I’m not a relic, a romantic, lobbyist or lunatic – I am just a cyclist. I happen to think that our evolutionary and industrial past has not created a future in which it is impossible to conceive that a bike can belong in the city as Andrew Grimes suggests.
The ridiculous idea that we’re all pedal-pushing-propagandists aside, my urban life would be pretty undesirable, unhealthy & unbalanced if I satisfied myself with the idea that tarmac was only the reserve of the HGV. With or without my bike, I am not sure that any of us want our cities to be such mechanised monstrosities that the road network is unwelcoming to anything which is not spewing out gases.
The humble bike might speak to some of an Edwardian bliss, that has no place in contemporary society yet when I, and I am sure many others, when we get on our bikes don’t feel like we are trying to live out an anachronistic existence; painting a picture of antiquity on the streets of our cities. More likely that we are making a statement that we want our communities, the places where we live and work, to feel like they express our humanity, our desire for a life that is filled with energy and exertion rather than resignation and recumbence.
I appreciate that to some, the sight of a fluorescent jacket is as inflammatory as the proverbial red rag to a bull; my slightly younger self would probably be dismayed at the sight of it now. I guess it is a mark of the quiet anarchist in me, that will not surrender to the Grimesian view: that I should go quietly and safely into a future without running the risk of riding in the city.
Grimes does raise a serious point – we cannot afford to ignore the carnage, cyclist casualties are rising and bucking the longer term trend of casualty reduction that adorns most road user profiles, but sure as someone once said ‘inclusion not exclusion is the key to survival’!
And as for running the gauntlet along pavements laden with grannies & shopping trolleys… please someone turn that into a game I can play on my iPhone!