When I left the show was barely getting started but it was already promising well.
The road closure was a modest success with about twenty or thirty cyclists enjoying the freedom of the road. The only road that was actually closed – as far as I could see – was Upper Orwell St – and even so a bus suddenly lurched into view just as I pulled out! The normally pedestrianised section of Westgate St was also closed but not to pedestrians of course.
Many of the children present were enjoying circling round the track repeatedly. As Westgate Street filled up with Sunday morning shoppers you could see that the decision to close the road early (9 am to 10 am) was sensible, though a longer and more ambitious route that did not conflict with pedestrians would be great for next time – as would some better weather! After 10 am the focus changed to the try-out bikes and the other attractions.
There were loads of takers for the try-out bikes supplied by Get Cycling. Lots of children of all ages were enjoying having a go on a huge variety of human powered vehicles of all shapes and sizes. I had a go on the reclining bike and a folding bicycle – but came unstuck on the penny farthing type bike. The modern penny farthing is not enormous like its 19th Century predecessor but it has a fixed wheel arrangement that means you are both controlling the speed and steering with the large front wheel. I found it a bit disconcerting and suddenly became uncannily aware of how precious my teeth were!
I was impressed by how easy the reclining bike was to get going and manoeuvre. You could also see how it could be tippy if you cornered too fast. I was glad of the chance to try one but I cannot see myself going out to join the traffic on one. I can definitely empathise with insects on footpaths!
Get Cycling is a Community Interest Company which travels about the country to give people a taste of what is possible with bikes and other human powered vehicles (HPVs). Their pièce de résistance is an enormous great red octopus of a vehicle which can hurtle about the street carrying 7 pedallers. Their team of two – plus dozens of weird and wonderful bikes – did a great job engaging the interest of shoppers and cyclists alike.
We took some Transition Ipswich leaflets to the people from the road safety team – Suffolk Roadsafe and had a go on their reaction time tester which was fun. This device was something akin to those things at fun fairs where you have to mallet frogs or gremlins more and more quickly as they pop up. You are given a score which by itself seemed a bit meaningless – but we perhaps not concentrating properly by this time. Everything was widely spaced to allow peripheral vision to be tested. I also found it tested out joint and muscle flexibility… which was perhaps not what was intended.
There were other attractions which I did not get around to sampling. Someone was glorifying bikes with some kind of bike art – unfortunately I forgot to take a closer look. And the Green Bike Project was hiring bikes and selling them too. I heard afterwards that they had quite a successful day. The Green Bikes Project is based in Holywells park. They are organising the Giant Green Bike Ride on June 26th as part of IpArt. You can find out more about them on their Facebook page. I don’t think there is a website yet.
The First Ipswich Cycling Festival seemed to me to be a great success and I hope it will be repeated in coming years – as part of an overall push to make Ipswich and its surrounding areas far more cycling-friendly.