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But majority says cycling should be better provided for, taken seriously and see cyclists as brave

A study of British adults’ attitudes to cycling has found that a large number want to cycle more for everyday short journeys but feel unable to do so because they find sharing the roads with cars, buses and lorries too scary.

The survey also shows that people now believe that cyclists should be taken seriously (68%), that they are doing their bit for the environment and that they are actually rather brave (50%).

Researchers at UWE-Bristol asked YouGov to help survey GB adults in both 2010 and 2013 to get their views on a range of issues linked to cycling in this country. They found that in 2010 33% of the GB sample agreed they were contemplating cycling for short journeys, and 18% agreed they’d actually made plans to take up cycling. However, as the 2013 data makes clear, these plans didn’t materialise, with cycling levels amongst the population remaining broadly flat.

Census data released recently also shows that despite a modest increase in cycling in some areas, especially in cities where provision has been made for cycling, the same proportion of people rode to work in 2011 as in 2001.


A majority of those surveyed agreed cyclists should be taken seriously
(CC licensed image by Tristan Schmurr/Flickr)

One reason why people havent started cycling even thought they say they’d like to is lack of confidence. In the 2013 survey, 34% of GB adults agreed that, ‘I’m not confident enough to consider cycling’.

New cyclists want to be protected from motorised traffic, and this may be why as many as 65% of GB adults support an increase in funding to support more cycling for everyday journeys. Indeed, and contrary to the ‘road wars’ anti-cycling media hysteria of recent times, cycling is very warmly regarded by all but a few.

In the 2013 survey cycling was regarded as good for the environment by 72% (vs only 8% disagree) and a majority - 54%  - agreed that Britain would be a better place if more people cycled (just 13% disagreed).

Even the hyperbolic idea that cycling is a great way of solving some of the world’s problems had 30% agreement. Only 10% thought cycling to work isn’t normal and 46% agreed that cycling is cool.

Media bias is increasingly recognised as such: a recent Top Gear piece making jokes at cycling’s expense should be set against the finding that 37% agreed (18% disagree) that TV motoring programmes are too negative about cycling, for example.

Professor Alan Tapp of UWE Bristol said: “Our data is clear that anti-cycling media rhetoric does not represent the views of the majority. A majority of adults in GB support cycling and want to see more money spent on it.

“Moreover, people recognise the environmental and congestion reducing potential of cycling, and many people would cycle more themselves – if only they felt more confident to do so.

“This is more evidence to back up the key recommendation of last year’s All Party Parliamentary Cycling Group: government must meet the urgent need for a safer cycling environment by investing in cycleways.

“At the moment enormous budgets are allocated to road building without any opposition, and yet much more modest recommendations for cycling are prevented from happening. This surely needs to change.”

Our official grumpy Northerner, John has been riding bikes for over 30 years since discovering as an uncoordinated teen that a sport could be fun if it didn't require you to catch a ball or get in the way of a hulking prop forward.

Road touring was followed by mountain biking and a career racing in the mud that was as brief as it was unsuccessful.

Somewhere along the line came the discovery that he could string a few words together, followed by the even more remarkable discovery that people were mug enough to pay for this rather than expecting him to do an honest day's work. He's pretty certain he's worked for even more bike publications than Mat Brett.

The inevitable 30-something MAMIL transition saw him shift to skinny tyres and these days he lives in Cambridge where the lack of hills is more than made up for by the headwinds.

71 comments

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Simmo72 [645 posts] 3 years ago
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Cash...that is the issue. Who's gonna pay?

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Daveyraveygravey [513 posts] 3 years ago
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The issue is cants in cars not giving cyclists enough room, not looking for them properly at junctions, and not understanding roads are there for everyone to use, not just the motorised tin box brigade!

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rggfddne [221 posts] 3 years ago
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be nice to include a link to the actual study, no?

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Sadly Biggins [271 posts] 3 years ago
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"In the 2013 survey cycling was regarded as good for the environment by 72% (vs only 8% disagree) and a majority - 54% - agreed that Britain would be a better place if more people cycled (just 13% disagreed)."

The minority must live near me then.

