That was brought home to me loud and clear on my family cycling holiday this summer.
We shipped three kids, five bikes, assorted pannier bags and a Burley luggage trailer to the Netherlands for ten days of cycling in Bicycle Nirvanna. The amount of utility cycling being done was simply staggering. Of course, the Netherlands is famously bike-friendly but cycling there is still expanding. There’s an urban bike boom going on, with more and more Dutch people taking to their country’s often superlative cycle lanes.
In the UK, I shout at our kids to watch out for fast-moving motorised traffic. In the Netherlands I was doling out the same sort of clucky advice, but this time I was warning about copious amounts of fast-moving cyclists, front and back. When we landed back in the UK, and cycled the eight miles back home on a Sustrans cycle path, the kids were able to veer and meander to their heart’s content: there just weren’t as many cyclists to worry about.
This means there’s a lot of room for growth in the UK. Sold a few fully-equipped hybrids of late? We’re barely scratching the surface. There’s a huge untapped market out there. Road bikes and MTBs are fine and dandy but what we need to see more of is sexy utility bikes. And boring ones, too: less likely to get nicked.
We need more Christiana-style child-carrying bikes, more Burrows Engineering 8-Freights, more Xtracycles, more Dutch-style roadsters, more electric bikes. And more city bike innovations. I think it’s fantastic that Orange is producing a belt drive city bike, and I wish them well.
But as well as a greater depth of product offerings and innovations, we need suppliers – and bike shops – to step up to the mark on advocacy issues. I tip my helmet to Trek in this regard. John Burke has seen the future, and it’s got two wheels.