London’s whirlwind love affair with cycling does not seem like stopping. Boris bikes reign ubiquitous in central, Fixie-gears have become fashion accessories, and at rush hour it is actually the riders, not the drivers, ruling the junctions through sheer weight of numbers. We’re certainly not Copenhagen or Amsterdam, but largely through word-of-mouth, more and more wavering commuters have been encouraged to pound the pedals.
This change has had consequences. Since I first started riding to university over 3 years ago, the experience on certain stretches of road is now almost unrecognisable from how it used to be, and not always for the better.
Traffic signals were designed for cars. They are often annoying and unnecessary for a cyclist who knows the road and has a smidgen of common sense, leading to most riders to inhabiting some kind of twilight zone between car and pedestrian when it comes to obeying them. Unfortunately, over time this had led to a certain arrogance that endangers both the people who just want to cross the road without feeling like they’re crossing no-man’s land as well the cyclists who plough into them.
…are inevitably going to get cut up by a moron on two wheels…
Perhaps most worryingly though is the ire this provokes in cabbies. The levels of car-cyclist animosity seem to be through the roof. Those who spend their whole day driving around London are inevitably going to get cut up by a moron on two wheels at some point, before assuming through classic taxi driver logic that everyone else is in the wrong too.
As the tone of this article may so far have suggested, the cycling ‘community’ is increasingly fractious, with a whole spectrum of stereotypes now fully fledged, from the clueless hipster, to the die-hard in full lycra regalia, to the ponytailed courier who will. not. stop. for. anything.
While cycling is likely to remain an attractive option for Londoners, especially given current levels of public spending, some of us may be approaching the point where we utter the dreaded words: “I liked it before it got so mainstream”, thus consigning bikes to the same canon as American Apparel hoodies and dubstep…