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.