After years of intensive training and racing, I’ve finally lapsed into the routines of a daily bikecommuter. It’s a different rhythm and cadence. I have a 6 mile ride in and back through the centre of Bristol. I am missing out on the ethereal wonders of nature and the liminality of 6am in the South Bristol wilds. It has been replaced by a much more intense and sometimes unreal series of encounters with humankind. I have some observations.
A lot of people seem to be cycling in Bristol. It’s a fantastic thing. In fact, there are times when the number of riders using the arterial routes through the city causes a joyous form of congestion of its own. Cycle commuting seems to be on the rise for women in particular, which may reflect their wider levels of participation in cycling.
Traffic in Bristol is quite intense. Most days a form of gridlock descends within certain timeslots. It’s much quicker to navigate across the city by bike, rather than attempt to drive. People at work are sometimes surprised that I cycle to work. However, I’m surprised that people don’t cycle to work. It’s so easy to do, it’s cheaper, better for you and less stressful. I cannot understand why anyone would use a car for anything less than a 30 minute commute. It’s wrong on so many levels.
Cycle commuters can be a deranged lot. There is a form of subsidiary rage that exists amongst the cycling fraternity, caused by perceived breaches of etiquette or other scandalous actions. My chief bugbears are as follows:
- Not giving sufficient space to a cyclist who is already ahead of you at a set of lights, pulling up close or in front for example
- Riding dangerously and without due regard to personal safety or the safety of others; not using lights when it’s dark.
These are relatively minor transgressions. Most of my ire is reserved for people who have lights b but they are inordinately bright and inaccurately directed. I really don’t appreciate getting an eyeful of 15 billion lumens. Head-mounted bongo-LEDS, usually donned by mountain bikers, are the serial offenders.
I have enjoyed brief and whimsical conversations with other cyclists. Flickers of recognition of a shared activity and sensibility. I am enjoying it. But I am missing the Mendips at 6am.