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AndrewRH [57 posts] 3 years ago
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New cyclists want to be protected from motorised traffic,

There are 2 protests today that are focused on pushing governments to make road networks better for people who choose to cycle...

At 1pm Stop Killing Cyclists is highlighting the results from its FOI questions put to all London Boroughs in its #WallOfDeath protest at Westminster City Hall.
See STOP THE KILLING: WALL OF DEATH

Then at 2pm the Brake charity is protesting for #GO20 at Parliament, demanding 20mph speed limits on more roads.
See BRAKE: Charity takes campaign to parliament

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Zermattjohn [227 posts] 3 years ago
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"New cyclists want to be protected from motorised traffic, and this may be why as many as 65% of GB adults support an increase in funding to support more cycling for everyday journeys".

The motorised traffic these potential cyclists are afraid of is made up of themselves...They are basically admitting that they are scared of their own driving, which puts them off. This can't be admitted by people, as its everyone else who is the problem, but its the same issue I come up against trying to increase the number of children cycling to school. The parents all say "but its not safe with all the cars around the school.." - okay, but who is driving these cars? You.

I am the keenest cyclist out there, but the one thing that puts me off jumping on my bike and going where I want when I want is only ever the thought of the scary/dangerous/bullying driving that I might encounter, particularly around the rush-hours. In no other walk of life would an old chap feel it acceptable to pass me with his middle finger raised, or the fella in the Range Rover the other day force his way past a group of people, just because they are on bikes (I imagine he would do differently if we were on horses?). Until the liability law is changed to match many other countries, (where the driver is assumed to be at fault in an incident unless they can prove otherwise, not "presumed innocent" as in the UK), all the millions in the world can be spent on infrastructure but it won't encourage many many would-be's out of their "safe cars" onto bikes.

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mrmo [2092 posts] 3 years ago
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If for a moment you think about this,

A large proportion of adults drive, a large proportion of adults want to cycle but are scared.

What are they scared of, drivers!

So does this mean a large proportion of drivers recognise, maybe unconsciously, that they are incompetent and should not have licences because they haven't got a frickking clue about how to drive!!!!

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ajmarshal1 [417 posts] 3 years ago
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Yesterday I had two extremely close calls, both of which shook me. The first was a coach that whipped past me so close I felt it against my arm and shoulder whilst it also pulled me toward it in the airflow. I was doing 25mph+, he had to be doing 50mph+. Complaint to the company filed. The second was as I pulled out in a village to overtake a stationary bus at a bus stop, a taxi then tried to overtake me with not enough room and nearly sandwiched me between him and the stationary bus. Sadly I didn't clock the taxi firms name as he then sped off after waving his arms at me whilst I was trying to make sure the bus driver then didn't pull out and finish me off as I was having to lean against it the taxi was that close.

These are so-called 'professional' drivers and they are absolutely the worst culprits. I seriously wonder if cycling is worth the risk sometimes. It is no surprise to me that some people are scared when they see and hear about things like that.

There's an inbuilt attitude of fuckwittery on our roads and it simply and sadly won't ever change.

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oldstrath [758 posts] 3 years ago
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So the majority of Brits believe that the 'other people' on the road are crap drivers? I suppose it's a start - if they can just accept that we are pretty much all crap at this driving thing, maybe we could agree to stop doing it?

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teaboy [307 posts] 3 years ago
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Simmo72 wrote:

Cash...that is the issue. Who's gonna pay?

Everyone. Just like everyone pays for the roads. Driving gets about £80 per head of population from general taxation. Cycling gets a tiny amount, despite the fact that more people are able to cycle than drive.

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Zermattjohn [227 posts] 3 years ago
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A good book I read was called "The Way We Drive and What It Says About Us", by a sociology professor in the States. He claims that humans haven't developed the social skills which are required when travelling at more than running pace, as its only relatively recently that humans have been able to do so, basically since the motor car was invented. We need eye contact to remain "human", and sitting in a glass and metal box means we've lost the ability to behave in what is a normal way. Thats why drivers in tesco car park are happy to wait, let people pull out, they wave pedestrians across and generally get on ok. Once we hit 30mph and above on the open road we develop our, as you quite beautifully put it, "inbuilt attitude of fuckwittery".

