. However, it doesn't meet current Dutch guidelines. According to the provincial website this cycle path is narrow and too close to the road.

The first step was to start to prepare the new cycle path foundations alongside the old cycle path.

Note that there is to have a much greater separation from the road as it's positioned completely to the right of the old path, and the new cycle path will be somewhat wider than the old.

Another view of the works a little later when much of the concrete has been poured. The new surface is 3.5 m wide, and extremely smooth concrete. I have the same surface on a path of the same quality on my commute. It's smoother than the road. Smoother than some racing circuits I've been on - like a linear velodrome to your destination.

While works go on, it is necessary for cyclists travelling in this direction to cross the road and use the cycle path on the opposite side.

The speed limit on the road alongside the cycle path is temporarily limited to 50 km/h to avoid dangerous situations when cyclists have to cross.

And so it goes. Soon there will be yet another new "superhighway" for cyclists. This one being the green line between Z and G in the top right corner of the map (click on the map for more information).

This particular "fietssnelweg" is being marketed locally as merely a "fietsroute+". A list of what this entails is to be found in a previous blog post.

Also, I showed just how much separation from the road you get on another post about my local fietsroute+.

This sort of infrastructure makes longer cycle commutes far more practical. You can cycle quickly if you want to.

It's really an awful long way away from what Londoners are being fobbed off with

Friday 23 July 2010

Cyclists Dismount ! At last I've found one...

Perhaps it's a surprise that I'm so enthusiastic about this sign, but I've been looking for years for this most elusive of Dutch cycle path signs, and at last I've found one.

Yes, "Fietsers Afstappen" means, literally, "Cyclists Dismount." And it's combined with nasty big metal fences. Remarkable. When I first saw it, I had a strange thought that maybe I'd merely dreamed about emigrating but that I really still lived in the UK...

Actually, I've been aware of it for a few months, but it's taken this long for me to get around to going there to take a photo. It's not on the route to anywhere for me.

The situation is a bit unusual. A new recreational cycle path crosses the access to the water of the local rowing club. I guess it's going across rowing club land. You can also see it on Google Maps Streetview:

Two years ago I blogged about the relative absense of such signs on the Dutch cycle path network. On the Study Tour Back in 2006 I offered €10 to the first person in our group from the UK who saw one of these signs, knowing that even though we were going to places I'd never been before I had very little chance of losing my money (and yes, I kept my money).

I've now lived in the Netherlands for nearly three years and cycled tens of thousands of kilometres in that time. I know that there are other Fietsers Afstappen signs, as occasionally Dutch people email me their photos of such signs. Often this is accompanied by text describing how "terrible" it is. However, this remains the only permanently mounted "Fietsers Afstappen" sign that I've ever seen with my own eyes.

In Britain, "Cyclists Dismount" signs are a ludicrously frequent feature of cycle facilities. I once started to make a web page showing all such signs in Cambridge, but gave up when I realised how much time this was going to take...

I still think "dismount" signs, all of them, are a blot on the cycling landscape. However, when they are as uncommon as this they make practically no difference at all to cyclists. Unless, of course, you ride past one of the few which exist every day. When there are 29000 km of separated cycle paths, built up over a number of years, there are bound to be some which fall below the expected standard. There are various initiatives in the Netherlands to identify bad cycle facilities and have the problems caused by them addressed. This is one of them.

Wednesday 21 July 2010

Good news from Rostock

The Fietsberaad reports that:

The German town of Rostock has managed to more than double bicycle use over the past ten years. According to local authorities by means of an active bicycle policy, emphasising taking along a bicycle in public transport.

The formerly East German town - with well over 200,000 inhabitants - infers the growth of bicycle use from a survey by Dresden University among 638 households, a mobility study carried out every five years.

The data prove that the percentage of cycling rose from 8.7 per cent to 20.2 per cent from 1998 to 2008. The percentage of public transport in combination with cycling and walking increased from 58.5 per cent to 64.6 per cent. Use of cars for commuting purposes fell by 5 per cent to 35.4 per cent.

