Cycling Satire

The usual winter illnesses, dark nights, no time and a host of different things have led to me not cycling at all for a while. Every excuse possible really. No matter.

I follow Tim Beadle on Twitter  http://twitter.com/t1mmyb a local cyclist and a bit of an activist, he also has a blog here http://www.timandkathy.co.uk/journal/ he recently tweeted a link to traffic and transport psychologist Ian Walker’s blog. I’m sure if you’re a UK cyclist you’ve seen or heard about Ian’s work at some point – he produced the very enlightening and thought provoking 2007 study on drivers overtaking cyclists that was widely reported on.

Dr Ian Walker, photo: University of Bath

Dr Ian’s blog is full of very interesting material for cyclists who ride on the UKs roads, but at the time of typing, his last post (dated 22nd October) is causing me mirth. I’m sure that you have seen plenty of vitriol in the mainstream press towards cyclists – mostly from car drivers – at first I used to get angry at the sub-clarkesonesque rantings calling for piano wire to be strung across cycle paths, or gleefully imagining a ‘lycra-lout’ bouncing off the bonnet of the columnists BMW. But now they are trotted out so regularly that their power to shock and annoy has diminished. Dr Ian has produced a marvelous and wicked piece called Why I hate pedestrians. Sample quotes:

“The thing is, it’s not just that pedestrians are all smug and annoying when they bang on about “health” and “pollution”. ”

“…have you noticed that even though pedestrians walk millions of miles on our road system every single day, they contribute nothing at all to the cost of that road system? ”

Read the whole thing and enjoy.

Published in: on December 16, 2009 at 10:59 am  Comments (3)  
Tags: , , , , , ,

In a Cycling Utopia, pedestrians and cyclists get on just fine (and you can cycle on water)

At the beginning of September, Lucy and I spent a long weekend at our local Center Parcs (Longleat). It’s like living in some sort of cycling utopia! A forest environment, a mere handful of vehicles on the road, masses of bikes, loads of bicycle parking, special bike trails and paths.

If you read the popular press these days, you will learn that cyclists are a menace in pedestrianised areas, that they don’t use their bells, that they cycle too close to people, that they cycle too fast, that they appear out of nowhere. If you unquestioningly take the opinion pages of the papers as gospel truth, you may well believe that it’s a wonder that there aren’t horrific casualties every single day that pedestrians and cyclists go near each other, I guess it’s a miracle that there are only a handful of cyclist on pedestrian deaths/serious injuries every year. We must have been VERY LUCKY to get away with it!

What’s curious about Center Parcs is that cyclists and pedestrians mix completely and thoroughly, yet I heard not one bad word exchanged betwixt the two camps. Even though cyclists were weaving through pedestrians strung out over the routes. Even though there were queues to get through gates. Even though at various times cyclists and pedestrians would have to give way to one another in an environment that was not heavily regulated. The difference is in the expectation, you come to Center Parcs knowing full well that there will be shared-use paths with bikes. There are few clear definitions like ‘pavement’ and ‘road’, so somehow cyclists are prepared to meet with pedestrians and vise-versa.

It rained a lot on the first day, which I actually found quite pleasant in the forest. I was reminded of my favourite sequence in the film My Neighbor Totoro, where the Totoro is delighted by the sound of the rain dripping from the trees onto his borrowed umbrella. To live amongst trees is a special thing indeed.


Some pics:

Lucy took her Diamondback MTB and I took my Brompton, but when it comes to being on the water, you need a specialist machine:

Keep one in the garage for when the floods come

Keep one in the garage for when the floods come

It was a surprisingly smooth ride – moving downwind anyway.