Some day all cycle touring destinations could be like this. Day 1 in Zeeland.


This gallery contains 3 photos.

Our first cycling day in Zeeland can be summed up by the scenes around the small harbour town of Veere. Charming streets. Packed with cyclists – not just Dutch, we heard German, French, Belgian and English voices. And everything was … Continue reading

Dutch bicycles at home. A visit to the Royal Gazelle factory in Dieren, Netherlands


This gallery contains 6 photos.

I recently published a short article on the ECF web site about my visit to the newly opened extension to the home of Royal Gazelle bikes in Dieren, Netherlands. Link by clicking the picture or here It was a thoroughly … Continue reading

If you own the bike company why not ride to work on a Tour de France ready superbike?


This gallery contains 5 photos.

One of the amusing diversions at our recent Bike2work event at Eurobike was guessing what bikes the company CEOs would ride. In theory it was a bit complicated. They all had to drag themselves out of hotels all over the … Continue reading

Coffee and cycling? Bikes and baristas in Adelaide to kick off Velo-city 2014

Bikes and Baristas

My kind of place.

Off to the distinctly hip East End of Adelaide for a coffee at the “Bikes and baristas” Saturday event as part of Velo-fringe.

And joy – a bike jumble. Old bike bits, renovations, upgrades, fixies and lots of steel bikes.

Bikes and Baristas street Market Velo-city 2014 Adelaide

Sadly luggage limitations stop me cashing in. (And the watchful eye of my travelling companion). Indeed I might have made a killing with my personal collection of 1960s and 1970s European cycling rubbish had I but known.

But a very cool start to the week if you like that kind of thing. .And great coffee!

Bike sale Bikes and Baristas Adelaide Velo-city 2014 Bicycle jumble sale Velo-city 2014 Adelaide

The “Utrecht scale” – a new standard for cycle parking

Utrecht cycling

I have a new proposal for how to measure quantities of bikes. It is called the “Utrecht scale” and it is based on the “ocean of bicycles” I described several weeks ago.

I had some hopes of my own. I suggested then that we needed a new measurement for cycle parking. The “Mayne scale” would be based on how long it took to walk the length of the bike park. In the case of Utrecht, it would be top of the scale with over 8 minutes from end to end. When cyclists rule the world we will need a new vocabulary, just like eskimos were supposed to have 40 words for snow and maybe my scale could have become as established as Richter, Geiger or Beaufort. But the Mayne scale is not to be.

No. For for the international comparison of bicycle numbers only the “Utrecht scale” will do now. A scale based on oceans, seas, lakes and puddles will tell us all we need to know about numbers of parked bikes.

It was a simple phrase that started it. I wrote “In Utrecht I saw a sea of bikes. In fact no I didn’t, I saw an ocean of bikes.” And then I linked it to this picture and sent it off on social media.

sea of bikes Utrecht

The rest, as they say, is history.BmiEOFeIEAAqnyw

By the following weekend it had made two local papers and the traffic on this blog had reached heights I could hardly have imagined even a week earlier.


We even made a news story about cyBnAowqGCIAEJ7b7cle parking making the news on the ECF web site.

But it was not only Utrecht. Since then people keep sending me their cycle parking pictures from around the world and using the phrase “sea of bicycles” whenever they meet a big quantity of bikes.

The first phase of the huge new underground cycle park in Utrecht opened this week, taking the first 2000 bikes off the streets. So as a legacy of those amazing displays of bikes that may soon be no more, and for the proud people of Utrecht who love their cycle parking here is my first attempt at the “Utrecht scale” for cycle parking.

Ocean of bicycles

Bikes as far as the eye can see. Over 20,000 bikes. Take some emergency rations before you go and look for your bike, this may take some time. Example? Utrecht!

Utrechts bicycle parks

Sea of bicycles

A concentrated mass of bikes. More than 5000 in one place. You may need a guide and some time to get in and out of here. Example? It seems to be almost any Dutch station, but increasingly Flanders including Bruges and Ghent.

Cycle Parking Ghent Station


Cycle parking Bruges station


Now the minimum standard for any decent cycling town is to have 1000 bikes at main hubs like universities and railway stations. An honourable mention now to Bologna, Italy which has the biggest lake of rusty old student bikes round their railway station that I have ever seen.

