Thursday, 28 February 2013

Why I Cycle

Never Photograph Yourself While Cycling - It's Dangerous!
Ever since I was a young child, I have cycled. Now, several decades later, I still enjoy the trouble free parking and the freedom to slip past traffic, through parks and shortcut down paths. Within the city it is very often faster and easier to ride than to drive.
A Ten Mile Bike Ride In The Forest of Dean
Children love to go on a bike ride, they can cope with surprisingly long distances and as long as the route is safe, I really enjoy watching them swishing along getting fitter and stronger. Bikes are cheap too, you can get a nice second hand bicycle for next to nothing and after a service they ride as good as new.
Bike Ride!
I have always used my bike for pleasure and as a great fun way to keep fit, and this becomes more important as I get older. Thanks largely to Bradley Wiggins and the rest of our Olympic heroes; we are now seeing an upsurge in cycling on our roads. The roads are also gradually becoming safer, with more cycle lanes, paths and better awareness.
Always Wear A Suitable Helmet
Cycling, as opposed to driving, is also a splendid way to save money. Not having a car can save you about £5000 per year off your annual bills. I don’t mind spending money on my bike and equipment, because I save so much by using it. A few years ago we decided, as a family, that we could cope with only one car. I now pedal to work most days; the journey is about 4 – 5 miles each way, depending on my route. I arrive puffed and with my blood is pumping - I feel awake and alive.
All Wrapped Up
It is obviously necessary to buy suitable protective clothing, when cycling through the English Winter. Even if it pours, I don’t arrive wet when I am properly equipped. I took the precaution of covering my bike in retro-reflective tape, making it very visible at night. It now lights up like a Christmas tree in car headlamps; it looks pretty cool in bright sunlight too.
Be Bright!
Bike lights have come on in leaps and bounds since the advent of LED technology, and they can now be as bright as car's. The batteries last ages too; I have not replaced mine for over a year. Bright clothing, is the obvious choice for the cyclist; wearing dark clothing, or riding without lights at dusk or night time, is asking for trouble.
Zooming Onto the Bevois Boardwalk
One other essential item that I really enjoy is my air-horn; it is as loud as a claxon and will easily make oblivious-fools-crossing-the-road-while-texting-or-wearing-headphones, jump out of their skin and then (hopefully) back onto the pavement. It is simply charged by my bike pump and yet I can now easily compete with car horns.
We Painted That Bike Together
 When you commute by bike every day, you soon get to know the most dangerous places on the roads. Places where drivers try to pass you, where there is not sufficient room. Places where drivers tend to accelerate to overtake you, only to break and turn left. Places where drivers do not look left, as they zoom across roundabouts regardless (on these occasions, the horn really helps). 
Southampton Sky Ride
I now have a helmet camera and have been recording the fun I have riding to and from work. I will shortly edit it all together and post it in here (number-plates and all) for people (and traffic police) to see. 
Of course, you need to be constantly vigilant when riding, we all make mistakes, and everyone will miss something, or misjudge the situation occasionally. Online discussions between cyclists and motorists can become quickly polarised, with the same silly quarrels being batted back and forth. It’s worth remembering though that most adult cyclists, also own cars too, they are riding as a lifestyle choice.

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