keeping up with the joneses

kubota digger

i've decided i want a digger. just a small one, the sort of thing that you put on rather than climb into, and i want to sit it in the front garden. i don't actually need one, you understand, and i'd have no idea how to work it, but that's not really the point. for all i know, it may be a nationwide affectation, but several households around the principality seem to have small diggers parked in the driveway or on a small piece of waste ground adjacent to the homestead. that's perhaps hardly a noteworthy observation, but in the majority of cases, i cannot, for the life of me, figure out for what purpose those diggers are required. but if that's the new black, i think it only right and proper that i have one too.

but it doesn't stop there.

to go with my totally unnecessary digger, i need to have a boat. generally speaking, i'm a reasonable sailor; i have been around several portions of islay's coast in fast, rigid inflatable boats in weather that nobody would describe as 'calm waters', and sailed to and from kennacraig on the ferry as it lurched from one side to the other, yet i have kept my lunch just where it ought to remain. however, what i know about sailing could be inscribed on the surface of a chainring bolt. so, a bit like the digger mentioned above, there would be no point whatsoever in my owning a boat, one that would never see a pontoon, let alone open water.

but just like the digger, it seems that a boat that rarely, if ever, has its hull dipped in water, has become one of hebridean life's necessities. the difference here is that the boat ought best be sat upon a rusting trailer, with two flat tyres, parked conveniently enough to occupy two car spaces in a nearby car park. obviously, if the back garden is big enough (mine isn't), it could sit there, but the car park is a far more ostentatious site, since all around could watch me clamber aboard from time to time and vainly attempt to start the inboard engine.

sometimes keeping up with the joneses requires a bit more effort.

thankfully, there are so few cyclists on the island, that it's far easier to be one of the joneses, than have the troublesome problem of trying to keep up with them. 'velominati' advises in rule #12, that the correct number of bicycles to own is n+1, where n = the number of bikes you already possess. additionally, by way of rule#25, the bikes on top of your car (or digger) ought to be worth more than the car. you can see how such advice might lend itself towards a level of internal pelotonic competition, something i believe to be thankfully absent in the velo club.

however, a former member has at his fingertips, a road bike, a 'cross bike, a brompton, a mountain bike and an electric bike. the only obvious gap in the bikeshed would surely be that of a gravel bike. and i bet he's thinking about that right now.


my original philosophy, before i became owner of more bicycles than i need (two of which have been bestowed upon number one son), was based on the knowledge that you can only ride one bike at a time. i'm perfectly willing to accept that ownership of a road bike and some form of offroad machinery, although impacting negatively upon my ideal, makes a certain degree of sense. though i'm not in the habit of overusing my 'cross bike, i do like to think of the possibilities. and since it currently sports a pair of particularly wide gravel tyres, i like to think of it as dual-purpose, though i'm blowed if i know what the difference is to a rank amateur such as myself.

and to a certain extent, that is probably the point that i think i'm trying to make. succinctly put, the weekend bike rides consist entirely of my riding round in circles, before heading home for a shower. it's likely the very reason why i don't care if i get very wet, even though i'd prefer that you thought of me as a particularly intrepid velocipedinist, who laughs in the face of meteorological adversity. what the mountain biking fraternity might refer to as a 'gnarly dude'.

in truth, i think it more likely that i am the very personification of 'mr average', a description that probably covers well over 90% of all those reading these scribbles. we may have managed to convince ourselves and our better halves, that a full range of bicycle genres is absolutely necessary, particularly if others in the sunday peloton have shown similar largesse. but in the majority of cases, little could be further from the truth; we're simply adhering to the self-created myth that we need to be seen to be keeping up with the joneses, even if that is as a result of a self-fulfilling prophecy.

