I like cars. As a child I grew up watching TopGear and dreaming of owning a a supercar; as an adult I still have that dream. If money was no object of course I'd love an Aston Martin One-77, or the biggest, fattest Range Rover in the world. But what's all this got to do with cycling?
Well, I know you can actually fit a bike in both of those cars so that's a start but the link between the two lies elsewhere in this case. Quite often as I scroll down my Twitter timeline now, I see some much hatred towards cars from cyclists, to the point where I've seen it suggested we completely scrap having cars altogether and everyone rides everywhere or gets the train. Equally, I've seen those in the other corner on their quest to rid the world of two wheels.
The problem? No one seems to sit in the middle anymore. Both bike and car could, or indeed can function together if only people came to the centre again. Neither mode of transport should be scrapped as both have their merits and drawbacks.
Lets start with cars. I for one can tell you that if it's chucking it down with rain and I need to get to a meeting across town in a suit then I'd call a taxi or drive my car over there. It makes no sense to get soaked to the bone for the sake of it. Equally, without a car I'd find it significantly harder to travel to cycling events around the U.K. The argument back of course would be public transport, but half of these events start in places that haven't seen a train since the 60's and the bus service may or may not turn up.
Of course the big problem with cars is the emissions and the bad things they pump into the atmosphere currently; a big concern for everyone and the next generation. Of course, the technology is starting to present itself to fix this but right now, it's not great. The other problem tends to be traffic. People love their personal space and quite often cars have one or two people in them so when you stack them all up at rush hour, it's a frustrating place to be sat. In the ideal world we'll improve public transport and infrastructure to alleviate this but we're in the real world now and that's a long way from happening.
Bikes tend to be considerably cheaper to buy and run, allowing you tick off some exercise and quite often skip through traffic sat on the road. In most major cities it's quicker to ride across town on a bike than it is to drive in the car. You can add a pannier or bag to most bikes these days so can carry enough for a full day of work and in theory can park them almost anywhere. I say in theory because thieves exist.
The downside to riding is that you have no protection from the weather, so they're not ideal if you need to get to a meeting over town in your suit when it's raining, which in the UK it probably will be. Equally, they're not that fast on the open road for getting to more remote locations. It's far easier to use a car to get to the places away from the city. Facilities for storage and freshening up are scarce to currently so make it a real pain to want to ride to places. Again, the ideal world would see more of this infrastructure put it place.
I refer to the ideal world for cars and bikes because in reality a lot of these things are never going to happen as long as we keep stretching the frail elastic band between car drivers and riders. The more we tell the world we hate each other, the less we'll actually achieve. It's a real shame that people can't chill out a little bit and see both sides of the picture and work together for a sensible solution.
I drive a 1.6 litre diesel car and ride a bike. I use each method of transport appropriate to my need at that point in time. I can also appreciate both sides of the story. As a cyclist you sometimes feel threatened by some cars. Not all cars, but some, because of the actions of the driver. Equally, when in the car, I see some riders skip reds or clip my wing mirror and I get angry with them. But, I can sit on the fence and consider both rider and driver and hope one day we find a way to come back to the middle.
The point I'm really trying to make is that just because you're a cyclist you don't have to hate all cars and if you drive a car you don't have to hate bikes. Everyone just needs to chill out and appreciate there are muppet in all walks of life and that they are the minority that spoil things for either party but the rest of us could take a step back and work on something called 'compromise'.