Archive for the ‘Sports and leisure’ Category

How not to install a cycle hire stand

30 Jul

Meadow Road cycle hire rank Although I’ve got my own bike, I’m still a great fan of the cycle hire scheme and welcome it being rolled out into local communities.  However, even I was taken aback by the scale of planning incompetence shown by this one in Meadow Road. Don’t they ever consult with local people? They have managed to locate this cycle hire stand at the junction of three blind corners. To see what I mean, check out Google street view here

As if that wasn’t bad enough, users would have to stand in the middle of the road when taking and removing the cycles. Talk about an accident waiting to happen.  On the off chance that users manage to avoid being hit by cars coming out of the Ashmole Estate or travelling along Claylands and Meadow Roads then they still have street robbers to contend with.  There have been a number of robberies in this area and the presence of the cycle rank at this particular location is asking for trouble.


FixToRide event at Kennington Skatepark

27 May

For the first time ever, I took more than 1,000 photos in a day.  The Kennington Skatepark has recently been upgraded and the Friends of Kennington Park helped arrange an event to celebrate its’ re-opening.  The work hasn’t been finished yet as the bowl still needs to be painted blue but it was ready for competition.  The event sponsors/organisers were Converse and what a superb job they did.  Some selected photos can be seen here a few of whihc are shown below.

It’s difficult to assess what the local benefit of a skatepark is but I was most impressed with the behaviour of the young skateboarders. Falls and evasive action were common but whatever the incident everyone seemed to come out smiling and helping one another.  Some people criticise young people for…being young really.  If this group were anything to go  by, skateboarding encourages young people to behave well.  Young people need to take risks – it’s part of growing up – and a dedicated skatepark seems just what they need.


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Posted in Local events, Parks and green spaces, Sports and leisure


Public service threatened

09 Mar

Last year the neighbourhood had a welcome addition to local shops –Balfes Bikes.  This is the one and only local cycle shop and I’m sure the local community and passing cyclists will support it.

Anyone who cycles in London knows that good cycle shops like Balfes offer a free public service.  They have a decent bicycle pump outside so that cyclists can fix the inevitable punctures.  This service is free and helps improve public safety. It would be extremely unhelpful if council officials threaten such a public service.

An article has just appeared in South London Press about the issue and I have every confidence that this important service to the public will continue unhindered by overealous interpreation of ‘rules’.

Incidentally, the immediate environs of Kennington Cross have some 100 items of street furniture (bollards, street lamps, traffic lights, signs etc.).  I’m sure there is room for one bicycle pump.




Brockwell Lido -early swimmers kept waiting

09 Oct
Swimmers waiting for Brockwell Lido to open

Swimmers waiting for Brockwell Lido to open

Brockwell Lido waiting for lifeguards

Brockwell Lido waiting for lifeguards

It was pumping down with rain this morning so I was looking forward to taking a picture of early morning swimmers swimming in the rain – could have used some really bad jokes around singing in the rain but my plans were foiled. The lido hadn’t opened because the lifeguards hadn’t turned up. Never mind. I had a good chat with these early morning swimmers and we got in eventually -20 minutes late.

I broke my season record for 1500m with 26m 20s so all wasn’t lost. The world record, which is under 15 minutes, is not under threat from me just at the moment.

I hear that Lambeth are planning to charge for parking in the lido car park. Let’s hope they put back ALL of the money they earn from this back into the lido. Alternatively, they can put it towards a new swimming pool in the Kennington Oval Vauxhall area to make up for the Kennington Park Lido that closed years ago.


Our nearest 50m swimming pool

18 Sep
Brockwell Park Lido

Brockwell Park Lido

I haven’t been to Brockwell Park Lido  (also see BPL user group website) for some years but as it is the nearest public 50 metre pool to the neighbourhood I thought I’d give it another try.  The Grade II listed Art Deco pool is still there but now there are adjacent gym facilities, a health suite and hyrdrotherapy pool.  The cafe wasn’t open for early birds like me but it looked good from the outside.

The pool seemed fairly quiet with less than 10 swimmers but at least it had lane ropes (Perhaps they don’t make ropes long enough for the 100 yard Tooting Bec Lido).  Brockwell Park Lido is due to close in October for the winter.  No doubt some hardy souls would want the pool to stay open all year round.  Tooting Bec Lido managed the feat so it is possible.   Perhaps Lambeth (or Wandsworth) will use some of that money from the VNEB OA developments to provide a decent local swimming pool.

PS I don’t normally offer management advice but will make an exception here

(1) It is not a good idea for staff to be told off in front of members of the public. 
(2) Both websites advertised opening time on Sundays as 7:30 but the pool staff didn’t let anyone in until 8:00.  Someone has  got it wrong.



