This is a personal blog run by BicycleBen – the nom de plume for an independent cycle advocate living in Nuneaton, Warwickshire and cycling around the local area (see below) – with a focus on promoting and commenting on everyday cycling in a regular British town, but also looking further afield to nearby Coventry, the wider county of Warwickshire, Leicestershire and the broader UK.
Why Fiets? Well, it’s the Dutch word for the everyday, run-of-the-mill utility cycle. The Netherlands has an extensive high quality network that means choosing to ride there is easy and safe, without the need for additional equipment or special clothing, whatever the age, and whatever the ability. I want to see the same develop in the UK and so, their word for everyday cycling (as distinct from sporty cycling – wielrennen) feels very appropriate.
I returned to riding a bicycle in 2017, for the first time in about 15-20 years when I bought my Merida hybrid bicycle from a local bike shop. Being in a single car household with no desire to get a second car, the bike has become my primary method of local transport in and around Nuneaton, Warwickshire – and a great way to get out and about and keep fit through longer rides.
However, I do suffer from restricted movement in my right knee and this does make for an interesting pedaling experience whereby I need to remove the foot from the pedal at its apex. This means a little less power is available to me, so I don’t go in for cycling clubs, try for any meaningful speed records or anything competitive. I’m just a regular run-of-the-mill rider of a bicycle – although perhaps one day I might want to try slow cycle touring, and I do monitor my own personal stats on Strava. This is more for personal motivation – seeing distances get longer or personal average speeds get slightly higher is a nice encouragement on the fitness side of things.
A particular focus of mine today though is local and national infrastructure. I know how poor the UK is in general (excepting a few isolated examples of excellence) and also how good it could be when looking at Dutch infrastructure. With family connections to Holland, I see frequently just how prolific and easy cycling is there, and look to the country as a beacon for what infrastructure could and should look like here too. With that in mind, I am regularly writing to my MP and local politicians, looking for improvements to local infrastructure, both small and large – anything that can make cycling that little bit easier and more attractive.
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