Monday 21 September 2009

Cycling the world from home

The Times recently reported on a 67 year old Englishman, Mike Roots, who has been "cycling the world" from his exercise bicycle. Since 1996 he has covered 80000 miles.

He's not cycling it for real on the roads because they are "too dangerous."

It's a glimpse into the problems facing many people in the UK who would like to cycle, but do not. A feeling that the roads are too dangerous is not irrational, but quite understandable in a country where cyclists simply are not provided for.

This is perhaps a good example of a lack of subjective safety preventing someone from cycling.

What Mike is doing may seem strange, and some of the readers responses to the article are quite funny. However, I think it's good that Mike is raising the issue of subjective safety.

By way of contrast, Dutch people of pensionable age make a quarter of their journeys by bicycle.

Now for a real ride around the world... James Bowthorpe from London just took the world record for riding right around the world by bike. There's a TV interview here.

Thanks to the Crap Waltham Forest blog for the story.


Mark W. said...

Mr Roots lives only 15 miles from where the boat to (Hook of) Holland leaves! Shouldn't we invite him over to the world's safest cycle country? His determination is impressive, but there is nothing like the wind in your hair on a real bicycle. Such a shame he has to miss that.

Unknown said...

I went to school & college in Colchester & it is a dangerous town for pedestrians & cyclists alike (I was hit by a car & a friend was also knocked down outside school) - I don't blame Mr Roots for his fears & don't think they're actually that subjective in his case. Just think of the positives too - he is learning & keeping healthy.

Frits B said...

And interestingly, on a bike with belt drive ....

Frits B said...

And, interestingly, on a bike with belt drive ....

dexey said...

What a lot of nonsense. Just how many UK cyclists are there actually cycling on the roads day by day, tour by tour compared to those who have decided to stay at home because it is 'too dangerous" and how many of those are "riding around the world" on their exercise bikes?
it is just a low news day filler story that happens to fit in with your prejudices.
The Dutch have a very different national psyche to the UK and bugger all worth calling a hill.

David Hembrow said...

Dexey asks "Just how many UK cyclists are there actually cycling on the roads day by day..."

Actually, the answer is "bugger all." Around 1% of journeys are made by bike in the UK. A recent survey showed that 2/3rds of British people have not ridden a bike in a year. It's truly tragic.

That's the whole point. The chap who the story is about is riding on the roads about as much as the average British person does. i.e. not at all.

And hills ? Now you're really showing your ignorance. Limburg in the south of the Netherlands is actually quite hilly. They have some pretty serious cycle races down there specifically to take in the hills.

However, the general cycling rate of towns in the area is still extraordinarily high compared with flat areas of the UK.

Even Switzerland has a much higher cycling rate than the UK, and you really can't accuse Switzerland of being flat.

Yes, hills put some people off, some of the time. However, the cycling rate in different areas is far more dependent on the infrastructure in those areas than anything else.

A different national psyche ? Well, I will give you that they don't keep making excuses.