Sunday, 21 October 2012

Cycle chic and bicycle culture

There are as many aspects of bicycle culture as there are kinds of people who ride a bicycle. Sporting types and fitness freaks who never cycle for mundane transportation reasons, only to keep fit and achieve speed or distance targets. People who only cycle to get from A to B and have no interest in bicycles, just ride them. Bicycle collectors who have several bikes, maybe several of the same sort, but hate to get their perfect machines dirty. People who cycle because it's trendy. Gadget enthusiasts who have an expensive bicycle and as many cycling accessories as they can get their hands on: bike clothing, bike bags, bike maintenance kits. Enthusiasts who cycle everywhere and think of themselves as cyclists, read and talk about cycling, wear clothes that match their bike, dream of owning their ultimate bike, whatever that might be. Creative types who are more interested in acquiring new and different bikes than in actually riding them. Timid cyclists who only ride on cycle paths or the pavement. Confident riders who prefer main roads because they are faster - but also ride on the pavement when the road doesn't go where they want to go. Stunt riders. Messengers who ride for a weekly wage. Eccentrics with an eccentrically decorated, battered machine that is something a bit too close a best friend. Individualists who set out to explore the world on two wheels. The common thread is the bicycle itself: a bike requires energy and takes you from door to door, never runs out of fuel, improves your health and fitness if you ride it, needs little looking after and never goes out of fashion. Each subgroup of cyclists contributes something to bicycle culture, above and beyond the bare equipment and the primary purpose for which it is used. That Copenhagen-style Cycle Chic is just scraping the surface.

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

The path less travelled

This is one of the small gardens in front of Euston station, popular with office workers as well as the deadbeats who frequent the area - a green oasis in between the bus station and the non-stop traffic mayhem on Euston Road. So why the fence blocking off the path? Well, it's just a dirt path crossing the grass by the most direct route, beaten down hard by many years of use, quite muddy in winter but well used by thousands of feet in a hurry. Not any more. Instead of making a proper path where it's obviously wanted, there's a new fence that blocks the route. One day, perhaps, the council might dig it up and put in some grass seed, but for now it looks rather silly.