London's stylish summer cyclists (rain free!)

You might be forgiven for thinking these pictures were taken in Copenhagen or maybe in Amsterdam, but they were all snapped right here in London, around my usual haunt of Broadway Market in Hackney. It's a stylish corner of the city and therefore by default there are stylish people on bikes, but as I've written before there's a definite shift in the area from early adopters of the bicycle to a more everyday and ordinary crowd on two wheels.


No matter, the point of course is that seeing people out and about on our streets - be that on foot or by bike - is one of life's great joys. As Andy Williams famously sang, "The boys watch the girls while the girls watch the boys who watch the girls go by" and indeed people watching is a pleasure free for all.

Sadly, with other commitments and the weather being as hideous as it is I haven't had much opportunity to watch the world go buy in London of late, so these photos actually date from February. They might have taken a little while to get here, but they certainly remind us of how nice life can be when it's not pouring with rain...


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Anonymous said...

Shame to see a bike blog use an image of a cyclist on the telephone with her shopping bag on the traffic side of the bike. 'Idiot on a bike' would be a better title for the piece.

Car users on mobiles are becoming a greater risk to cyclists every day, seemingly with more and more disregard for the law as the law doesn't appear to making much of a dent in the drivers doing it seems cyclists are playing the same game and the roads are slowly becoming more and more full of cars and cyclists using their phones...More people paying half as much attention to the roads as is required.

Bike blogs should be all over this issue not using pictures of idiots on bikes to celebrate a stylish summer cyclist.

London cyclists are keen to jump on the political band wagon over safe road use for cyclists and what money should be spent on them by the Government...but then more and more of them want to ride whilst on the phone.

What is the point of safe cycling roads just to fill them with cyclists that want to make them unsafe.

Fund the cycling road improvements using money from fining idiots cycling whilst on their'd soon make the money.

Disappointed. London.

ibikelondon said...

Thanks for stopping by, Anonymous, and sharing your thoughts.

Stupid is as stupid does. Some people act in a reckless manner whether they are on foot, on a bike or in a car, though I'm sure no one sets out believing they are being reckless, merely that they're not thinking about the consequences of their actions.

Could the lady in question have better control of her bike? Yes. Does she look like she poses an immediate risk to herself or those around her? Not really. She's an adult, she made a judgement call, it is what it is. I don't think it was a good one, but neither do I think merely portraying the reality of the situation would encourage others to do the same.

As to the question of lobbying for safer roads, there should be no relation between how some sectors of a transport group act and how much money is spent on them. You say that we should only ask for road safety improvements once we've "got our own house in order" but does anyone suggest removing taxi ranks because some taxi drivers frequently encroach on ASLs? Does anyone think we should tear up roads and stop spending money on motorists because some (probably most) frequently break the speed limit, or drive whilst on the phone? Of course not.

There will always be a minority within every group which is perceived to act recklessly but this doesn't detract from the fact that people riding bikes are an inherently good thing and that of course more money should be spent on inviting more people to cycle in order to free up our city's congestion and chronic public transport overload.

I took a photo of something that happened, I'm not going to edit reality merely in order to present an idea of how people *should* be.

Anonymous said...

I agree with Mark... even though this is the internet, I think some context is important before we start labelling people we've never met as 'stupid'

What speed is the lady talking on the phone going?
How far is her journey?
Where exactly is the lady cycling?
Why did she answer her phone?
How long has she been talking on it?

For example, from this photo it's impossible to tell if she's moving at more than 2-3mph, which is hardly cause for concern.

There's a good reason motorists are imprisoned, fined and given points for using their phones: they kill and maim people

There's no similar evidence to suggest cyclists using phones is a problem to either their own health or that of others

Hannah Beauchamp said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Hannah Beauchamp said...

I think there is a bigger issue than simply looking at what is "safe" (she could have been moving slowly down an empty road etc.). I think cyclists face very negative stereotypes among the general public. If I asked my colleagues now (most of who get to work by tube but own cars) their thoughts on cyclists, it would be "jump lights" this and "on the pavement" that. I know this; I have heard it all before. Very tedious :) They're wrong to lump everyone together, but that is neither here nor there. We need support from the general public, outside the cycling community, if we're to improve facilities for cyclists. I also rely on public support not to face increasing conflict on the roads, as people get into their cars with the "bloody cyclists" mentality. That public support is lacking.
I was disappointed to see the photo of that woman using her mobile phone. I think it makes it too easy for people to disregard all your hard work organising campaign rides (which I have attended) and press coverage, and just rule you, and other cyclists, out as self-important whingers who can't obey the rules themselves.
One minute blogs are using terribly serious words like "maimed" and accusing TfL of "murder" (not saying I disagree with these sentiments) and the next applauding cyclists on mobiles because they represent good style.
This is obviously your blog, for you to represent cycling as you wish. I just often feel cyclists represent themselves very badly, both in blogs and on the roads.

