What is commuter cycling?

People in English-speaking countries don’t understand commuter cycling. I went into one of those outdoor sports shops this morning looking for waterproof tights. When I cycle in the rain my raincoat keeps my upper body dry and my boots keep my feet and calves dry. But the bit from my knees to the bottom of my coat – my thighs – gets wet. I had this idea to get waterproof tights since I’m always wearing tights and they’re just my favourite thing to wear. But they don’t sell waterproof tights and the salesperson told me that she likes to cycle up into the hills and get all wet and muddy as part of the experience. That’s fine if you’re cycling for leisure but if you’re cycling as a commuter and going to work/school/shops then it’s not so great.

I went into a different shop and the salesperson there told me that waterproof tights won’t let you breathe and so you’ll get too hot and sweaty. Well that’s fine if you’re in a race but if you’re a commuter cyclist then you don’t get hot and sweaty. It seems like a foreign thing to people that someone might use a bike to go from A to B instead of jumping into a car.

Recently I contacted a local bike shop about getting a new cargo bike through the Cyclescheme. I specifically asked about this bike. Here’s their response:

I would also check with Cyclescheme as to whether you can use the voucher with a kids’ bike, as the scheme is designed to assist people in buying bikes for cycling to work – the website says 50% of the bike’s use should be in commuting …

This is not a kids’ bike at all. And it will be used 100% for commuting since this is my only mode of transport. I found the statement particularly irritating because most of the bikes in their shop do not look like commuter bikes to me. They sell racing bikes – think Cannondale and Trek – that don’t have mudguards or racks or baskets for carrying things and you have to ride them hunched over the handlebars. This is not my idea of a commuter bike. Commuter bikes should let you sit upright, they must have mudguards otherwise your clothes will get dirty, and they need to have somewhere to put stuff like children, bags, and shopping.

I know there are people who load their bikes onto the back of the car once a month, then drive out to the country and start cycling and that’s the only time they’re on a bike but I’m not one of them. Anyway, that’s probably enough of a rant for now 🙂

Here’s quite a fun video of moving shop with cargo bikes and while it’s snowing too!