UK Cycling Becomes Mainstream

Yesterday, was a record day for numbers of visits to


The most popular keyword was not (as you might imagine) ‘Bradley Wiggins‘. No Bradley Wiggins was trumped by the even more popular keyword of ‘donkeys in the tour de France.’

3,000 Km across the Alps, Pyrenees, and most of France – epic duels in the mountains, impressive power in the time trials, fantastic sprint finishes on the Champs Elysees. All very impressive, but at the end of the day, what the good old internet public is most impressed by is dressing up some donkeys in coloured jerseys…

Well, if you can’t beat ‘em join them. It’s good to see Bradley Wiggins’ sideburns is another very popular keyword search.

On a slightly more serious note, what can we expect now that cycling is officially mainstream, with the PM himself deigning to congratulate a cyclist?

  1. We have our own dedicated cycle show on ITV4 – ‘Top Gear for the push bike.’ or as other commentators, such as leading Broadsheet newspapers put it less prosaically – ‘Top gear without the T*****’
  2. We can now hope for a raft of policy initiatives to encourage cycling as an effective means of promoting public health.
  3. We can hope for a raft of public sector investment in cycling infrastructure to encourage all the new found sofa cyclists onto the actual roads themselves.

I hope, we will not come to understand the reality of John Cleese’s iconic phrase.

“It’s not the despair. I can take the despair. It’s the hope I can’t stand”

10 – 20 years ago, if you were a cyclist – at least you knew where you stood, – you pedalled in the gutter, and if you came out you could jolly well take what was thrown at you.

But, now everyone loves cycling (and perhaps that means everyone loves cyclists?) After decades of trying to justify being the solo rider on the road, we have different expectations -  not of Olympic success, but a continental cycling revolution, where the bike is King and we can all pedal merrily across the city without fear of passing lorries and being shot at.

At least, if the government can’t provide safe cycle lanes a la Amsterdam, Mr White Van driver reading the front page of the Sun, will now want to give a bit more room to that potential Team Sky domestique wobbling around on his commuter bike.

Wiggins victory can only help in a positive way. But, I’m not holding my breath. Unfortunately, Australia didn’t become a cyclists’ paradise after Cadel Evans’ victory in 2011. Sydney excepted, they seem more interested in pushing helmet laws on to a dwindling cycle population.

In Italy, they tell me they are cycling mad. They love the history and traditions of the sport like no other nation. Milan-San-Remo, Tour of Lombardia, Giro d’Italia, ‘the tifosi’ (Italian fans) are legendary. But, though they may be cycling mad, you still have to be pretty mad to cycle around some Italian cities.

If it is possible, I thought Rome less cycle friendly than any other English city I’ve been to, excluding perhaps Bradford on a Friday evening. A combination of impatient drivers furious scooters and impossible roundabouts.

Though to be fair, in Italy, you do get that great sight of seeing peletons of 30+ riders swoop through the Italian countryside – completely ignoring any rules of the road as if they were riding on closed roads. The beautiful thing was that in Italy, this was absolutely fine. The Italians seem happy to accept peletons of two or three riders cycling abreast.

Well, I’m off to box hill to ride the Olympic course before it gets closed to traffic for 7 days.

4 Responses to UK Cycling Becomes Mainstream

  1. PATANGA July 24, 2012 at 12:18 pm #

    Tell us how the olympic course feels like! :D

    • tejvan July 24, 2012 at 7:29 pm #

      Funny I went there today.

  2. Nasir` July 24, 2012 at 12:07 pm #

    Love the comment re Bradford. So true.

  3. Tim July 24, 2012 at 11:35 am #

    Starring as Brian Stimpson in Clockwise, was for me, John Cleese’s finest hour, and that has to be my favourite quote from the film*.

    And you’re so right about how apt it is here. Surely that critical mass of cycling enthusiasm must be just around the corner! Mustn’t it?

    *Of course, the farmer with the jam tart is very funny too.

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