Thursday, 31 July 2014


I'm about to head off on a 10-day cycle adventure, of which you can read about next week. In preparation, regardless of the weather, I've been out every day on small to long runs. Part of each of these jaunts repeatedly takes me across a high pedestrian/cycle bridge over a busy by-pass road, always clogged with cars, and I feel a little smug at the ease and stress-free way I reach my destination quicker than any of them. I can almost sense the jealousy.

Over the past two to three years I've been noticing a growing popularity in cycling and indeed all things bike, from the actual machines themselves to colour-matching clothing and long debates over the right type of lights to have. It may be just a coincidence, but I have noticed this increased uptake since my trans America cycle in 2011. Following that great adventure I toured Scotland giving an illustrated talk with my companion Pauline, and judging by the great audience numbers there was already a wealth of interest. It would be nice to repeat that tour with a new cycle adventure talk some day soon.

I'm not a big fan, actually, not a fan at all, of watching sport, with the exception this year of the Tour de France, or specifically, the first two days, staged in Yorkshire in the UK. The glorious weather helped of course, and the uplifting and inspiring spectacle of the event itself, together with showcasing the countryside it passed through, really was thoroughly enjoyable. I even find myself today dipping into the cycle events of the current Commonwealth Games here in Scotland.

A friend of mine recently moved to Gozo, a small island off the coast of Malta, and wrote last week saying she had just bought a bicycle to use on the island. She also sent me a link to a new, limited release, movie coming out called, surprise surprise, Bicycle The Film. The entire family of another friend, Sarah, have now all invested in bicycles, and her  brother, once saying he would never get on a bike, is now heard to be saying "maybe".

For all of Man's engineering achievements I have to rank the bicycle as number one. In Germany in 1818 the first bicycle appeared, almost a century before the car, but it was the French who first coined the name "bicycle" in 1860. By 1885 the now familiar diamond-shape frame appeared, and apart from better components, it hasn't changed since.  As they say, if it ain't broken, don't fix it.

In case I was in any doubt of the increasing popularity of the bicycle, my local council of the City of Edinburgh, just last week took a bold step. In the very centre of the city they have turned one of the major streets, George Street, into a dedicated cycle lane. Not a small lane beside the cars, but an entire road. Now the cars can only go one way on one side of the road system. The new cycle lane shares the space with an increase in the street cafe scene, which makes for a real European cosmopolitan feel. It's been a long time coming but now that it's here it can only help to boost the bicycle's popularity even more. 

It really feels like this is the bicycles time.

And to all those jealous car drivers I say:

Buy a bike!

1 comment:

The Chronicler and The Navigator said...

Whoa, Graham - really? How fantastic is that?! We may need to make a special journey into the big city just to ride up and down, then drink some coffee, and maybe ride some more!

If only the residents and traders in North Berwick would see the light; their currently completely unliveable High Street (try pushing your bike on the pavement) could be something absolutely delightful that people would actually come and use...

Enjoy your trip - look forward to hearing all about it!