Local authorities see the cause of this – besides the increase in fuel prices – in the vastly improved bicycle facilities. In addition to measures like lowering curbs (in Germany cycling on the pavement is quite common), more bicycle parking facilities, allowing contraflow cycling in one-way streets and improved signposting, the use was also strongly affected by allowing bicycles to be taken along in public transport and Bike and Ride measures. The image of cycling has been positively targeted as well. Campaigns have been conducted to tempt recreational cyclists as well as promote commuter cycling.

Compare with a city in the Netherlands with a "low" rate of cycling

Monday 19 July 2010

's-Hertogenbosch strives to become a "cycling city"

Mark Wagenbuur produced this video showing the ambitions of s-Hertogenbosch in the Netherlands to become a true "bicycle city". Mark puts it as follows:

The city of 's-Hertogenbosch articulated a new "cycle ambition" in 2009. The bicycle policy for the city is a long term plan to update cycle infrastructure (for both riding and parking) and for promoting cycling. Building for the new plan is already taking place. The city wants to become a real cycle city. The modal share of 33% in 2009 was far more than what other cities in the world have (Copenhagen barely reaches 25%) but it is just average in the Netherlands. 's-Hertogenbosch has the ambition to call itself a cycle city but wants to do so only when the modal share of cycling of all journeys in the city reaches 44%.

(Note that the relatively high figures for cycling modal share shown above are not reliable. They result from not including walking as a transport mode and only considering cycling within the city.)

Mark has also produced videos showing eleven different routes into the city centre. You can view them all from links on this video (click on the grey boxes).

I covered the plans from Den Bosch previously, but Mark's done a much better job. I have several other posts with Mark's videos, others about 's-Hertogenbosch and others about planning.

Sunday 18 July 2010

Going to the beach

Last Saturday, Judy and I rode past the local beach while planning a cycling holiday route. As usual, virtually everyone there had arrived by bike, and as the weather was so nice, lots of people were there.

I've covered cycling to the beach twice before.

Saturday 17 July 2010

Our car

Some readers may be surprised to learn that we own a car. After all, we don't write much about it, and I've occasionally mentioned how I'm not a particularly enthusiastic driver.

While we own a car, we don't actually use it much. Really, really, not much, at all.

We bought our car from a German who moved near our old home in Cambridge. He wanted a right hand drive car, and we thought a left hand drive car sounded ideal for after we'd emigrated. So we bought it from him and drove it (occasionally) in the UK for a short period, getting used to sitting on "the wrong side", before we emigrated.

We moved into our new home in Assen on the last week of August 2007. We arrived here in our car which we took on the ferry with us. Until yesterday, the last time the car was driven was in the first week of September 2007, when we took a few empty boxes and an old carpet from our new home to the local dump. After that it stood still.

After a year or so I thought to try the engine and of course nothing happened because the battery was dead. We didn't do anything about it at the time, because, well, we'd lived without it for a year, and it really wasn't a problem at all not to have a car in this city. We do all our shopping by bike, I commute by bike, our children go to school and visit friends by bike.

This year the car started looking a bit less healthy. A bit of green stuff was growing around the windows, and on opening the door there was an unpleasant smell inside. It makes no sense at all to have the thing simply rot away on the drive-way, so we had to do something with it.

A few days ago a local garage collected it and fixed it for us. Yesterday I took it (with a temporary number plate) from the garage for an inspection so that we can get a proper Dutch registration plate, and eventually a number will be allocated and we'll be able to get it properly on the road.

I think the novelty will mean we will use it a bit. But I have absolutely no desire to drive every day.

So far it has been surprisingly cheap to register the car for use. The costs of driving are not particularly high in this country, and petrol is about the same price as in the UK. Driving is easy in the Netherlands. However, you just don't "need" a car here.

It's very easy to live "car free" in the Netherlands. We managed it, almost by accident, even though we owned a car !

Our car still has a "Give Cyclists Room" sticker on the back. I organised a group purchase when we lived in Cambridge. It seems a bit redundant here.

And yes, there's also a bike in the back of it. I rode one of our cheapo folders to the garage to pick the car up yesterday morning.

So there you go. We have a car. A practical, boring, cheap one, which (even though it wasn't something I'd thought of when we bought it) has enough space on the roof to transport a Mango. And today I'm again leaving it on the drive-way while I ride my bicycle to work.