Our nearest cinema

16 Sep
Brixton Ritzy

Brixton Ritzy

Brixton is our nearest local cinema unless developers get around to building the proposed one at Vauxhall (don’t hold your breath though- it might go the way of the linear walkway) . Tonight I went to see Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy at the Brixton Ritzy.  It makes a change seeing the fictional variety of spies -most days I pass the real thing -the SIS (aka MI6) building near Vauxhall Bridge.  I was pleasantly surprised to see one of our more famous local residents, Toby Jones, at the cinema -not in the seats but on the screen in a strong supporting role.

[If you happen to read this, congratulations -excellent performance]

Every time I visit Brixton reminds of the similarities and stark differences between there and the Oval.  Both have an underground station.  Both have one of the four Waterloo churches.  They even share the same A road.  One however has a thriving  commercial area with a busy night life the other does not.  My pet theory for this is that the commercail areas are too spread out between Brixton and Clapham Roads and are only one side of the road.


‘Local’ track cycling – Herne Hill Velodrome

11 Sep

Herne Hill Velodrome re-opened today having recently been resurfaced.  It’s not exactly local but traffic lights always seem to be conspiring to slow me at every junction so I wanted to check out a very different cycling experience.  Today was the Dave Creasy Memorial Meeting so there was plenty of racing to see and stalls to buy bike parts from.

In case you want to try cycling at the velodrome, keep in mind that you can’t use ordinary road bikes because it is unsafe.  Bikes have to be of the fixed wheel/gear variety.  The reason should be obvious.  If a large group of cyclists were travelling fast and close (see picture) it would take just one breaking hard to cause a serious accident.  Safety is paramount so everyone using the track has to undergo an induction course which takes place on saturdays.  The bank looks awfully steep when you see it up close.  Still, it’s easier to cycle along the track rather than up a 30 degree gradient!

The velodrome is older than you might think.  It dates from the 1890s but became famous when it was used for the 1948 London Olympics.  It was almost lost to the public but reopened in 2005 and seems safe for now.



Bike versus the underground and DLR

31 Jul
My bicycle

My bicycle

Having risen to the challenge posed by the Northern Line Extension claim that it would take some 15 minutues to get to the City, I couldn’t resist another real world challenge.  Having been at the London Triathlon in the Excel building (near Prince Regent Station on the Docklands Light Railway), I thought I would give the family a race back.

It took me 50 minutues by bike from the Excel building to home near the Oval arriving at nearly the same time as my family that took the train.  Keeping in mind that I had just completed a triathlon, took the scenic route back, was held up in traffic, stopped at every red light one can only conclude that the bike, yet again  compares very favourably with, in this case the Northern Line, Jubilee Line and Docklands Light Railway.


LondonTriathlon day

31 Jul
London Triathlon bikes

London Triathlon bikes

London Triathlon bikes 2

London Triathlon bikes 2

A few months ago, I set out to do as much triathlon training locally as possible. There are no local cyling velodromes or running tracks but its easy to make do if you don’t mind taking the risk of running the gauntlet of local traffic. Swimming is another matter-with nothing local since Kennington Park Lido shut down. Come on Lambeth, lets have a decent local swimming pool.

The swim went well against the backdrop of City airport -palnes taking off when your swimming is a bit disconcerting until you realise. Anyway, in case you were wondering what about 7,000 bikes in one place looks like here are some images of the transition area where competitors store their bikes. Having invested in some allegedly puncture proof tyres and correctly inflated my tyres I still managed to get a puncture during the cycling. Next time I’ll invest on one of those foam repairs as it is I had to change the tube. Needless to say, it was the back wheel so I got covered in grease. I don’t have any statistics on which borough has the best roads from a cyclist point of view but a colleague claims he regulalry gets punctures around the Vauxhall gyratory near the RVT.

It’s a pity Lambeth don’t put on a few more sporting events locally-it doesn’t have to be a massive event like the London Triathlon but surely something could be done.


‘Local’ hill training

10 Jul

Three weeks to go to to the London Triathlon and my efforts at ‘local’ training continue. I thought I’d try some hill running next. The best the neighbourhood has to offer is probably Vauxhall and Lambeth Bridges. Brockwell Park and Streatham Common are possibilities but I wanted something more challenging. Luckily there is a massive hill just off Stane Street – the ancient Roman road that passes by the Oval. That hill is Box hill -some 19 miles away. (Ok, so I was just having a weekend away with the Mrs and was checking out the area as there will be an Olympic event there). There was some very serious cycling training going on …not sure what Olympic event the guys below were training for but they were fast!

Cyclists near Box Hill

Cyclists near Box Hill