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Take a chill pill…

May 25, 2012

Cycling to work is a joy and I can’t recommend it highly enough – however…
The below obviously does not apply to the majority of road users but does apply to a surprisingly significant number. We are all at different stages of life and have differing world-views but I believe we are all human.

Lemming like following… slow down and chill-out.
First observation is the motorist’s urge to get up the backside of the car in front. Traffic seems to flow in bunches of half-a-dozen cars. Yes as a cyclist I also occasionally have to remind myself to “take a chill pill” but that’s usually due to aggravation caused by the danger of mixing with hard, fast, unpredictable hazards. One of the most frequent dangerous observations is a car overtaking me although the car in front of me has barely passed and then the overtaker has to brake hard and slow down. The most infuriatingly dangerous incidents are when a vehicle, again rather than waiting a few seconds, overtakes on a blind-bend, when they cannot see a clear route ahead. Unless I keep my wits about me, sooner or later there will be an incident where an over eager driver will take me out.

Disregard for the rules… limits are not targets.
The rules of the road are “rules”. It seems these days “speed limits” are an annoyance and a quaint part of the british landscape. They are frequently ignored or read as the speed that one should be doing. A 40mph speed limit means “do not exceed 40” not “drive at 40”. Limits are there to help prevent incident and to reduce potential casualty. Most rural and  suburban roads are not built for cars to drive at speed. There is no need to match the speed limit. You will get there if you just chill out a bit and slow down, trust me try it!

Ignorance of common sense… I didn’t think…
OK the jury’s out but, the fact is using a mobile phone, eating a banana, smoking a fag etc are secondary activities and driving requires the driver’s full attention. It’s common sense.
Wait until there’s room to proceed. If you cannot pass a cyclist safely just wait 20-30 seconds and look again. It’s common sense.
Common sense prevails (to most) when you’re walking down the street. You acknowledge passing strangers, you might even pass regards. You don’t run when walking suffices. You don’t barge past or shout at the person in front.

Blaring music… pardon?!
OK it took me awhile to drop the habit but there’s a limit where the loudness of music becomes ignorantly more than needed and rude. Common sense? When the music (and i use that term loosely) in the car becomes music out of the car, then that’s just stupid.

Midlife substitution… shiny happy people…
OK it will always be, but affluenza is an annoying phenomenon. What makes me chuckle is over 60’s in expensive sports-cars, and suede bagged mothers in oversized 4 wheel drive trucks. And of course there’s the single successful’s in their overpriced accessorising audmwcedes. It’s not a crime but it is i fear a symptom of oneupmanship.

Single seater driving… why?
Yes there’s always a place for the automobile. It’s an amazing invention and modern designs are becoming increasingly effective. But is it needed for journey Y & Z as well as X?
There was a time when I would not even entertain the seemingly stupid proposal that I might ride to work just once a week. The thought of it was seriously ridiculous and absolutely not an option. A year hence I found myself cycling to work daily, and having done so for a year.
There are so many people is a similar position to me – driving alone in a car 3-7 miles to work.
Admittedly there are situations where it is just not appropriate and not for everyone. But
I used to drive 7 miles to work, taking 25-30 minutes, costing ~£3 a day in petrol +parking. (£50/month). For my previous journeys, I strapped myself, encapsulated into a ventilated carriage, and gripping the shiny plastic, smelling the fake pine, I was led along by the lemming in front, while taking in the pop-pulp-podcastic wittering opiate of choice(?).
Now I cycle 7 miles to work, it take 30 minutes, it cost me nothing in petrol and parking.
My endorphins are raised, my lungs and muscles are exercised. My spirits are cleansed by fresh air, nature and light. My mind is allowed.
If you drive under 7 miles to work alone in a car there is another cheaper, healthier and more pleasurable choice.

The analogy with smoking… cough!
OK this one’s work-in-progress.
Smoking.
We have come to understand that smoking is an unhealthy decision. It’s debatably costly, bad for you, bad for those around you and stinks. OK it serves a purpose, it takes the edge of life’s ruggedness and it’s a choice. We all employ drugs in varying forms but the habitual use of some drugs are unwise and destructive. The use of nicotine in the form of cigarettes has been recognised as an unhealthy commercially driven crutch that needs limiting and should be considered with caution. Today, many would consider smoking cigarettes unwise yet still many do smoke. Many people ignore the financial cost, the health risks and the antisocial cloud that smoking creates. Many ignore the idea that “smoking kills” both physically and mentally
The Car.
Some have come to ponder driving is an unhealthy decision. It’s debatably costly, bad for you, bad for those around you and stinks. OK it serves a purpose, it takes the edge of life’s ruggedness and it’s a choice. We all drive in varying forms but the habitual use of the car is unwise and destructive. The use of cars has been recognised as an unhealthy commercially driven crutch that needs limiting and should be considered with caution. Today, many would consider the use of the car as unwise yet still many do drive. Many people ignore the financial cost, the health risks and the antisocial cloud that driving creates. Many ignore the idea that “speed kills” both physically and mentally.

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