Cycling to work is quick, cheap and reliable, which is why more people are
doing it and taking back control of their lives, finds Hamish Brown
ycling is enjoyable. healthy
and makes us feel good.
But that's not why most people in cities do it. Not me anyway. I don’t have ‘reasons‘ for cycling any more than I have reasons for walking.
Neither do I make use of specialist equipment. ‘Distrust any enterprise that requires new clothes.‘ as the Thoreau maxim goes. I cycle in my normal clothes. If you are worried about getting sweaty. there‘s a simple solution: cycle slower. Visit any city in Europe and you‘ll see no lycra.
So what do you need to cycle to work‘.’ Few would argue that a bike is the bare minimum. but these days you don’t even have to buy one. A lot of employers participate in cycle schemes that deduct a rental charge from your salary before tax.
The three most popular types are mountain bikes. road bikes and hybrids. Unless you‘re planning on going off road. there‘s no need for a mountain bike in the city. If you have one already. put smooth tyres on it and you'll be as fast as anyone else. If you commute a longer distance and can’t avoid a train or bus journey. folding bikes are cheaper and better than ever.
A recent and growing trend — one borrowed from cycle courier culture — is the ‘fixie’. a fixed wheel bike. Why have 18 gears if you only use three of them? An exercise in simplicity and
HyMini Personal Wind Turbine
Comes with a bike mounting bracket and connectors for iPods and most mobile phones. If you are lucky enough to live in a country that's windy even when you're not moving, it can charge your goods all the time. so it's ideal for camping and almost an incentive for cycling into the wind. £345 www.mgelsecostorecom
14 THE LIST 11—25 Jun 2009
expediency. the fixie does away with all it can — you get one good gear and one good brake — meaning there is very little that can go wrong.
You also need a route. Google Maps is your friend here.
Edinburgh and Glasgw are full of
disused railways. parks and quiet
roads to construct a traffic-free route and. thanks to bodies such as Sustrans and Spokes. cycle path provision on roads is constantly improving.
There are other ways to make your life easier. If you don't want to cycle in your work clothes. keep
them at work and change. A lot of
iHBSBX Bike to Beach Speaker System for iPod Unless you've got a taste for hospital food, headphones on a bike are a daft idea. This speaker enclosure for iPods means you can listen to ghetto blasting floor shakers. or that eight-CD language course, while on two wheels. It attaches to the frame and includes a handlebar-mounted remote control. 825 www.app/e.com/store
Air Zound 2 Air Horn
If the polite ding-ding of the traditional bike bell just isn't getting the message across. this 120 dB air horn should ensure people know you are coming. It's powered by compressed air, so can be recharged using a bike pump and comes with a volume control, but if you're the sort of person who puts an air horn on their bike. we're not sure why. £25 www.cyc/estore.co.uk
VISIT ANY CITY IN EUROPE AND YOU'LL SEE NO
offices have showering facilities too. Mudguards are also a great invention. For carrying work stuff. panniers now come smart enough to pass for a briefcase in the meeting room and big enough to cope with a supermarket shop on the way home. You‘ll be home quicker. so are definitely going to have more to time to cook.
You'll need lights. especially in winter and for coming home after a night out. ()n this note. some clarity on the law regarding drunk cycling. There‘s no ‘limit‘ for you to be over as legally you‘re not ‘a carriage'. but if you‘re deemed to be unable to control your bike when asked or a danger to others you can be prosecuted.
It's also easy to keep a rellectve strip in your bag to put on coming home. Helmets are optional and some are getting pretty good looking these days. You‘ll need a bell. mainly for pedestrians accustomed to crossing the road using their ears. Watch out for dog owners — and tourists.
The mega organised will want to carry a spare inner tube. a pump and a bike tool. although decent modern tires and inner tubes are puncture resistant. You'll also need a lock.
Attitudes can still be a problem. Sophisticated advertising has linked cars to status in UK culture. so many find it hard to view cycling as something done through choice. Attitudes are changing. though. and bike usage is on the rise. Remember you have equal right to the other road users. so never cycle apologetically — timid riding invites abuse.
So why cycle‘.’ Cycling is a form of transport free from the influence of other factors. Regardless of traffic or weather. it takes me exactly 28 minutes to get home. It runs on the same fuel that 1 do. meaning I'm free to eat and drink as much as I like and it all gets burned off — as a by-product. I am litter than I‘ve ever been and have never joined a gym. And moving at a rate somewhere between walking and driving is the perfect way to see the world.