Tag Archives: The Guardian

Capturing Cardiff with an OYBike

This week, journalists from all over the world have joined forces for the UN Climate Summit in Copenhagen. On Monday, over 56 newspapers across the world ran identical front-page editorials calling for action. Hopes of a deal remain high in Copenhagen as the talks open, but whether delegates from the 192 countries represented can agree on how to cut green house gases, as easily as the newspapers decided on a headline, remains to be seen.

Bicycles are everywhere in Copenhagen and they have become an iconic part of the capital of Denmark; 37% of Copenhagen’s inhabitants cycle to work, and to get to and from the Climate Change Conference, world leaders and journalists alike have been encouraged to ‘go local’ and use the free bike scheme. As well as being environmentally friendly, it is considered chic.

Copenhagen, and other European cities, such as Paris and Barcelona, have had a bicycle hire scheme running for some time and at the end of September, Cardiff joined these cities with its own, OYBike.

“OYBike has been operating ‘under the radar’ in London for some years, ahead of its time in many ways. It’s robust; and tried and tested” said Carlton Reid, Editor of BikeBiz in a carefully chosen 140 character quote.

Launched on 22 September as part of the Walking and Cycling Conference, the Cardiff Smart Bike scheme, run by OYBike and sponsored by Cardiff County Council and the Welsh Assembly Government, hopes to encourage people in Cardiff to get out and about the Welsh capital in a sustainable way.

Joining Reading, Farnborough and London –  the OYBike system allows you to hire and return a bicycle via your mobile phone. There are 70 recognisable bicycles that are available from 10 pick up locations across the Cardiff and they can be dropped off at any of the battery powered rental stations after a quick jaunt.

The map below shows the 10 pick-up locations of the OYBikes in Cardiff:

Councillor Delme Bowen, Executive member for Traffic and Transportation said, “Cycling is a brilliant way to get around Cardiff. We have a number of good routes in the city, and I am confident that this scheme will prove to be very popular.”

Since its inception in September, 213 people have hired an OYBike. Far from being chic, not many people have seen, or even heard of the these two-wheeled delights.

One blustery, rainy Sunday afternoon in Cardiff, I thought it would be a good idea to try them out. I failed at the first hurdle. Being a thoroughly prepared journalist, I hadn’t done my research properly. You have to sign up online first.

Off I trudged home with wet trousers and frizzy hair to get involved. At least I managed to take a lovely photo of the clunky yellow and green bicycles, adorned with practical basket beauties so I could spot them easily the next time.

OYBikes at City Hall, Cardiff

Hire me:

  • To hire an OYBike you have to fill out a registration form online and then choose a subscription. For £18 a year, or £5 a week you can use the OYBikes and not worry about thieves stealing your ride. Apparently, they don’t appeal to the light fingered friend.
  • Head back into Cardiff and hire one out.
  • Switch on the rental unit
  • Select “Rent a bike”
  • Call the number displayed on the screen
  • Press the lock number of the bike you want to hire and cycle away.
  • Remember the first 30 minutes are FREE!
  • To return the bikes, press the “return bike” button, plug the cable back in and confirm the bike is secure.

It's not rocket science, it's a rental unit

Jenny Randerson, Liberal Democrat Assembly Member hopes the scheme is a success, “I think the scheme is great. Although the Cardiff scheme is a small one so far, there is scope to develop it into something really big. I see them as an important part of Cardiff’s designation as a sustainable travel city.”

Cardiff County Council and the Welsh Assembly Government hope that this starter scheme will encourage more people to take up cycling in the city and therefore, cut down on unnecessary journeys in the car.

Jane Lorimer, Deputy Director of Sustrans Cymru said, “Evidence from other schemes shows that schemes like this can be very useful in giving non-regular cyclists their first taste of being on two wheels, which then leads to them cycling more regularly.”

