In recent months planners have been running off half cocked, armed with "data" from "studies" findings drivers would cycle, if only cycling wasn’t so dangerous. Immediately I ask what people identifying as "drivers" could possibly know about being a cyclist, and soon find myself reliving past race wins, as I do, before bouncing back to the subject at hand. What might these "drivers" actually look like, I’m thinking. Is it possible that I actually could know some of these people?
Last night at a party, I discovered I do! She is a vegetarian, into recycling, on a crusade against toxins… yes, slightly pious in a classic gen-y kinda way, but moreover quite funny. I like her. She has a white shiny aura. Hence my concern to hear she was planning on selling her bike.
"It’s too dangerous," she said.
"But there are lots of safe routes. You just have to look."
"Okay, the truth is, I’m too lazy. It’s too easy just to drive everywhere." It is to her credit that she so quickly confessed to the truth.
If researchers only drilled down, they would find the same answer from millions of cream-puffs, all blaming danger instead of admitting they’re lazy—or iron deficient, as the case might be for my friend. I blame the Christian roots to our society for this Western compulsion to lie. The truth, "I am too tired", shows the respondent to be callous toward our society’s new god, green house gas reduction, putting their momentary feelings before the welfare of kiddies on low lying islands in the Pacific. The lie: "cycling is too dangerous," provides the respondent with a moral high ground, because surely we all have the right to value our corporeal intactness!
Someone told me recently that the road from his house to his office is so incredibly dangerous, he would never even consider commuting by bike. Yet running parallel to that road, just a few hundred meters off to the East, is perhaps one of the world’s most beautiful urban cycle paths. It follows cuttings built for a now disused coal skip line, and passes through a beautiful catenary arch tunnel, pictured above. As a driver, he has no idea this safe route exists.
At the risk of sounding sarcastic (who moi?) there are these things called "cycleway maps". Every city has one. Here’s mine. Simply by combining a little on-the-ground judgment, with a few hours studying your city’s map, I promise you will be able to find a safe cycling route to your office (assuming you don’t live way out of town, in which case, you’re nuts). Click the image below on the right and you will see the safest, if somewhat wiggly, route between my home and office. Then, once you get into the habit of seeking out cyclespace, you will have found a mode of transport that, in my experience, is actually far safer than car travel.
In fairness, my slightly pious vegetarian friend has at least one reason for owning a car, that I understand fully. I own one for the same reason. Her two kids need driving to their grandparents’ houses, and because those old gits are of the sprawl generation, as grandparents are, that means my friend is forced to drive her kids way out to Woop Woop. The trap my poor pious vego friend has fallen into, poor lass, is getting into the habit of driving everywhere, to the point where she sees no need for her bike. With Christmas approaching, a few letters to Santa, asking for bikes, could be the way to amend this.