Bologna Station Bike Park



Every village should have a pond. Ducks on the water, somewhere for children to paddle and for animals to drink. So every small area of shops, every park, every street corner should have at least a pond of bike parking to cater for local needs. Examples? Hopefully everywhere, but Copenhagen is a perfect example of putting the parking on every corner, including cargo bikes.

Copenhagen corner street parking


A level especially created for Amsterdam. Or any other city where the bikes are not parked together in a massive body but instead flow through the streets like the waterways that run through the city.

canal of bicycles Amsterdam


Well you couldn’t get very wet in that could you? Just one or two bikes? Berlin – could do better!

Cycle Parking Berlin 1

Muddy puddle

As above, but with mountain bikes! From Whistler, where else!

Whistler Bike park, cycle parking

Frozen puddle – Memmingen, Germany, at minus 14 degrees centigrade.

Bike covered in snow in Memmingen

To complement the Utrecht scale I did think of some other useful phrases with a watery flavour

Tsunami of bicycles – what happens when everybody in Utrecht tries to get on their bikes at the same time.

Utrecht cyclists

Desert – Trying to find any evidence of bicycle life here is pretty hard.

pavement parking central Kiev Ukraine

Splash – several bikes thrown together informally, the basis for much of the cycle parking in Salzberg, Austria.

Linzergasse Salzburg Austria

Dried up river bed – speaks for itself.

desert of bicycles

Reservoir – 700 Bixi bikes waiting for Velo-city 2012 delegates to arrive – Vancouver.

Velo-city 2012 Bike Fleet

So now then readers – does this work for you? And what would your watery terms for cycling be?

To finish – my favourite watery cycling photo. I look forward to your comments!

Coronian Lagoon, Lithuania

Utrecht station cycle parking is absolutely astonishing. See it before it disappears underground.

sea of bikes Utrecht

Recently I went to Utrecht in the Netherlands. My mind is still slightly overwhelmed by what I saw, so despite the delay I just had to post this. With a health warning. As I write this I have a feeling that any “normal” people discovering this blog will wonder how somebody could get excited about parked bicycles.

All I can say in my defence is that I have spent most of my life as a cyclist and the past 15 years in cycling promotion.  The scene at Utrecht station ranks as an extraordinary moment, I am still reflecting on it three weeks later. So maybe I don’t publish 50 photos of parked bikes, but I have to share.

In Utrecht I saw a sea of bikes. In fact no I didn’t, I saw an ocean of bikes. The visual impact of these walls of pedal powered machinery painted a picture in my mind that is hard to let go.

Utrechts bicycle parks

I came out of the station and saw the cycle parking. And the cycle parking. And more cycle parking. I have seen Dutch, Danish and Flemish railways stations before. I have seen the 6000 bike multi-storey bike park in Amsterdam. But I have never, ever seen anything like the number of bikes in around Utrecht station.

I was so astonished I decided to start at one end and time how long it took me to walk to the other end because I couldn’t take it in any other way. Six minutes. Enough said. We have to measure cycle parking here in minutes of walking time.

Start - minute zero

Start – minute zero


2 minutes - still going

2 minutes – still going


Only another 3 minutes to go

Only another 3 minutes to go

Let me explain the background to these impressions.

Because most of my work is supporting countries and groups where daily cycling is struggling my trips to the Netherlands are actually quite rare, despite its proximity to Belgium. This was my first time in Utrecht. That in itself feels almost impossible, everywhere you go on the international cycling scene there seems to be someone from Utrecht. It is the home of the Dutch Cycling Union, Fietsersbond, so lots of my colleagues come from here, but also there are city staff, Utrecht regional staff, university academics studying cycling and cycling consultants so Utrecht gets a lot of exposure and it features in a lot of study tours. Other bloggers wax lyrical about it. So I felt I should know it.

Cycle paths in Utrecht

Utrecht can call itself one of the “capitals” of Dutch cycling culture with an amazing 50% of trips in the inner city by bike and 30% overall. In a population of about 300,000 that’s one hell of a lot of cyclists. The city centre itself was lovely, sleepily coming to life in the spring sunshine.

