Thursday, 12 August 2010

Getting to work #1 - Cycling

The Mayor of London demonstrating how to steal a bike

Executive Summary moves onto its third blog 'series' - Getting to work. I don't want to talk about how annoying it is that the Tube is packed, or moan about the capital's traffic, so I'm going to let you into the weird and wonderful wold of oddities on the commute.

We have already gone through Media characters, and I continue to upload horrendous press clippings from magazines (Bad Ads). I'm branching out here too, talking about life outside of the office. So, since there is a first time for everything, I'm going to put some videos up too.

Whilst it may seem like an odd place to start, let's talk about cycling. Only 2% of journeys nationally are made on bicycles, but getting on your bike is a pretty attractive alternative to spending 7 hours and £130 per week underground.  What with the London bike scheme launching, I thought I would enlighten you with some of this executives happenings from just off the curb.

Some of the stranger incidents I've seen:

Bike rage - near fist fight between cyclists at Warren St because one undertook the other and called him a wanker. Undertaking is totally wrong, even on a push bike and the situation ended rather confusingly, with one cyclist clearly turning off the road he wanted to go down to avoid said fisticuffs.

Gear Envy - cyclists often look each other up and down at traffic lights, surveying the competition. You can handle the fact someone has paid more to get a nice shiny and light bike, but technical clothing often gives you gear envy. I saw three commuters with cycle computers, I don't know what they compute, but I needed one. I need to update my tired anorak if I see jacket looking more day-glo than mine, and I need to buy me some spokey dokeys! I don't think I will ever be envious of people with fold up bikes, they cost a bomb and make you more smug than Prius drivers.

Awkward silences - after broken conversation at traffic lights - 'lovely day for cycling isn't it?' . . . .  'yup' (please go green, please go green, please stop looking at me).

Shout outs- you can call anyone anything under the sun and ride off quickly. 'you're in the road idiots'. 'Bus wanker!'. 'I smell bacon', 'Orange beast', 'camden crobber', 'Brompton bastard'. I once saw a cyclists hurry through and amber light after shouting 'Shotgun!'. n.b. This can also work the other way around (pedestrian calling you a C.U.Next.Tuesday when you break a red light),

Mobile CallsI saw someone with a Bluetooth headset struggling up a hill whilst on a business call. Utter tool. Headphones should also not be allowed, you need to hear the road dummies.

No sympathy - You often see an unfortunate soul who is mending a puncture by the side of the road. Once, a cyclist in front of me looked across and exclaimed  "Ha Ha!"

Drink riding - hang around the west end and you will see drunk riders wobbling home at 10pm. At least they can only hurt themselves right? That's why the police don't care. A fellow executive once admitted to have cycled home drunk and taken over 4 hours for a 30 minute journey. It literally ended in tears, and a concussion to boot!

Mental games cyclists play - These often help you to stave off tiredness and keep pedalling. Cyclists often play the +1-1 game. Every cyclist you overtake you get a point, and lose a point when you are overtaken. You can get competitive with yourself by attempting to beat your commuting time each day (required a cycle computer). Finally, a fellow cyclist mentioned the concept of 'winning the trophy'. This can be achieved when you see an attractive cyclist of the opposite sex and shout 'Get the trophy!' before overtaking them.

Characters you might encounter -
Bolshy Taxi drivers, the scourge of the cyclist.
Rickshaws riders, the lowest rung of the cycling community.
Headless chicken pedestrians, enjoy throwing themselves into the road
Fixed-wheel Shoreditch twits, don't wear helmets because it won't fit over their stupid angular haircuts.
The full roadie, they have top spec bikes, full Lycra and go incredibly fast. They often don't have bags as they are cycling for fun.
The newbie - often slightly older ladies riding shoppers with double panniers. Usually wear day-glo vests and no helmet.

Tune in again for more commuting capers.