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When the Bicycle Invaded


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As university students settle into term time again campuses are seeing a mass invasion of students, overflowing buses, rushing staff...and bicycles. We all know their benefits but the question is can there ever be too many bicycles?

Bicycles parked

The benefits of cycling are well known and fantastically long. They range from a cleaner environment to cheaper travel, and unless you are cycling along America's East Coast or Thailands' Tuk-Tuk busy streets (amongst others) you can expect your health and cardiovascular fitness to recieve a massive bonus.

In fact, our wheel-powered ancestor has not failed to gain followers since Thomas Stevens penned 'Around the World on a Bicycle' - that was of course at the time when one was not in fear of being run over by sports cars zooming around roundabouts. 

And that, put simply, is the problem: cycling really did, and continues to, take off, but so has driving...and the use of motorbikes...and horseriding...and even the good old rely-on-yourself form of transportation which humans were designed to do: walking. How, amongst a time of overcrowding cities, 27 million private cars in the UK alone, and an increased reliance on private transport, can we offer the entire population somewhere to park their vehicles and carry on with life?

As a society we started off with the wheel. We then sought out bigger dreams. We went for the big cars; the four-by-fours; the people carriers, and then we rolled right off that high-cost, impossible parking, environment-killing hill and we went for the minis and the smart cars. Now we have a little of everything poking their noses out of lanes and struggling around roundabouts.  

Given the fact that cyclists must now follow their own pathways and have been excluded from many walkways while horses have had bridleways for sometime and buses and taxis have their own respective lanes, it may be wondered if we will one day have six-lane roundabouts: cars, buses and taxis, cyclists, motorcyslists, and additional lanes for people turning left, right and centre. Ridiculous as it may sound, an entire lane to sway with my bicycle may be rather ingenious. 

But it is not the lanes which are the only problem: having this many forms of transport means offering a car park which can cater for all of them at once. It is, after all, only the pedestrians who can stroll into Tesco's without gathering a lock and key and tying their legs up. Warwick University's bicycle parks are already overflowing and term has only just begun. As wonderful as it is to see a range of age groups take to the movement-powered wheel, fight the fat and the recession and save the environment (fight the grey and protect the green) all at once, I fear that universities across the country may soon have to trade spacious and beautiful campuses for additional lamp posts and bike parks, and that seems a little counterproductive.

Of course the other option is not to lock your bike up at all, which is fine if you are cycling gypsies and your bike never leaves your sight, but it is not so good if you are skipping between home and the lecture theatre and popping into Tesco on the way and you are slightly (rationally) cautious: you are not going to leave your bike leaned against the wall outside a building, hoping it will wait for you and not the sneaky idiot who doesn't need a balaclava. 

Having dedicated myself to my bike this year I am wishful that the owners of these Warwick bicycles will simply give up when the cold weather returns, but for now I have the perfect excuse for being late to my lectures: I was looking for a lamp post.  


Image taken from here.

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