Friday, 15 April 2011

Host Profile: The Wissett Plough

The Wisett Plough The Street Wissett Nr. Halesworth Suffolk IP19 0JE

Debbie & Nick Sumner purchased the Wissett Plough in April 2007, first serving drinks and food. In April 2009 they opened a village shop at the rear of the pub stocking basic items and locally produced products. Food is availabe every weekday from 12 noon to 2 pm and 6 pm to 9 pm. On Saturdays and Sundays they serve food all day from 12 noon till 9 pm. There is also a take-away service for fish and chips and burgers and sausages.

Menu favourites are home cooked ham, scampi and chips with a choice of garden or mushy peas and beef and pork dishes from the award-winning Sotherton Farm. Fish is delivered fresh from Lowestoft. Other food and fruit and vegetables are all sourced locally. A daily specials board varies according to what is in season. 

Freshly ground coffee, tea and hot chocolate available throughout the day. 

Tel: 01986 872201

Host Profile: The Rumburgh Buck

Mill Rd, Rumburgh, Halesworth, Suffolk, IP19 0NT Tel:  01986 785257

The Rumburgh Buck is a 16th century village freehouse with a wealth of history. Approximately 3 miles west of Spexhall off the A144 between Halesworth and Bungay, and is a traditional pub serving excellent home-cooked food and superb ales in a very cosy atmosphere. Sympathetic and tasteful extensions and refurbishments have added a number of  interlinked areas around the historic core. This is one pub that has not forsaken the local community which it serves with folk evenings, quiz nights and other popular events. The Buck is listed in the Good  Beer Guides and is in CAMRA’s Regional Inventory of Historic Pub Interiors. It was also voted CAMRA’s Suffolk Pub of the Year 2007. It has been listed in the Good Beer Guide every year since 2004.

The bar is well stocked with a choice of local real ales from breweries such as Green Jack, Nethergate, Brandon, Grain and of course Adnams amongst others. Home cooked lunches and evening meals are served seven days a week from noon to -2 pm lunchtimes and 7-9 pm evenings.

The pub is home to many music sessions by groups such as Bodgers Mate, JY Kelly, Twisted Routes and Loose Marbles and once a month on the third sunday evening it holds an open music session called Rumfolk. The Buck is also very fortunate to be the home of Rumburgh Morris and The Old Glory Molly Dancers who both perform in the car park; Rumburgh Morris during the summer and Old Glory during the winter months.

Wednesday, 6 April 2011

Bristol Community Bike Workstations

Suffolk Bike Aid is very pleased to learn that long before us the city of Bristol set up a scheme a bit like our own which we weren't aware of before. However, if anyone wishes to compare the schemes, we would like to point out - as we have done elsewhere - how subtle differences can be crucial to this idea's effectiveness.

Their model appears to be that councils will provide something at public expense and administrate the allocation of it, with all the attendant costs, whereas Suffolk Bike Aid enables self-funded, inexpensive, independent and positively uncontrolled local provision.

In June 2008 Bristol was named the UK's first Cycling City with public investment of over £22 million to enable unprecedented levels of innovation, involvement and creativity in cycling.

Bristol and South Gloucestershire councils are leading on the Cycling City project, working with Bath & North East Somerset and North Somerset councils to promote cycling across the region.

The Cycling City project can provide portable workstations for use in communities across Bristol and they are inviting interested individuals and organisations to apply for them.

Applications from people living in communities where incomes are low and support for bike maintenance is poor are a priority.

The bike workstations contain a comprehensive set of bicycle tools, a bike stand and a track pump.

Naturally the council wants to ensure all this kit is well looked after and properly used.

They would also really like to see neighbourhood-based 'Bicycle Action Groups' who can champion cycling in their area and bring the bike workstations to community events or street parties.

On the other hand Suffolk Bike Aid anticipates that the inexpensive or practically free buy-in of our model means that businesses, small groups and kind individuals can provide Bike Aid stations immediately and so will declare themselves de-facto cycling champions of their building, street or village.

We don't mean to detract from Bristol's effort. It's a great idea to enable youth clubs or other groups to provide cycle maintenance or repair as an activity but for those who might compare Bike Aid to their scheme, we'd like to be fair to both sides to point out the differences as we don't see how that strategy can encourage cycling by reducing any reluctance to cycle because of the inconvenience of breakdowns although it has an important place in realising other outcomes.

