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Roughly 1.7 billion passenger journeys are recorded nationally on trains every year, but it only takes one passenger to be the prick bringing his bike onto the train. Now I realise that cycling has grown in popularity since the Olympic success and bumbling Boris pushing for a fitter nation (advice he himself has clearly not taken on) but if one has the desire to bike to their desired destination, then I recommend making that the entire journey.
In such a stiff upper lip society, minor inconveniences are often swept under the carpet and as such, allowed to continue. Whilst some may argue that my disgruntlement stems from jealousy over my own inability to ride a bicycle, I would have to disagree and say the nuisances caused on my regular train journeys have led to this feeling of overwhelming resentment. Said irritant is most prominent when boarding/unloading the train and though many would cite these processes as simple procedures with minimal thinking required, an asshole with a bike brings a whole new level of difficulty to the job. The act of stepping onto a raised platform suddenly seems to have become an obstacle course ran in a state of chaos as man and woman fight their way around the hindrance left callously by some ignorant, lycra-clad imbecile. Not only is the bicycle an issue, but the odour from the excessive perspiration of said cyclist is repelling anyone who wishes to sit, forcing them to desperately wander the aisle looking for an alternative, only to return empty handed and have to turn around, inconveniencing the line of people who had followed their brave venture. Some poor, unfortunate soul is then forced to take the empty seat and suffer in silence for the duration of their train journey. All others are then made to stand, however not in the allocated area by the doors (for this is barricaded by bikes) but down the thin aisles where there is meant to be free space for passers-by looking for the loo. This simple toil is enough to dampen even the most exciting of days and with each passing minute, my blood boils a little hotter and I project more and more violent thoughts onto the cyclist for the added nuisances he has added to my morning journey.
The behaviour they display at the station is not much better either. Locating and boarding a train is troublesome enough without bike pedals knocking into the back of your shins as you stand harmlessly trying to decipher the departure boards and some nutjob is running past and dragging his bike along next to him, taking up more than twice his fair share of space. It doesn’t necessarily have to be a busy station for this to be an issue, which may be where my anger stems from. I can understand being in a cramped area with a bicycle may cause problems in which you ‘accidentally’ take out the kneecaps of your neighbour, but I come from the smallest city in the UK with an equally minute station to match. The departure boards are two panels with a complicating list of random destinations, not including any locations they stop at along the way, with times and platform numbers. These are placed in the waiting area, which is also where tickets are sold and purchased. This waiting area is a damp, confined location that can accommodate little more than 10 people at a time. The small area that there is is taken up by a random passport photo booth, an ATM that has been "out of service" since 1999 and three ticket machines next to the dreary booth containing the lifeless human who is forced to begrudgingly sell tickets to technophobes. In fact their energy alone is enough to drain the place of any joy or soul that could have potentially been there. On a quiet Sunday morning when I am headed to make my morning journey to work and the place is devoid of any life, I can still guarantee some cyclist prick will be running late for the Kings Cross train and will barge through me, using his bike as some sort of battering ram to knock me to one side. No amount of traditional English tutting will cause them to apologise for the bruise I will later find running down my leg like a tyre tread left in the mud.
I can almost hear the chorus of chanting, “but cycling is a way to stay healthy and fit” and whilst my naysayers do have a nugget of truth within their words, they are also ignoring the vast range of safety rules, or “suggestions” to most offenders, that are violated by these fitness nuts. One can assume it is common knowledge that any obstacle blocking a fire exit is a safety hazard—or else these people have not been subjected to the rigorous, unnecessary process of a fire drill, something I do find difficult to believe. Though there is only a small likelihood that something absolutely catastrophic would happen in which everyone would need to disembark the train in a military manner, emergencies are growing more and more common in our ever changing political and technological environment and one can never be too sure. The last thing that manic, screaming people need is to wait for some middle-aged, sweaty guy to hurriedly make his way down the train aisle to move his Brompton out the way before anyone can be evacuated to safety. My example may be extreme but so is the level of irritation that cyclists on trains cause me. I imagine I will continue on bearing with the pain, like us Brits are famed for doing, and only allow my anger to escape through gritted teeth the next time I experience minor inconvenience by yet another prick on the train with a bike that just doesn’t belong there.