For four years, Freewheeler has been cycling around the London borough of Waltham Forest pointing out just how crap things are for pedestrians and cyclists. His/her writing though is relevant to a much wider audience than residents of Waltham Forest. What he points out is relevant to almost anyone who rides a bike in an English-speaking country. Day after day they are fed crap infrastructure while they watch with an equal combination of amazement and envy as other countries just seem to be able to get it right.
Never shying away from speaking his mind, he has come up with such gems as this:
There was widespread agreement that cyclists should do more to make themselves visible on the road
Oh really? In what way do the laws of optics not apply to cyclists? The toxic sub-text of that sentence is ‘because many drivers are not concentrating on controlling a ton of machinery in motion – they are chatting on the phone, reading a text message, changing a CD, finding a new radio station, looking at their SatNav etc – cyclists have a special obligation to draw attention to themselves in order not to be run down.’
That toxic logic even applies to pedestrians. It is now acceptable for a driver to execute a pedestrian on a zebra crossing if the pedestrian was wearing ‘dark clothing’. Road safety is a victim-blaming ideology and the conspicuity red herring is one of its most striking achievements.
this post about classically bad cycling infrastructure (one of hundreds incidentally), superb posts about cab drivers in London and this absolute classic comparing cycle chic in London and Copenhagen:
A must read is the eight part series on things that won't bring about mass-cycling:
1. 20 mph zones
2. "Shared space"
3. Strict liability legislation
4. Cycle training
5. Vehicular cycle campaigning
6. "Safety in numbers"
7. 5% plus modal share in a vehicular cycling environment
8. Legislation and education to make drivers behave better towards cyclists.
Freewheeler's identity has always remained anonymous and so, certainly in my view, he/she has become a bit of a caped crusader, pedalling around North London suburbs pointing out crap - of which there is tons. He commented rarely on other people's blogs. You see them on A View from the Cycle Path from time to time. A brief insight into the character of Freewheeler can be seen in a comment on Real Cycling where he/she expresses a view on the most appropriate role for him/her in an opera about London's bike hire scheme.
Freewheeler's most recent post is now some 5 weeks old. A recent comment on War on the Motorist suggested that after four years of carping, Freewheeler has hung up his fluorescent vest and stopped blogging. Judging by how prolific his/her writing used to be, I'd say that is looking increasingly likely. The good thing is thaht while Mikael Colville-Andersen has spawned a series of Cycle Chic websites around the world, Freewheeler has inspired more and more grumpy, miserable and sarcastic bloggers including the Grumpy Cyclist, the People's Cycling Front of South Gloucestershire and Bristol Traffic. I know which I prefer!
I guess it just became too much. Who knows?
Freewheeler's legacy will remain thanks to those bloggers and the fours years worth of material that remains on the Crap Walkam Forest blog. A fitting tribute would be for us all to look at the world through Freewheeler's eyes whenever we can. Instead of saying, "ooh look. The local council has painted a line in the gutter for us. Yippee", tell it like it is:
"Nah mate, it's shit".
Cycle Chic Freewheeler style