Sunday, November 8, 2015

UK Writer Tells Cyclists to Get Off Road and Go To Gym and Chicago Becomes a Car Free Possibility

Yvette Castor
Yvette Castor, a writer in the UK, has offered the opinion, in writing, that cyclists should get off the road and go to the gym instead.  Brilliant.  Reasoning with people like this could draw you into their insanity.  She is clearly provocative in a time when any writer has to attract attention to survive.  But I would venture a suggestion that Yvette try a little exercise herself.  Perhaps on a bike. She would probably find herself less appalling. And dinging the way cyclists look will not deter them.  The idea that all cyclists look absurd as she suggests is simply ludicrous.  Her photo is shown above.  Choose your own caption.  A mere day or so after Yvette's blather, the same UK paper published another editorial about how cyclists were making traffic lighter, and all persons, driving, cycling or walking, should treat each other with respect.  This time the author was Luke McLaughlin featured below.  So I took a look at the related stories links to see how the cycling debate is playing out in the UK and whether it looks like the debate in the US.  The same paper published the bit about mandating licenses for cycling and the bit about how cycling could save your life and make you healthier.  The answer seems to be a split in logic and lifestyle.   If you prefer the comforts of your car, or you have no choice due to where you live, cycling may seem like a menace.  So I pause for one quick anecdote.  While riding my bike in Washington, DC, I noticed a wheelchair-bound man at 12th and G Streets who thanked me for allowing him to clear the intersection after the light had turned in my favor, something he said other cyclists had not done the day before.  As I rode on in the lanes in front of Veterans' Affairs building, an elderly woman who had placed her toe in the crosswalk thanked me for stopping as several other cyclists rode around me almost hitting her and ignoring her rights in that crosswalk.  I am not a menace.  I will try to never be a menace.  And I will be healthier than people who lose an hour a day of exercise to sit idle in the comforts of their cars as the planet warms.

"Do you really need cycling clothes?" asks the London Cyclist.  If you are not cycling far, what is the point?  Unless you are one of those folks who dresses in a matchy-matchy track suit to walk the dog imaging that is "exercise," in which case, maybe you do need special clothes.  If your commute is terribly short, not only are cycling clothes unnecessary, but they could tip you over into silly.  I ride home some nights along with a kitchen helper from a nearby Pret.  He goes all the way to Maryland from Washington, DC wearing black jeans, a black shirt and jacket, and a baseball cap.  I have never seen him get his pants caught in the chain.  I have never seen him threaten to kill a cab driver who cut him off.  And, I have never seen him fall behind anyone wearing a perfect spandex get-up.  His zen comes from the inside, not from his clothes.

Ah, the helmet debate.  It will not go away.  Like chewing coconut, it lingers.  Another study . . . another study . . . published in Road CC finds no link between mandating helmets and prevention of injuries.   I suppose if you found yourself nearly under the tire of a car that was about to snap your head into pieces like, well, a coconut, a helmet might help you.  But my guess is that no helmet could withstand a three ton car.  Which begs the question of why so many people think a helmet law will prevent head injuries from cycling.  Last we visited this issue, data showed that helmets would be more likely to prevent head injuries to drivers in cars.  If we enact a helmet law, I think it should apply across the board to drivers of any moving vehicle.  That bill would die in committee after spontaneous gaiety of the sort not seen in 50 years.
Chicago is becoming a place where you can live car free.  Perhaps recognizing that cycling may present a challenge in winter there, Divvy bikes has teamed up with Zipcar to offer discounts to members.  There is no shame in taking the train or a Zipcar on those days when you do not want to arrive at a stoplight, let alone the office, with a snot-cicle that will be only thing people ever say about you afterwards.  ("Who is Fred? . . . Oh, the guy that had that awful snot-cicle last year in the elevator.  Right."  Never:"Fred is a great lawyer who wrote that steller brief in the Kolinsky case last year.")
Go Chicago!
Debbie-Downer edit:  The ex-COO of Divvy is accused of breaching the terms of employment with Divvy by seeking employment with Divvy's parent company's rival.  Bike share.  It's a cold calculating business, dog-eat-dog.  Nah.  Not really.

So if I see you in the bike lane, and you are dressed like yourself, or have chosen a matching spandex get-up that looks as uncomfortable as support pantyhose on a big girl, let's be smug.
Elisa P.

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