Why this need to evangelise for bicycle transport? I don’t think it’s evangelism, really. It doesn’t concern me in the slightest that others don’t cycle. It concerns me that cities, as they are planned, have drivers’ paths crossing with mine. I’m not evangelising, but airing my frustration with streets and buildings designed in a way that threatens my life, and the lives of my family members, when we partake of the most joyful, elegant and rational mode of transport ever invented. That something so brutal, sociopathic, glutinous and for all those reasons plain ugly as the automobile, should have been allowed to bully bikes from the city, when bikes make us fit, are efficient, and can hardly hurt anyone, seems to me like piss in new snow.
I’ve been a passenger in two high speed rollovers, so am particularly sensitive to the danger of cars. At least if I collide with something hard on a bike, half a tonne of steel won’t follow through from behind. Cars weigh hundreds of kilos. Bikes weigh a dozen. I’m mortally afraid of what cars can do to my children, just walking down to the shops, and what a car could do to my family while driving if it suddenly turns into steel jaws chomping our bodies. Mine is not an unnatural fear. Yours is an unnatural acceptance of fate.
To me, waste is ugly. Heat gushing out of uninsulated houses, is ugly. But compared to engines that turn nonrenewable fuels into as much useless heat as propulsion, and that power machines weighing far more than their payloads, an uninsulated house is the most beautiful sunset. Uglier still than the car, is the hypocrisy of the architectural profession I am a part of, that bestows awards upon low energy houses, in locations that most users will drive to. I wish more buildings were located in places with no access, except via bike.
However, my primary attraction to cycling, betrays my age and nationality. I’m an Australian who really took to the bike as a piece of sporting equipment. Though I had owned bikes purely for transport at every stage of my life, it was the race-worthy Reynolds 531, Shimano 600 bike with Mavic wheels that I bought second hand in my early twenties, that saved me ever wanting a car for commuting. For twenty years I have commuted to work, to be fit to race, to be fit to commute, with everything else as a bonus. I like commanding the city, saving money, having daydreaming time, and squeezing more into each day, but the health and fitness motivation is still the core one for me.
At heart then, I am precisely the kind of bike advocate that some bike advocates once defined themselves by opposing. I note though, that the rhetoric of the slow cycling movement isn’t so loud now, as it was a few years back.