Let’s establish one fact. In London everyone hates cyclists. Even the cyclists hate cyclists. Now that we got it out of the way we can proceed to the point of this post.
I am not a cyclist. I do ride a bike however. I wouldn’t to be described by the mean of transport I use. I often use the Woolwich Ferry yet I do not consider myself to be a river sailor. I first got a bicycle in my adult life end of April 2010. I had been in London for 4 years and during that time I used buses, tubes and DLR to get to work because I thought that a car was a waste of time and money. During these four years it never crossed my mind to get on a bicycle.
Why? The only cyclist I ever saw were ones that looked very alike the Tour de France competitors. I am not saying they were the only ones on the road, but they were the most numerous and the most visible. I didn’t see it very practical and convenient to ride like this . Secondly what I knew about cycling in London was that it made people die under HGVs and that you had to dodge cars and try to survive. It wasn’t very appealing I must say.
It was only once I’ve had to jump between two jobs that I decided to give the bicycle a try. Now I wanted a bike that’s fast and matched others I saw, so I went to the sports supermarket Decathlon and bought their cheapest road bike plus some lycra and jerseys , helmet, shoes - the lot. I bought all this because that was the image of a cyclist in my head. I didn’t know any better.
In the eyes of the general population riding a bicycle is a sport (cycling), where you either dart between lorries or take part in terrifying pileups during races. Cycling makes you sweaty and requires that you wear lycra, helmet and ridiculous hi vis jackets. This will never appeal to the general public.
If using a bicycle for transportation is to be popular more people riding in their every-day clothes are necessary. People mustn’t feel like they are participating in a race while riding a bike. And people need segregated bicycle paths to ride their bikes. Then it becomes riding a bike and stops being cycling.