I was happy to read over the weekend that a poll by Sustrans has found that more than a quarter of Britons have been inspired by Le Tour De France to try cycling or to cycle more often. It is either a milestone in cycling history for the UK or the cynical part of me suspects it may be the influence of the media but, thank goodness it is not the influence of drugs which has so severely overshadowed this spectacular race. I say that in jest because we can all look back and laugh now can’t we?
I love Le Tour despite the hiccups in its history. It’s my dad’s fault. Like all of you I find my later life influenced by the people that brought me up. I love the band Queen and I love Supertramp (have you noticed they read The Oxford Times in one of their album covers?). Music taste is thanks to my mother, but when it comes to thanking my father for his input I can credit him with my love for watching Le Tour and alas my lasting profession, working in the bike trade.
He was not a professional bike mechanic. He is skilled in that arena but officially a DIY’er. I was always sent to the garage to see my father when I was naughty, not such a punishment when you like fixing things. Instead of any reprimand, I was met with all manner of spanners, tools and cars or bikes to mess around with.
I seriously think he wanted boys but the poor man ended up with two girls. At least I took note. I was brought up respecting my bicycle and cars were only seen as occasional vehicles that could take the whole family 40 miles or more to see the in-laws.
Which brings me to my point. I am not sure if the masses inspired by Le Tour will swap their cars for bicycles. They would probably invest some money into their weekend hobby but not take it the whole way and see the bike as the principle form of transport. I hope I am proved wrong.
But it really is the best transport and I hope the UK will realise that very soon. The bike trade doesn’t have as much money to pour into fancy advertising like the car trade. Has anyone else noticed how the majority of our adverts on TV are dedicated to new cars and the modern ones use leisure sports such as cycling to boost the appeal? Bikes may look like a sitting duck against such aggressive advertising but I always feel if you need to advertise your product so heavily it may not be wanted in this day and age.
The poll by Sustrans has been commented upon by its chief executive who said: “What a show cycling has seen since the Tour de France hit Yorkshire just a few weeks ago. If the Government’s ‘cycling revolution’ is to go ahead they must be quick to capitalise on this public passion to reap the benefits in health, congestion and the economy to be had with higher levels of public cycling.”
Well, I say, hear hear. Let’s just hope the government people watch real people’s day to day cycling and not just sporting activities. I have got to admit it, it was a good race though. Farewell Le Tour for another year.
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