There are a whole list of reasons why cycling is the best way to get to work. You don’t have to cram into public transport, you don’t have to wait for public transport and you don’t have to pay for public transport.
There are some parts of the commute that are not so appealing though, and they seem to resurface every time you leave for work…
1) Death by Exhaust Fumes
There are few things worse than being stuck between a couple of cars that haven’t left room for a cyclist. Firstly, it stops you moving, and secondly, you end up inhaling more funky fumes than in a hot-boxed café in Amsterdam.
According to some research from a couple of years ago, cycling commuters inhale more than 2.3 times the amount of black carbon soot – the shit that comes out of cars – than your average pedestrian.
Much of this comes from the fact that buses seem to spout out fumes like they’ve got mechanical diarrhoea, which brings us nicely onto our next point…
2) Bus Drivers Being Dicks
Bus drivers don’t tend to be the biggest fans of city cyclists, and subsequently they are trying their best to wipe them out.
This generally involves using their double-decker to press us closer and closer to oncoming traffic when we go to overtake them, leaving us frantically pedalling to get out the other side before directing a well mouthed ‘f*ck you!’ at the man in charge.
We’re fairly sure bus drivers have an ‘empty exhaust’ button for when they’ve trapped a cyclist behind them. It would certainly explain a lot.
Other well-used weapons from the bus driver’s arsenal include attempting to push us into pavements and driving between three and four centimetres behind you when you’re cruising the bus lane.
We’re also fairly sure they’ve got an ‘empty exhaust’ button for when they’ve trapped a cyclist behind them. It would certainly explain a lot.
3) The Road Racing Wannabe
There are two types of cyclist you’ll see on your way to work; the cycling enthusiast, geared out in colour co-ordinated lycra, and the rider of convenience, wearing near enough anything else.
The enthusiast rides for pleasure, while his counterpart rides to get from A to B. Predictably, the former is normally faster than the latter, but on every morning ride you’re bound to encounter the ‘road racing wannabe’, who sits somewhere in between. He’s the guy wearing a tank top and a bandana that seems strangely determined to race everyone he meets.
Not only do the people he’s racing have no interest in battling him, they don’t even know they’re in a race.
The wannabe creates a cycling civil war within his own head – a war that starts when he gets on his bike and doesn’t end until he’s overtaken everyone on the planet.
This is despite the fact that not only do the people he’s racing have no interest in battling him. In fact they don’t even know they’re in a race at all.
The end result is that this guy rides past you, falls behind again because he’s not fit enough to keep up, then comes huffing and puffing back a few minutes later to try and reclaim his honour.
We just hope there’s a shower at his work.
4) Rev Machines (a.k.a motorbikes)
Do motorbikes have horns? Because they sure as hell don’t use them. Instead they just rev whenever something goes wrong, or when something goes right, or for no reason at all.
This lot tend to sneak up behind you, wait till the light turns orange then rev as loudly as they can to try and make you fall off your bike.
Commuting motorcyclists come across as particularly egotistical cavemen, only capable of communicating via the revving grunt.
If they stop, they rev. If they see another motorbike, they rev. If you cut them off, they rev – but you might not even realise you’ve done anything wrong. You probably just think that one of these egotistical ‘bikers’ has seen another across the road and the battle of the self-declared silverbacks is once again in full flow.
5) Uninformed Drivers
We’ve all read tweets from people that commute in cars. We know they’re out to get us. Whether it’s our freedom or our unpredictability, there’s something about cyclists that drivers just can’t stand.
Cyclists in London… you do know you’re supposed to give way at Zebra Crossings don’t you? Or are you all just thoughtless twats?
— The Sparkster (@SparkyInTheUK) July 29, 2014
The thing is, if we do make a mistake, occasionally we do deserve a honk of the horn or a little shout, but the amount of drivers who seem to know alarmingly little about the basic rules of cycling is absolutely mental.
To clarify just a couple of classics: No, I’m not cycling on the wrong side of the road, and no, I’m not going to ‘f*ck off and cycle on the pavement’. That would be illegal.
6) Overly Eager Pedestrians
When it comes to pedestrians, I’ve got a fair bit of sympathy. We’ve all been there – you’re in a rush to get somewhere but walking is proving a painfully slow form of transport.
This leads to plenty of plenty of risky road crossings, but there is one important message that the pedestrian ranks should take on board: Just because it’s a red light does not mean that bikes (and cars and buses) that have not yet reached that red light yet are going to stop.
I’m sure I’m not the only one who has almost taken out a few accidental daredevils that have leapt into the middle of the road 10m before a red light.
Watch yourselves! And get a bike. It’s quicker.
7) Giant Puddles
Britain isn’t often the sunniest set up, so it’s not uncommon that after an abysmal rainfall there will be a couple hundred substantial puddles that are blocking your route to work.
When this happens, the only option is to go around the puddle, which can often take you out of your bike lane, a concept that the bulk of car-drivers seem utterly unable to comprehend.
To clear things up for those automobilers, no, we are not going to cycle through the giant puddle. You’re going to have to learn to handle the three second delay without losing your mind – or shouting ‘get back on the pavement’.
8) The Seething Hatred Of All Other Commuters
If you’ve reached the end of the list, you’ve probably noticed that most methods of transport have made an appearance– cars, buses, even pedestrians and some certain forms of cyclist.
However, we are well aware that this works both ways. If you are a regular cycling commuter, you’ve already learnt to deal with the fact that pedestrians hate you, cars hate you, taxis hate you, and buses HATE you.
I’m not cycling on the wrong side of the road, and I’m not going to ‘f*ck off and cycle on the pavement’. That would be illegal.
Although this is the final point on a list of things that are a nightmare for commuters though, for the majority of cyclists, the seething hatred of all other commuters actually isn’t the worst thing in the world.
There’s always an element of smugness on offer as you whizz down the road in the fresh air, making your own route and winking knowingly at the boxed up travellers glaring on with avid hatred.
And yes bus drivers, we are talking about you.