Why I’ve become a joiner

No I haven’t taken up cabinet-making…Rather I’ve gone and got me one of these:

GMCC

I’ve ummed and ahhed about joining the GMCC for some time now – I’ll be honest, I felt it might make me one of ‘those’ cyclists; ranty, evangelising, anti-car, angry. That sort of thing was just for skinny blokes in too-tight shorts, not me…and why on earth did I need to join a ‘campaign’ for something which I view as utterly normal, everyday behaviour? After all there isn’t a Greater Manchester Teeth Brushers’ organisation, or a North West Doing The Laundry union, or Going to the Supermarket support group (perhaps there should be…)

I’ve always thought the best way to advocate for cycling was just to cycle. To be out there obeying the rules of the road and respecting other road users. To give the impression that cycling is transport, not just a sport for the super-fit; you can cycle wearing whatever you like, as slowly as you like.

However I’m not naïve enough to think that we’ll see an Amsterdam-style bike utopia here in Manchester just because I cycle to work in a dress when the mood takes me.

Depressingly, not everyone seems to think that riding a bike is an unexceptional thing. In fact a lot of people seem to take tremendous exception to our chosen mode of transport, and subject us to casual abuse, appallingly dangerous driving and countless really, really badly designed cycle lanes which would horrify any continental European urban planner.

And all this in the country of Bradley Wiggins, Victoria Pendleton, Chris Hoy and Sarah Storey, the country of the London 2012 velodrome goldrush.

Away from gilded world of pro cycling, far too many everyday folk remain cooped up in their cars getting fatter, unhappier and poorer while our cities get dirtier, noisier and more dangerous. That’s not the sort of city I want to live in.

Real change needs a true critical mass of numbers, a loud enough unified voice, and a group of dedicated people encouraging each other to keep on trying.

Which is why I’m now a joiner.

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