Utrecht in the morning

It was just full of bikes and people were meeting, studying and going about every element of life by bike.

Utrecht centre cycle parking

Unfortunately my brief visit was not enough to see much of the city’s celebrated cycling infrastructure or the cyclist traffic jams at rush hour. However I was really pleased to cycle out to the Fietsersbond offices on one of the Blue Bikes on hire from near the station and Saskia, the Deputy Director of Fietsersbond took me around a little of the cycling sights.

Utrecht cycle routes

But at the heart of the tour was the station, where many routes converge on this overwhelming sea of parked bikes.

Utrecht cycling

Saskia showed me several more parks that I hadn’t even noticed in the morning. More people were measuring their cycle parking by time too, the time it was taking them to find their bikes. I can nearly bike to my nearest station in Belgium in ten minutes, I cannot imagine spending at least another ten minutes looking for parking. That’s like being a car driver!

This parking is full Cycle Parking Utrecht

When we returned to the station it was approaching 5pm so the traffic on the cycle paths was beginning to build. The area is currently a massive building site so lots of the routes were temporary which apparently causes short term chaos each time a section is rerouted but the hordes soon settle down to the new pattern.

Utrecht cycling traffic congestion

But this redevelopment will also create the jewel in the crown of Utrecht cycle parking. Part of it is the new city hall with all the civic functions in one modern building. And below the building is a pyramid of sorts, a ziggurat of concrete steps. And inside it will be the world’s biggest bicycle park. 30,000 bicycles moved to one location.

New undergroup cycle store Utrecht

It is something I really look forward to seeing. I often tell city officials – “Whatever number of cycle parking places you think you need – double it”. Now I have seen Utrecht I suspect even 30,000 places may not be enough here. Because when I see this number of bicycles in one place I realise the extraordinary role cycling plays in this city.

However I have just one sneaking thought. Wouldn’t it be amazing to keep those bikes up on the surface as an extraordinary symbol of cycling? Possibly not if you are a city manager, but I felt privileged to see Utrecht’s sea of bicycles in such a prominent position before they disappear underground. I hope this post gives you a taste before they bury it!

I have acquired a Flying Pigeon – icon of Chinese bicycles, the most numerous bike on the planet

Flying Pigeon PA-06

Flying Pigeon PA-06 chainguard

This week I finally collected the Flying Pigeon bicycle that has been waiting for me on a Brussels street since May of this year. The classic Chinese roadster, first built in 1950 and believed to be the biggest selling bike of all time and source of a precious memory.

It is a PA-06, the double top tube model, so really up market!


I wrote about my experiences of riding in China in this post published in January of this year. If you were not following my blog at the time then I encourage you to go and have a look, there is a link to a lovely film by China TV about the peak and decline of mass cycling in China.

Flying Pigeon bicycle in BelgiumAt the bottom of that post I mentioned that my colleague Julian had a Flying Pigeon in Brussels. Well he upped ship and returned to Australia and I quickly put myself forward to become the custodian of the Pigeon because it was not going with him.  I should pretend I really don’t know why I wanted it or why I am going to love it. It is a pig to ride because the long extended fork rake gives it an awful turning circle, it has no gears, it weighs a ton and rod brakes on steel rims were never the best braking solution.

But that is the point. It is as strong as anything, built to carry loads and people and to get the job done, not for fancy Dan shimmying all over the road and certainly not for weaving around cars. And it is wonderfully and distinctively a Chinese bike, just as much a utilitarian dream machine as the upright Dutch black bike or a Brompton. If nothing else I will have it for special events and occasions as a talking point.

It also takes me back to another of my Chinese experiences in 1985. We were in Shanghai sightseeing when we arrived outside the legendary Shanghai Number 1 Department Store. I am no shopper but an early Lonely Planet guide said it had to been seen for the huge variety of Chinese products. We were allowed in because we were tourists but only higher cadres of Communist Party members and public officials were allowed to shop there, many Chinese were being turned away at the door.