by all means, if you have an equitable acquisitive wherewithal, go for it. buy all the bikes you want, because essentially, that's what the bicycle manufacturers would like you to do anyway. perhaps it's not so much about personal need, but an expressed level of altruism through which you hope to support the industry. or maybe it's an adherence to the ideal beloved of published training advice, whereby a soupcon of cross-training will benefit your undoubted physical tenacity. but be honest. maybe it's simply a case of one-upmanship, that could just as easily be satisfied with a digger and a boat.

monday 29 june 2020

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because we're worth it

campagnolo record

pistoia based, italian cymbal maker ufip (unione fabbricanti italiani piatti) has adopted as its slogan 'play the difference', which, on the face of it, sounds like a vague and vain attempt to separate itself from the world's many other cymbal manufacturers. in point of fact, they might just have a point. the majority of professional level cymbals are fabricated from a cast ingot of metal (zildjian's formula is a closely guarded secret, reputedly known to very few within the company), subsequently rolled to shape, with the bell of the cymbal stamped into the metal disc.

ufip, on the other hand, use a method known as rotocasting, where the molten metal is poured into a rotating mold, creating the cymbal disc and the bell at the same time. their reason for doing so is based on the principle that all the impurities in the metal will rotate to the outer edge and be subsequently trimmed when the metal cools, meaning the cymbal disc will be particularly sonorous even before the craftsmen begin the hammering process.

to the best of my knowledge, no other cymbal maker uses this process, tautologically meaning that drummers with ufips upon their cymbal stands, are indeed, 'playing the difference'.

of course, that's not to say that ufip cymbals are substantially different than their peers, and i'm quite sure that concert-goers and album purchasers would have little chance of identifying which particular drummer was playing which make of cymbal. meanwhile, it's a source of wonder and bewilderment to me, that none of the major bicycle component manufacturers have appended a slogan to their adverts, implying that riders choosing their particular marque could be said to be 'riding the difference'. of course, similar to that of the sound of cymbals, all groupsets essentially perform the same function, and it would be a tad iniquitous to suggest otherwise.

it may suit the marketing campaigns of shimano, campagnolo and sram to infer that a finish-line victory was gained predominantly due to the rider featuring their componentry, but i'm sure we all know that such a statement would owe far more to marketing than reality. i have yet to hear a rider complain that, if only he or she had been riding campagnolo/shimano/sram (delete as applicable), victory would have been theirs. the fact is that, they all shift the chain over a set of toothed rear sprockets, some arguably more smoothly than others, but in any case, with a level of efficiency that would have seemed outlandish only a few decades ago. electronic assistance is something of a more recent luxury, but ultimately, not a mitigating factor in any discussion over the relative merits of each.

however, believe it or not, that's not quite the point of what follows. it would be ultimately pointless to compare one with the other; some folks are dyed-in-the-wool campagnolo aficionados, many would admit to the same for both shimano and sram. many more don't actually care which set of gears and brakes are on their bicycles, as long as everything works as expected, even when they've not had cables adjusted or replaced for the past two years. that's just the way the world works.

one of the sunday morning peloton owns a colnago c60, originally fitted with shimano ultegra di2, a groupset which eventually became more trouble than it was worth and which he replaced. a bit fed up with electronica, his c60 is now festooned with a mechanical dura-ace groupset, shimano's top level componentry. my own steel ritchey logic frameset is complemented with a campagnolo record mechanical groupset, one level below super-record, but every bit the equal of dura-ace. cost wise, there's not much to choose between them, though it often seems that there is more of a discount available on shimano than campagnolo if you look hard enough.

leaving electronica aside for the moment, both sets of componentry are of a professional level, ridden by world tour riders before the batteries intervened. in short, they're way too good for either of us, but both engender a sense of self-satisfaction that it's hard to justify or convey. both of us rode around 64 kilometres on saturday and pretty much the same again on sunday, rides that, other than a gravel-infested 14% climb on saturday, could have just as easily been accomplished on shopping bikes (as if either of us would have been seen riding those). however, the quality of ride afforded by each, no matter which marque gains your vote, makes every bike ride just that wee bit more special in a manner that it's very hard to frame in words.

