So I’ve been in the local paper for my cycle campaigning activities and one of the nice side effects is people I know emailing me to tell me they’ve seen it and encouraging me to continue with my efforts. What’s interesting is how many of them also go on to apologise for not personally riding a bike much themselves – usually because they tell me they’re too scared. I suppose that, unversed in the subtleties of the various approaches to cycle campaigning, they imagine that what I’m trying to do is encourage people to get out on their bikes and discover for themselves the joys of cycling – the wind in your hair, the flies in your teeth, the huge shot of adrenaline that comes from having a timber lorry overtake you on a road that’s about as wide as a timber lorry. That sort of thing.
In fact, although I’m always delighted when someone decides they want to ride a bike, and very willing to encourage them – at least until they take out a restraining order to stop me – that’s not really what we’re about with Pedal on Parliament. Nor are we campaigning on behalf of current cyclists particularly, although it would be nice if people would stop driving into them. In fact, it’s exactly the people who tell me that they’re too scared to cycle that I’m campaigning for, whether they like it or not. Apart from anything else, they’ve generally got a better idea of what it takes to create mass cycling than half the traditional campaigners do: as one friend put it, until she doesn’t have to worry about mixing with lorries, we’ll never see her on a bike. Of course that may have been her version of ‘until Hell freezes over’, but I’m choosing to take her literally and/or call her bluff. It will take me a while, but until we can create the conditions for even ‘cowards’ to cycle, we won’t see cycling taking off in this country, how ever much encouraging I do. Although I can’t do much about the insects in the teeth part, I’m afraid. (And if that’s all too flippant for you, I’ve written something rather more earnest on the subject for the Pedal on Parliament site.)
Back to ford updates, mild gardening peril and pictures of scenery soon, I promise