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Ignorance is Bliss?

By Julian Birch

I was wrong. Wrong to think I wouldn’t be in the minority. Wrong to assume everyone powering his or her own two wheels would (like me) be full to bursting with “the joy of bike.” Wrong to think every passing cyclist would reply to a sincerely and innocently offered “Hello.” Wrong, wrong, wrong. How could I have been so wrong?

Finally swapping London Transport’s vagaries for the self-contained simplicity of journeying from home to work by bike could have been partly to blame. The prospect of getting to work could never have filled me with such ebullient buoyancy, that’s for certain. I’m sure all those weathered, care worn and hard-bitten bike commuters saw me as just another over-enthusiastic, over-friendly new boy. Another two-wheeled evangelist who hadn’t yet learnt to keep his mouth shut. Some appeared suspicious of my motives, a telltale look that screamed “What’s this weirdo after?” flashed across their wary eyes. That’s when they did look at me and not completely blank me, staring straight ahead in full-on zombie mode, which was quite often. Ladies may have thought I was a bike creep trying to hit on them. Maybe some guys thought the same. So sorry to disappoint all those folks! Others doubtless considered me sad, lonely and desperate to force some interaction. I’m pretty self-sufficient though, approval or recognition isn’t required to do what I do or to enjoy it. Besides I wasn’t the one eschewing any hint of camaraderie so who was more pitiful? A few may have had an over-productive “competitive gland” seeing every other rider as a rival for speed and tarmac, fraternisation another sign of weakness not to be tolerated on their “commute of truth.”

Bike messengers happily give each other the nod and acknowledge another fellow member of that semi-exclusive, semi-professional club. Why do so many others appear so unsociable or unwilling? Are they content (continued)