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Track Racing Not For the City

21/08/2008

In a welcome return to form, Andrea at Velorution has brought this horrible article from the BBC to my attention.

Titled “What Commuter Cyclists Can Learn From Chris Hoy”, the article details several techniques that the regular cyclist can borrow from our Olympic heroes.

Taking nothing away from the amazing acheivements of Hoy, Wiggins, Pendleton etc, how on earth can you even start to compare the two modes of cycling? Commuter cycling shouldn’t be about breaking speed barriers or riding slipstreams – it should be a safe and pleasant way to maneouvre oneself through a city.

As Andrea points out very well, this sort of attitude is extremely detrimental to the public image of the cyclist in London. By cycling aggresively, one only succeeds in pissing off other road users and pedestrians. The biggest lesson one learns from cycling as opposed to driving is just how little time is saved by trying to go fast. The road systems in central London are designed to stop you from going too quickly – stop signs, road junctions and traffic lights all combine to make any excess attempts at acceleration entirely futile. Just as jumping traffic lights is an activity that does more damage to the public image of cyclists than it aids your journey.

I’m not saying that cyclists should be timid and weak on the roads – all intrepid commuters are aware of the importance of holding your position and imposing yourself on the traffic which might otherwise ignore you – but the sort of aggressive idiocy championed by fixed-gear riders and messengers is annoying for all road users, and off-putting for those potential cyclists who might be tempted to brave the streets of London.

So well done Chris, Bradley, Victoria and Rebecca. Many congratulations on your many medals. Let’s hope that you’re amazing feats will encourage more people to cycle in London. But let’s also hope that they don’t feel the need to copy the way you ride a bicycle.

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