no, i absolutely had NOT planned to write about ‘cycling’ this week after last week’s ‘re-cycling’. it’s just that looking back at my week and also the pictures i took this week ‘cycling’ simply comes up as a big theme. ‘cycling’ as in moving around on a pedal bike is what i do extensively in london (about 3,000 miles per year), and it’s been a bit of a relief to read in the guardian this week about other people that consider this to be fairly normal – e.g. Denmark’s ambassador to the UK who’s quoted saying ‘for many Danes, cycling is a completely normal thing to do on a par with walking or brushing your teeth‘. also to my relief the same guardian article essentially condemns the UK for it’s very poor cycling appeal in terms of infra-structure as much as lack of bike-lobby and bike-friendly culture. the result are some incredible figures: ‘just 2.2% of people [in the UK] use their bike as their main means of transport, lower than all but a few EU countries including Bulgaria, Malta and Cyprus … about 2% of British children ride to school compared with 40% in Denmark‘ and adding ever more relief that article reveals that ‘almost 3/4 of British cyclists are men, speaking macho, gung-ho cycle culture where riders mix it with speeding cars, buses and trucks‘.
maybe this explains some of my recent experiences: being hooted at by a car-driver behind me when i stopped at a zebra-crossing that a pedestrian was just getting ready to cross definitely got me very, very cross. but even worse was this Monday gone when i made my way through some icy and slushy side streets and had to cycle slowly i the middle of the road to avoid the most slippery parts. a van drove up behind me and before i even had a chance to move the driver was already hooting at me – the only way i could move to the side was by getting off my bike and pushing it to the side (even that was still slippery), an effort that the driver rewarded by showing me his finger.
i know that there are some people out there that simply hate cyclists – no matter whether snow, ice, rain or sun shine. i also know that there are cyclists out there that do everything to add to that hatred by jumping red lights or cutting off cyclists/pedestrians/drivers. and yes i do know that i also do make mistakes when i’m preoccupied with stuff and aware enough. but at least i hope that i adhere to basic standards of fairness and equality on the roads!?!
hopefully there’s some truth in that very guardian article which is essentially all about cycling advocates hoping for a Government’s commitment to try and mainstream cycling more in order to catch up with europe… and hopefully that can eventually lead to less fatal accidents on my local streets like the infamous bow round-about (on the picture below it’s been transformed by the snow into a magic chocolate-cake-with-icing-like winter scenery from it’s usually grim industrial look). and hopefully that all means that with all my cycling obsessions i’m quite normal after all…