A couple of months later I got around to buying some petrol for the car, and working out what this actually entailed. Read about it here.

In the background of the first photo you'll see cars of our neighbours. They all cycle too, of course, for at least some of their journeys. It's quite possible to be both a driver and a cyclist. There is no "them and us" between cyclists and motorists in the Netherlands.

Wednesday 14 July 2010

Car on the cycle path

After Friesland, now the province of Brabant is testing the quality of their cycle route network. They are using an instrumented car to drive along the regional cycle paths of the 21 councils in the Eindhoven region.

The survey will record the types of cycle facility (separate cycle path, bicycle street, parallel facility, cycle lane or other), and also such things as the type quality of the surface and the width.

Factors such as how obvious it is where cyclists belong, whether crossings give cyclists priority, priority at traffic lights and the speed of other traffic at crossings will also be recorded.

Also the region will gain an insight into the social safety for cyclists and the quality of directional signage.

GPS is being used to position photos of all cycling facilities on a map.

The total cost of this investigation is around €30000.

This type of work is needed periodically because when there are thousands of kilometres of cycling facility it's not easy to keep track of exactly what there is, where it is, or what quality it is. A couple of years later it was Drenthe's turn to analyze its cycle-paths in the same manner.

Monday 12 July 2010

The "Copenhagen Left" and merging of cyclists with cars turning right: Dangerous and inconvenient junction design in Denmark.

I've mentioned before that I'm less than enthralled with what I've seen of Copenhagen's cycling infrastructure. Here's another example - the "Copenhagen Left".

It's explained thus: "As a general rule in Denmark, cyclists are required to make a wide left turn where they cross the perpendicular street and wait to cross the original one. The space between the crosswalk and bike lane becomes a waiting area for the cyclists turning left. Those who are continuing straight are supposed to stop before the crosswalk.". Two-stage turns are neither efficient nor safe for cycling.

Going straight on can be hazardous as well...
This video shows another similar situation. The cycle path becomes a right turn lane for all vehicles when it comes to junctions. To combine cyclists travelling straight on with right turning drivers in one lane is to create conflict. It's a dangerous design:

A narrow cycle-path with a dangerous kerb at the right and trees too close by on the left merges with motor vehicles going right at the junction. People praise this ?

Sadly, it's not unique. Here's another example.

Copenhagenize recently covered an improvement to this, but it was not to give cyclists more space, or to make left turns more efficient or safer. Rather, LEDs have been used to try to warn drivers of the danger that they pose to cyclists:
Flashing lights have been added, but this is really much the same situation as before. Due to the geometry of this junction, cyclists will still be difficult for drivers to see and it still relies upon perfect behaviour for its safety. If the existing situation was good enough then the lights would never have been added. This is a story of failure, not of success. Instead of this band-aid measure, why didn't they simply copy a much superior and more convenient design of junction ?

Nice flashy video, but why ? Is this really the best they can do ? This is not good infrastructure. It encourages cyclists to be on the wrong side of turning motor vehicles, increasing conflict. Most deaths of cyclists in London, where driving and cycling is on the left hand side of the road, are due to cyclists on the left hand side of trucks being crushed as the truck turns left.

The same can happen in countries where it is normal to drive and cycle on the right. It appears that the infrastructure in Copenhagen is designed such that it actually encourages these conflicts rather than avoiding them.  There's nothing about this junction design which resolves these conflict and Copenhagen isn't a special case where such a design could be safe. We know that this design is lethal in Copenhagen, so why is it being recommended elsewhere ?

Much better junctions designs exist than this
What are actually needed are junction designs which separate cyclists in time as well as space, and that's what we have here in the Netherlands. If a cyclist has a green light to go straight on, then a driver waiting to turn right at the same traffic lights will have a red. The same goes for cyclists turning left and drivers going straight on. The conflict is removed, and safety is greatly improved at the same time.

In the most extreme cases in the Netherlands, all conflict with motor vehicles is removed by giving cyclists a green light simultaneously in all directions while motorists have a red light in all directions. Cycle paths in the Netherlands are designed to offer directness and a high degree of safety while minimising conflicts between drivers and cyclists.

