We use our bikes recreationally and competitively, but do we use them practically?
The idea of riding a bicycle as just a mode of transport is still a difficult concept for many, including cyclists, to grasp. What I mean by that is that plenty of people now ride bikes for leisure, for fitness, and for fun, but as Monday morning arrives we are more inclined to jump in our cars to head to the office than use our two wheels to commute – and I include myself in that too.
In some cities in the UK, bicycle use has become prolific, but the car still rules the road in most places, especially in Scotland.
There are, of course, many reasons why including cycling as a sustainable and integrated transport option is ideal – it promotes health, reduces congestion and pollution and saves money, but the biggest reason has to be that’s it’s fun. When I do get the opportunity to commute by bicycle, I always arrive with a smile on my face – no matter what the weather conditions are.
So what makes us comfortable with recreational and competitive cycling, but prevents us from using our bikes for practical cycling? I have thought about this a lot. Each time I use my bike for practical purposes, such as going to the shops for a loaf of bread, I wonder why I don’t do it more often and the only real reason I can come up with is laziness. But to be honest, that’s a lame excuse.
What really stops me from using my bike for practical purposes more often is I am stuck in a rut where I can’t make a few changes to my lifestyle to enable regular practical cycling. It is easier to pick up my car keys on my way out the front door than it is to open up the shed and jump on my bike.
Many studies focusing on increasing cycling as a sustainable form of transport have concluded that increasing cycling-friendly facilities at places of work, making our road infrastructure more “cycling friendly” and so on will get more people out on their bikes, but they fail to recognise an ingrained apathy inherent in all of us.
Our cars have become extensions to our homes – media filled, climate-adjusted boxes that keep us entertained and ensconced in our own little world before we need to submit our souls to our employers for a few hours each day. Sitting at traffic lights, looking at other people in cars, it is hard to imagine that any kind of incentive and proselytising will entice us from our vehicles.
We are suited and booted, eating breakfast and putting on make-up as we queue in our metal boxes to be the next through the gates to our daily grind. The motor industry spends billions convincing us that this kind of travel is what makes us happy, so no amount of “save the planet, save your health” advocating is really going to make a significant dent on a car-loving culture. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try.
I wrote a few weeks ago about the mental welfare benefits that cycling can bring. If the joy and happiness that cycling can bring were distilled into a tablet we would be clamouring to take at least one daily. If every one of us who reads this column makes a pledge to swap one trip a week, no matter how short, that we usually make in a car to a bike instead then we may not change the world, but we can add a little bit of joy to our own day.
Join the Blazing Saddles Strava Club at: www.strava.com/clubs/BlazingSaddlesWeekendCourier
Where to ride: The Skye Sportives
When: Saturday 25th August 2018
Distance: Skye Beag – 82km & Skye Mor 152km
Details: The Skye sportive are two road cycling challenge events taken place on the Hebridean island of Skye. I have ridden these a couple of times and loved the routes and challenging terrain. With a spectacular coastal start to both routes heading north from Portree and below the Quiraing the route then heads south again into the heart of Skye. If you have never ridden on Skye before, then this is the perfect opportunity to take advantage of a well organised event