We live in a world in which there are places that people struggle to stay alive. They scratch together food and dodge bullets. We don’t live like that in the UK. We take for granted that we can wake up of a morning, scratch our weary hungover heads/bollocks and have a nice bagel. Then some of us go and ruin it for everyone by strolling out to their shed and getting on a fucking bicycle.
And…as if by magic, everyone I know either wants to “hell-yeah-high-five!” me or clatter me around the head with their bike pump. It’s rare that a topic is so divisive. Is it a case of nothing more than engine versus effort; petrol heads who don’t want to share the roads with deeply sanctimonious eco-warriors and vice versa? Frankly anyone who has ever had the dire misfortune to accidentally stumble across a copy of MAX POWER would wholeheartedly agree that car obsessed braggarts are about as pleasant as a public toilet in an asparagus buyers convention. The same could be said of anyone who truly believes that holding up rush hour traffic by farting around on a crude mechanical animal is a worthwhile sacrifice to the gods of leafy green shit.
The classic example of a resolute pedestrian, I neither drive nor cycle, so can hold a position of absolute neutrality on this matter. I have attempted both, however. Several hundred pounds and the mental health of two driving instructors were sacrificed in the pursuit of my mobility. My father patiently went through the motions of pretending to hold onto the back of my bike while I pedalled like a demented hamster until I realised that only propulsion was keeping me upright and I went arse over tit on the gravel. In the end I accepted that I was born to be transported, rather than be the transporter. And I choose to be transported by car, train, bus, taxi, aeroplane tram, helicopter, barge, hovercraft, cablecar or even fucking ocean liner….ANYTHING but a bicycle.
Firstly, I’ve never been injured by a car. Or an aeroplane. Or any other mode of transport (aside from the time I caught my fingers in the spring-loaded hinges of a B&I Ferry when I was little). Except a bike.
Secondly, whenever I’m out and about with my little person, drivers of any kind tend to be incredibly considerate. They slow down to let us cross the road with a smile and a wave. They clock us early and reduce their speed and exercise caution. On the whole they are Nice Buggers.
I’m going to put my stroppy hat on now…
I’ve actually lost count of the amount of times I’ve had to grab my daughter and whisk her out of the path of a cyclist. Or the times I’ve seen one of the two-wheeled pedally fuckers screaming through an area that just isn’t built for them. Along pavements, down the high street, speeding round tight corners and (my personal favourite) through underpasses. If I kept a tally chart of the amount of times I’ve yelled “GET OFF YOUR BIKE YOU FUCKING FUCKWITTED FUCK!” at them I could make a lovely paper and pencil picket-fence around the whole of Maidenhead.
It must be kinda nice to be a cyclist in chickentown. Being Master of All You Survey makes it a lovely place for the too-tight-Lycra-smug-fucking-potential-baby-killers. After all, everyone exercises a world of caution around you in the same way they do extremely clean 4x4s, the over-saturation of worryingly dodgy looking taxi companies and are-they-aren’t-they speed cameras. If we had to do a public service tourism ad, it would read: The Lovely Home Counties, Safe Space of the Utter Bastard.
Because of all this I’ve been watching with (I’ll admit it) half-hearted interest as the issue of cycling in London became less of an issue and more of a buckled wheel strewn path. The one thing that seriously made my eyes widen and neck go all meerkatty was the photo of the London Cyclists Die-In.
Firstly, I fucking LOVE a clever protest and this really was a superb “I’m bent over, this is what an arsehole looks like” moment. They were heart-rendingly working together to protect their own and that is an incredibly beautiful thing in any community. Secondly, the cyclists genuinely have a point. There are serious flaws in the infrastructure. Like it or not, the helmet heads are in London to stay, so it makes sense to ensure their safety.
Miles away in Maidenhead, we’re not like Central London. For a start, we can only get decent sashimi in Windsor and I’ve yet to find a place to buy proper salt beef, a vegan brownie or one of those scrumptious little triangular rice pocket things. In fact, one might say that we are the absolute opposite in many ways. In London, cyclists choose their mode of transportation for convenience and speed. It allows them to negotiate the clogged arteries of the capital cheaply and quickly, but always mindful that they share the road and all it’s dangers. In Maidenhead cyclists can happily travel from one place to another at an easy pace, reasonably untroubled by serious traffic or obstruction. Yet many treat pavements and subways like their fucking property, while the rest of us have to drag our children out of their paths.
It’s fucking horrific that so many cyclists have been killed on London’s roads recently. You’d have to be some kind of heartless cunt to think otherwise. But for fucks sake, if you’re a cyclist and reading this, please stop assuming that you’re the only one that can be a victim. If I have to pick up the paper and read another article of a cyclist hitting a child, I’ll stage my own die-in, substituting the toppled over cycles with pushchairs and prams.
Then see how much fucking sympathy you get.