Don't copy Denmark
Denmark's cycling modal share has
been in decline since 1992
Conditions in Denmark are not the worst in the world. Danish infrastructure is often better than much of what you find in Germany and of course it is better than what you usually find in other countries which have far lower cycling rates. However, Danish infrastructure is far from ideal. Denmark did not invest enough to support and grow the cycling modal share that they once had and the result has been twenty years of decline in cycling in Denmark. Is a declining cycling modal share the future you want to see ? If not, don't copy Denmark !

I think it's about time that infrastructure like this stopped being touted as advanced. It is quite similar to what the Dutch used to do twenty years ago, but most of that has been replaced. The replacement of inadequate infrastructure like this is what has helped the Netherlands to avoid the crash in cycling which Denmark has experienced.

If you're looking for a cycling "role model", The Netherlands is the country which has achieved most and it is the country that you should refer to for best practice.

Update January 2011
The Danes are still building new junctions like this, which put cyclists on the right of right turning vehicles, with "mixing zones" where cyclists and drivers have to share space at junctions, and where right turning drivers and straight on cyclists green traffic lights at the same time. They're also still trying to ameliorate the problems that this causes with signs. I know because Denmark is again making publicity out of it as if it's a good idea !

Hopeless. Why not copy newer designs, such as this ?

Update August 2013
Southampton in England is copying this design. As an extra twist, they've branded it as Dutch. This will lead to injuries and deaths of Southampton cyclists.

Update November 2013 - This design shown again to be lethal
It was recently pointed out to me that the Danes have finally woken up to the fact that their merging of right turning vehicles with cyclists going straight on has led to seven fatal accidents this year.

This is why it makes no sense at all for other nations to copy Danish designs and makes a lot of sense for the Danes to copy much safer Dutch designs which avoid this conflict.

Sadly, New Zealand now seems to have picked up on the Copenhagen Left idea. They call it a "Hook Turn". The change of name makes it no safer nor more convenient.

The "Copenhagen" left isn't even Danish
While this type of junction has been much hyped in the last few years as a Danish innovation, it's actually nothing new at all.

If you look hard enough, you can still find examples of this in the Netherlands, as seen in the photo on the right (this location, thanks to Bertram Bourdrez). In this country such junctions are not known as "Copenhagen left" junctions and they're not the subject of hype. This type of thing is simply old fashioned.

Just because such infrastructure can be found in the Netherlands, that doesn't mean it works any better here than it does elsewhere and it certainly doesn't mean it should serve as an example to planners elsewhere. To achieve the best result, copy the best examples.

Update 2014
In the last few days it's become public that Denmark is at last treating the problem of their decline in cycling seriously. This is fantastic news. No-one wants to see the Danes decline. The time has come, as I suggested six years ago, for Denmark to "Netherlands-ize". i.e. to copy from the very best of what the Dutch have achieved and to build on that.

Update 2016
Another year, another press-release. The same blog is again pushing this dangerous design internationally, muddling it up with a freshly exaggerated claim for ever higher bicycle numbers on a busy bike path in the city. Don't fall for the hype. Don't emulate what puts Copenhageners in danger. Safe junction designs for turning across traffic exist elsewhere. For instance, this design allows complete safety as does this other design. There is no reason to copy from the flawed example which is promoted by Copenhagen when other, safer and more convenient options will work better for your cyclists, and indeed would work better for Copenhageners as well.

Note that the blogger I referred to first also says that Danish cycle paths are 5 feet wide. That's 1.5 m, which is rather less than the 2.5 m (8 feet) minimum for single direction cycle paths in the Netherlands. What's more, they are separated merely by a kerb instead of the 1.5 m separation which is the aim in the Netherlands, though sometimes not quite achieved. Unfortunately, with infrastructure like this being presented as desirable, the problems are spreading in multiple places. The Netherlands remains a much better model if you want to see successful bicycle policy. Please read our examples of what really works,

Wednesday 7 July 2010

More on London's "Superhighways"

After showing perhaps the most dangerous cycle crossing in the UK a few days ago, now here's a chance (courtesy of gaz545) to see one of London's newest and most impressive pieces of cycling infrastructure: "Cycle Superhighway" number 7 - or should I say "Barclays Cycle Superhighway 7" as these things now have a corporate sponsor.

