Wednesday, 2 September 2015

On yer bike!

It's Cycle to Work Day on Thursday 3rd September. I'm afraid I won't be cycling to work. I'm on holiday so it would be quite a long cycle and as much as my boss might be delighted to have me back a few days early, it just ain't happening! 

So, why am I blogging when I'm on holiday?

Well, cycling to work is something I'm quite passionate about. I've had my ups and downs over the (almost) 3 years I've now been commuting by bike... I've had some close calls with car and bus drivers who simply seem unaware of other road users. I've had pedestrians walk right out in front of me. And my heart sinks every morning when I see the same cyclist go through every single red light on Pollokshaws Road in Glasgow (yes, you know who you are and I still beat you into the city centre  without having to break the law). I've crashed on ice, been soaked to the skin and been unable to feel my fingers. 

But, you know what's coming... 

I will continue to cycle to work for as long as I'm physically able to! 

Those moments above are few and far between and completely outweighed by the positives... 

... The money I've saved. 
... The exercise and health benefits. 
... Arriving at work feeling refreshed, mentally switched on and way more awake than if I'd been sitting on a train or in the car. 
... Being able to use my commute for training so I get more time with my family and friends. 
... The fact that I can cycle to work quicker than driving in the car or getting the train. 
... The benefits to the environment. 
... The fun I have racing random other cyclists or my wife when we cycle together! (she also commutes by bike) 
... The reminders I get of how kind and considerate (some) people are when drivers treat me with the respect I deserve and give me space. 

And that brings me to my final point and why I felt I had to blog while on holiday. During this holiday I've cycled in Berlin and in Tuscany (the latter both in a city and also up in the hills). We get so obsessed with cycling infrastructure in the UK... Or our lack of it. We think infrastructure is the answer to all our cycling problems, including some of those I've experienced myself as mentioned above. 

Well, cycling here in two other European countries has made me realise that infrastructure is not the answer. Yes, it will help, but the main reason I've felt so much safer in these other two countries is respect, education and understanding. 

Cycling here is not just a sport. It's just another way to travel. Everyone does it. I've seen people from kids to 80+ on bikes. So when they get in a car they know what it's like to be on a bike. So they give you room and time when you're on a bike. They have patience and understanding. They know you're just getting from A to B just like they are in their car, only using a different method of transport. 

So, bringing this back to cycling to work... If more people do it then we'll have more people who understand what it's like to be the most vulnerable road user. And when they get back in their car they'll appreciate just how much room a cyclist needs. We'll have fewer accidents, fewer arguments and things will just work. 

So, please get on your bike and cycle to work! It's not just good for you; it's good for all of us! 

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