this is made all the more apparent, given that neither of us started out on top-level componentry, having both worked our way up from a remarkably (and embarrassingly) basic level. so now that we've peaked, so to speak, there's a sense of having earned the right to be smug, aboard bicycles that are far better than we are. i should imagine this is a state of affairs that applies to a great many cyclists; if you're one of them, take a moment during your next bike ride to appreciate your good fortune, and just how it feels to be riding professional level equipment without the need to ride really, really fast. it might have cost a fortune, but we're worth it.

next target is a big bus with tinted windows, a rocket espresso machine, sound-system and leather chairs.

shimano dura-ace

sunday 28 june 2020

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outdoor voices

rapha + outdoor voices

it's hard to deny that cycling's rich heritage, of which it seems we were at one time continually reminded, has been dominated by the male of the species. aside from alfonsina strada who managed to infiltrate the giro d'italia in 1924 (and even then, the organisers mistook her for a man), professional racing has remained steadfastly in the male domain. ultimately, it would well behove cycle-sport to be gender neutral and simply exist as cycle-racing, and there are certainly signs of parity being reached in some sectors, but it's likely to be a bit of a long haul.

rapha + outdoor voices

some of this can be laid at the door of the ubiquitous tv coverage, or rather the lack of it, but if any of you read the intelligent piece on velonews earlier this week concerning the almost total lack of live tv coverage of the few european professional events to have stuck their heads above the parapet so far, it's plain that women's cycling is not the only branch without a broadcast strategy. the sad fact is that sponsors want publicity and tv is perceived to be the most direct way of achieving that.

rapha + outdoor voices

if the male branch of the sport struggles, even with the aforementioned heritage, what chance women's racing?

however, leaving cycle-racing to one side for a moment, cycling as an activity is every bit as attractive to his and hers, and the fairer sex has as much desire for sartorial elegance on the bike as have the narcissists which we all know our (male) selves to be. i would have said arguably more so, but thinking of some blokes i know... to this end, rapha have partnered with american-based recreational brand 'outdoor voices', a brand that believes doing things - moving your body and having fun with friends - is the surest way to a happy and healthy life.

rapha + outdoor voices

though the latter can obviously achieved outside of cycling, the recently released rapha + outdoor voices range is unashamedly aimed at the female cyclist, particularly those who might not have previously considered cycling as a 'fashionable' outlet for their excess energy. presently, the range consists of a jersey, wind jacket, high-waisted shorts, cargo bib-shorts, bar bag, light support bra, cap socks and a cropped t-shirt. i'm sure you'd agree that probably none of these are items that can be successfully reviewed by yours truly, but in the absence of any words from me, rapha's head of design, maria olssen, explained further.

rapha + outdoor voices

"Together with Outdoor Voices, we set out to achieve a positive and inclusive experience for all women who love cycling, and also break down some of the barriers which can be a bit overwhelming. We wanted to bring everyone along on the journey through the graphics and colours of the range, without compromising on the technical aspects that we are known for."

a quick look at the collection on rapha's website will inform you as to whether you agree with maria's assessment, but it might be pertinent to also pay heed to rapha's associate creative director, ger tierney.

rapha + outdoor voices

"The Rapha + Outdoor Voices campaign is a celebration of female friendship through cycling. The concept of the creative was inspired by the collection itself; the beautiful terrazzo prints made us think of lots of different textures and layering of collage which felt like a really great tool to merge the identities of both brands into one campaign."

for the gentlemen in our midst, pastel colours and funky prints might not quite be what floats your boat. but i'd commend you to consider the ladies in your life and the strenuous efforts you've made to take them beyond the 'it's only a bike' response, when attempting to raise enthusiasm for your next carbon fibre. and lest you think it a financial investment that might fall on deaf ears (so to speak), rest-assured that most of the range would look every bit at home in the lobby of your training camp holiday hotel, adjacent to a soya latte and a croissant.

