Bike Week Woe

I’m failing to get excited about Bike Week. But then I’m not exactly the target audience. On a local level and Lambeth Cyclists seem to been spreading the two wheel word. The Brixton bicycling breakfasts have been a huge success, offering croissants and coffee to any passing bicyclist along the Brixton Road.

I felt a fraud stopping for the free morning brunch earlier in the week, talking about bikes and making the most of the continental start to my South London morning.

But thanks, anyway.

Nope, what really rattles my chain about Bike Week is the forced attempt to focus on bicycles for just one week of the year. What next once all the well-intentioned pedal posturing is over? Go back to being a Bus Stop Johnny?

You may as well organise a National Breathing, Living or Existential Existence Week – bicycling is what I do, nothing more, nothing less. I don’t need a national call to arms to encourage me to ‘celebrate’ a part of my life that is key to my own personal identity.

I much prefer the findings from The Bike Show’s No Bike Week experiment. Seasoned London cyclists lived a strict No Bike lifestyle for seven days, forcing them to consider how central a bicycle is to their everyday routine. I considered taking part, but then realised that London life really is all about the bike for me.

Bike Week comes under the organising banner of the Department for Transport. Maybe this is the root of my reservations. Bikes are not about the practicalities of getting from A-B. Bicycling is a pleasure first, a practicality second.

Once you reduce your bicycling efforts to a crude, logistical rat run, you become sucked into the commuter hell that leaves so many Londoners unhappy. Take a different turn at that nasty main junction, explore the local area and find a far more pleasant route off the main patch. This is when bicycling becomes a lifestyle, and not a campaign organised by a soulless government department.

Working with both local and national government can produce genuine benefits for bicyclists, but like the sex and the State mass debate, politicians at all levels are best kept away from meddling in the personal lives of the individual.

National Bike Week reminds me of the forced humour of Comic Relief. The more you are forced to focus your efforts, then that joke isn’t funny anymore.

It’s not all about the bike, but it’s about you and how you find pleasure in one of the purest inventions known to humanity.


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