So Brisbane has this thing called CityCycle. It’s a kind of augmentation to public transit, with rows of identical bikes stationed all around the city. Each bike is locked to a metal post thingy, and can only be released once you type in your passcode on a computer thingy. (I’m getting technical here, don’t get left behind.) This week I gave CityCycle a try, to see if it could be a cheaper and more whimsical alternative to buses. I imagined the wind whipping through my hair as I cycled through Brisbane! The sun on my face! Oh, the nature!
OK, so the wind couldn’t really whip through my hair, because my hair was stuffed under an aerodynamic yellow helmet. But the sun on my face was lovely.
Mostly, CityCycle has been pretty good For the price of two bus trips, I got a week’s worth of bike riding. And the bicycles themselves are pretty decent, although I don’t know how to adjust the seat height and therefore mostly feel like a large spider trying to use tiny pedals. The catch to the CityCycle thing is that the first 30 minutes of every journey is free, but if you keep it for more than 30 minutes you start paying dearly. The trick is to keep docking the bike at a CityCycle station every 29 minutes, and then re-hiring it. (Take that, system!) But basically, it’s not for long joyrides.
I rode a CityCycle to the shops yesterday, amid the frenzied Saturday crowds. And I became reacquainted with a rather unattractive side of my personality. See, here’s the thing: when I’m driving a car, I hate cyclists. But when I’m on a bike, I freaking hate motorists. It’s a convenient duality because no matter what I’m doing, the other people are wrong.
Cyclists. If you’re going to be on the road, claiming your status as ‘vehicle’, then you must be able to go the speed limit. If a car went ten kilometres an hour on a busy road and backed up all the traffic behind them, they would be arrested. Or at least, they should be. So, if you want to cycle on the road, at least approach the speed limit! Do this!
Motorists. Four wheels doesn’t mean you can be a douche-bag. Check your blind spots. Hi! That’s me there.
Being on a bicycle does tend to put you at a disadvantage on the road. The risk of injury is massively higher. (Which is why I was fear-mongered into wearing the hideous yellow, aerodynamic bike helmet. I tried to not wear it, but I just kept picturing a TV doctor gesturing to my brains smeared all over the bitumen.) Also, if you’re in Brisbane, there doesn’t seem to be any bicycle lane. Oh, there are cute stencils of bicycles all along the shoulders of the main roads, which seem to be indicating that this space is for cyclists. But the space between the parked cars on the left and the moving cars on the right is exactly the width of, oh, say, an open car door. It’s pretty easy to get ‘doored’. And while it looks hilarious in movies when Emily Blunt gets hit by cars, it is probably not that glamourous in real life. Probably. Maybe.
To surmise: I took a bicycle instead of the bus. I got all sweaty. My hair went weird. I yelled into some lady’s car window. And my groceries were knocked out of the basket by the uneven bitumen on the road’s shoulder. But, good lord, I felt alive! When it is an achievement to just make it home in one piece, your food tastes sweeter and the air seems fresher.
But next time I’m going anywhere where people will see my hair, I’m taking the bus.