Had a trip to a big northern city this week which left me with some thoughts.
Bad Cyclist/Good Cyclist Part 1
On my walk to Swindon station I saw some pretty bad cycling:
- One kid in dark clothes weaving his way up a residential street unlit and showing no recognition of the three or four cars that were also on the road.
- Two cyclists committing the offence of riding on the pavement because the road was one-way and they wanted to go the other way. One unlit, one highly visible.
- One high-vis female cyclist cycling up the inside of a queue of traffic, then switching through a tiny gap onto the outside and zooming off.
I can almost understand the young lad on the BMX. He’s just a kid: young and reckless. In some ways it’s good that he’s on a bike. But does he know how dangerous it is to be unseen?
But what about the grown-ups in high-vis clothing and lycra doing dangerous and annoying stuff? Yes, I confess, when I’m a driver lane splitting annoys me. And as a pedestrian, pavement-cycling annoys me. Perhaps they think that being hi-vis means they’re allowed to go wherever they like on the road because they’re safe, but being seen is complementary to being sensible, not a substitute for it.
And what’s with the cycling on the pavement? Do they think that because they can’t go on the road it’s OK to cycle on the pavement?
Oooh, look, I’ve gone all Daily Mail!!
The point is that sometimes cyclists do themselves no favours at all. They should remember that they’re small and hard to see. They need to make their actions obvious and predictable to drivers, not behave erratically. I work on the principle that if I want to be treated like a proper vehicle then I need to behave like one too.
While we’re on the topic of otherwise-law-abiding-citizens exercising their “rights” regardless of whether or not it contravenes the law. Why is it that pleasant, professional, grown-up people, think it’s OK and normal, if not highly amusing, to commit the crime of piracy?
This week saw some people I know whingeing that their X-Boxes got locked out of X-Box live because they’d hacked them to play pirated games. Of course, piracy is theft and they should think themselves lucky they’re not in court and quit moaning about it.
Plenty of people who pirate films, TV programmes, music, and software in this country can actually afford to buy DVDs, CDs, MP3s, etc. I’ve been offered stuff in the past and I’ve really wanted to tell the offere that I don’t want it because it’s illegal, but I feel like I’ll be laughed at, so I just make excuses about not wanting the content.
Why do people do this? Just because you CAN file share, hack your console and pass around sound and video files everyone thinks it’s a perfectly acceptable thing to do. Well, it’s not. They wouldn’t steal a media player from Currys so why do they steal the media that goes on it?
I feel like the rebel for obeying the law. That’s not right is it?
Bad Cyclist/Good Cyclist Part 2
Northern cities are cool places. My train back was delayed, but it was kinda good to hang out in the station for a bit. In some ways the station environment is full of annoying, rapidly repeating stuff intended for the hurried traveller, but in other ways a busy station is a great place to observe human behaviour and fashion.
There were lots of people on bikes in the city and a lot of them were using the station. I was particularly eyeing up two customised fixed-wheel bikes. Unbranded, black, sleek, simple city bikes. They looked sharp, fast, elegant. Bike envy? I don’t know what you mean.
There was also a short, fat guy in an orange suit. I’m not sure that counted as fashion, but he seemed to be expressing the spirit and freedom that seems to be present in big northern cities. I was reminded recently that “Zeitgeist” means “Spirit of the Times” – literally “Time Ghost”. Perhaps the Germans would call my experience up North one of Platzgeist?