Annoying things you notice when cycling or riding a Scooter #1 – the Easy Rider

Posted February 11, 2011 in ephemera  |  5 Comments so far

As a grizzled veteran of the London Overground, I’d become accustomed to the routine of the daily trundle across the city’s northern districts to get to Hammersmith. I’d toyed with the idea of cycling, but the length of the journey was just too discouraging.

All that changed after I spent a couple of months working in Spitalfields and got into the habit of cycling as I really love traveling and going to new places, I used to be in a scooter club and Im recently trying to buy a new one so I can keep on the adventure, there are really great recommendations in the Scooter Adviser where you can find the best electric scooters. When I changed jobs again and ended up back in Hammersmith, I was resolved to stick with the bike – no matter how knackered I became.

So, for the last few weeks I’ve been cycling from Islington to Hammersmith. It was traumatic at the beginning, because my route took me through central London and I nearly gagged from bus fumes on the first day. But since then I’ve found a much better route. It’s knackering, yes, but I’m getting used to it.

It probably won’t be long before I completely adjust to the routine and become a hardened cyclist, so I’m taking to chance to note down my observations about the world of cycling before that happens. Today I’m going to talk about a type of cyclist that I call the Easy Rider.

The Easy Rider has two gimmicks. The first is that they cycle at a very relaxed pace, and the second is that they are completely oblivious to red lights. The second comes as a bit of a surprise, as you’d expect light-jumpers to be the fast-paced cycle-courier types, not these people who glide gracefully along the road.

You first encounter an Easy Rider when you overtake them, which isn’t difficult because they’re so slow. You don’t expect to encounter them again, but you do, and it will happen when you’re waiting at the next red light and they come trundling past you. This cycle then repeats itself – you overtake them, hit a red light, they trundle past, you start moving, you overtake them, and so on.

It gets annoying after a while, not just because it’s always frustrating to see cyclists jump red lights, but because it’s tiring overtaking people over and over again. So you wonder, maybe they’re on to something? The Easy Rider is remarkably unruffled while you, what with all the acceleration you’re doing, are a sweaty, gasping wreck. And you both get from A to B in the same amount of time.

But ultimately I don’t feel I can become an Easy Rider. They look really relaxed and they’re probably laughing at people like me – those suckers! – who stop at red lights, but I’d just be too worried about what might happen each time I sail out into that junction. Would my graceful insouciance survive a collision with a pedestrian, truck or car? And I frown on red-light jumping for reasons other than my own personal safety anyway. I’m happy to keep overtaking them no matter how sweaty I might get. At least I’m getting some decent exercise!

5 comments so far.  Post a comment

  1. Lindsey
    February 11, 2011 at 11:59 am [ Permalink

    You don’t have to be a cyclist to notice (and to hate) the Easy Riders.

    They are by far the most dangerous kind of cyclist to pedestrians–complaining of which is as you know, a particular hobby horse of mine.

  2. February 11, 2011 at 12:22 pm [ Permalink

    They’re pretty dangerous, but I wonder if they’re less dangerous than the “cycle-courier” type – these people go fast *and* jump red lights, but they are more experienced cyclists than the Easy Riders.

    My first encounter with one of those people was when I was waiting at a red light and suddenly a bike swished past me, inches away, at 30 miles an hour or so. The silence combined with the speed sent shivers up my spine. If I’d adjusted my posture just before that person shot past, and let my elbow enter his path, he would probably have broken it, but from sound alone I had no idea he was approaching until I felt the wind from his slipstream.

    Easy Riders are annoying but I think the real danger comes from these people who are experienced and fast cyclists but still jump lights. If an Easy Rider hit you you’d definitely walk away from the impact, but these “hardcore” light-jumpers travel at lethal speeds.

  3. Lindsey
    February 12, 2011 at 2:09 pm [ Permalink

    Ah yes, I see what you mean. I guess what I was assuming is that the hardcore cyclists are more likely to be plugged in mentally to traffic and obstacles (incl pedestrians) and therefore more likely to swerve or avoid you if something happened. There are some Easy Rider types around my neighborhood and Hampstead Heath who give the impression they would swerve for no buggy, child, or elderly pedestrian, lest it disturb their unruffled calm (not too dissimilar to how some people walk in the Underground). But yes, if something went wrong and you did collide, of course much more damage will be inflicted by someone moving at speed rather than someone tootling along.

  4. February 16, 2011 at 12:27 pm [ Permalink

    Incidentally you might want to check out some of the comments on the Google Buzz thread about this post…

  5. Charlie
    February 17, 2011 at 8:53 am [ Permalink

    The Easy Rider is often identifiable by his massive DJ headphones, which adds to the care-free vibe and completes the maverick disregard for personal safety.

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