Just as before when I've covered London's "superhighways", there is very much to criticise. Here's a start, annotated with the time on the video:
  • 0:00 The "superhighway" is not continuous. At the start of the video there is nothing to see.
  • 0:02 At the road junction the white lines are missing, making it less obvious that drivers should not cut across cyclists in order to turn left.
  • 0:13 The cycle lane was narrow enough already, but becomes narrower - especially if you were looking at the line.
  • 0:15 The cycle lane is narrow, but also note the pavement (sidewalk) width
  • 0:23 Detritus in the cycle lane.
  • 0:24 The red line from the left crosses the "superhighway" and takes the place of the white line. I lived in the UK for many years, but I don't know the significance of this. Does it mean cars can park on this part of the "superhighway."
  • 0:37 Road works overflowing into the "superhighway," leaving even less space for the cyclist
  • 0:39 Arrows on the "superhighway" directing someone to the right. Presumably not cyclists...
  • 0:40 Oh, it's become a "bus lane". Over here we don't ride in bus lanes even when there are road works on the cycle path. Buses are really not compatible with bicycles, and there's nothing like them to lower subjective safety.
  • 0:47 The blue disappeared again, but returns, apparently a bit narrower than before.
  • 0:53 and it's gone again...
  • 0:54 A bus stop in the superhighway. There are better ways of taking cyclists past bus stops.
  • 1:05 Rough manhole cover nearly half the width of the "superhighway"
  • 1:06 Again the red line goes to the other side and back again.
  • 1:12 Another large manhole cover
  • 1:16 The "superhighway" gets a bit thinner again, and then another manhole.
  • 1:19 Railings against which cyclists can be crushed by motor vehicles.
  • 1:38 Another bus stop
  • 1:48 Another narrowing and then it disappears again
  • 2:03 Another narrowing, right next to a left turn and a change in the style of white line. This could give the impression that cyclists have lower priority.
  • 2:06 and another bus stop
  • 2:08 Passing another cyclist, but the "superhighway" isn't wide enough to do this without pulling onto the rest of the road.
  • 2:10 Disappearing blue paint again, right next to parking for cars so this could lead to drivers thinking they don't have to take any notice of cyclists going straight on.
  • 2:15 The "superhighway" suddenly swerves to the left.

And that's the end of the video. I didn't note all the problems I saw, it was a bit repetitive. However, I hope I gave a good impression of why this is bad infrastructure. I have pointed out 24 possible problems which occur in just over 2 minutes of cycling.


What do we have here ? It's not continuous, it doesn't offer cyclists a more direct journey than drivers, there is no proper segregation from the road so low subjective safety, the on-road lanes are too narrow, the surface quality is bad (manholes etc.), there is no special treatment for cyclists at traffic lights. It's really an extraordinarily poor example next to what the Dutch are doing, without any of the fanfare.

For more on the London "superhighways", click here. To see what we get here in the Netherlands, click here.

Monday 5 July 2010

Do people cycle in the Netherlands because it's difficult to drive here ?

Researchers at IBM have come up with an index for how bad it is to commute by car in various cities in the world.

For a long time I've argued that the Netherlands wins cyclists mostly by making cycling pleasant. Use of the carrot rather than a stick. It's much better to convince people to do something because they want to do it than to force them to do something they don't want to do. And that's how it is here. There is no "them vs. us" feeling around cycling vs. driving. Most people both cycle and drive.

Of all the cities in the survey, Amsterdam has easily the highest cycling rate. It has been shown that increasing the proportion of journeys by bike has many benefits, amongst them improving conditions for the remaining drivers.

This is born out by this research which reveals that not only is Amsterdam good for cyclists, but it is also a better city for drivers than car oriented cities such as London, Madrid and Paris. For drivers, Amsterdam is on a par with Los Angeles and only very slightly worse than Berlin, Montreal, New York and Melbourne.

The worst place in the survey for cycling is Beijing, a city where driving is rising as fast as cycling is falling.

Roads in the Netherlands are actually very good. They're an efficient network, well maintained. They are also well sign-posted and car parking is not difficult to find. It's an easy place to drive. However, despite this, car ownership is actually relatively low for such a wealthy nation.

