Utility

Bike vignette-

I have a colleague who wears his cyclist credentials lightly. To him, the bicycle is not a trophy, nor an indicator of tribal allegiance, nor a means of improving health or fitness, nor the weapon of choice in a cut throat race of egos. The bicycle just is.

To him, the bike is a tool. It’s locked overnight in the shed. It’s wheeled out for the commute to work. Produced for the ride home at lunchtime and again for the return journey. He rarely discusses cycling; it’s a topic that holds no great interest. Like an umbrella to fend off rain, his bike is employed to fufill a job – cheap and easy local travel. This utilitarian approach is what drives – if you excuse the pun – people centric cities. Places like Amsterdam and Malmö, Copenhagen and Hamburg, Bordeaux and Utrecht.

How liberating this must be, to not expend much (any?) time thinking about the bike. Simply using. Simply being. Simply doing. No hoopla. No fuss. No special clothes or special bikes (of which I am proudly guilty of both). Our city centres need people like this. People for whom the penny has dropped without propaganda or incentive; bike use simply makes sense.

2 replies »

  1. For a decade, this fairly described my relationship with my bike; other than the attention for being a “tough guy” cycling through the winter in snow and ice. I’ve graduated financially to being more “into” my bikes, but am still a utilitarian at heart. I’ve got my city bike, my trail bike, and now an actual snow bike for that winter riding.

    • Utility is one of the things that really attracts me to cycling. As much as I love the thrill of mountain biking and the eye-balls out racing of cross, being able to hop on my chip-shop bike and trundle to the pub is a huge part of the appeal. I can see I’m in good company.

      A snow bike eh? I would definitely like one of those (of the huge fat tyres variety).

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