Archive for August, 2009
Well actually our summer holiday. But it did enable me to get 250 miles in on quiet rolling roads. And Julia was also pleased with her training progress. We tried a section of route 26 on the National Cycle Network. A fabulous route which links Sherbourne and Dorchester, will one nasty climb out of the village of Halstock.
We will definitively be going back
At work we have introduced the Bike to Work Scheme. Great in principle, the scheme allows you to get a bike by sacrificing a lump of salary over 12 months. This avoids paying tax and NI on the salary component thereby saving a significant percentage.
Now I am all in favour of encouraging cycle commuting but….(this is becoming an oft repeated refrain I fear)…
a) We don’t have a single scheme to administer. We have two. Halfords have there own scheme so to give people a choice of where to buy their bike means two lots of contracting, two web interfaces, two passwords. Probably OK for a large organisation with a big HR function, but for a small company it is a pain.
b) The scheme is regressive. Higher rate tax payers can get the same bike cheaper than basic rate taxpayers. This can’t be right.
c) Buying a bike moves from a simple ‘I want that one’ decision into a process with quotes, vouchers and faffing around. It is not clear how long this process will last, but it is not immediate. We are in the second half of August, if someone wants to start cycling to work we should be facilitating this immediately.
The comparison with the car scrappage scheme is interesting. In the scrappage scheme, the discount is a flat £2000. The VAT on a bike at £1000 is £130 and then there is the import duty (which I commented on earlier) Why could we not just have coupons in the paper which you could take to any cycle shop and get a flat £200 off a bike. Maybe you would have to put your NI number on the coupon to prevent anyone claiming more than once. So much simpler.
So here’s a thing. A few days ago a college asked if she could borrow a bike. She was thinking of buying a bike to ride to work and wanted to borrow one to try it out.
Now this prompted a mix of emotions. I think the world would be a far better place if more people cycled to work (and fewer people got in their cars) so I was delighted she was prepared to give it a go. But did I want to lend one of my bikes, particularly as the loan request was specifically for the Tikit. The honest answer was no. It was a treasure, my precious and I wasn’t minded to lend it to someone who by her own admission was not used to riding a bike. What would I do if she damaged it….
After a bit of agonising I lent it …and she is riding it, loving it. Which is good. Am I just selfish?
With this question in mind I emailed the Bike Friday Yak Group (a mailing list). The answers spread over a range from ‘yes, of course’ to ‘No’ with a cluster around ‘Yes, but I would be hesitant’
As a hesitant lender, it makes me feel better to part of the cluster
Steve Unwin has posted a neat video of his preparations
I love the sound track!
There has been some discussion on the Bike Friday Yak list about the best way to fit the Tikit rear rack. I am not sure if this is the best way, but I found that in addition to the issue with the mudguard (fender) stay identified by other Tikit owners, I had a second barrier to mounting the rack caused by the disc brake mechanism.
Good and bad news.
Have finished the 150k version of Phil and Friends in under seven hours. Under seven hours! Six hours 58 minutes and 54 seconds to be precise. It was most strange, at one point I was 4th on the road. 4th! Now don’t get me wrong I know it isn’t a race and in fact most of the time I was worried I was going too fast and was going to blow up. Arriving at Edale Youth Hostel at 11.35 I stopped for coffee and beans and toast, and was swiftly back on the road, and then came Winnats…