Sustrans patron and noted designer Wayne Hemingway appears to be on a one-man mission to get the UK cycling. He has just launched a new folding bike, and a mini-bike shed, both aimed at encouraging more cycle commuting.
Hemingway has also been involved in a housing development in Gateshead, which limits car parking to one space per family, unlike many modern schemes which provide garages and two off-street spaces.
Residents of the Wimpey-built Staiths South Bank scheme are being urged to get on their bikes instead. There are 10 bikes available to people living on the estate, with each resident given a £57.50 Halfords voucher to buy reflective clothing and other safety equipment. Helmets are provided free of charge to anyone signing one of the bikes out.
Hemingway got involved in the Staiths scheme after writing an article in the Independent in 2001 criticising the "Wimpeyfication" of Britain. He particularly singled out the reign of the car on new housing estates, with acres of tarmac laid aside for parking. Rather than merely taking the criticism on the chin, George Wimpey threw down the gauntlet to Hemingway, challenging him to help build a cycling-friendly development. The result is reportedly the largest "home zone" in the country - where pedestrians, cyclists and drivers live in a low-carbon utopia.
Okay, maybe not, but they're getting there, and there's a waiting list for Staiths.
Speaking at the launch of the residents' bike scheme 'Cycling@Staiths', Hemingway said, "The whole idea of this development is that it's a one car per household development. You've only got one parking space."
Hemingway has also used his clout in partnership with Gateshead council and cycling charity Sustrans to wrangle a £50,000 grant from the Government for the reinstatement of an old cycle route along the Tyne river into Newcastle city centre. He sees it as all in a day's work for his company Hemingwaydesign, which aims to improve life through responsible 'social design'.
While we can't all live in Wayne's idea of paradise, he's been working hard to make it easier for people to cycle. He's just created a £100 folding bicycle which will sell through Halfords. And his new flat-pack shed for bike storage dubbed Shackup will soon be available at DIY chain B&Q. If that doesn't take your fancy, he's also designed a rather cheeky water butt, which frankly has to be seen to be believed.
The folding bike, named Road Runner, could be given away to residents of social housing schemes, says Hemingway.
As we reported recently, one Salisbury developer has got there first, giving away vouchers for free bikes and bus passes to people moving onto a new estate.