Anonymous said...

My god. I often ride with shopping like that!

She's tootling along... just been to the shops... sure the mobile use is not great but I wouldn't worry about her shopping bag!

Anonymous said...

To be fair your blog (which i regular browse) is called 'i bike london' nothing about rights/wrongs etc. You aren't 'Silly Cyclists'. The web is a vault of opinion blogs and you are clearly offering 'coverage' of your cycling life, i shouldn't have bothered replying to the piece in that manner, sorry for clogging up your blogging.
You are choosing to represent 'stylish' London cyclists as those breaking the law on there mobile phones and that is your editorial right and choice.

Whilst I don't expect any cycling blog to 'edit reality' nor match my every opinion on cycling i do find that entitling a piece '...stylish summer cyclists' and including idiots on their phones not a great match up, but as i've noted, you aren't offering a consistent line of cycling opinions, just coverage which i guess should have been clearer to me as your latest entry does sit above a piece on the #CycleSafe Campaign and your new lead off picture does rather contradict any kind of safe cycling campaigns.

You are however misrepresenting and over simplifying my comment on safer roads and the money being spent on them for effect and i'll not bother addressing that in detail as obviously '...You say that we should only ask for road safety improvements once we've "got our own house in order"...' is not anything i said or implied.

For the sake of safer cycling i don't want blogs 'editing reality' but for everyone cycling the roads i believe it would be great if blogs about cycling London could make pro-safe choices when offering up content to the readers, maybe save mobile phone using idiot cyclists for pieces about getting people riding safely rather than calling them someone that cycles around and past these people on a daily basis, there is not one thing stylish about it, and as they don't care they are breaking the law, it irks to see them also coming under a heading about being stylish.

Have a safe ride on the roads and good luck with your blogging.

ibikelondon said...

Thanks Hannah for your thought provoking comment.

You're right, where I've seen what I perceive to be injustice on our roads I've called it out and have actively lobbied for change (the lorry issue, Bow roundabout, Kings Cross etc)

As a cyclist I'm highly aware that my own behaviour can impact on the way people perceive other cyclists (rightly or wrongly) and always try to act accordingly.

I'm not seeking to applaud the woman on the mobile. When I uploaded the picture initially it didn't even flag with me that it might be an issue (maybe I've been spending too much time looking at photos of cyclists in the Netherlands and Copenhagen!) As I state in my comment above, perhaps she isn't behaving especially carefully, though I'm sure there are far bigger road safety fish to fry out there. For example, an HGV driver on a mobile poses a much more serious threat than a cyclist. I'd call out the more serious of the two, though it is unlikely to stop either from doing it.

What does worry me however is the sentiment that cyclists must always be perceived to be cleaner than clean all of the time in order to be able to gain any kind of campaigning traction. It's a slippery slope that is hard to see the end of. The argument that we should never show a cyclist "misbehaving" is difficult because "good behaviour" is a matter of perception - not showing a cyclist on a mobile naturally leads to the argument that we should never show a cyclist without a helmet, or a hi-vis jacket, or with a child on their bike, or cycling on a main road... If I did all these things I would be showing a cycling world which is the complete antithesis of everything I've been working hard to achieve; namely a place where all kinds of people (some good, some bad) ride a bike.

Anonymous said...

iswas - Once you've seen a cyclist dragged of his/her bike as a car catches the shopping bags being held on the passing traffic side of the bike you'll know straight away why it's a huge oversight. So many simple changes make cycling so much easier and safer.

If you really must carry bags, at any speed along the road in the same fashion as that lady is, carry them on the inside and give yourself more of a chance.

I saw it happen to a young man...sadly there was very much an attitude of 'well what did you expect doing something like that' from the Police...the Ambulance folk were more concerned with his broken collar bone and fractured looking cheek as he'd been dragged rather sharply down of his bike towards his shopping bags as the car had clipped them.

Paul M said...

I know this is going to sound like “One Foot in the Grave” but personally I am irritated by anyone who holds a mobile conversation while moving around in a public place. The most egregious examples are of course motorists, especially HGV drivers, because of the serious physical harm they can cause through their inattention. Cyclists are obviously not lethal in the way motorists are although very occasionally the dice can fall in a bizarre way and lead to a serious incident if, for example, someone falls and strikes their head on a kerb, and while this is rare indeed it is not entirely unheard of and a cyclist still has the responsibility to avoid setting off the chain of events in the first instance.