but don't just take my word for it. if i might quote from imperial works, "It's a beautiful and playful collection, intended as much for fun and recreation as it is for cycling."

rapha + outdoor voices

all images © cait opperman.

saturday 27 june 2020

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the art of delay

tour de france 2020

i make no apology for once again featuring art blakey, but this time in a slightly different context. recorded in rudy van gelder's hackensack studio in new jersey on march 8 1959, 'just coolin' by art blakey and the jazz messengers comprises a never before released album. though blakey died thirty years ago in october 1990, this album has lain in the blue note vaults since its recording, unreleased. apparently, a matter of weeks after its recording, this particular edition of the jazz messengers recorded a live session from new york's birdland, issued by blue note producer, alfred lion, as 'at the jazz corner of the world', leaving the studio date on the shelf.

though originally scheduled for release in april of this year, the coronavirus pandemic delayed this until 17 july. however, as a taster for the album, on initial purchase of the digital edition, blakey fans could immediately download track four, entitled 'quick trick', while waiting for the whole enchilada in less than a month. endearingly enough, on awaking earlier this week, my ipod presented me with the delightful surprise of 'hipsippy blues', a second track freed from the album in advance of its full release.

giro d'italia 2020

from a brief scan of other pre-release albums on itunes, this would seem to be common practice, something that makes it easier to learn whether a prospective purchase might be to your liking. so why can the same procedure not be applied to announcements of the grand tour routes each year? by all means, let the teams know, to allow for the booking of hotels and travel, but keep it a secret from everyone else, releasing only the location of one or two stages prior to the event.

i know, i know, you're going to point out that the fans would be unable to book their own accommodation, and entries for the étape du tour would have to be made devoid of necessary information. but the latter could be solved by making the étape stage the first to be released, and if no-one knew the entire route, then the scrabble for accommodation would be no different than it is on announcement of the entire boucle.

but why, i hear you ask, would i wish to impose such strictures upon an eager cycling audience? what would be the point, other than perhaps generating greater pent-up excitement for the event? while i find it hard to see any problem with the latter, the principal reason for inflicting this upon an unsuspecting cognoscenti, is that of punditry. mere minutes after a tour route is released to great fanfare in front of sartorially elegant riders and team managers, there is already great conjecture over whether the parcours might best suit chris froome, or egan bernal, just how many stages peter sagan might accumulate and whether any of the team buses are big enough to get stuck under the finish-line.

vuelta espagne 2020

i'm very well aware that magazines, newspapers and broadcasters are desperate for content to fill their pages and news bulletins. but if nothing else, the recent moratorium on professional cycle racing has shown that, with just a smidgeon of ingenuity and effort, those pages can still be filled with interesting reading. i might cite as my witness ed pickering's procycling magazine. the purpose of this esteemed publication is right there in the title, but with no racing since early march, he's had his work cut out to have articles on the other end of the contents. similarly the comic. debbie's generously orders a weekly copy of the latter purely for the edification and entertainment of the velo club, and i have to say, i have noticed little by way of reduction in pagination of late, nor indeed a lowering of quality.

so, in order to lessen my annual frustration, i would respectfully suggest that aso and rcs sport, in conjunction with the uci, follow the lead of blue-note records, and introduce the three grand tours by stating the dates on which each will take place, and taking time only to mention what they regard as the premier stage. at carefully stage-managed intervals, they can then let slip details of one or two other étapes, only announcing the full route around a month or so prior to the grand départ.

what could possibly go wrong?

friday 26 june 2020

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can we have our ball back please?

wattbike atom

rightly or wrongly, scotland's parliament has been a tad more cautious about relaxing its imposed covid-19 restrictions, but with yesterday's announcements from nicola sturgeon, preceded by john swinney's statement concerning the return of schools in august, it appears our little island coronavirus bubble is soon to burst. of greatest concern has been the re-opening of tourism to the island. until now, we have experienced no hospitalised cases whatosever, and despite the daily arrival of mainland delivery trucks throughout the period of lockdown, islay has remained one of the safest places to live. however, given that our current status would indicate little or no presence of the virus on the island, it seems likely that the only way that will change is its potential arrival from the mainland.

