Cycling in Sydney Australia
I've just finished reading Hugh Mackay's latest offering, 'What makes us tick'. There was lots of great stuff in there; plenty of fodder for interesting discussions with people on a variety of topics.
One section which really struck me was when he was describing the role of the car in the chapter "The desire for 'My place'"
‘I've lost count of the number of times I've heard people say their car is the most comfortable place they ever inhabit; the place where they feel totally in control (helped immeasurably by the symbolism of a steering wheel in their hands and an accelerator pedal under their foot); the place that feels more like a personal space than anywhere else they spend their time.
Furniture retailers are irritated by customers who ask, `Why can't I find a chair that's as comfortable as the driver's seat in my car?' The answer is that regardless of the ergonomics, no chair that sits on a showroom floor is invested with the same emotional power as a driver's seat.
Some people become so attached to their cars that they give them names. Some find the experience of selling a car and buying a new one an emotional wrench, a bit like parting with an old friend. The space inside their car has acquired, over time, a killer combination of characteristics: familiarity, privacy and security. It has become their precious personal space, often augmented by the radio, that most intimate mass medium of all.
Cars are for escaping into, for meditation, for thinking, for praying, for singing, for courting, for sex, for conversation, for eating and drinking, for sleep, for letting off steam (even when stationary) and for generating unrivalled - and positively dangerous - feelings of power. Oh, and for driving, too: cars are our most flexible and efficient means of transport, though at enormous cost to life and limb - to say nothing of the cost to the quality of the air we breathe and the health of the planet.
Our cars are like soft-upholstered mobile cocoons. Locked and belted in, protected from the elements, lulled by the sound system, we feel far safer than we actually are; more private than we appear to passers-by; freer and more independent than at most other times of our lives, the rules of the road notwithstanding. Cars, rather like telephones, generate a feeling of intimacy that encourages the kind of frankness we often find difficult in face-to-face encounters: when we're sitting side by side gazing out the windscreen, especially at night, we seem able to say what we really think more easily than in many other circumstances…….Advocates of public transport are up against the fact that the private car is valuable for much more that A-B transportation.’ (Pages 42-44).
I haven't owned a car for 16 years now, so many of these feelings are distant memories. I still drive, but this tends to be occasionally in a work car (and then you grab whichever car is available) or my parents vehicle when visiting them in Vic. I tend not to form attachments with these temporary usages!
After reading this, and particularly the mention of public transport not providing this same sense, I started wondering:
Do people get attached to their bikes in similar ways?
Is this a significant issue when deciding to cycle or drive to a location? (ie Is it affecting the uptake of cycling in the broader community?)
If cyclists don't get attached to their bikes in the same way as drivers to cars, are there other 'attachments' that cyclists make to compensate? Do you feel 'attached' to areas that you enjoy cycling in? Is that attachment stronger than if you were in the same area in a car?