12 October 2007

It's different in London

I spent a couple of days in London last week. One evening I managed to spend some time around St James' park, the Mall, Birdcage Walk and all those. Of course we know London is bigger and all that - but really, there's a lot more cyclists on the road as a proportion of total traffic. And in numbers there seems to be variety - both in terms of the type of cyclists - from lycra boys to skirt-clad girls with a handbag slung in a rear basket (can't think of a better way to attract a thieve!). This includes its share of nutters - like the one wearing a horse-riding helmet! There is also great variety in the bikes they ride, from fold-ups (lots of fold-ups) to racers to hybrids to fancy European models made for gently going up and down roads in a flat-ish city.

On the minus side, London cyclists and bikommuters are - on the road - like all Londoners: impatient and unforgiving. True, it is not easy to go through central London, what with all those pesky pedestrians - UK and foreign, and of the latter there's a lot more in London than in Manchester - getting constantly in the way, jumping red lights etc. But one feels that, just like motorists rev the engine at the traffic light, cyclists also have that 'killer instinct'. Perhaps it is because many of them are converted motorists who can't afford the congestion charge?
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