therefore, there exists a perpetual conundrum between remaining healthy and free from illness, and the unpleasant knowledge that, if things don't open up soon, a lot of people and businesses will suffer serious financial difficulties. the current advice is that all accommodation can re-open on wednesday 15 july, a fact that has caused calmac to bring forward a planned increase in the number of daily, return sailings to four. originally those were pencilled in for 28 july. reputedly there is pent up demand for a holiday break on the islands, if only to relieve the pressures of having been locked down in more populated areas of the mainland.

bruichladdich distillery announced last week, that their shop and visitor centre would remain closed throughout the summer months, with a review of the situation due to take place in september. at present, all of the other distilleries remain closed to public access, and unless that changes, a holiday break on islay might not resemble people's expectations. should we experience a wet windy summer, a not altogether unknown state of affairs, there might be precious little to do but walk along atlantic beaches wearing wellies and with a hood up.

there is little doubt, however, that things have been gradually reverting to 'normal' in the past few weeks, with more cars on the road, fewer parking spaces in the village and a notable change in the estimation of just what constitutes two metres. all those who were anxious to have their bicycles repaired to effect safer, localised travel, are now conspicuous by their absence, and there are indications that conduct conditioned by the threat is receding into the background in favour of more 'normal' behaviour.

however, the relaxation of covid-19 restrictions is, in the main, to be welcomed. granted, they have had no adverse effect on my weekly cycling regime, other than several weeks undertaken as a solo cyclist, but others on the mainland have been less fortunate in that respect. judging by my twitter feed, e-mailed press releases and occasional website visits, a great many have taken to riding indoors, with even eurosport featuring zwift-based racing in the absence of the real thing. but now with the prospect of the return of road-racing on the horizon, brian smith, carlton kirby, ned boulting et al, will no doubt be appraising themselves of the composition of the world tour teams, ready and willing to enlighten us thoughout a compact and bijou, concentrated season of racing.

the bicycle was quite plainly designed for travel, to take human beings from point a to point b at a speed demonstrably quicker than walking. now well into its second century, it has seen continued technical developments, making it lighter, stronger and arguably faster, few of which would have been deemed necessary had the intention always been to clamp the back wheel to a roller and get all hot and sweaty in the sitting room. for starters, nobody would ever have considered releasing aero frames upon a less than demanding public, and the helmet industry would effectively go out of business overnight.

observationally, it will be interesting to note if zwift and strava experience a notable reduction in subscriptions when renewal dates hove into view. will the daily habit of clambering aboard a stationary bicycle to stare at an ipad have become ingrained in the sporting psyche, particularly if the great outdoors looks less than meteorogically inviting? or will the world's cyclists heave a collective sigh of relief that they can once again feel the wind on their faces, experience punctures miles from home and return with a muddy brown stripe up the back of their jerseys?

i suspect there will be adherents on both sides: the ability to train and improve without traffic interference was always possible before lockdown, but after thirteen weeks, the habit might be hard to break. as opposed to those with a more intrepid outlook, for whom the spring classics are the be all and end all, even if they're held in autumn. the singularity is still several decades in the future; celebrate outside on whatever bike you happen to own, even in the wind and rain. because had things worked out differently, that might have no longer been an option.

illustration from wattbike

thursday 25 june 2020

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money for nothing

bike repair vouchers

in order to meet its climate change obligations, the british government elected to move forward the phasing out of all new petrol and diesel powered cars from 2040 to 2035. that will mean that, in only fifteen years, it will not be possible to visit your car showroom of choice and order something into which it will be necessary to regularly pour a flammable liquid. electricity will be the fuel du jour, including, as i understand matters, the outlawing of hybrid cars, both plug-in and otherwise. obviously enough, filling station proprietors need not fear entirely for their livelihoods for a few years following 2035, as there will still likely be a sizeable number of both petrol and diesel vehicles on the road, with a relatively healthy lifespan.

