Saturday 16 March 2013

Summoned to Cycling

My new bicycle
Workhorse, but so, so slow.

Remember the Summer of Cycling? Ever wondered what became of that initiative? It died. It died the same slow and marginalised quiet painful death that cycling has been condemned to by the UK Government since the rise of the motorcar.

Why folks didn't participate? It solely relied on the strategy of "talking people into cycling" (or as government puts it "encouraging" people to cycle) - yet pedal folks deep down know that cycling really kinda is a niche / specialised activity under the current conditions - something you do not necessarily wish onto anyone else.

I sometimes wonder to myself: "What is it? Why do I cycle...?" And I honestly don't quite know the answer to that. It's possibly complex, and maybe it has something to do with certain kind of attitude and personality
... not minding being different and standing out in a crowd, resistant to aggression and anger from others, fighting spirit, sensing independence and freedom (all in line with Aquarian airy-fairy tendencies)
... a feeling of injustice and discrimination and that it ought to be different (I know it can be, German origin)
... I am not someone to give up easily (hence campaigning for better conditions for cyclists)
It feels like it's got less to do with enjoyment, fun, fitness, health, being green, bla bla.

I do have the feeling that the older I get it'll be less and less likely to continue - unless clear space is made for cycling providing some form of protection and shelter. This would mean I would not have to pedal my heart-and-soul out every time there's a driver behind me nudging my rear mudgards, revving engine, impatient, aggressive, eager to pass to shave a whole three vital seconds off their very important journey to the local corner shop.
It's what's expected of you as a cyclist: you have to look exhausted so the driver knows that you've tried to save them some time.
So maybe ultimately my age comes into the whole (sub-conscious) decision-making process.

Only recently I ditched the nippy hybrid for the heavy workhorse. Better grip on icy roads. Drawback? It's so, so slow. Yet it's probably more akin to a typical cheap Continental bicycle. A bike for the masses (only that the masses don't cycle in the UK). I hoped drivers would understand it's not possible to cycle fast with that kind of bike. So I made the deliberate decision not to go through the tiring demonstration of "pedal my heart-and-soul out" (or I would have died of a heart attack anyways).
As a result drivers were furious that I seemingly did not obey the ritual of exhausting myself to save them some time on their most important journey to the local corner shop.
So... sharing the fast and furious road? The feasibility of this undertaking is a myth - conveniently created and perpetuated by the autolobby who know people are scared back into their cars. Just like the Summer of Cycling predictably withered away in front of our eyes. A maggot-ridden carcass left lying by the road side. Unclaimed. Unreported.

1 comment:

  1. Its like here in Southend, just a short distance away from the mountain bike course used in the olympics. Its only now is there any talk of cycle paths to and from the venue. Even then it might not happen.
    If the government was real about wanting people a healthy lifestyle these things wouldnt need a 50/60 year event to the UK to make them happen.
    Cycling for all in the UK will never happen.