David Hembrow’s marvelous blog, The View from the Cycle Path, is written from an English perspective.
But it comes from the heart of Holland, where David now lives, and is a superb source of sensible info as to what actually works when you have a society, like Holland, truly committed to safe and pleasant biking around.
It’s peer, I find is Mikael’s Colville-Andersen’s marvelous , blog, Copenhagenize.com. There are links to both blogs on the side, here.
David recently put up a video clip which, while lacking in storyline (something I obsess about) and snappy editing, is still quite hypnotic.
What you see is nothing but bike traffic, from the station of a town, a place called, Hertogenbosch.
The camera was set up by Mark Wegenbuur who resides there, I guess. What Mark gets is a lovely flow of unhurried cyclists, going where they need to go. None seem to notice the camera.
What fascinated me was that, in the two minutes running time, I didn’t see a single hunched-over Dutch cyclist, the default posture in Australia.
The posture was dramatically on show this sunny Sunday morning as I attended the start of a huge cycle ride through Sydney, organized by the city and Bicycle NSW .
I saw many thousands of cyclists, all eager to start off, bunched together in hundreds to be sent off in waves (I’ll post a video soon)
Few riders would have guessed that I was checking their postures closely.
Here are some of the latecomers. Of the many thousands, I saw only one bike with handlebars curved back, the rider upright, as is every rider in the Dutch video.
The rest, 10,000 perhaps, were all to varying degrees, hunched over.
I can’t, as yet, find anyone discussing posture, asking the legitimate question, is this the way we should be riding?
Riding a bike is a sort of conversation with the world around you. If you are hunched over, looking at your front wheel for much of the time, what sort of dialogue is that?
In that position, do you encourage those who see you, motorists, pedestrians, to take up cycling, or do you telegraph a sort of fixated lonely purpose, getting somewhere at speed.
Is it not a cocoon posture, not as closed off as that of a motorist, but closed to some degree?
Imagine if you walked down the street, bent forward, head half raised. What sort of message would that send to those you passed on the pavement?
A, ‘leave me alone,’ message perhaps.
If you think I exaggerate, here’s the alternative, David Hembrow (View from the cycle path) fully interacting with a fellow rider nearby.
Would you not be tempted wave to this guy, even shout a greeting about the ride, the day?
More so at least than to these riders, surely! Would it be a bad thing if cycling, off the race circuit, became less about speed and more about friendliness?
Maybe it’s a cultural thing. Maybe it does come from the strength of sports cycling here, so that even non racers are copy catting.
It’s a debate we need to have since it might help bring in a new type of cyclist, the sort of people who are trying the Velibs in Paris or the Bixis in Montreal
It might be better for our riding health as well, to think more about posture
My partner in bike interest, Dr Ian Charlton, tells me of a local physiotherapist, treating in a rider with some of the various common cycling pains, the crick in the neck, the sore wrists and the lower back problems, and who suggested to the woman that she give up riding.
He didn’t apparently know that there’s an easy solution to getting rid of those ills, sitting up straight like all the riders in Mark’s video.
Some of the riders at the Spring meet claimed that the Hunch-over position provides less wind resistance, seemingly a good point.
I wonder how true it is since countries with ferocious head winds, like Denmark and Holland, both favor the upright posture.
Anyway, it’s something I want to look into soon.
Thanks, Mark and David too, for the video.