The man Hugo Chavez likened to “a polar bear that’s had an electric shock” won the election for London Mayor – by a half a wheel or less – which has led to a new coinage(thanks to Max) – what an emborrissment.
Last weeks rambling on the different preferences of Boris Johnson and Nicole Cooke, leading to the assertion that the choice between riding on the highway, and using any parallel infrastructure for cycle-traffic, is best left with the individual, attracted name-checks and green-ink denouncements on a site called ‘as easy as riding a bike’.
The thrust of the argument is that progress toward bicycle paradise demands ‘roads for bikes’ and that anyone using a pedal-cycle must be compelled to use them, and barred from any parallel street, which shall be reserved for motor-traffic because anyone who wants to ride on the road is a ‘fast’ cyclist, so leaving the choice with the individual will mean that the new network for cycle-traffic will be designed only for ‘slow’ cyclists.
Perhaps I’m being over-optimistic but I feel strangely confident that an authoritarian political programme relying on the assumption that I am a ‘fast’ cyclist is doomed to failure.
The other person in the cross-hairs of this ideological purge is professional bollard-farmer Richard Lewis who comes from Hackney, rides a funny bike and has drafted some sample designs for the ‘Go Dutch’ project based on the evident premise that Londoners on bikes behave in diverse, individualistic ways. I’m not that fussed about infrastructure and am confident Richard can deal with the technical criticism. Richard describes his approach thus:- “I (personally) am not after a “Dutch” design! I am after “good” design, which recognises and responds to the opportunities and constraints of the particular locations.” Whatever the fundamentalists say about ‘Dutch principles’ this practical approach ought to convince anyone who likes cycling, who wants to spread bicycle madness, that the ‘Go Dutch’ front is worthy of support.
I am a fat, lazy, granddad who often hauls 100kg of tools; while being described as a ‘fast cyclist’ falls somewhere between laughable flattery and gross misrepresentation there’s one item on the charge-sheet that I’m proud to plead guilty to…
“The first problem I have diagnosed, and which I will discuss in this initial post, is perhaps the most serious. It’s an incipient (or perhaps innate) notion that there are two distinct categories of cyclist; those that are happy cycling on the road, and who would continue to cycle on the road once ‘provision’ has been put in, and another category of cyclist, made up of those who are more nervous, or who don’t currently cycle but who would like to, for whom the infrastructure is being provided. Further, and problematically, this categorisation extends to the notion that these two distinct types of cyclist will require two different approaches to their cycling needs.”
…not only will I plead guilty to holding the heresy that there are two categories of cyclist I will go further. I not only hold that notion, I actually believe there are unnumbered categories of cyclist including plenty we are not yet able to imagine. Hell I’m five or six categories on my own.
How many categories of cyclist are there?