Riding without thinking


STOP ... and relax

STOP … and relax

I love my cycle ride to work.  On a decent day I can get from Highbury to work in Victoria in 30 minutes (and if they ever stop digging up Farringdon Road it’ll be closer to 25).

And it would be a little quicker again if I jumped red-lights. I used to (briefly) but stopped for four reasons.

First, it didn’t really make much difference to my speed.  I go a bit more quickly when if I jump lights, but since I like to go fast in -between, I need an occasional break.

Second, obeying the lights means that I no longer need to expend mental energy weighing up my options each time. If it’s red I stop, if it’s not I don’t.  There’s no decision to take.  Which is handy because there’s a lot to think about when riding.  I only have so much decision-making capacity and I don’t want to waste it when it’s not needed.

And third, going quickly between lights means that I can use the pause to relax and enjoy the views – there are some amazing statues peppering the buildings and the people in London are always fascinating to stare at (especially at this time of year when clothes are being divested for the first time and skin comes out of hibernation.  Can I use this moment to thank the woman in the mini-skirt I was riding behind yesterday).

I pass this 4 minutes from the office.  It's a JOY if the lights are red and I can stare at it

I pass this 4 minutes from the office. It’s a JOY if the lights are red and I can stare at it

(And fourth, it’s the bloody LAW)

What, you may be asking, has this got to do with TV audiences?

Well, each of the benefits to stopping at red lights, apply to the way people watch TV.

We may find ways to avoid adverts.. to work around them, but are we really better off?  What’s wrong with using the breaks to talk about what we’ve seen in the programme, to send a tweet without interrupting the flow.  We don’t want to weigh up a decision on what to watch every time we come to the box, since this uses up precious cognitive resources that are often better spent on something else.  And finally, there’s more to the world than getting from A to B as fast as we can.  There’s a lot to be found where we least expect it – to our sides, or above us.  There’s beauty to be found if you take a moment to look around.