I have been cycling around Oxford quite a bit over winter. I try to make up to 100 miles a week if I can. It’s great fun cycling on certain roads and cycle paths.
Although I am not training properly, I am reasonably fit and generally get a little joy from being one of the fastest cyclists around. But, in the past few days, I keep coming across people on electric bikes who seem to be able to do 1-25+ mph in three seconds flat. When I see a bike speeding past, I often see if I can try and keep up. But, last week I was unceremoniously dropped two days in succession. The first electric bike was one of these people carriers, with two small children in the front.
The guy ‘cycling’ the souped-up electric bike carrier looked more like he was doing a criterium rather than a steady commute around town. When it comes to helmets I do think it is worth wearing them. But, I’m not an evangelist, I certainly don’t think it is the main solution to cycle safety. I get slightly irritated by people who fall over and graze their arm and then spend the next 20 years telling you a helmet saved their life. Anyway, I digress despite my conservative views on bike helmets, it always makes me slightly uneasy seeing very young kids in people carriers without helmets. If I were charging them around town at 25mph, I would put a helmet on my young kids, they look very exposed should anything happen.
If I had my TT bike I might have been able to keep up, but a commuting bike with heavy panniers, and it’s pretty hard to get to 25mph on the flat.
But, I do worry these super-powerful electric bikes will give ‘cyclists’ a bad reputation. I was in a pedestrian shopping centre and two young kids were charging up and down on their electric scooters. They were having great fun, but it does add an air of uncertainty about the pedestrian area, I can understand why old people may feel uncomfortable with all these powerful and heavier machines.
LTNs in Oxford
Two years ago, I wrote a post about the pros and cons of LTNs in Oxford. I don’t have time to write another nuanced post about the scheme. It is controversial, and it creates winners and losers which is unfortunate. But, from my personal experience, I think they are great. It is much better and safer cycling around LTNs. I have definitely changed some cycle routes. Divinity Road was never a good place with heavy traffic, but now it is great. I try to stay out of the controversy, it is too toxic. But, there is something great about having neighbourhoods where the car is not so dominant and you can enjoy walking and cycling.
I took my bike to Reg Taylor for annual service and for the first time ever, I had to wait a week to get a service. They have been very busy with bike repairs, ancedotal evidence more are cycling perhaps.