(Originally published: 5/12/12)
I came to London with high expectations for its cycling culture. I imagined the streets filled with cyclists of all age, sex, and race. When you set the expectation bar relatively high, it’s not uncommon to be let down. Fortunately, this was not the case. Cycling is tastefully tessellated into the British lifestyle. All one has to do to witness this bicycle integration is traverse the streets of the UK.<a href=”https://dprobola.files.wordpress.com/2012/05/cimg1846.jpg”><img title=”CIMG1846″ src=”https://dprobola.files.wordpress.com/2012/05/cimg1846.jpg?w=300″ alt=”” width=”300″ height=”225″ /></a> Here is Oxford’s giant lot to help demonstrate my point.
I have taken note of a few similarities between the UK and the US since I’ve been here.
First is the bicycle share program here in London, <a href=”http://www.tfl.gov.uk/roadusers/cycling/14808.aspx”>Barclays Cycle Hire</a>. Though NYC has plans to start a cycle hire and DC and Portland do have their own bicycle share programs, <a href=”http://i.imgur.com/5hilk.jpg”>you can’t walk 50 meters without seeing someone riding a Barclay’s bicycle</a>.<a href=”https://dprobola.files.wordpress.com/2012/05/cimg1839.jpg”><img title=”CIMG1839″ src=”https://dprobola.files.wordpress.com/2012/05/cimg1839.jpg?w=300″ alt=”” width=”300″ height=”225″ /></a> That’s probably where this gent’s friends are.
I also see that the cyclists in the UK generally try to follow the rules of the road. Many US cyclists who are knowledgeable of the US bike laws try to also ride legally and safely.
For as many similarities that the UK shares with the US, there are also plenty of differences.
Firstly, there were many cyclists who <a href=”http://i.imgur.com/8fDfP.jpg”>chose to wear face masks</a> while riding around to protect their lungs from the busy London traffic.
There were also free services available to cyclists such as <a href=”http://i.imgur.com/KEWOT.jpg”>Barclays Cycle Hire’s station maps</a> and <a href=”http://i.imgur.com/ZZ7wd.jpg”>self-pump services</a>. The station maps also encourage walking by showing an estimated area able to be covered in a 5-minute walk.
I’ve noticed a much more positive relationship between cyclists and motorists in the UK as opposed to in the US. Even though knowledgeable cyclists in the US do try to follow the traffic laws, there are many cyclists who either don’t know the rules or choose not to follow them. Neglectful riding tends to projects a negative image of cyclists to motorists.<a href=”https://dprobola.files.wordpress.com/2012/05/cimg1836.jpg”><img title=”CIMG1836″ src=”https://dprobola.files.wordpress.com/2012/05/cimg1836.jpg?w=300″ alt=”” width=”300″ height=”225″ /></a> Mind the gap.
Lindsey Coombs, a former UK resident and cycling enthusiast, also agrees. Coombs mentioned that, since childhood, he knew to follow traffic laws when cycling about in the UK.
Coombs’ early education on bicycle safety supports <a href=”https://dprobola.wordpress.com/my-blogs/reflection-of-my-progression/”>my pre-London research</a> leading towards the idea that early education is a logical way to promote cycling progression.
Brand’s have recognized the love of cycling in London and try to associate themselves with their audience directly. <a href=”http://i.imgur.com/1gGOT.jpg”>Levi’s had a street team</a> in Shoreditch that offered free services for cyclists in the area.<a href=”https://dprobola.files.wordpress.com/2012/05/cimg1761.jpg”><img title=”CIMG1761″ src=”https://dprobola.files.wordpress.com/2012/05/cimg1761.jpg?w=169″ alt=”” width=”169″ height=”300″ /></a> Solid move, Levi’s.
To get a more complete understanding, I have a few important interviews scheduled for this upcoming weekend: A representative for <a href=”http://www.cityoflondon.gov.uk/Corporation/LGNL_Services/Council_and_democracy/Councillors_democracy_and_elections/The_Lord_Mayor/”>the Lord Mayor of London<del></del></a><a href=”http://www.condorcycles.com/”>, Condor Cycles</a>’ management, as well as managers from local bike shops such as <a href=”http://www.thebicycleman.co.uk/”>The Bicycle Man</a>, <a href=”http://www.londonbicycleworkshop.com/site/home.html”>The London Bicycle Workshop</a>, and <a href=”http://www.lookmumnohands.com/”>Look Mum No Hands!</a>