Saturday, March 25, 2006

A Change Of Perspective, On Road

The last few days I have been driving in to work instead of my usual cycle commuting. This adds several factors to my day which I don't have when cycling:

  • Additional 30 mins on journey time.
  • Additional 15 mins walk from parking location to work.
  • Worries over parking space, meters, & target-driven, unreasonable parking wardens.
  • Unknowns, like: will my car be ok / scratched / bumped / etc while left parked on the road all day?
  • My car experiences the full effect of Traffic Jams, 60% of the journey is spent crawling between 5mph to zero mph, behind someone else's exhaust pipe.
  • Then there are the speed humps, the speed cameras, the bus lanes, and so on...


Switching my point of view from rider to driver, helps me understand some of the psychology where bikes & cars interact.

On the bike my primary attitude is "how can a avoid being crashed-in to by other vehicles".
In the car my primary attitude is "don't crash in to anything".

I must admit, While sitting in traffic & watching cyclists freewheel along an adjacent cycle path, I really wished I could just click my heels 3 times and magic my car in to a bicycle. It looked so much more enjoyable!

Cost / Benefit Equation

And there is a lot for drivers to feel envious about. For example: Driver sitting in a £10k / £20k / £30k steel box of tricks, and a bright yellow guy on a £300 two wheeler, is making more progress than the car! In such a cost / benefit equation, the bike is the desired choice everytime.

Of course there are the many other benefits the cycling gives, yet the car doesn't. Such as:

Immune System - Maintaining good fitness, and the associated resistance to colds & flu.

Time saving - No need to waste an evening working out at a gym, because the exercise is automatically completed just by daily commuting.

Alertness - The cycle commute stokes up all the good hormones to wake the body & be alert to survive. Which is good for productivity when you arrive at work.


Unfortunately while driving, I noticed a lot of (perhaps new?) cyclists, riding some basic errors:
Seeking a false sense of safety riding on the extreme left.
Riding in the door zone, too close to parked cars.
Riding through gaps safe for 1, but inviting 2 to "try it" by not taking the middle of the lane.

Pessimistically, such habits compromise those cyclist's own safety, and it is more likely to be a case of "when" rather than "if" this proves to be the case.

On the plus side, the cyclists I saw had good visibility in daylight, bright yellow seems to be this fashion seasons "in" colour!

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