There is a Parliamentary enquiry about how to encourage cycling currently taking evidence. There is talk of ‘segregation’, ‘infrastructure’, ‘desire lines’ and ‘design users’.
We are being invited to look (for one last time, by the sound of things in the political world) at our European neighbours. And before too long I’m sure we’ll get to helmets and hi-viz clothing.
In the midst of this, the Dr Hutch office received an anonymous package. It contained a copy of a well-loved county council’s ‘Guide to Provision of Cycling Infrastructure with Respect to Reconciling the Needs of Different Road Users.’ On our copy, there is a subtitle written on in felt-tip: ‘Or, What Would Jesus Drive?’
The cyclist, it notes, is a carbon-based life form that breathes a mix of carbon monoxide and sulphur dioxide. The guide observes that it has specific characteristics that govern the facilities that it requires.
Road to hell
‘The cyclist can travel at speeds of up to 30 mph. However, it is generally much happier if the infrastructure provided limits its practical top speed to around the same pace as a pedestrian.
‘The cyclist is much, much thinner, and considerably more flexible than even the cheapest Range Rover. Consequently an average specimen can ride unhindered through a picket fence or a revolving door. It will be entirely unfazed by narrow openings, stiles, and cycle paths the width of a plank.
‘The highly manoeuvrable nature of the cyclist makes it perfectly adapted to swerving round pedestrians, small children and especially dogs, who should be encouraged to regard any section of bike path as fair game. Most pedestrians, after all, own cars and pay road tax.
‘The bottom of the cyclist is made of a substance called rubber. This has evolved to ensure a sure-footed grip through snow and ice, which happily means there is no need to grit or clear cycle infrastructure in winter. Its tough, durable nature means that, much like the tyres on a horse, the underside of the cyclist is not at all sensitive or vulnerable to broken glass or freshly cut hedge-clippings.
Indeed, the absorbent rubber bottom of the cyclist is perfect for gathering these up and taking them away. So you could facilitate an enhanced internal council synergism going forward by suggesting that the waste management division scatter unwanted broken glass on cycle infrastructure. For, you know, recycling.
‘The typical cyclist has considerable difficulty coping with straight, wide bits of flat road with low traffic levels, minimal side-roads, and excellent visibility. It is therefore imperative that on such roads a substantial cycle lane is created with a wide band of extra slippery-when-wet cycle lane paint. You’ll want to spend a fair bit of the budget on this. You can really go to town with exciting coloured road surfaces, which, if done properly, will leave all the manholes and drain covers about six inches below surface level.
Don’t encourage them
‘On the other hand, the cyclist has no trouble at all negotiating large, complicated junctions with many lanes of traffic, exciting swoopy curves, and substantial HGV traffic. It is not necessary to provide any special provision at such interfaces. Indeed the cyclist will probably feel distinctly patronised if you do. Mollycoddling takes the edge off its carefully cultivated air of urban cool. For best results terminate all cycle provision about 100 yards before the junction. The more abruptly the better.
‘Don’t, under any circumstances, spend money on cycle parking. No where, no time, no how. Parked bikes make the place look untidy. But that’s not the main reason. The main reason is that if cyclists can park, then they will actually want to start going places. That means the blighters will actually start using all your lovely cycle facilities, and then they’ll wear them out. And then you’ll have to make more.
How To… Free a seized seatpost.
The best way to free a seized seatpost is, of course, to prevent it getting stuck in the first place by greasing it thoroughly before insertion, then removing it once every six months and greasing it again.
Unfortunately we’re not all geography teachers. The first suggestion for a seized post is to ignore it. Unless you’re planning to a) sell the bike or b) grow longer legs, it probably isn’t an issue, and can remain your private shame. Next time a friend with a lovely carbon post in a lovely carbon frame curses his inability to stop the post slipping down, you can smile a secret smile.
If you simply must move it, try putting an old saddle on it, one that you don’t mind damaging, and twist it like you mean it. This will likely result in a back injury that will put you off the bike for a few weeks.
Next, take the saddle off, and hit the top of the post with a mallet. This won’t work, but is a gesture towards good workmanship. Next, hit it with a metal hammer. This might work. It’s about now that you’re going to wreck the post, so from here on you’re pretty committed.
Remove the bottom bracket, turn the bike upside down, and squirt penetrating oil (geography teacher supply cupboard) up the seat tube. Leave to soak overnight. Repeat all of above.
Finally, clamp saddle in bench vice, and use full leverage of frame to twist. Bend frame. Discard frame. Buy new one. Forget about greasing post. Store up a repeat performance for next year.
Acts of Cycling Stupidity
Bob Britton, a man with the distinction of having appeared in this column twice before, writes:
‘Last year, a few of us made an attempt on the 24-hour distance record on a static training bike at a local leisure centre. Whilst preparing for my stint, from midnight until 1.15am, I managed to fall off the static warm-up bike and broke my left arm and badly damaged ligaments and tendons in my right. I still completed my stint but on dismounting, collapsed and was immediately removed to casualty. This, by some distance, was the worst injury I’ve ever sustained cycling’
I would also add that in an aside Bob mentions he has also been kicked off his bike by a horse, but provides no further details. I can’t say I’m not curious.