Bicycles (or other)

January 9, 2017

The photo below shows the western end of the prom in Salthill, a popular walking route near where I live in Galway. It’s local tradition to kick the wall on the right before turning around and retracing one’s steps; alternatively you can walk past the gate for further shore views across the bay to the Burren hills.

Take a look at the sign on the gate:

stan-carey-salthill-prom-galway-gate-sign-bicycles

Emergency Access. Bicycles (or other) attached to this gate will be removed.

What I’m curious about is the meaning of the phrase bicycles (or other). Other what?

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‘The’ way to emphasise a word

June 14, 2016

Quotation marks for ‘emphasis’ are common in unedited writing but rare in formal prose, where italics are the usual approach. Bold and underlines are occasionally used; ditto *asterisks* and _underscores_. ALL CAPS and Initial Caps are sometimes favoured but can suggest shouting, humour, or a headline effect, so they’re more suited to informal contexts: both are popular on social media, for example.

There’s an anomalous example in a book I just read, Rough Ride: Behind the Wheel with a Pro Cyclist, an engrossing memoir/exposé by Paul Kimmage (Yellow Jersey Press, revised edition, 2007). It occurs about halfway in; Kimmage is describing the effect of Stephen Roche winning the Tour de France:

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Peddling while pedalling

May 24, 2009

When you’re cycling in a city you should expect the unexpected – especially if you’re sharing the road with a lorry in a hurry. Luckily no one seems to have been seriously hurt in this incident, but it must have been a shocking experience for everyone there. One of the cyclists has uploaded a couple of photos, and the story was picked up by the Guardian and NY Times websites, among others.

[Edit: this image is just an image, not a video or an external link.]

Stan Carey - peddle, pedal

Stan Carey - peddled, pedalled

The Guardian reported that the Mayor of London and the UK transport minister “peddled” round a corner. They may have been pedalling, but I don’t think they were peddling anything. The two activities do not go well together: presumably even cyclists who peddle from the saddle would not attempt to do so without stopping.

The newspaper’s own style guide has the following entries for these near-homonyms:

pedaller: cyclist
peddler: drug dealer
pedlar: hawker

Peddler can mean more than “drug dealer”: one can peddle goods of all kinds, though the word sometimes carries connotations of dubious or illicit activity. But the guide is deliberately very concise; I am not disputing its entries, I am reproving the website editing. Whether the mistake was the writer’s or an editor’s, it was a careless one – though not as careless (or dangerous) as the lorry driver’s.