10 April 2010

Mainstream Cycling Surge?

Vienna Puch
How strange. Three bits of borderline rationality in the media regarding cycling within a few days of each other. Are we - dare I say it - slowly moving towards a mainstream surge?

Firstly, Peter Walker at The Guardian backs (oddly) Tory leader David Cameron in this bit about the politician cycling without a helmet.

Then Lloyd Alter at Treehugger chimes in, citing Copenhagenize in his rational volte-face.

But the pearl is a brilliant piece by Janice Turner in The Times entitled Cycling Should be Dull, Not an Extreme Sport.

Be sure to read the whole thing, but here's a lovely bit:
Because elsewhere cyclists are just that: a random cross-section of humanity. Not a Lycra-clad male vanguard pumped with aggression and self-righteousness. In Europe’s top three cycling nations — Denmark, Germany and the Netherlands — timorous old people cycle, women as often as men, children bike off unaccompanied to school. Cycling is not a moral manifesto or a carbon offset. It does not require DayGlo or £500 alloy wheels or attitude. Cycling is, as it should be, banal. Because it is safe.

The day when the cycling sub-cultures in emerging bicycle nations become 'people who cycle differently than the majority' instead of merely being 'those people who cycle' is moving closer, it seems, judging by the media over the past year or so.

Hope is ahead. How far? Dunno. But ahead.

Thanks to all the readers who sent in the links.


Kelly D. Talcott said...

Then there's the dean of New York seen-on-the-street fashion photographers, Bill Cunningham (who's been riding around Manhattan for years and years), narrating a wonderful wonderful slide show on the NY Times website.

My favorite quote: "Something is happening in cities, and the idea is to take part in it . . . wherever you are, you get on a bike, tour, you do something, see the city, look at buildings."

Lucas Jerzy Portela said...

banal em dull?


but please: make it sexy, make it classy - make it CycleChic!

ModelCarGuy said...

"Now only 1 per cent of our journeys are on bikes, in the Netherlands it is 27 per cent. And the reason is simple: a British cyclist is three times more likely than a Dutch one to die per miles travelled — even though only 3 per cent of Dutch cyclists wear a helmet. In Britain safety is seen as a matter for the individual, not government policy: yet it is highways, not helmets, that save lives."

And until other countries build Dutch-like infrastructure, cycling will continue to be more dangerous.

Anonymous said...

ModelCarGuy: without wishing to re-start the whole Vehicular Cycling vs. infrastructure pie-fight that seems common on this site, I would like to say that it is possible to design safer roads without Dutch-style segregation. It may not be as popular with novice cyclists, but it is possible, and it is usually cheaper. Either would certainly be preferable to post-1960s road designs in most countries.

spiderleggreen said...

I'm happy to see him sans helmet, but get rid of that awful yellow thing, for God's sake!

I don't ride because it's dull. I ride because I love it.

Society for Bicycle Advocacy said...

Cycling should be fun and relaxing, not dull OR an extreme sport.

but saying that cycling should simultaneously be dull and popular does grab the reader's attention.

Frits B said...

Anonymous might have a look at this:
Bicycle apartheid in Holland is not as black and white as many people think.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Frits B. Very interesting. I do like the idea of 30km/h zones very much. That was definitely one of the major things I had in mind when I mentioned safe road design without segregation.

I'm not 100% sure about those cycle lanes on the margins of roundabouts, since they're acutally a lethal design where I'm from, but I'm sure they work in the context of a country with drivers who are very aware of cyclists.

Anonymous said...

"Borderline" rationality? Over at the Guardian bike blog we aim for 100% rationality, at all time - even if that involves something David Cameron has done

Peter Walker

Kim said...

The whole Vehicular Cycling vs. infrastructure pie-fight is an over simplification, there is more going on countries with high cycling rates than just a difference infrastructure. This like strict liability make a serious difference to the safety of pedestrians and cyclist. It is time to castrate the sacred bull in society's china shop, to use a phase I picked up somewhere.

ainslie.cranwell@hotmail.com said...

Very sadly a cyclist was killed at a fairly busy intersection at 7am this morning in a head on collision with a small truck in my city of Adelaide, South Australia.

Once again it has ignited the cyclist vs motorist debate in Adelaide and all sorts of indignant and ignorant motorists have taken to leaving anti-cyclist comments on news websites and blogs.

While I can only dream of the day that Adelaide becomes a cycling city in the image of Copenhagen (and I am committed to promoting such within my community) I fear that a cycling environment where bikes and cars share the road in amicable and safe circumstances is still a very long way off in my car-centric nation.

However, i will get back on my bike tomorrow morning and ride to work yet again, all the whole demonstrating the banality of cycling in my life as a means of getting from A to B (in style).

bip said...

It's time I started cycling again! After all, Brighton is made for it, and all I need is a harness for carrying a digital camera.