Saturday, June 17, 2006

Who'd be a cyclist?

click photo to enlarge
There is a tension between cyclists and motorists that needs to be resolved. Cyclists feel threatened, and often are threatened, by the close proximity of fast moving vehicles. Many feel the need to ride defensively, and sometimes illegally, to increase their safety. Motorists feel frustrated at having to share the carriageway with less expensive, slower moving vehicles which have the temerity to overtake them in congested areas, and don't even pay for the road or have to take a test! And yet, it's in both parties' interests to accommodate each other. Every cyclist on the road frees up road space and parking for motorists - and makes the oil last longer! Many motorists are also cyclists, and many want to be cyclists, so courtesy and acceptance would be beneficial. But, the tensions continue.

I cycle and drive, and I know it takes not just physical effort, but a strong committment, to do the former. The transport system in the UK is geared up for motorists, and being a cyclist is hard work. From roundabouts whose design doesn't acknowledge cyclists, to cycle "tracks" and "paths" that inexplicably and suddenly stop, to the lack of proper parking, it seems that in our country, tokenism at best, is all the cyclist deserves. There are cities that offer the two-wheeled traveller a much better deal - York and Peterborough spring to mind. But, outside the enlightened metropolitan areas we cyclists have to be grateful for the crumbs of spending that drop from the motorists' plate.

These cycle parking stands in Blackpool reminded me of bottle openers, but despite that are much better than the cycle parking of old - a concrete slab with a groove in it, guaranteed to buckle your wheel! I used a wide angle lens and isolated the stands from the background, concentrating on showing them, with their shadows, against the blockwork paving. When I looked at the image on the computer the strong shadows accompanying the hooped shapes, seemed to have an inter-woven "wibbly wobbly" effect, reminiscent of a child's first zig-zag excursion on two wheels!
photograph & text (c) T. Boughen