That’s right, it’s a blog post about recycling AND cycling. Breath in the musty aroma of my genius and gasp at the wit and punnery of my title!
I remember back when I was growing up in Wales and they first introduced mandatory recycling in my county. There was a whole lot of unjustified rage; “you expect me to put my tins in a different fucking bin! What is this North Korea!” People were genuinely furious that they were being forced with the risk of fines to help spare our planet’s limited resources. It took about 5 minutes for recycling to be branded lefty nonsense and about 5 more for it to be linked to homosexuality. The fuss faded away relatively quickly as people realised it essentially just meant they had more bin space and getting rid of big cardboard boxes just became a lot easier.
By the time I left Wales recycling had become second nature to me, I’m not a hippy or an earth warrior, I am terrified of global warming but I’m also far too apathetic and realistic to think there’s anything I can do as an individual to stop it. So you can imagine, I’m not really going to go out of my way to recycle. That’s why the two coloured bins for each house system works. If all you have to do when you drink a can of coke is throw it in bin B instead of bin A then you can get all the warm fuzzy feelings of being strapped to a tree in Brazil; taking on the man whilst being threatened by angry lumberjacks with huge machinery, from the comfort of your own home. It’s a win win.
I was quite surprised when I moved around the country and realised hardly anywhere other than my home county in North Wales seem to enforce it. Where I currently stay in Leicester I have one black bin for everything, some of my neighbours seem to have special recycling bags that get picked up on other days, but I’ll be fucked if I know where they got them… I mean I could ask, but then I wouldn’t have as much to complain about. Now that my mandatory recycling has been taken away i’ve come to realise how much I miss it. My house now has an entire room that is just full to the brim with the absurd amount of packaging that comes with the average Amazon delivery.
I mean seriously Amazon.. I ordered a single comic book the other day, it came in a box big enough to house a Syrian refugee. Either the CEO of Amazon is on a one man mission to royally fuck the Earth or he has repressed sexual hangups focused around the childhood game of pass the parcel.
Have I told you that I started walking to work? Everyone has that friend that runs marathons and frequently tries to raise money for charity by eating only vegetables for a month, or eating no vegetables for a month, or shaving their head… etc etc. I’ve become that guy! Only I don’t do anything to warrant my sense of smugness, I just roll my fat arse out of bed and hobble a few kilometres to work. This time at least, I have brought up my walking for good reason.
As I gallantly stride to work in the morning I am often met with cyclists on either side. I had considered buying a bicycle and joining them before I began my olympic level fitness regime of walking to work. I elected to forego the bicycle due to cycle lanes in Leicester being complete and utter bollocks. You can’t just take a normal road with 2 lanes, each only just slightly wider than the average car, paint a green stripe down the leftmost quarter and call it a cycle lane. You can’t do this for the same reason you can’t take an economy class plane seat and turn a quarter of it into a luggage rack (i’m looking at you RyanAir). People need to both sit AND have luggage at the same time. That’s the entire point of it! Just like people need to be able to drive AND cycle at the same time (not the same person obviously).
A cycle lane does absolutely fuck all to encourage cycling or remove road congestion if it is also a road, because it’s not a cycle lane if it is also a road! It’s just a marking on the road saying ‘cyclists please use this side’. It’s such a shame because if I could cycle to work without having to dodge cars and inhale exhaust fumes then I would in a second. It’s much better exercise than walking and it could cut my journey in half. I know from experience that I’m a clumsy asshole who falls off bikes about 1/5th of the time I get on them, so heavy rush hour traffic probably isn’t going to be my friend.
When you look at other countries in Europe and how they have separated the roads, walkways and cycle paths you realise how held back we are in the UK by our old Victorian infrastructure. Our sprawling maze like streets with completely unintuitive street names means that adapting anything like what Holland or Switzerland are slowly building up is just impractical. I still think it’s worth trying, take a reasonably big city (maybe Leicester) and just go about creating cycle bridges and paths to separate the three modes of transit.
It’s common knowledge that pedestrians hate cyclists; they don’t follow the rules of the road, they ride on the walkways and don’t stop at lights. They also hate motorists; they keep running them over and driving away. Cyclists also hate both motorists and pedestrians, for being either too fast or too slow and endangering them either way… And motorists, well motorists just hate everybody, that’s why they’re trying so hard to destroy the planet. So just segregate us all and be done with it.