The more and more time I spend commuting by bike the more peculiarities I find among the cycling community. Something that I have always noticed but never really paid any attention to is the traffic light dance/balancing act thing that some cyclists seem to have going on while attempting do do a ‘track stand’. Now, in terms of commuting, I know that it must be annoying to keep unclipping from the pedals every time you hit a red light only to have to clip back in again seconds later, so I can understand the convenience of the track stand in these circumstances. And there are some cyclists who pull this off perfectly. You know the sort; they pull up to the lights, come to a steady halt and stop. Dead. Perfectly balanced on their steed, unfaltering, unwavering, motionless. It’s like someone pressed the pause button on reality. If that’s you, then ok smart arse, you look good. But if you can’t pull this off, don’t do it. Please, just don’t even try. Some of you nearly have it; you wobble a little from side to side, give an little at the front, take some more from the back. You still look a bit daft next to the zen-like creature in a perpetual state of stability next to you, but not bad, good effort. If on the other hand, you have to move half a foot every second just to stop yourself from falling off, then give up, this is not a track stand, this is a pillock wobbling all over the road. Aside from providing me and the missus with some light entertainment, it’s actually quite a dangerous operation to be this unsteady on your bike, especially if you are toppling into the path of the cyclists around you. If there’s only you and one other guy with a whole velodrome to yourselves then fair enough, but typically this is not the situation I find myself in on my daily commute.
The other day, the missus and I pulled up to a set of traffic lights in Kennington. The cyclist in front, anticipating the light change to red, slows almost to a halt and proceeds to travel at about one meter per hour for the next 20ft towards the lights. He’s blocking entry to the bike box, but who cares, so long as he doesn’t actually have to stop, right? He’s causing a queue of cyclists to be backed up in the cycle lane, but so what – technically he’s still on the move, yey him! Eventually, we reach the lights, and they’re still on red, but he hasn’t given up. He turns his front wheel and lunges forward and to the left, then pulls back to the right, then forward to the left, back again, then forward…he keeps this little dance up for quite some time as other cyclists surround him. There’s quite a few of us now, but he’s still going, swaying and rocking all over the place like he’s performing some kind of demented mating ritual. His last attempt to stay on his bike ends in him lunging sideways into the path of another cyclist. In order to avoid a collision he has to brake hard and stumbles off…just in time for the lights to turn amber. Well that little game of cat and mouse ended well.