Interesting view, and the more I ride the more I subscribe to it.

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bikebot [2120 posts] 3 years ago
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Most drivers are fine, could you imagine what the carnage would be like if it actually was a majority that were incompetent.

We do have a bit of a quality issue with driving. From my observation, a difference between commuter cyclists and drivers is that cyclists often brush up on their road craft and knowledge over time. Drivers however develop an over confidence in their ability.

Forcing drivers to at least retake their theory test every decade would help with that, along with a greater use of retraining as a punishment for offences.

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ajmarshal1 [417 posts] 3 years ago
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Update:

In the interests of fairness, here's the reply from the coach company (Longstaffs of Amble, Northumberland) in it's entirety , make of it what you will:

Thank you for your email. Your comments have been noted and our drivers spoken to.

Regards

Alison

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mrmo [2092 posts] 3 years ago
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bikebot wrote:

Most drivers are fine, could you imagine what the carnage would be like if it actually was a majority that were incompetent.

I wouldn't say most drivers are fine, I would say most drivers are barely competent and very complacent. Evidence for this is the two lane entry roundabout, something so simple, and yet in my experience something that seems to be beyond the capability of a huge proportion of drivers. Then we have lane discipline on dual carriageways and motorways, a huge proportion will never move over after overtaking, you only have to look at the stream of trucks in the left, the reps on the right and the empty lane in the middle to see that.!

This is before you consider the disregard for parking laws, speed limits, mobile phones, etc etc.

Think about the Sheppey bridge crash last? year, its foggy visibility is reduced, so what happens a major pile up.

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mrmo [2092 posts] 3 years ago
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ajmarshal1 wrote:

Update:

In the interests of fairness, here's the reply from the coach company (Longstaffs of Amble, Northumberland) in it's entirety , make of it what you will:

Thank you for your email. Your comments have been noted and our drivers spoken to.

Regards

Alison

never send an email direct to the company without copying in the police, the later may do nothing, but it is on file and it is harder for the company to ignore.

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jasecd [438 posts] 3 years ago
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ajmarshal1 wrote:

Update:

In the interests of fairness, here's the reply from the coach company (Longstaffs of Amble, Northumberland) in it's entirety , make of it what you will:

Thank you for your email. Your comments have been noted and our drivers spoken to.

Regards

Alison

Well that fills you with confidence.

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oldstrath [758 posts] 3 years ago
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bikebot wrote:

Most drivers are fine, could you imagine what the carnage would be like if it actually was a majority that were incompetent.

We do have a bit of a quality issue with driving. From my observation, a difference between commuter cyclists and drivers is that cyclists often brush up on their road craft and knowledge over time. Drivers however develop an over confidence in their ability.

Forcing drivers to at least retake their theory test every decade would help with that, along with a greater use of retraining as a punishment for offences.

The majority get away with it. I'm not sure that makes them "fine".

If we must allow private cars, I'd have thought 5 yearly medicals and retests (the lot, not just theory) would be appropriate - I can't think of any reason why people should be allowed to wield dangerous weapons, with essentially no constraint from the law, and no check on their fitness or competence, beyond 'some time in the past they did OK', probably in different road conditions, with a less powerful car, and in better physical condition themselves.

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harman_mogul [271 posts] 3 years ago
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It's true many drivers cannot perceive bike riders as equal road users. Probably this is a generational thing. If you're middle-aged or older, you grew up when the prevailing attitude was that people who ride bikes 'don't really count'.

(You might recall Jeremy Clarkson's crack that 'anybody over 23 on a bus is a failure'. JC projects that 'cyclists-don't-really-count' attitude.)

Fewer young people are learning to drive, and fewer still buying cars. With time, a generational change in attitude will come, just as it did with drunken driving.

Meantime...I am surprised that nowhere in the study's findings is there mention of 'fear of getting your bike nicked'.

Speaking for myself, this is an important reason to prefer some other form of transport, for example when going out in the evening.