But pedestrians on mobiles are also an issue. City Police statistics show that more pedestrians cause injury to cyclists than vice versa, and that two thirds of pedestrians injured on City streets bring their injuries on themselves, predominantly due to inattention caused by phoning or texting as they walk.

Apart from risk of harm, using your phone out in public is just plain bloody rude. Every day I see people gabbing on their mobes while standing at the cash register paying for their lunch or whatever, and I think, why can’t you accord the shop assistants the common courtesy of paying some attention to them, for one bloody minute at least? And what about all those people who talk loudly into their mobiles on the train or bus? Are their conversations really that important? Being forced to listen to them regularly on my train journey home, I can assure you that they are not. Meanwhile I can’t concentrate properly on what I want to do, such as read the paper in peace. My silent reading doesn’t impinge on them, why should they impinge on me?

I saw the spectre of mobile base stations along the tube lines was raised again the other day. Please, not that - can we just have somewhere in London which is a mobile-free zone?

ibikelondon said...

Hi again @Anonymous (please do use a name of pseudonym - it makes it so much easier to have a chat that way!)

Apologies if I over-simplified what I believed you to have said. I remain firm in the belief that there should not be a correlation between the bahviour of *some* cyclists and calls for safer roads for everyone. No one ever called for funds for road building to be cut because cars kill a disproportionate amount of children, for example.

You've written "but for everyone cycling the roads i believe it would be great if blogs about cycling London could make pro-safe choices when offering up content to the readers" but as I highlight in my response to Hannah, above, this is a slippery slope indeed. What is perceived as safe or unsafe is clearly different from one person to another, as demonstrated by the fact that the girl on her mobile didn't even register as being unusual when I chose to upload the photo. If we follow the line of only offering "pro-safe" content does that mean we should only have people in helmets, or in high vis, or maybe not even cycling on the roads at all? Where do we draw the line? One man's idea of safety is clearly not the same as another man's.

Jon Usher said...

Why exactly would the positioning of her shopping bag pose any risk to her what so ever? It only does if there is an inconsiderate motorist involved who passes too close. In this scenario, having baggy clothing would also be deemed as a risk the stupid cyclist shouldn't take. "Sorry mate, you weren't in head to toe lycra, so you deserved to be knocked off!"

Also, if the police had acted like that in your fantasy land example, it's a good thing there's a Police Complaints Commission...

James said...

"Once you've seen a cyclist dragged of his/her bike as a car catches the shopping bags"

This is the most hilarious (and ludicrous) comment I have ever read.

This has nothing to do with the dangerous driver who is passing too closely - it's the shopping bag's fault! Let's blame the shopping bag so drivers can absolve themselves of blame. lol

Tom McE said...

Dapper Dan - bag not a space issue more weight on one side of the handle bars, which will drag them suddenly if turned slightly in that direction. This is difficult enough with both hands on the bars, but with only on, all but uncontrollable.

Delme said...

Hello, a regular browser but not a usual comment leaver…
I thought this blog post was just about people on bikes in the sun but it seems to have struck a chord and taken on more meaning than i presume you ever intended. (?)

As a long-time London cyclist and part-time pedestrian (i don't drive) it's clear that moving around London, regardless of how, requires social awareness, respect and common sense,
almost all of which during road (pavement/cycle lane) travel are pretty obvious, sadly though they don't always come to pass due to the invariably lazy/selfish 'bad apple' subset within each of the travelling groups, which subsequently fuels the stereotyping.
(Surely not all white-van-drivers are phone using lunatics with no working indicators…are they??)

Style however is far more subjective than basic common sense. Not everyone thinks my socks with the weekdays written on them are de rigueur, and personally i don't find the image at the top of the blog story 'stylish' (and neither do my Tuesday socks).

Style aside, I don't think posting a picture on this blog of a mobile phone using cyclist will have any effect outside of this thread, cycling whilst on a mobile is not illegal, though it can be regarded as a factor and not help your cause if you get pulled over for 'driving without due care and attention'.
So the image is someone not breaking any laws on a bike in the sunshine.
As cyclists we all have our views on what works or irks us in the cycling world, from red light jumpers to phone users (both of which i dislike, one of which is illegal regardless), but until the law makes a clear ruling on mobile phone use surely it's just a case of how much common sense you want to employ during your bike ride.

Wearing a helmet or not, carrying your shopping or using the phone, currently these are all personal choices that may or may not hinder or help you on your journey, I think you just have to role with the fallout that comes from cycling and breaking the law (red light jumpers) or if you don't show enough consideration for others around you when you move around London on whatever mode of transport you choose, even if you are 'stylish'.

(NB: If you cut me up whilst on your phone, expect to hear swear words and me suggesting you insert your phone somewhere around your saddle region.)

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