15 May 2009

London calling...

Compared to Manchester, cycling in London is thriving - there's more of them, a wider variety of shapes and sizes and styles, from the Hell's Angel, nazi-helmet character to the genteel, continental style high-heeled lady - and of course, the lycra brigade in its various sub-species (incl. mine) are well represented.

That said, the experience of cycling in central London cannot be pleasant. The traffic, the pedestrians, the tourists, other cyclists, it all seems to me bound to make the ride that little bit less enjoyable. And the things I see some cyclists do - this chap, for instance, at high speed between the two slow moving rows of cars, then a sharp bank to the right and then counter-bank to the left to zig-zag around a double-decker - either consumate skill or tremendous folly. A pedestrian stepping in the way at the wrong moment or a car door opening, and it could all end in tears so easily.

Sometimes I toy with the idea of cycling in London - ie if I have to go to Head Office as I sometimes do, to take my bike in the train and then go from Euston by bike, then back to Euston etc. Or perhaps I could dust off the little, primitive foldable I bought nearly three years ago.


Rob said...

I suppose I'm not entirely typical, as virtually all of my daily cycling is pretty much right in central London (within Zone 1), but I find it safer and more enjoyable than town riding elsewhere in the UK.

There are lots of back-street routes and the traffic is usually stopped or crawling, so apart from a few unavoidable nastyish places (eg ends of Waterloo Bridge, Elephant & Castle) I feel well in control of my own safety.

Certainly it feels safer cycling across London at 1.30am than hanging around in Peckham waiting for a night bus. The places I feel most anxious to cycle are probably rural B roads. But maybe it's the absence of gastropubs, posh cafes and art galleries that spooks me...

coco said...


I must try a ride in London one day - and of course, when I'm there I don't use back streets "coz I dunno any". So my impression is shaped very much by walking from Euston to Trafalgar Sq (if it's dry) down Gower St or Tottenham Court Rd - a walk that includes some busy junctions, not least getting across Euston Rd.

As for rural B roads, I know what you mean. They're fine until the cars come along, esp. in places where high hedgerows make the roads feel narrow.