#ridethechange: Cycling with a Load to the UN Climate Change Conference in Glasgow.
05.11.2021 | People & Society
Through rain and floods and against all odds, Craig Boggon rode a cargo bike from London to Glasgow. As part of the #ridethechange campaign, he wanted to show politicians at the UN Climate Change Conference and everyone else out there: bikes have almost unlimited possibilities.
Craig, you have just cycled from London to Glasgow on a cargo bike – I bet you were soaked to the skin more than once?
Yeah, once in the north, the rain persisted for three days. There was even flooding around the lowlands of Scotland!
How long did the trip take altogether?
It took eight days and a total cycling of around 815 km. That doesn't include the cycling to people I met on the way and to accommodation. That was about 900 km.
You were part of a group of some 175 riders under the #ridethechange campaign who cycled to the COP26 climate conference. What was the idea behind that ride?
We wanted to spread the notion of what positive actions can come out of climate action to avert further catastrophe. Linking with charities "Possible" and "Do Nation" - ideas of car free megacities and bikes as a mode of change for society, physical and mental well-being. We wanted to engage with everyone on the ride to encourage their social networks to pledge and make small changes to their daily activities, such as leaving their car at home and riding their bike.
Where did you sleep at night?
I did have all of my camping gear in the cargo hold. But the wet weather and my desire for dry feet with decreasing temperature the further North we went called for the warmth of a roof and radiator from my host.
Who did you meet on the way?
Prior to the trip, I organised meetings with cargo bike companies and individuals to show what is possible with logistics, business and day to day cycling i.e. to school with kids instead of cars. A number of people helped put me up for the night, as the community is small and welcoming.
» I wanted to showcase to families and businesses what cargo bikes can do! «
Most of your fellow cyclists used roadbikes – why did you choose a cargo bike?
Unfortunately, cargo bikes are not very common in the UK. The NHS Trust (Newcastle upon Tyne) I work for has started using electric cargo bikes to transport samples between labs and for pharmaceutical home deliveries. I became fascinated that there were not more cargo bikes in cities and so I wanted to showcase to families and businesses what cargo bikes can do!
Can you tell us about your bike?
It was a Riese & Müller Load 75 which I borrowed from "Ride Electric". It had the Bosch Cargo Line motor, dual batteries, full suspension, NuVinci hub gear system, Supernova front and rear lights with brake lights (lots of positive comments about this!).
Any technical issues on the way?
The Load did not at all disappoint, I liked everything about it, a fantastic bike. It exceeded the accessibility of cargo bikes by far and the full suspension made it so easy to go off road! I had no worries over the capacity or durability of the components! A minor point to improve might be some bosses for bottle attachments to drink while cycling.
What were the biggest challenges on the way?
Along some paths there were either big steps where I had to customise ramps or narrow passages – the arch nemesis of cargo bikes and other adapted bike users! I either had to go around or lift the bike over with the help of colleagues.
How about battery charging?
A lot of people thought that the batteries were going to be the issue, but that was far from being the case! On Eco mode I was able to get 175-190km. With some of the hills I did switch it into Tour and Sport (particularly in Cumbria and around Glasgow) but I only had to charge the batteries each night just by taking them off the bike.
World leaders met about climate change in Glasgow. What‘s your message to them?
I want them to take this crisis as seriously as they did with COVID-19. I demand that they change national measures of GDP to measures of health and wellbeing. A parallel ride (#ridefortheirlives) brought a petition from the World Health Organisation and 45 million health care workers to highlight how the climate and health crisis are linked! The UK is not being a leader, they continue to pursue oil and gas, they have recently enabled domestic flights by reducing tax instead of supporting rail infrastructure. It's a struggle to get the bikes of any shape or size on a train!
And what is your message to the people? What can they do in their daily lives?
For people in daily life it's simple things, like ride don't drive, community car share schemes, grow your own food and eat seasonable, reduce meat consumption, definitely look into where your money is stored and move it to cooperative, ethical banks/pensions. And look at encouraging your local councils and communities to work on reducing climate impact.
You are also a triathlete and NHS physiotherapist – what is your take on the health benefits of cycling?
Oh, I 100% love it. It has the obvious physical benefits on respiratory and cardiovascular health but also mentally and socially the benefits are staggering and often overlooked. I always like to ask "How many times do car drivers wind down the windows to speak to the driver next to them at traffic lights?" On a bike, I regularly talk to people and communicate with them. Cycling also gives freedom to people who have not learned to drive.