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Simon E [3018 posts] 3 years ago
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ajmarshal1 wrote:

Update:

In the interests of fairness, here's the reply from the coach company (Longstaffs of Amble, Northumberland) in it's entirety , make of it what you will:

Thank you for your email. Your comments have been noted and our drivers spoken to.

Regards

Alison

Words like these alone are meaningless. They would struggle to use fewer words in their communique, such is the importance of this to them.

Fairness would include:
- ensuring the driver understood the seriousness of the incident
- he recognises the consequences of his actions
- him (and the company) finding a way to address the failure and prevent it happening again to their staff.
- communicating something of all the above to the complainant.

This happens in other areas, why not so-called 'professional' drivers?

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mrmo [2092 posts] 3 years ago
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harman_mogul wrote:

Meantime...I am surprised that nowhere in the study's findings is there mention of 'fear of getting your bike nicked'

thinking about it, I never really worry about my bike being nicked, but I won't ride into town because there is no where safe to lock my bike up. Not sure if that makes sense! I am lucky I live a few minutes walk from town.

Issues I face, I won't cycle to the supermarket as I have no faith in my bike not getting trashed and have no space for another bike. Cycle parking is very much an afterthought in so many places, tucked round the back just where a thief or vandal can have some peace and quiet. I cycle to work but there is nowhere to lock the bike up. I just chain the bike to the structural steelwork, the building isn't going anywhere so should be safe! but there is a nice big carpark.

The cycle-hoops that do exist in town, don't protect your bike from idiots scratching the bike by dumping there bike on top. No one deals with the bikes that have been abandoned and that occupy the very few spaces that exist.

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mrmo [2092 posts] 3 years ago
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This is the response I got to a complaint about a bus cutting me up
.

Quote:

Your email has been received and our reference is incident number 106 4/10/13.

I note it has been left with the bus company to deal with internally.

Regards,

Gloucestershire Police Control Room.

Quote:

I am writing to you today in regards to your email dated 4th October 2013 regarding one of our Service D drivers for dangerous driving.

All of our drivers undergo intensive training prior to starting their duties with ongoing training to maintain the high standard we set. We work hard to ensure our drivers are considerate to other road users especially those who are most vulnerable on our roads such as cyclists. There is enough space on our roads for all modes of transport.

Complaints of this nature are taken very seriously by the Company, using the information that you supplied I have traced the driver, and currently obtaining the CCTV of the incident. Dependent on the findings from viewing the CCTV, I will be interviewing him in line with our Company disciplinary procedures and taking the appropriate actions in order to avoid such incidents in the future.

I would also like to advised, I am currently creating notices for all drivers advising of the dangers they can cause to vulnerable road users in order to highlight this issue and as a first measure to prevent such incidents reoccurring. Any driver involved in such incidents is sent to remedial driving with one of our qualified driving instructors. During this training their driving is assessed and corrected where needed along with highlighting how their actions can affect others.

I would like to apologise again on behalf of Stagecoach for the distress caused to you and thank you for taking the time to report this matter to us.

Yours Sincerely,

Laura Smith
Operations Manager
Stagecoach in Cheltenham

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harman_mogul [271 posts] 3 years ago
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Simon E wrote:

Words like these alone are meaningless. They would struggle to use fewer words in their communique

True. This in fact says "Get lost".

In the world of meetings, it is put thusly: "Thank you for your input. We'll take that point under advisement." [Nod to minute-taker]

(This post refers the Langstaffs incident)

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RedfishUK [149 posts] 3 years ago
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harman_mogul wrote:

(You might recall Jeremy Clarkson's crack that 'anybody over 23 on a bus is a failure'. JC projects that 'cyclists-don't-really-count' attitude.)

worse than that he was quoting Thatcher --> A man who, beyond the age of 26, finds himself on a bus can count himself as a failure

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harman_mogul [271 posts] 3 years ago
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RedfishUK wrote:
harman_mogul wrote:

(You might recall Jeremy Clarkson's crack that 'anybody over 23 on a bus is a failure'. JC projects that 'cyclists-don't-really-count' attitude.)

worse than that he was quoting Thatcher --> A man who, beyond the age of 26, finds himself on a bus can count himself as a failure

Ah thank you, we even have fact-checkers on this board. Interesting that la Thatch should have characterized the bus-bound 26-year-old failure as a man.