People cycle here because they feel that they can. Cycling is attractive, convenient and safe.

Why doesn't everywhere try to emulate the Dutch success in cycling ? It really is difficult to find an excuse which holds water. Even the world's best cycling infrastructure is not actually expensive. It's quite possibly the most cost effective method for improving conditions for drivers.

The IBM link came via Velo Mondial.

Friday 2 July 2010

Judy's new touring bike - Review of the Sinner Spirit

Judy got a new bike a few days ago. She has needed a new touring bike for some time as we sold her old touring bike, a Flevobike Oke-Ja, three years ago before we emigrated.

The Oke-Ja was, well, OK, but to be fair it's only a middling recumbent. It was one of those bikes with the pedals lower than the seat. This makes them very easy to ride, and particularly easy to get on and off. However, they are not really comfortable except for very short distances. The Americans have a term for this: "recumbent butt." Many people try to counter it by replacing the seat cushion (often more than once). We did the same with the Oke-Ja. A friend of mine went through different seats on a BikeE. The problem is due to the position with the feet too low and the real solution is to ride a bike on which the pedals are higher. This is more daunting for beginners, but you get used to it and it's really much more comfortable in the longer term. It's also more aerodynamic. If you're not particularly interested in speed, note that this means you make better progress - especially into headwinds.

We've tried a couple of other things out over the last couple of years, including some trikes a few months back, but really the best option for most people most of the time is a bicycle. They're a bit more efficient, they take up less space and they're mechanically more simple.

I used to work for Sinner, so of course we looked at their line-up. I have a Sinner Mango velomobile but Judy really wanted an open recumbent. She has always preferred above seat steering, and wider mesh seats over narrower hard seats (they're usually a better choice for women and for more "full figured" people) so this narrowed down the choice to the Spirit.

Judy tried a Spirit on a very pleasant ride in May and she got on very well with it. With help from my colleagues I secretly organised a similar bike - in Judy's preferred red, and surprised her with it on the day of a recent cycling event in Groningen.

Sinner bikes are sold complete. Both a front and rear light were included, as was a computer, a kick stand, mudguards and a rack. The standard tyres are of decent quality (Schwalbe Marathons), the brakes are also decent quality Shimano Deore. All these things come with the bike, nothing needs fiddling with beyond setting the bike to the correct size. When we picked it up, Judy rode it home from the shop. These are bikes for "grown ups". For people who want something solidly engineered, on which everything fits, everything works, and on which you'll be able to ride for many years.

I've added three things to the bike. A Busch und Müller Cyclestar mirror, which is essential on a recumbent, a good quality frame lock, and of course a basket. I make baskets for all types of bikes, including recumbents.

The Spirit is a great bike. All the details of the design are improvements over my own two wheeled recumbent, a Pashley PDQ. In comparison, the Spirit wins with front suspension, much better rear suspension, better engineered special parts such as the pivot on the steering, and much better quality rack and mudguards. I think it's also a bit faster - the seat can be installed more reclined for a more aero position, and the larger rear wheel rolls better (while occasionally people make silly claims otherwise, rolling resistance of wheels is always inversely proportional to radius). As a result, fitted with similar tyres, the Spirit has about 15% lower rolling resistance vs. the PDQ with its two 20" wheels. Judy's not bothered about speed, but when we ride together this small difference between the bikes helps to keep us matched. We suffered from the opposite effect when Judy had the Oke-Ja as it was obviously less efficient than my bike. The Spirit is better for marital harmony.

The new bike is a success. Such a success that just one week after she got it, Judy was confident enough to come for the first time on one of the Sunday morning rides of the local recumbent riders, and to ride further in a day than she's ever ridden on any other bike before - 101 km. And all that without a complaint about discomfort beyond tired limbs:

Why choose a recumbent as a touring bike ? Well, they're ideally suited. These bikes are remarkably comfortable and you get to look straight ahead and see where you're going. What's more, these bikes also help many people who have medical conditions to be able to continue to cycle. We've made all our longer tours on recumbents.

Many Sinner customers ride their new bikes directly home from the shop. Last December one of our customers made a particularly impressive first journey.