The bicycle is the most civilized conveyance known to man.
Other forms of transport grow daily more nightmarish.
Only the bicycle remains pure in heart.
Were we on [about] our bikes? We were. The thing is that you can fix your bicycle. It's just cogs, wires, nuts & bolts. Between 1990 and 1996, living outside of Dublin, 12km from my place of work in the city centre, I clocked up 40,000km on my bike. If I'd been less locked into going to&fro to earn an honest crust at the frontiers of science, I could have cycled round the world! It was a good solution. Except at 0430hrs or on Sunday morning, my bike was the fastest way to get to town: the bus didn't even cross the Liffey and I had to walk the last 10 minutes. We had a car and free parking but with each passing year, I would have to leave 5 minutes earlier to start work close to 0900hrs by car. As an academic researcher, there was no clocking in, which meant that if it was raining stair-rods after breakfast, I could wait 20 minutes for the shower to pass through.
Did I mention that my running costs were, like, zero? That my calves were like knotted cords? That one of my three original ideas in science came to me as I labored through Artane on my way to work?
I wasn't obsessive, but I maintained my wheels at weekends and replaced brakes, cables, tires, tubes myself. There were limits: after about 20,000km, I broke a spoke on the front wheel whacking into a pot-hole. I bought a new spoke and a spoke-tensioning key and fixed on the replacement but getting the wheel in true just transferred tension to another spoke elsewhere in the assembly which went sproinnng on me a few days later; and that fix cause another break. My pal Pepe Malpica was on his sabbatical year in Dublin and he asked "Why don't you just buy a new wheel?" Smart boy wanted! I obeyed and that wheel lasted for the neext 20,000km until it (and I) became a road traffic accident. I survived with broken bones but my reliable, trusty, cheap-and-cheerful pink roadbike was gePretzeled. I had come off my bike unexpectedly before - when a rush-hour car driver abruptly changed lanes in front of me - but I haven't owned a bike since, It's not really feasible to cycle 40km to work with my old knees; although I have done the round trip once.
Solutions for car-free cities: Utrecht - Groningen - Nijmegen - Amsterdam [prev] - Copenhagen
In Netherlands 75% of 2ndry students cycle to school. In Ireland it is too dangerous so The Mammy drives them, which causes a log-jam in morning rush-hours; makes walking to school too dangerous for kids; and piles on the flab. Wired list of 20 Top Bike Cities.
Last word to Chris Boardman.