From Brian Frith.
I REALLY enjoy reading Ben Shenton’s column – he talks a lot of sense and does some great stuff for the community.
However, when it comes to cycling, I’m afraid Mr Shenton appears to be grandstanding and his home-spun wisdom really is way off the mark. Mr Shenton doesn’t wear Lycra ‘because he’s not doing the Tour de France’. Would he not wear appropriate gear for golf or tennis simply because he’s not on the PGA Tour or playing at Flushing Meadows?
Some years ago, a small group of us, largely older guys, set off from St Malo to cycle to Nice on a charity ride. One of our group, relatively new to cycling, decided he was going to shun the idea of Lycra and was in fact going to put a nice comfy sponge cover on his saddle. It was around day three when he was binning the cover and begging to use our antiseptic cream to try to relive a backside the colour of a baboon’s bum. We wear Lycra for a reason, Mr Shenton, and when you’ve cycled reasonable distances for days on end you’ll learn why.
I would also question Mr Shenton’s wisdom in cycling ‘near the kerb’. Any cycling manual or tutor will tell you to position yourself about a third of the way into your side of your half of the road. The reason is logical, ie to be more visible and to give yourself somewhere to go when that odd maniac of a driver tries to squeeze by with inches to spare. I’ve been pushed into a wall before when a car driver clipped my pedals. It’s not a nice experience. Also, riding two abreast is often not only sensible and legal, but also much safer.
Thanks for giving us an example of a silly, pavement-riding cyclist, Mr Shenton. I’m sure we all condemn that sort of dangerous activity, but I promise you that for every one of those incidents, there are equally dangerous car drivers, endangering the lives of pedestrians and cyclists alike. Safer roads for all of us will come from education, sharing and caring, and not from needlessly highlighting one-sided incidents and mocking those who wear Lycra.
I see on the front-page article (JEP 25 August) that the statistics for child obesity in Jersey are becoming a major concern. At age 11 I got my first second-hand bike and cycled everywhere, loving the freedom it gave me. We need to be creating an environment where our kids can cycle safely and enjoy that same freedom. The impact of getting more people on bicycles will not only significantly decrease obesity levels and improve general well-being, but will also have a positive impact on mental health and our environment.
Cycling advice aside, Mr Shenton, keep up the good work and I look forward to reading and enjoying your future columns.
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