Category Archives: Miscellaneous Cycling Rants

Cycling should be dull

Good article by Janice Turner from The Times

Interesting the comparison between other European countries’ attitude to cycling/cyclists versus the UK’s. Have to share the disappointment about London’s ‘cycling superhighways’ as well:

“the London mayoralty, Tory policy is not to make cycling safer but to encourage more people to be brave. Transport for London bangs on about Boris’s 12 new “cycle superhighways”, which will sweep into the centre from disparate suburbs…The mayor’s cycle superhighways, it turns out, are just lines on a map.”

Over the last year, I’ve seen more and more cyclists hit the road (literally in some cases) but the infrastructure to support them in London has not improved one iota and is totally inadequate. Not sure whether TfL ever realised the irony of those posters. And sadly 14 months down the line, I’m even more cynical about their message.


James Martin Update: Chef Eats Humble Pie

“Regarding the The Tesla Roadster Article…
May I take this opportunity to apologize for any offence I have caused through the article in last weekend’s Mail on Sunday. It was never my intention to offend the many cyclists who share our roads across the country. What was intended to be a humorous piece was clearly misjudged. Further more I do not condone any form of reckless driving.

Once again, I am sincerely sorry for any upset caused in relation to this article.

James Martin”

Source: James Martin’s official (non cyclist-hating) site

Humorous? Misjudged? “The look of sheer terror as they tottered into the hedge was the best thing I’ve ever seen in my rear-view mirror.” Yup, so easy to misjudge the sentiment there. Probably why the Daily Mail took it out of your article cos everyone else was misjudging it as well. Oh and it’s “furthermore”. Muppet.

James Martin: Ready Steady Cock

Wowee, it’s been over a year since my last post! Twelve months later and I’ve just gotten more angry. I’m even angrier after reading this, although I expected nothing less from the Daily Mail!

“God, I hate those cyclists…Knowing they wouldn’t hear me coming, I stepped on the gas, waited until the split second before I overtook them, then gave them an almighty blast on the horn at the exact same time I passed them at speed. The look of sheer terror as they tottered into the hedge was the best thing I’ve ever seen in my rear-view mirror. I think this could be the car for me.”

Source: The Daily Fail

The Track Stand Balancing act

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.

Bloody Thieves!

I woke up this morning in a good mood and as always was looking forward to the commute into work. Outside, the weather was doing its best to make what looked like a glorious day. And it was going to be. Until the Missus turned to me and said “oh…your wheel”. I looked down, but couldn’t initially see anything wrong. Upon closer inspection in the direction of the lovely M’s finger, I noticed the quick release skewer was missing from my front wheel. A Victor Meldrew-esque “I don’t believe it!” went through my head before I actually blared out “fucking bastards!”. In complete shock, I just kept repeating “fucking bastards”, which apart from alerting the neighbours to my newly discovered theft, didn’t actually do any good at all.

I was furious! Some bloody miscreant had stolen my skewer, which meant public transport *yuck*, which meant being an hour and a half late for work, and an hour and a half late home because I had to pick up a new skewer. I was more shocked than angry though, not because someone had taken it upon themselves to steal something from my bike, but that they had stolen the skewer – something you can pick up for about a tenner! I mean that is a pitiful plunder. It hardly seems worth stealing at all, let alone the risk of getting caught. I still can’t believe anyone would be so desperate! I know we’re living in the credit crunch and all, but that is seriously, seriously scabby.

At first I though it was a botched job at an attempt to steal my front wheel – they had started to undo the quick release before realising the wheel was locked to the bike, and had then either taken the skewer as a consolation prize or thrown it away. I’m now completely convinced however that whoever it was actually had set out to steal the skewer because the wheel hadn’t moved a millimetre from the dropouts! This means we have some seriously cheap thieves about. I can’t stand the kind of mentality that allows people think they’re entitled to take free for themselves what I have worked hard for to earn, but I can rationalise how people are tempted by crime. Even so, you have to be seriously degenerate to be tempted by a second hand skewer! The Missus and I have come to the conclusion that these people are just not put off in the slightest by the consequences of getting caught. The plus side at least is that we now have anti-theft quick release bolts fitted on our wheels and seat posts, which we’re hoping will deter the opportunist thief at least.

Wear a helmet! Or dont. But make up your mind!

Some people think that wearing a helmet is safer, others think that it gives the cyclist a false sense of security which ultimately leads to more risk-taking behaviour. Whatever your school of thought, please stick to it. What is it with those people that carry their helmets while cycling? Seriously, if you don’t want to wear a helmet then don’t, but why carry it around with you? I don’t understand you people! It’s like Mummy made you put it on before you left the house and then you took it off as soon as you got around the corner. Why do it? Is it there to whip on as soon as Mummy comes into sight again?

I wear a helmet. I wish it gave me even the smallest sense of security. It doesn’t. The false sense of security that I experience consists of feeling comfortable enough to get on my bike and commute nine miles across London in rush hour. I remain painfully aware of my vulnerability on the roads at all times, but especially in the City. I continue to wear my helmet because when I get into an accident (not happened yet, but I’m a realist) I would like there to be something in between my brain and the tarmac, that isn’t either my skin or my bone, to cushion the blow of the impact. I don’t care if you disagree, in fact I can see the logic in some of the arguments against wearing helmets, but for God’s sake don’t suspend it from your arm, or leave it flailing around your handle bars to flap aimlessly in the wind. You look like a tit…and anyway, Mummy will find out eventually!

London: Made for cycling?

London? Made for cycling? Really? I moved to London six months ago, so this campaign is new to me, but apparently it’s a revamp of an ongoing summer campaign by the Mayor of London. Having recently lived (and regularly cycled) in two other cities far better equipped for cyclists, I find it laughable that this campaign could even suggest that London was suitable for cycling, let alone made for it! Potholes, uneven road surfaces, a plethora of inadequate cycle lanes, the hostile/aggressive attitude towards cyclists by other road users (including TfL’s own staff), the demonisation of cyclists by local media etc., all lead me to one conclusion – that London was made for nothing like cycling!

These adverts are everywhere, the first one I saw was at a bus stop outside the entrance to Borough Market on the approach to London Bridge. Upon seeing the poster, the irony of it struck me hard as I had just made my way rumbling and juddering down Borough High Street. I am flabbergasted by this campaign – does the Mayor of London seriously think that people are taken in by this nonsense? You can say that London was made for cycling as many times as you like, but it doesn’t make it true. And it’s simply not true. Thank goodness, London is actually planning on investing in it’s cycling infrastructure, the London Cycling Network, and by 2010 this advert might be a little more convincing.