Once the dark, wet and wintry nights have passed and the scheme has been further developed to include more locations and more bikes, locals will become more aware of this sustainable method of transport.

As world leaders sit down to discuss the future of our world in Copenhagen, let us learn from the city of bicycles and make OYBikes an iconic part of Cardiff. We will soon see what else we can learn from Copenhagen.

“When I see an adult on a bicycle, I do not despair for the future of the human race” – H.G.Wells

On yer bike then..

The message is clear Cardiff: “On yer bike.”

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Related Links:

  • Join my Facebook group and share your stories and comments about the OYBike.
  • If you are new to cycling, a good place to start is by visiting The UK’s National Cyclists’ Organisation
  • Make sure you get a helmet before hiring out an OYBike, and a bigger bag to put it in.
  • Share your routes and find some new ones.
  • If you don’t fancy hiring a bike over the winter, another great way of travelling sustainably in Cardiff is car sharing. Helen Glaberson mentions this on her blog.
  • But if you still want to drive, try not to do this.


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a historic moment for social media?

This week I made a garguantuan error.  I failed to engage with the conversation.  When I was given this assignment I had already commented on the Trafigura case in my first blog post on October 13th, but as I watched it develop, I let it develop without me.  I watched it passively, rather than actively engaging with the topic.  Oh dear – bad move, smack my hand, it will never happen again.

Everyone knows what happened last week with The Guardian, law firm Carter Ruck, the Houses of Parliament, MP Paul Farrelly, an oil company named Trafigura and Twitter.  If you don’t, you’re a week late – but you can read a brief synopsis here and here.  You can view the question posed by Paul Ferrelly to the Justice Secretary, Jack Straw here.  You can view the Minton Report. You can view the annotated super-injunction here.

If you would prefer a more visual presentation, you can watch this:

Or, you can follow the sequence of last week’s events on One Man and His Blog. Adam Tinworth lays it out quite nicely:

Here’s the rough sequence of events:

But, hang on a minute, hold the phone, stop tweeting – I thought this was a gagging order preventing anyone from speaking or even dreaming about the hush hush, cannot mention case involving, who? What did you say? Did you say TRAFIGURA?

Last week, bloggers and tweeters in their pyjamas – luckily for me, I am still dressed – refused to listen to judges in the High Court and exploded the unmentionable all over the net.  People who had never heard of the alleged illegal toxic dumping carried out by Trafigura off the coast of Cote d’Ivoire, Western Africa were now on the edge of their TweetDeck’s wanting to know more.

This handy little video was uploaded to YouTube from a website called TrendsMap.  Trendsmap is a relatively new mashup, which maps real-time local Twitter trends onto Google Maps.  On October 13th, at the very heart of the debate we can see visually  just how many people in Western Europe and all over the world, were talking about the Trafigura case. That wasn’t quite the point.  By imposing a super-injunction preventing The Guardian from reporting Parliamentary questions Carter Ruck fantastically shot themselves in the foot.

Now that people from all over the world can talk to one another at the click of a button, messages can spread faster than ever.  Mobs can be rallied; causes can be fought for.  What journalists at The Guardian could not talk about for threat of imprisonment or massive fines, Tweeters demanded to know what was being said.

Tweeters have had their meat this week; first big dirty businesses, then Jan Moir.  As I was researching these articles, Twitter, naturally led me to a very interesting article on Impact Media’s SEO Blog. I felt that this quote summed up the importance of social media:

“Suddenly the general public has moved seamlessly from quiet observer to judge, jury and executioner; their platform is no longer a mild-mannered letter to the editor, it’s digital, it’s real-time, it’s social media.”

Rightfully so,  Jan Moir was hung, drawn and quartered on Twitter and in the public eye this week.  A whirlwind of information was sent round Twitter, people rallied round the cause, flew their flags and complained to the Press Complaints Commission in their thousands.  22,000 complaints later and those that did not see the importance of social media in journalism are now waking up to the errors of their ways.  For Carter Ruck and Jan Moir this may be too little, too late.