As we left we were approached cautiously by a young Chinese man who spoke to us in perfect American accented English. He asked if we would be willing to go into the store and buy a bicycle. He explained “I live in America and I have come back to visit my father. What he really wants is a bicycle. I have the money but the store won’t let me in because I am Chinese. They will let you in, I can give you the money.” We were absolutely thrown by this. He seemed genuine but we were very wary of being trapped by some sort of scam that would see us in trouble. This was very much the beginning of the opening of China to Westerners and we had already had some odd experiences, we certainly didn’t want another.

If I look back now I realise that this young man must have had some sort of second sight. He could have asked us for any other item of the thousands in Department Store Number 1 and we would have walked away. But let Geoff and Kevin Mayne look on the face of an old Chinese man who has dreamed of a bicycle and we were never going to say no. The deal was done and a Flying Pigeon was passed out the door to the welcoming smiles. You never forget your first bicycle, nor the gift of a first bike.

Unfortunately there is a catch with our Brussels Flying Pigeon. The only way to hand over the bike when Julian left was to leave it locked to a signpost by a friend at a pre-determined spot in Brussels, some miles from our office or a convenient station. However these bikes can be a bit of a handful to maintain if you have never come across old school features like rod brakes and I was told it wasn’t really rideable by that point so I couldn’t just go and ride it to a station and then home. And thus it sat on the street for five months, a real test of its indestructible reputation.

Last weekend I had some things to collect which meant I reluctantly took a car into Brussels and the Pigeon finally made it on to a roof rack to be shipped out to Lasne. Sorry Julian.

Flying Pigeon bicycle in BelgiumIt is a testament to the paint job on these bikes that the frame has remained in excellent condition, however unfortunately that can’t be said for the accessories which have taken on a rusty hue and are certainly going to need some rubbing down and some judicious restructuring or replacement of that rear wheel.

However it is now safe in a dry barn with my other bikes and it is going to give me hours of pleasure when I finally get round to polishing it up.

Look out for a wobbly Englishman on a Flying Pigeon on the streets of Brussels sometime next year, maybe after I finish restoring my Freddie Grubb fixie.

More about Flying Pigeons on Wikipedia here

Tour du Monde – unique historic bike exhibition in Vienna’s MAK design museum


Bob Jackson Super Legend

There are many special events in Vienna to celebrate its year of the bicycle.

Opening to coincide with our Velo-city conference two weeks ago was Tour du Monde, an exhibition at MAK, Vienna’s design museum.

It features the amazing bike collection of Viennese architect Michael Embacher which is normally kept privately but includes some of cycling’s design classics and some quite rare pieces.

We called in for the formal opening on the night of the mass bike ride at Velo-city (the Radcorso – story here). As even the German speakers told me the speeches were pretty dull I was glad I skipped them to take a wander round the collection.

Raleigh Roadster Chrome Export model

I am not really a bike technology buff but I really appreciate some of the classics and it was good to see them displayed well. They were hung as art from the ceiling and lit from above but the nice touch was that they were hung in sweeping curved lines which gave a nice feeling of movement in a static display. Almost like an aerial peloton perhaps.

Bates Flying Gate 1947Each bike had a short history on the wall too which brought them to life.

Embacher certainly has an eye for some interesting pieces, including famous racing machines and good old British steel. The post war Raleigh Roadster special edition export bike in chrome was pretty special, as was the Bob Jackson Super Legend with curly stays. (both above)

Gitane Enfant 1982

One I particularly enjoyed was the Gitane Enfant special edition road bike from the early 80s. I remember seeing them in magazines at the time, I was too old to have something that small but I remember thinking how cool it would have been to have been a French kid with a bike like that. Looking at it hanging in the exhibit it took me a moment to work out what I was seeing, it was this odd looking thing, but then it is clearer that it is a small bike with adult parts, more obvious when it was seen with its big brother beside it.

Gitane cycles Embacher collection

The exhibition is on until October – if you like vintage bikes or just good design it is well worth a visit and it is a rarely seen collection. Details here.

Another one of those diversions for the cycle tourist travelling Eurovelo 6 along the Danube this summer perhaps. To tempt you or if you cannot make it Embacher’s collection of over 200 cycles can be found here

Discount if you arrive at the MAK by bike too!