Presumably in her day the chap would have had the car to drive to work, while his missus schlepped around on the bus doing the shopping, and that was all as it should be.

But that generation's attitudes, as noted, are gradually atrophying.

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fancynancy [78 posts] 3 years ago
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To risk sounding totally dramatic...

That high you get post exercise... I think my high after a ride is actually elation from still being alive!

Cars seem to believe we are holding up their journey, then 2mins later we will pass them again as they are stuck in traffic. It’s all so silly really.  102

If only drivers would view us as Top Gear tried to portray... one person on a bike is one less car on the road, therefore making their journey easier.

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FluffyKittenofT... [1581 posts] 3 years ago
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RedfishUK wrote:
harman_mogul wrote:

(You might recall Jeremy Clarkson's crack that 'anybody over 23 on a bus is a failure'. JC projects that 'cyclists-don't-really-count' attitude.)

worse than that he was quoting Thatcher --> A man who, beyond the age of 26, finds himself on a bus can count himself as a failure

To be fair to Thatcher (not a sentence I use often) I don't think its established that she really said that. It also has mutated to 'only losers take the bus', which I vaguely remember became the title of a Fatima Mansions album.

Its true though that buses have a plebian image. For some curious reason its been noted by transport planners that higher-income people are happy to take trams but not buses. Social signifiers take strange forms.

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brooksby [2222 posts] 3 years ago
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mrmo wrote:

I won't cycle to the supermarket as I have no faith in my bike not getting trashed and have no space for another bike. Cycle parking is very much an afterthought in so many places, tucked round the back just where a thief or vandal can have some peace and quiet.

My local Tesco Extra (a really big one, next to an Ikea) has room for about twelve bikes around the back, next to the exit that they permanently closed because too many shoplifers were fleeing through it.

I hadn't been there for a while, but went at the weekend and... drum-roll ... - they have got rid of half of the bike stands. There is a now a small kiosk-type shop for a popular key cutting chain of stores. So, the bike stands are now completely out of sight, in an area between a key cutting store and a permanently shut rear exit.

Anyone would think they didn't want cyclists to shop there...

Quote:

The cycle-hoops that do exist in town, don't protect your bike from idiots scratching the bike by dumping there bike on top. No one deals with the bikes that have been abandoned and that occupy the very few spaces that exist.

The problem with other people scratching your ride when they lock their own up, is apparently just one of those things - I was reading an article with someone visiting Amsterdam and the locals said not to ride their good bike, because it'll get damaged by other people and their huge heavy town-bikes.

And, our local police do seem to go through from time to time and cut off all of the abandoned bike carcasses and locks.

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Neil753 [447 posts] 3 years ago
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Apart from the obvious fear factor, there's a couple of other things that prevent huge numbers from getting on their bikes.

Firstly, many new homes, and especially flats, are being built without bicycle storage in mind.

And secondly, there may be millions of people, often whole families, who already own bikes, and perhaps want to cycle just occasionally, but who are confronted by an obtuse industry doing everything it possibly can to change the perception of a bike from a machine capable of lasting 50 years or more, to that of one to be treated almost as a disposable item.

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JeevesBath [183 posts] 3 years ago
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fancynancy wrote:

Cars seem to believe we are holding up their journey, then 2mins later we will pass them again as they are stuck in traffic. It’s all so silly really.  102

This. On my way to work I frequently get passed at 40+ mph on a blind bend, only to catch up to the vehicle in question seconds later at the junction 200m down the road.....

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mrmo [2092 posts] 3 years ago
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brooksby wrote:

The problem with other people scratching your ride when they lock their own up, is apparently just one of those things - I was reading an article with someone visiting Amsterdam and the locals said not to ride their good bike, because it'll get damaged by other people and their huge heavy town-bikes.

Which meets

Quote:

Firstly, many new homes, and especially flats, are being built without bicycle storage in mind.

head on.

There is so little storage that if you want a few bikes you soon have a problem, and this is before you run into n+1, I am just talking 2-3 people living in a house and having one bike each.

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