Let’s open a parenthesis for a moment, if I may…
Since becoming part of the cycling community I have been noticing an incredibly frictional relationship amongst cyclists (please go read any cycle forum of any sort and you’ll see what I mean). What I also noticed was what a small number of individuals make up this (British) cycling community.
The more I cycle, the more I am involved with the bigger picture and the more frustrated and disheartened I become.
Looking at studies undertaken by the European Union (2002) and the US Department of Transportation (2003) in the UK 0.2Km were cycled per inhabitant per day, in the US this was 0.1km, versus the Netherlands with 2.5km. (I doubt the ratio has changed even today)
The Office of National Statistics reveals that at the last census (2001) 634,588 people cycled to work whilst 12,324,166 drove a car or van.
So this ‘us v them’ is starting to grind me… no end.
How is it possible that we have to be so narrow minded, so egocentric and damn-right-stubborn that instead of forming a tight community we spend half our time, or more, criticising each other between: “you must wear a helmet”, “you must NOT wear a helmet”; “I am more hipster than you coz I wear x, y and z”; “I am cooler than you coz I wear a flap cap and a tweed jacket”; or “I am a cleverer cyclist than you because I wear the most high-tech cycling clothing you could find” or even “I am cooler than you because my bike is worth £1000 and yours is £100” (yes, I have heard this myself!).
We have to put up with bad infrastructure every single day, we have to hear horrific news of cyclists being hit and killed by cars, vans and HGV lorries and so on!
Just look at our European cousins in Holland, Denmark… and yes, even Germany, France…. you name it, most of other European countries are miles ahead of the UK in providing a road system that accommodates the bike and its cyclist, either by providing separated cycle lanes or by general respect between drivers and cyclists.
Could it be possible that we could set aside our little gangs (fixies, lycra, commuters, students, etc etc), save our breath on pitiful arguments that lead us nowhere and start “singing from the same hymn” about supporting cycling as a viable alternative to the car, for all?
Regardless of clothing-wear, head gear, foot-wear, bike gear, and so on…
Jeeezzzz I sound like I am pledging to stop discrimination within this tiny cycling community of ours (far from being a “community” by the way).
Can we try???????????????????????????????????????????????????