Re: Cycling

The thing about the 1960s…was the Government Information films which patronised the post-war generation.

Americans were told interesting things like how to survive a nuclear war by sitting under a desk. But we had “Carry On” actor Peter Butterworth coughing and sneezing. “Coughs and Sneezes Spread Diseases” we were told. “Trap Your Germs in A Hankerchief” we were told.

My generation of Children were told “look left, look right, look left again….and if all is clear….cross the road”. My wife’s generation were taught a slightly different version “The Green Cross Code”. There was even a super-hero,  The Green Cross Code Man. Actor Dave Prowse would later be Darth Vadar.

A lot of these information films were cheap cartoons. Road Safety was heavily featured. “Dip Your Headlights” and only use the “hard shoulder” on the motorways in an emergency.

The Highway Code was a big thing. There were rules and each rule had a number.

Which brings me to CYCLING. Cyclists were advised….no….cyclists were TOLD to ride in single file.

I am a neutral in the war between Drivers and Cyclists. I cant drive a car.

And I have seen Cycling become safer…well at least it SHOULD be safer. Helmets. High-Visibility jackets.

Of course back in the 1960s, only teenagers and old men ….working class old men…..rode bicycles.

I dont think anybody ever saw Cycling emerge as a leisure or fitness programme, a way to get to and from work more quickly or a means of saving the Environment. In fact in the 1960s, we didnt have the Environment. The Environment wasnt actually invented until about 1977.

Working class men dont ride bicycles anymore. Middle class yuppies in skin tight high visibility lyrca ride state of the art bicycles, mostly in South Belfast. Cycling to their city job and home again to eat vegetable curry with a life partner and hand knit a Computer to save the planet.

The more yuppie, they are the more assertive they are. They know their rights on the road. They have no grasp of their responsibility. I saw a yuppy confront a Post Office driver in Great Victoria Street recently. The yuppy was in the wrong. Saving trees in the Amazon does not give the eco-warrior the right to be a bastard.

Like I said, I am fairly neutral on the whole Driver -Cyclist thing. And indeed the third road user….the Pedestrian. But I note that while there have always been aggressive Drivers, the aggressive Cyclist is a new thing.

Way beyond Belfast, we have cycling clubs. These guys and (increasingly) girls know their rights. Let me state that our local clubs are fairly resposible. Often an experienced rider is at the front and back of their peletons. But I have seen clubs and of course groups of riders act very badly. Whatever happened to that Highway Code rule about riding in single file.

Let me declare an interest. I was damn near killed outside the RDS in Dublin in October last year.nA cyclist just flew thru traffic lights. My untimely demise would be a loss to the World in general and Blogging in particular.



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6 Responses to Re: Cycling

  1. Rowan Silverbeard says:

    i find they go through red lights, but they are supposed to stop at red lights. Even as a pedestrian I have to watch for cyclists when the green man appears.

    • Thats what happened at the RDS. The man following me, saw it and said it was dangerous and the cyclist himself cycled on. It really shocked me.

      • frank7778 says:

        A cyclist who nearly cycled into me when the green man was lit up actually angrily told *me* off for not looking out for cyclists even though she was going through a red light at the time. I find them quite aggressive.

        One thing you perhaps didn’t mention about this new breed of cyclists is that they like to cycle fast. Rather than the old bicycle clip and wicker basket style of a bygone era, these cyclists have their head down and drop handle bars. For a pedestrian in London it can actually be quite nerve wrecking looking for cars and then wondering which direction a cyclist might fly past from. They have separated cycle lanes and you have to look out for cyclists now in a different way from how you look out for cars. And the fact they go so FAST makes it intimidating.

        If you have ever been to Copenhagen or Amsterdam I am told that they have a completely different cycling culture, more like our old one, where people sit upright and cycle more slowly. I wish for that!

      • I think it was 1987 that stephen Roche won the tour de france and Ireland had two cyclists in the top 5 for most of the 1980s. This led to a growth in club membership, bike shops, cycle clothing etc but eventually that boom burst but seems to be having a revival just now.
        As well as sports fans, there is the “green” types and the fitness types.bthese are three very different groups. There is a “holier than thou” attitude and I think some rage….I was thinking about your comment a while ago….it might be related to age profile as these folks are usually under 35 but more so I think it is that these people live in a bubble…Of ipods, ipads, smart phones. They are at heart anti social and isolTed.

  2. dedeideoprofundis says:

    “Coughs and Sneezes Spread Diseases” we were told. “Trap Your Germs in A Hankerchief”
    These were posters in my class in Babies and Senior Infants around about 1951, 52.
    I sound my horn when I am confronted by a group of bycyclists straddling the road, it doesn’t make them pull over but it sure annoys them!

    • They have a sense of entitlement.
      There was also an advert about fostering children…an older girl and a younger boy (siblings). I vaguely remember them appearing on something like Whats My Line.
      I often wondered if they were real orphans or actors.

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