as those of us who have experienced even a distant brush with trying to persuade fellow workmates to cycle to work will know, incentive is key. at present, that incentive, aside from a moral duty to the right thing by the planet, comes in the guise of a government grant towards the purchase of an electric vehicle, or what the government prefers to call an lev, or 'low emission vehicle'. this subsidy is designed to offer 35% towards the cost of an lev, up to a maximum of £3,000.

this is not a grant for which the prospective owner can apply, but is more usually acquired on the customer's behalf by the manufacturer, thus acting as a straighforward discount. it will surprise no-one, i shouldn't think, that there is no comparable subsidy for those who may like to offer velocipedinal support for climate change (notwithstanding the knowledge that analogue bicycles offer even greater salve to the planet), via the purchase of an e-bike. transport scotland currently offers an interest free loan of up to £3,000 towards purchase of a qualifying e-bike, though a colleague who applied for the loan eventually gave up in exasperation after almost three months and bought the bike of her choice. two weeks later, the loan turned up in her bank account.

as far as i know, there is no comparable loan available south of the border.

however, all is not entirely lost for the intrepid cyclist. in the coming weeks, the uk government will offer cyclists with non-functioning bicycles, a £50 voucher towards repair or possibly even servicing of their bicycles. these vouchers will be redeemable through bicycle repair businesses who register and meet eligibility requirements, including possession of public liability insurance. bikeshops and service centres will be provided with a full list of criteria and conditions when registering. i'm presuming these conditions are to prevent the bloke working from his garden shed, offering to oil your chain.

to make life simpler for the searching cyclist, a map of all participating bike shops and mechanics will be available on the energy saving trust website.

out here in the sticks, we are somewhat inured from the vicissitudes of bike shop labour charges, so i checked with one or two to gain some indication of just how far the £50 voucher might stretch. one indicated that a basic service commenced at £30, while a more comprehensive workout cost £70. a gear service would be looking at £20 and similar for mechanical brake cable servicing. surprisingly, to me at least, one indicated that inner tube replacement would relieve me of £15, though in mitigation, i could have had the wheel trued at the same time if necessary. one even offered a professional cleaning service beginning at £30. most of them said that if a job took longer than expected, they would charge accordingly.

so, while £50 is a welcome discount towards any necessary work required to keep your bicycle on the road, unless the work is relatively minimal, you'll still need to dip into your pocket when they hand you the bill. in comparison to £3,000 towards a low-emission vehicle, a £50 voucher seems rather small potatoes, but with the price of a skoda iv se (one of the most economically priced electric cars) beginning at a smidgeon under £17,500, comparison is probably not a valid undertaking. however, it's more likely that the £50 voucher is aimed at encouraging continued bicycle riding as britain exits lockdown, than any attempt to make dent in the country's climate change obligations.

so, if the bike needs work done soon, just try ignoring the squeaks and grinding noises for a further week or two, before you apply for a voucher.

wednesday 24 june 2020

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chocolate fireguards

jmw solicitors survey

from the age of twelve, until i left for art college at the age of seventeen, i held down a daily paper-run, delivering newspapers to houses all over my home town. there's no denying that this wasn't yesterday, but i've always felt a bit sorry for the kids on islay, who have never experienced the joy of getting up at stupid o'clock on dark, wet winter mornings to push some folded, soggy newsprint through someone's letterbox. the daily papers, always assuming someone remembers to put them on the ferry (the papers miss the boat more often than you'd like to think), don't arrive until around about 10am, at least one hour after the school day begins. islanders have long suffered the hardship of collecting their newspapers in person.