Presently you can find the workstations in Bristol at:

Kingswood Foundation

Blenheim Scouts

Railway Path: Easton

Southmead Adventure Playground

The Bristol Bike Project

More info

Monday, 4 April 2011

Free's know-how

International bike blog Bike Radar reports that California State University Fresno has also recently installed two self-service bike repair stations on their campus. 

Judging from the pictures, these look identical to the Cambridge MA repair stations - but are painted a fetching red instead of zinc galvanised - so this is idea is evidently catching on, driven, I presume, by the bike stand's manufacturer.

Fresno's stations are located in front the University Student Union near the university dorms. These spots were chosen both for the security of being popular areas and because of the expected demand. If they're right, the university said it may install more stations in the future.

The school’s Alternative Transportation Fund paid for the program, according to Amy Armstrong, a public information officer with the California State University, Fresno Police Department.

“We plan on monitoring the use of the stations and expand the program if we see a high volume of use,” says Armstrong. “If this program increases the number of bikes on campus then it is definitely a success and worth the investment.”

Prior to the installation of the do-it-yourself repair stations, the only place on campus to repair a bicycle was in a shed in the plant operations agriculture yard. This shed was only open at times when a student was actually available to man it, so the two stations are already being seen as a bonus for students with bikes.

According to Bike Radar, these stations cost around $1000 each. 

Suffolk Bike Aid would like to inform anyone considering such a scheme in the UK that each of our Suffolk Bike Aid stations costs about £9, or $17 USD to purchase retail but zero cost if created by recycling old tools and a cardboard mailing tube.

I have spotted other models of 'free' bike repair stations on the web. This model (left) is found in Florida, USA.

However, a feature none of these stations appear to have is the provision of puncture repair tools and patches and glue. I find that omission surprising, considering these stands are supposed to be inspired by a scheme started on the MIT campus. Have America's brightest minds forgotten something?

These stations are ideal for a quick tune-up before or after a ride but they aren't going to get you out of trouble from the most common component failure on a bicycle; the vulnerability of the tyres to sharp objects like tacks, glass and cactus spines. Ideally, these stands would be outside a public place that could supply puncture kits, either for sale or pro-bono, on the Bike Aid model.

My issue with all the security measures built into these stands is that they are counter-productive to the ethos Suffolk Bike Aid aims to promote. If you say to someone "hey, this stuff is valuable" by chaining up something relatively trivial as a spanner, some people will feel challenged to steal it. 

Self-serve stations like this also don't give people a chance to interact; where human contract creates implicit trust, as well making it easier to identify any thief. Such opportunity for that human contact will lead to conversations and sharing of information, which then builds social capital. £1000 (as any price in dollars costs the same number of pounds in the UK) would buy a lot of spanners that the occasional jerk might pocket from a  Suffolk Bike Aid kit. But if those spanners were branded with a promotional message from a sponsor, the taking of them might even be encouraged.

Some entrepreneurs have tried to 'monetize' this evident demand for bike repair stations. 

A patent for a bike station and inner tube vending machine was filed with the US Patent Office in 2003 by one Richard Cofflet of Colorado. No evidence is found yet if one has actually got to market.

Sunday, 3 April 2011

Free Bike Repair Stations in Cambridge.... USA

Wired, the journal of high-tech innovation, reports that free bike repair stations have been installed by the city of Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Cambridge Transportation Program Manager Cara Seiderman said  “It’s a way of supporting and making it easier for people to bike".

The stands provide tire gauges and pumps, Allen wrenches and a few other tools that enable cyclists to adjust seats or handlebars.

Each station cost the city about $1,000 and Seiderman said the city got the idea from MIT which has already installed repair stations around its campus. No word on whether you get a puncture repair kit which is the most common problem cyclists encounter. If they remember to bring theirs, they usually remember to bring a few tools as well. According to a city press release, these stands are for fixing a low tire, a loose chain, or a wiggly handlebar.

I wonder why the city didn't consider the no-cost provision model of Suffolk Bike Aid rather than going to the expense and trouble to install fixed facilities but I thoroughly applaud this innovation. Perhaps the bike-friendly UK namesake will do so too? 

You can find the 'Fixit' stands on Google maps

View Bike FixIt Stand Locations in a larger map