What I find interesting is the different ways that media outlets have reigned in the power of social media.  On the one hand, you have The Guardian who have trained tweeters to do the hard work for them; they have found a loyal voice that can spread across the world in an instant.

Then there are those that lag behind, such as The Daily Mail and dearest Jan. Told to set up a Twitter account in order to rectify the uncontrollable situation, Jan Moir did her best to calm the crowds.  What began as a thoughtless, inappropriate article approved by her editor, escalated into a widespread controversial issue fuelled by Twitter.  Jan was left begging for forgiveness from her audience that now have the perfect platform in which to voice their disgust.

It has been made abundantly clear this week the power that social media can have.  Journalists need to learn how to use its power and engage with it; not ignore it or let it idly pass them by.

The mob have a voice now and they will be heard…

For a bit more reading on this subject, go to –


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got it covered

As the bible once said “In the beginning was the word..”, but no wait, you haven’t stumbled across a religious blog.  Oh no, this is the beginning of my new blog.  My word?!  The birth of a new blog is about as close to a child as I might get for a while.  Perhaps it should be a test, like when people keep plants before being allowed a pet. Oh god this has started all wrong.  Now I’m religious and I want to have a baby. All preconceptions of a 24-year-old journalism student have gone out the window. Whoosh..

Back to the real world, I have successfully whiled away two hours trying to make my blog look pretty. Dissatisfied and no further along I thought it might do me some good to start writing.  I always think that the first blog post is the worst, it is like introducing a novel when you don’t really have a plan.  What will encourage people to read this blog over a million others, apart from becoming an absolute whizz at search engine optimisation?

In September, I started at Cardiff School of Journalism and since then I feel overtaken by all things new.  Mainly, work.  After graduating a few years ago and floating my way through very easy jobs, not to mention throwing myself off canyons, out of aeroplanes and sunning myself on Indonesian beaches for three months I now have to work.  Every night.  Far from being a chore, I am enjoying every second of it.  This blog however, has caused me to have a few sleepless nights.  That’s a small white lie, I sleep very well, but it has caused me to think…

Firstly, about the new world of the journalist.  The world that I will be entering, where our moves are tracked online, on air and on paper.  Will we be able to escape? Will we want to?  Today, was a momentous day where old and new media collided  – The Guardian was gagged, they were: “prevented from reporting parliamentary proceedings on legal grounds which appear to call into question privileges guaranteeing free speech established under the 1688 Bill of Right”.   How to untie its unlawful binds – Twitter!  Once The Guardian had published this article, people began talking about it, tweeting to one another and soon the injunction had reached so many people that the ban was lifted.

Alan Rusbridger tweeted at about midday: “Victory! #CarterRuck caves-in. No #Guardian court hearing. Media can now report Paul Farrelly’s PQ about #Trafigura. More soon on Guardian..”  and then shortly after, “Thanks to Twitter/all tweeters for fantastic support over past 16 hours! Great victory for free speech. #guardian #trafigura #carterRuck”

In breaking this story, both old and new journalism were working together.  The fortresses were broken down.  It is evident now more than ever, that those journalists who are unwilling to embrace new media as part of their job, will soon be a thing of the past.  But those that can tame it to their own advantage will sail out of this “Kafquesque” world and into the future of journalism.  Whatever that may hold.

So, what do we know?  We know that the future holds blogs and it now holds my blog.  This blog will follow me as I train to become a journalist.  There will be posts on readings, media-related fancies and things that catch my eye in the world of news and that I want to rant about.  Also, every week I will also be having a gander at a photo that I think would make a good front cover for a magazine.  Controversial, interesting or just plain pretty, it will be here in all its glory.  As the weeks go on and as I learn more about design I will try and create a magazine cover that I think sums up the weeks news –  a photographic diary all nicely packaged in the form of a blog.  Beautiful.

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