A quickerbybiker spotted this at the weekend and sent me a link to the article in the Sunday Times, written by Minette Marrin.
She says a great deal that is sensible; she sees the benefits of cycling as a fun, free and fast means of travel in London but finds these benefits obliterated by the dangers of busy roads, the aggression of other cyclists, the pollution and the prospect of spending your day at the office being smelly because there are no showers where you work.
There certainly is a problem of attitude by cyclists on the road, as Minette points out. I've always found some London cyclists to be obnoxious and irresponsible. It would be great to encourage them to be more friendly and to behave properly. For the most part though, I think the bustle of cycle commuters is a very friendly place to be.
The pollution in a car is, I understand, no better than outside the car.
I'm lucky enough to have an office with a shower, as are most of my cycle-commuting friends. Those who have no shower at work have the hassle of showering at a local gym. In any event, I think the solution is to encourage employers to install showers, rather than to wrire cycling off as inherently unhygenic.
Minette does acknowledge that many of her friends, and thousands of others in London, really enjoy their commute by bike and I think this is the key point: whilst Minette Marrin does not enjoy cycling, it does not follow that cycling is not enjoyable.
I agree with Minette's stance so far as it applies to her and to others who do not enjoy cycling. It's always wretched for people to be doing things they don't enjoy, whether it's going to a gym, reading Shakespeare, eating out or entertaining. I always want to see people cheerful in what they're doing, particularly if what they're doing is something I love.
There are a great many people for whom cycling will never be fun and I wouldn't wish cycling on them for anything.
I'm sure there are many however who, disliking cycling in the first instance, might find a type of fun in it that appeals to them if they persevere a little.