30 June 2010

Lycra Makes You Act Illegally

Tour of Denmark 2008
Le Tour de France starts soon and there was an interesting article on a Danish online newspaper entitled "Put on your cycling clothes, throw out the rulebook"

Here's a bit of it translated:

"When we put sport into cycling, we forget both traffic laws and safety equipment.

Maybe the neon-coloured cycling jersey is a little tight around the stomach, but in the head it's easy to imagine you're on your way to a historical stage win in the Tour de France.

The interest in hobby cycling moves up a gear when the French race rolls over the tv screens with dangerous sprints with built-in risk for crashing and the dramatic mountain stages where even the strongest crawl to a halt.

But when we as hobby cyclists on every level pull on our cycling shorts, jersey, helmet and sunglasses and roll out onto the Danish roads, we apparently forget that the usual rules for cyclists still apply to us.

'When hobby cyclists [ed: motionscyklister in Danish, which means 'exercise cyclists'] put on all their gear there is an unfortunate tendency to not worry about the rules and to respect others. It's unlucky, because they're very visible in the traffic', says Vice Police Inspector Kristian Thomsen from East Jutland Police."

Visible indeed. When most Citizen Cyclists look like this, the lycra crowd do stand out. Even just cycling around Copenhagen, I am slightly faster than most and overtake more cyclists than people overtaking me. Still, I'm only rolling around at about 20 km/h and not breaking into a sweat. Who are the people who blow past me? People with gear who tsk tsk those who are riding casually along. Muttering and swearing under their breath and shaking their heads demonstratively at every moment they are forced to touch their brakes.

Fortunately, it's rare. Maybe we should reserve certain routes for these commuters and leave the rest of the safe infrastructure for the rest of us? Or speed limits for cycling? Just not 10 km/h, like a section of a bikeway in Brisbane.


Anonymous said...

It's like Portland - everyone seems to be sprinting to work or home.

Anonymous said...

Over at BikePortland.com almost everyone including Jonathan Maus is scoffing at this interpretation.


Ryan said...

I use to enjoy riding fast on my bike when I first started out. Didn't wear Lycra mind you (never have, never will)

Now I prefer a nice pace of around 20 km/h (25 if the wind is at my back).
Not only do I arrive places more relaxed, it feels like I get their faster.

Our multi-use pathway here has a speed limit of 20 km/h. Those who wear lycra and ride their road bikes ride on the road along side of the pathway.

Anonymous said...

Welcome to my world...

I live in Brisbane and that bike path is actually a massive bridge with a 5% gradient each way (total length of about 2km!).

To stick to a speed limit of 10km/h on any bike is going to require non-stop braking all the way down. I wonder how many brake failures and tyre blowouts are going to occur on a hot summer's day here.

I've noticed that on the coldest/wettest of mornings here when I do my 22km commute to work on my 'dutch' bike, I see no other cyclists. On fair weather days I pass plenty of them (they in the opposite direction) racing about, not actually going anywhere...

It is all well and good to cycle as sport but here in Australia it is seen as the only practical use for a bicycle which is a crying shame.

Dr Paul Martin
Brisbane, Australia

Green Idea Factory said...

These people should simply be allowed to cycle in the car part of the road, like in Berlin. Separated infrastructure is wonderful... IF the other parts of the street have anti-people speed limits.

I am not arguing against separation, and find it quite nice for getting around in Copenhagen, but it needs to be seen also as an enabler of fast speeds in the other parts of the street.

yewenyi said...

people in cars do it too. Did the speed limits work, only a bit. it is in human nature and it is the people wearing the clothes, not the clothes wearing the people. I know lots of people who do not wear lycra here in sydeny that openly disobey the road rules to. To prove it statistically you need to do a scientific study.

btw I ride both with and without lycra, depending on the circumstance and dislike it when people who think I should be one or the other.

Anonymous said...

Yes, because obviously there is only one way to ride a bike.

Attitudes like this are strangely reminiscent of car drivers who say the roads are for their use only

Shame on you

Kim said...

Ach, you get boy racers everywhere...

John the Monkey said...

Oh good grief.

I know you disapprove of lycra, but really. You fit right in with the "cyclists all jump red lights/ride on the pavement/harass pedestrians" element of the motoring lobby with this sort of article.

Euan said...

Research in Australia has found that the Lycra clad are the most likely to stop at red lights whereas the hybrid riding normal clothes commuter is the most likely to run the red lights.

Maybe it's different in Copenhagen but here in Australia that article is not accurate in the slightest.

Anonymous said...

I have frequently seen people in regular street outfit run red lights in Copenhagen. I have even seen people avoid doing a direct left turn, instead riding straight across, then going left and running the red light. Weird.