A famous face

I saw a familiar face on tonight’s cycle route home. At least I thought it was a familiar face. So the first thing I did when I got home was a google search for "Lionel Shriver" and "cycle" (because I am sad like that).

Anyway, bingo! Shriver, a London-based American-born author, is a cyclist. She penned this rather acerbic and quite depressing piece about cycling in London at about the same time I started to commute by bike. I’m  glad I didn’t read her piece at the time though. Her final paragraph, addressed to all those new cyclists who were clambouring onto their bikes in the wake of 7/7 and the mayor’s concerted campaign to get Londoners cycling, is a real killer. I’m pretty sure if I read this back in the summer of 2005 I’d probably still be catching the tube day in, day out:

"Go away! We don’t need any more little friends! Don’t you believe that
guff about how cycling makes you fit; it makes you tired! The weather
is terrible! Ooh, ugh – you get dirty and sweaty, and drivers will lean
censoriously on their horns when you’re obeying all the traffic laws
just because you exist! Maybe cycling does save a whack of money, but
can any amount of cash compensate for the fact that bike helmets are so
naff? So what if a bicycle is the fastest and most reliable way of
getting around London, especially now that the whole tube system shuts
down whenever a greasy chip bag gets abandoned on a bench. Haven’t you
ever heard of being ‘fashionably late’?


One thought on “A famous face

  1. We were in England last year, but didn’t ride in London. We waited till we were much further away from the city. Even then the road surfaces, the traffic, the weather, the width of roads were all deterents. (We, means my wife Fay and I on a tandem.)


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