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Lure of saddle soars in Britain.

Byline: Arab News

(Category: Opinion)

The Times of London yesterday commented on the increasing popularity of cycling:

In a world where an object's contribution to mankind's progress is measured by how much effort it spares us (think of cars, dishwashers, remote controls for switching TV channels if Rocky V suddenly appears on TV), the bicycle stands as a monument to the virtues of running up a sweat.

Cycling is booming in Britain, in the teeth of discouraging odds. The scarcity of cycle lanes, pollution, thoughtless drivers, the unflattering nature of distended Lycra, these can all make cycling in cities feel courageous. But ecological awareness, stiff gym club fees, London's congestion charge and the tedium of traffic jams have goaded more commuters into the saddle.

That Chris Hoy and Bradley Wiggins helped to pedal Britain to its fattest haul of Olympic gold medals in a century in Beijing has also helped to distance bicycles from their association with country parsons and delivery messengers. While other parts of the high street are wilting as shoppers nurse their wallets through the recession, new cycle shops are opening their doors.

Notwithstanding those rogue cyclists who run red lights or ride on pavements, still more needs to be done to encourage cycling. Bicycles enrich civilization. Einstein thought up the theory of relativity while pedaling on his bicycle. H.G. Wells said that when he saw "an adult on a bicycle, I do not despair for the future of the human race."

London's bicycling mayor has set the pace by following a policy of two legs good, two wheels better.

Now it is time to be bolder. London trails far behind cities like Berlin, Copenhagen or Amsterdam in its number of cyclists. Paris is chock-full of Velib municipal rental bikes. Is it not time that London was chock-full of them, too?

Copyright: Arab News 2003 All rights reserved.

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Publication:Arab News (Jeddah, Saudi Arabia)
Date:Nov 23, 2008
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