Monday, September 01, 2014

Commuter Bikes

There was an article in the "Guardian" on Saturday on the Money pages about saving money by buying a bike to commute to work. We both found this an interesting article because we've been to Amsterdam and Copenhagen, where a third or so of inner city journeys are made by bike. One sees all sorts of bikes underway there. The article was intended for London readers. Even the "Guardian" now seems to believe that life in the rest of the UK is not possible. The Guardian's approach seemed to be buy a sporty road bike, perhaps even with dropped handlebars. You get there quicker. Your bike is cooler than anybody else's. Fortunately before I crumpled the paper in a ball and flung it in the waste paper bin*, the author did recount that most of the bikes did come without mudguards/fenders and that these were very important.

We both feel quite strongly that for inner city cycling a sit up and beg bike with mudguards/fenders and a luggage rack and/or a basket at the front is a lot more use. The majority of the bikes in Amsterdam and Copenhagen are of this type. They may not be "sexy", but they are comfortable to ride, you can carry stuff without wearing a rucksack and you see what's going on round about you. Defensive cycling, looking out for danger strikes us as sensible, especially in cities. When your nose is almost touching the front wheel, this is difficult.

There is another aspect to the buying of sexy bikes. Some years ago, a friend of ours in her 40's had a road bike built by the best local frame builder. She picked it up and decided to cycle round the block. As she passed the high school next door, she heard one boy say to another, "Check out the old bat on the cool bike!"

 *This would have been difficult as we read the Kindle edition.

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