I'd Much Rather have been in a Car. DAMN MY MID LIFE CRISIS.
The Daily Mail has taken a break from dividing the world into things that cause cancer/things that don't, and mocking the dress sense of female "celebrities" to weigh in on the topic of an increase in sales of bicycles. I'm not sure what the Telegraph stopped doing to do so, but they have a piece too - apparently the Telegraph article was also covered on BBC news. Both articles point to it as evidence of a (male) mid-life crisis.
The Mail's position is largely silly season mockery and supercilliousness, it seems to me, pointing to "research" showing that bikes allow one to "send out the message that its rider has the appealing qualities of being fit, rugged and loving the planet, according to the experts." The researchers dub "the upsurge in bike sales, the ‘noughties version of the mid-life crisis’" - of course, because no one would ride a bike if there wasn't something odd about them, would they? As one commenter succinctly points out "in Holland, everyone has a mid-life crisis."
The bike is said to lack the allure of the things normal men are interested in, like Ferraris and Porsches (of course!) And Billy Zane (41) "admitted" going bar hopping on his bike, apparently (riding a bike, his guilty secret!). The writer is either dead inside, or hasn't seen a lugged Mercian, or a Pegorretti, either of which I'd, personally, climb over several Ferrari to get to.
It's also interesting that the article mentions "top of the range race bikes", but is illustrated by pictures of two men riding eminently sensible (if we forgive the lack of mudguards) hybrids, whilst wearing jeans. This does, at least, forestall the "they look funny in lycra" jibe that tends to accompany such an article.
The real story here isn't so much why the growth is in the 35-44 Male demographic, perhaps, as to why such a cheap (ignore the nonsense about the bikes costing £7,000 in the Telegraph) and convenient way of getting about is so limited in its appeal here in the UK. Why don't we see more cycle use among women and young people? A further tragedy is that while many bikes are sold, relatively few are ridden regularly beyond an initial flush of enthusiasm, and fewer still on the sort of short, regular journey that makes a difference to local communities and traffic congestion.
I suspect the answer lies largely in the shameful attitude of the UK to the safety of cyclists and pedestrians, and sadly, that isn't a story you'll see the Mail, or the Telegraph telling any time soon.