THE NEW ABNORMAL
The decline in public transport use is unlikely to be terminal but something significant is happening in the way we navigate our towns and cities by bike.
By Will Pearson
Before lockdown, commuting by bike was pretty straightforward: ride to your workplace, ride home again, sleep, repeat. No longer.
There has been some big talk from the UK government recently regarding urban cycling, with a whopping £5bn earmarked for improving cycling (and walking) infrastructure. This, we are assured, comes on top of steadily rising expenditure on cycling, up from £2 per capita, in 2011, to £6 in 2017. All of which seems to dovetail neatly with the government’s plan to double cycling activity by 2025. It does, however, include some woolly Bojo book-keeping.
The Pearson Once More Unto The Breach. Straight forward commuting.
As noted on the 1860 Hub previously, those headline numbers have considerably less varnish when one digs deeper. Cycling’s share of that pot may be as little as £350m. If you sense the whiff of ingratitude, bear in mind that just one kilometre of fully segregated bike lane is, according to government figures, likely set you back as much as £1.5m.
What isn’t in doubt is that, over recent months, the nature of cycle commuting has changed. In March and April, it meant riding through deserted city landmarks, as if Trafalgar Square or the Strand had been created for that very purpose. (Think Centre Parcs after a zombie apocalypse.) As lockdown eases, some of us will now be free to return to work. While offices may look and feel disconcertingly unfamiliar – two-metre spaces taped on the floor, more sanitiser bottles than staff – the journey by bike will prove a reassuring constant.
St Pauls Cathedral also adorned on the inside label of our Merino zip top, The Big Smoke.
Reliability is a hallmark of the bikes in Pearson’s Urban collection. Our single speeds, for example, provide low-maintenance simplicity. Take the nippy agility of Once More Unto the Breach, an aluminium bike with clean lines and mudguard mounts for year-round riding; or Now You See Me, the perfect commuter thanks to a pothole-smoothing steel frame and a flip-flop hub that lets you convert easily to a ‘fixie’.
We're a couple of swells...
For those who want gears to bring their city riding ideas to life, Flat Iron is the urban cousin of a popular Pearson gravel bike. With swept bars for a classic finish, it offers a commanding riding position in traffic and can also accommodate tyres up to 40mm wide for improved shock absorption.
The Flat Iron's 40mm tyres allow you glide across the roughest cobbles your city has to offer.
Despite the government flannel, incorporating cycling into your everyday routine is likely to come down to individual action. For those newly converted to working in their pyjamas, for example, the commute requires a bit of imagination. With several previously unavailable hours added to the day, working from home might mean ‘commuting’ there too, fitting in a ride before firing up Zoom.
Cyclists are often ahead of the times – face masks have long been de rigueur for city riders – and the same applies to the Pearson range of urban clothing. Our stylish designs in technical fabrics are perfect for both on- and off-bike use. In this (relatively) Lycra-free zone, our Kick Back shorts have been created for minimal washing and extended product life. The High Days and Holidays t-shirt, meanwhile, is made from blended yarns that will not only outlast regular cotton but are also sustainably sourced.
Doffing your cap, the pre-Strava way of giving Kudos.
No longer at the mercy of public transport timetables (buses and trains haven’t bothered with them for years), commuting by bike also means you’re more likely to be on time. There’s also the matter of social distancing, something we could only dream of during the rush-hour wacky races that were a feature of pre-covid commuting.
The city that sleeps in, the new abnormal.
And this new commute means time to think, too; instead of raging against innumerable other two-wheeled machines, you may well find the space to let your mind wander. Yes, it’s different, but it’s something to be embraced rather than feared. It’s what commuting means, after all, a word derived from the Latin: ‘commutare’, to change.
View the full Pearson Urban Collection here.
View the Pearson Urban Clothing here.
View the Pearson Urban Bikes here.