Olympic countdown - Reasons for a London Cycle Map, #74: Increasing spontaneity in cycling.

#74: INCREASING SPONTANEITY IN CYCLING. Some critics have suggested that, because cycle-commuters ride the same journey every day, they don’t need a London Cycle Map to show them where to go. What this criticism forgets is that it is people who currently don’t commute by bike who would find a London Cycle Map most helpful, not to mention encouraging. It’d be a lot easier for non-cyclists to muster the conviction to follow a few coloured signs than to plan and negotiate a complex, snaking route without assistance through London’s streets.

In any case, everyone – regular cyclists as well as potential cyclists – would benefit from the added spontaneity a London Cycle Map would bring to cycling. After all, cyclists in London will often (indeed, very regularly) want to undertake cycle journeys other than the daily ride to work. For instance (to pluck just a few examples from countless others): to attend meetings elsewhere, to go to an away football ground (fans and players alike), to meet friends for a meal somewhere unfamiliar after work.

Indeed, it is surely due to the inconvenience of cycling on these kinds of occasions that so many Londoners don’t consider the bicycle to be a realistic transport option for them on a daily basis. A London Cycle Map would help by making travelling by bike so much more convenient, dramatically reducing the amount of planning needed, thus enhancing spontaneity.

With a London Cycle Map, a spontaneous cycle journey would become as simple an undertaking as a spontaneous Tube journey.



A commuter who uses the

A commuter who uses the Underground might also say, "I make the same journey every day; I don't need a Tube map." Where does this line of reasoning end?

The cycle commuters who oppose a London Cycle Map also oppose the development of the routes the map describes. Their biggest concern is that one day they might be obliged to travel at a more leisurely pace, as happens in Copenhagen for example, where they have these green waves, so that if you keep to between about 12mph and 15mph, the traffic lights always show green, so that you can just sail along without any interruptions to the flow of your journey. Smooth.

Hi Simon. Your first point

Hi Simon. Your first point hits the nail on the head. I could have saved myself a few paragraphs by noting that the line of reasoning ends, as you say, in absurdity. A 'reductio ad absurdum', they call it in philosophy: you prove a statment to be false by showing that it has ludicrous consequences.

As for your second point about green waves, I'm not sure what you mean!

Hi Ben,

Hi Ben,

According to Wikipedia, "A green wave is an intentionally induced phenomenon in which a series of traffic lights (usually three or more) are coordinated to allow continuous traffic flow over several intersections in one main direction."

In Copenhagen, where the majority of cyclists are women, these green waves allow cyclists who travel between 12mph and 15mph to sail through junctions. Lycra-clad commuter cyclists, however, like to travel at least twice as fast as this. They oppose anything, therefore, which threatens this style of travel.

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