Sunday, August 19, 2007

BICYCLE: NO!


Sometimes I mention things here that I like or I don't like, then completely change my mind. The exceptions to this are usually anything to do with APC (I swear I'm not on commission) or Lola (again, not on commission).

So, in the name of fairness for anyone who's been reading awhile, I shall re-visit a few of my former opinions. The first and most important for my conscience is the whole Bicycle! thing.

On trips to Paris I kept noticing all these chic young things cycling around wearing dresses and heels and looking all relaxed. It seemed like such a good idea. On my return to London I bought a bike. Really, I should have known when I wrote the words:

"So, my new bike is fine. It's fine. It's got two wheels and handlebars, it's not the love of my life..."

I know that I need things to be practical, function perfectly, but also look absolutely amazing; to the point where I have needed but not bought a new cafetiere for three years because I can't find one aesthetically pleasing enough. I need to love it in some way.

So then I got on my bike and quickly found that negotiating buses and lorries trying to mow you down in three merging lanes of traffic whilst avoiding opening car doors and pot holes, pedaling furiously and red faced, wearing a dorky helmet and seriously considering the need for a yellow reflective vest was er, not quite what I'd imagined. Also noticing other cyclists' aggressive kamikaze antics was enough to make me want to take to the pavement, which you can actually be arrested for. (Idea for TfL: Instead of fancy ads and expensive bike lanes that peter out after a few meters, why not paint a line down the middle of the pavement and have one half for cyclists, half for pedestrians in quiet areas where there's not much foot traffic?)

Then there was a news item about the agency responsible for those charming "You're better off by bike" adverts that were so obviously filmed at four o' clock in the morning, where cycle symbols painted on the road everywhere in London (oh, so that's where they all went!) peel themselves up off the road and cycle around 'cos it's all so lovely, lalala. Well the people who work at that agency were advised not to cycle to work because CYCLING IN LONDON IS TOO DANGEROUS.

Then, my friend saw a dead cyclist who'd met the bonnet of a car in Greenwich Great Park, which has only one road with a low speed limit running through it. Oh, and then I broke my foot so couldn't cycle anyway, so my ordinary, average bike just clutters up the hallway and gets knocked over every time someone walks past it. The moral of the story is: I'm selling it and no one who lives in London is allowed to buy it.

12 comments:

kunsthaus said...

Sorry, but this was hilarious. Although I feel you, really do. There's exactly one district (and there are 23) in Vienna in which you can kinda get around with a bike due to pavements for cyclists. Of course I happen not to live in this district, since it's the rich-people-district. And I actually quite love to cycle.

But anyway, you said you are gonna visit Vienna?! So, how long are you going to stay in Vienna and what do you want to do?

jennifer :: the make lounge said...

I cycle every day in London and love it, but I also loved your post. Lovely, evocative writing.

Bombay Beauty said...

I was thinking of getting a two-wheeled torture machine. Will think twice now. It's true, everyone I've seen cycling around central London has this grim, going-into-battle look on his or her face. BB

Anonymous said...

i'm almost afraid to say that i go everywhere with my bike :) and yes there are the usual suspects that can make bike-riding un vrai cauchemar, but i think the "bike-path nazis" are the worse. if you don't do the proper signal, for example, you are immediately yelled at. insane! so i avoid the bike paths as much as possible. side-streets rule.
delphine

Lola is Beauty said...

I love cycling too, just not in London...Jennifer you are very brave...
delphine: you live in Paris don't you? Maybe you don't I just always assumed you did!...I would definitely ride a bike in Paris - especially now with the Velib thing, it's so much more civilised there! I don't know why, since Parisian drivers are notorious for being a bit crazy but I see people tootling along happily on their bikes there. Here, as BB says, it's grim faced urban warrior mode.

Anonymous said...

No actually I live in Montréal and I am a francophone. (I have family in Paris so I am there three times a year, at least.) But I would ride my bike in Paris 100%.
delphine

Lola is Beauty said...

Ahhhh, I love Montreal, I don't think I've ever seen anyone cycling there though! (Definitely not in winter...)

Julia said...

Well, even though I'm moving to Amsterdam I'm still not convinced of getting one (except to decorate it, the idea of 'pimping my bike' is enough reason to get one...is it?).

Iheartfashion said...

Yes, looking chic while cycling is something I've seen others do (mostly on The Sartorialist), but wouldn't attempt myself.

Imaginair' said...

I like the bike, and I do bike in Paris. Sorry for your personal story !
I go on biking.
Nice blog.
www.flickr.com/photos/imaginair

Fi said...

Have you sold it yet? I am looking for a reasonably priced bike and live in Brighton! If you've still got it, could you email me some info!? superfifi@gmail.com

(How I wish you'd got the 'princess' one though - that is my dream bike!)

Lola is Beauty said...

Oh Fi I have kind of sort of promised it to someone but let me double check and I'll get back to you...I would love you to have it in Brighton!