Friday, 2 February 2007

Cycling influences

There have been some complaints that cyclists are above the law, but only a few will use pavements and go through red lights. Sometimes there isn’t a good route for cyclists, and using the pavement at an appropriate speed may be the safest way. Sometimes the law needs to be changed, laws that aren’t observed make the law look foolish.

Its been suggested to register every bike and cyclist, but this seems unworkable to me, there are many millions of cycles, many in sheds getting rusty. We should be encouraging cyclists not attacking them for the bad habits of a few. Some cyclists think of themselves as pedestrians with wheels so rules for cars don’t apply. Others see themselves as cars with ought engines, and follow the rules of the road. It is a bit odd that its illegal to cycle on the pavement, but ok to walk with your bike, what about a compromise like sitting on the saddle and moving with your feet on the ground?

Long before cars, roads were paved for cyclists, and that encouraged the development of the car. Some cycle manufacturers went on to make cars, like Peugeot. Henry Ford started working with bicycles, and that Orville and Wilbur Wright originally ran a bicycle repair shop in Dayton, Ohio, before their experimentation in 1903 at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina.

Victorian women changed their clothing to enable them to cycle, big skirts were out. Men as well had more opportunities, records of marriages in late 19th century were increasingly in inter-parish after the introduction of the bicycle. Frances E. Willard, a leader of the women's social reform movement in the 1890's wrote a book ‘How I learned to ride the bicycle’. She says ‘the bicycle has been responsible for more movement in manners and morals than anything since Charles II. Chaperones, long narrow skirts, tight corsets have wilted, strong nerves, legs and language, knickers, knowledge of make and shape, equality of sex, good digestion and professional occupation have bloomed. In four words, the emancipation of women.’

Cycling has added to our freedom, changes fashions and our landscape. Join your local cycling club/ sustrans, and get some good cycle maps of your area. Its a great way to explore and be healthy.

1 comment:

Ailbhe said...

Which rules to follow: I think cyclists need to curry favour with other road/footpath users and follow whichever rules apply on the path they are using. That does mean getting off and pushing if one chooses to use a pedestrian-only path, which is something I often do.

Female emancipation: Gawd. 120 years and still such a long way to go.