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6852Re: [CF] Re: general attitude

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  • Simon Baddeley
    Feb 1, 2003
      I tend to go along with the view that cycling, instead of driving a car, entails pleasure rather than sacrifice, but that is perhaps because I still have a small car whose mileage I've reduced from an average - 6 years ago - of 20K a year to under 2K. I combine the enjoyment of daily cycling with regular use of buses, taxis, trains and trams relying on a folder.

      Pondering the idea of this as sacrifice I recall my early misgivings about all year round cycling before I started doing it.

      I'm 60. For most of my adult professional life I'd travelled by trains, taxis and mainly my car. Walking and cycling were leisure activities for which one donned a recreational mind-set to go with the special clothes.

      I recall early cycle commutes in wintery rain and wind, wondering at the experience of being "outdoors" on a working day and feeling slight guilt at how I was experiencing commuting into recreation. When work colleagues commiserated with me about the weather I studiously avoided annoying them by saying things like the last time I felt this good was on a ski slope or sailing open waters. Instead I'd shrug manfully and join in a good English grumble thanking them for their concern.

      I needed to shift an auto-dependent mind-set (more auto-taken-for-granted attitude) and become more skilful about the transit from indoors to outdoors. This included getting a more elaborate wardrobe of working clothes for daily travel. It's funny how outdoors which the bourgeois (not being rude - that's me too) will take on with style, panache and even reckless bravado on holiday becomes so daunting to them when in office mode.May be the real sacrifice dreaded by would-be cyclists is loss of style. How I wish even at my age that cycling wear wasn't such a combination of functionality and naffness. There's a business to be created here I'm sure.) Some would see winter commuting by bicycle as a sacrifice - because instead of going from parking space (if you have one) into office building with, at most, a raincoat or umbrella, the cyclist often needs to take off various layerings of street clothes including perhaps waterproof trousers, gloves, jacket and hat. Some of this may be quite wet and must be stored somewhere - in a bag or box room or drying space. All or most of this will have to be put on again on departure.

      The exercise of going through an "airlock" between outside and inside can be quite complex especially as you need to carry the bicycle, perhaps put that in a bag and at the same time carry laptop and papers etc.

      I have become so used to this and I think adept that it is not a sacrifice and certainly better than searching for a parking space, but for the unaccustomed there is a need to become quite adept at multi-tasking if one is to make reasonably graceful and dignified exits from business premises. Though nothing as far as I can see can be done about the hideously embarrassing clothing we need for bad weather.

      One of my pleasures, apart from the joys of negotiating the great cities on a cycle, is to arrive at a workplace on a cold wet windy day feeling fit and energetic and step from my road gear in a smart suit ready to be "meeting man". Try for instance departing Marylebone Station after a comfortable two hour train journey and heading south through the maze of central London towards the Thames via Hyde Park or Whitehall. It affords vistas tourists would pay for and gets you through London on a working day less stressed, more smoothly and efficiently than any alternative way of getting around - and that includes going from helipad to helipad! The trouble arises as you present yourself at reception.

      Sacrifice? You must be joking ... but I realise why this might not be to everyone's taste and indeed why initially some people might find city cycling stylistically daunting .... but it's certainly not just for the macho types. I regularly see lots of smart women cycling day and night, wet and dry, on my many working journeys across London carrying laptops, courier bags and designing kit - and usually on better bicycles than mine. May be there is the right clothing shop out there for me but I fear I'm a lost cause and that's not a real sacrifice of the kind I have to make by occasionally having to use my car to do someone else a favour.



      ----- Original Message -----
      From: RIIN GILL
      To: CarFree@yahoogroups.com
      Sent: Saturday, February 01, 2003 4:38 AM
      Subject: Re: [CF] Re: general attitude

      Simon Norton wrote:

      > I must confess to getting a bit irritated by those who keep on
      > suggesting that cycling brings many benefits and no disadvantages. (I
      > should say that I do not wish to name any names, let alone to suggest
      > that the relevant people don't have a right to express these views.)


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