however, as intimated last week, delivery of the local community newspaper received a velocipedinal shot in the arm when the chap from port charlotte village store rode to bowmore to collect his sale copies, and the two of us returned via a necessary coffee. then on saturday morning, due to miscommunication, i took the opportunity to cycle to portnahaven to deliver the sales copies to that particular village shop. on a bright, sunny and relatively warm saturday, i didn't need a lot of persuading.

the road leading from bowmore to port charlotte is two-lane, narrowing to a single track road for the last seven miles to portnahaven. as with single track roads throughout the isles and the western highlands, overtaking is made possible by means of frequent passing places. if you live here, chances are you probably know where each of the latter is situated all across the island, and with even a working knowledge of those on jura. on a couple of roads, these are highlighted by 'passing place' signs, but the portnahaven road isn't one of them.

therefore, on my return trip to bruichladdich for lunch at debbie's, as i was nearing octofad farm, i was aware of a motor vehicle approaching from behind. on an incline, i had neither the enthusiasm or the perceived need to take any action, for a matter of four or five metres from my front wheel, was a double passing place, offering space on both sides of the road. true to form (i'm sad to say), the car overtook me anyway, the driver obviously lacking the patience to wait a couple of seconds to allow safe passage for both of us.

we're all friends here. we're probably all cyclists and we've probably all encountered the same circumstances more frequently than we'd care to admit. being a confident and competent cyclist nowadays has every bit as much to do with how you cope with situations as highlighted above, as to how judicious you are when choosing the right gear for a climb.

jmw solicitors, has offices in london, manchester and liverpool and apparently features a team of solicitors available to deal with cycling matters. they recently published the results of a survey that would indicate that more than half of us consider other road-users to bear the brunt of responsibility for negative impact upon our confidence on the road. while i can understand that certain sections of the motoring public, such as the individual mentioned above, can give rise to confidence issues due either to their insensitive regard for cyclists, or the perception of such likelihood, reputedly the cyclists polled in the survey also cited motorcyclists and pedestrians amongst their collective bêtes noire.

if you don't mind me saying so, that seems a tad all-encompassing and ever so slightly disingenuous, particularly in respect of the pedestrian portion of the community. this, on the face of it, would tend to smack very much of a 'we're right, you're wrong' attitude. there's little doubt that cyclists view themselves at the foot of the pecking order, for which there is substantial, catalogued evidence. far more is spent on road provision to benefit cars and motorcycles, than on safe cycling facilities. it's worth remembering that (with good reason), cyclists are not allowed on britain's extensive and expensive motorway system.

ultimately, i'm not sure what this particular survey hopes to prove. though the numbers may vary depending on who's asking the questions, and which questions are asked, vehicular users have been subdivided into degrees of irritation: van drivers worst at 86%, cars close behind (if you'll pardon the pun) at 84% and taxi drivers at 76%. yet here was me thinking that moaning always had to add up to 100%.

there's no doubt that an ever-increasing number of motorists regard the roads as their own personal feifdom, unwilling to accept that cyclists have as much right to do so, as do they. some of that is an unfortunate aspect of human nature, and no amount of cycling-specific facilities is going to change that. and there's no doubt that riding midst inner-city and urban motor traffic can be a daunting prospect, but for those who have recently passed their driving tests, i doubt that driving in the same conditions is any less scary. there are several measures that could alleviate some of this lack of confidence: instigating the 'dutch door reach' to ensure drivers check behind them before opening their car doors, construct separate cycle lanes where possible, and alter the legislation to make drivers guilty in all motor vehicle/cycle accidents, until proven otherwise.

conducting a survey, offering up tautological results and then proclaiming that "JMW Solicitors is recommending that road users are aware of cyclists and ensure that they give enough space and time for cyclists to use the roads." doesn't quite strike me as the solution to all our ills, or immediately able to offer a much-needed confidence boost. we've all been saying that for more years than i've been writing thewashingmachinepost, and yet, here we are.

jmw solicitors

tuesday 23 june 2020

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