Thursday, September 29, 2011

UK cycling - a shadow of its potential

click photo to enlarge
I said the other day that I've always preferred my bicycle to my car. It's a more civilized form of transport that respects the environment and promotes the health of the rider. For short distance travel it cannot be surpassed, and even for slightly longer journeys it is surprisingly effective. But today too many people are blinded to the advantages of the bicycle by the omnipresent danger presented by the motor car.

 In fact, the bicycle is not an especially dangerous form of transport and over the whole population of riders is responsible for prolonging a vastly greater number of lives than it curtails. However, the average potential cyclists sees multiple high-speed tons of metal whizzing up and down the road and pictures what would happen to their body and the bike if one came into contact with them. In that imagining they turn their backs on cycling. And that prevents - at least in the UK - the establishment of a critical mass of cyclists that have to be catered for by better cycle paths, space on main roads, more realistic speed limits, parking etc. I took today's photograph in Peterborough, an English city that makes better provision for cycling than most. Yet, the cycle stands in the pedestrian areas were nowhere near full, and cyclists on roads, though present, were not visible in great numbers. If cycling cannot thrive in this flat city, I reflected, where will it?

I've posted a photograph of these cycle stands and their shadows before, and a different design in Blackpool. In fact bicycles have become a recurrent theme in my photography. For example - No cycling, a shop bike, incendiary bicycles, a drowned bicycle, a bicycle silhouette, a dismounted cyclist, a rubbish bike, and a bright yellow cyclist. What I've never photographed is a small group or a large number of cyclists. Perhaps one day!

photograph and text (c) T. Boughen

Camera: Canon
Mode: Aperture Priority
Focal Length: 23mm
F No: f6.3
Shutter Speed: 1/100
ISO: 100
Exposure Compensation:  -0.33 EV
Image Stabilisation: On