17 January 2011

And this place our forefathers made for man!

Milton Keynes
Originally uploaded by alexliivet
Milton Keynes... I don't know. Un-British, car-centric 1960s monstrosity, where glass meets steel and modernism meets lack of taste.

Suburbia's own Jerusalem, all this I survey from a bus - long story, a job interview as it happens. I have been through MK before, but it was in a taxi which stuck to the periphery as soon as we left the train station. It is different from the bus, as it weaves its way in and out of neighbourhoods - and here's the link to cycling: beneath the car-centric surface, MK may well be more cycle-friendly than most large British towns and cities. For a start, more bikes I saw parked outside the railway station than I've seen anywhere else bar the rather a-typical Oxford. Certainly many more than in any Manchester station, by a long chalk.

Second, the town seems criss-crossed with segregated bike lanes - and by 'segregated' I mean really segregated, not council-speak for lip-servicing green paint on the verges of main roads. The place reminded me of parts of the Netherlands. The only caveat was that, in the whole journey I saw many more cycles parked than being ridden. Indeed the paths over green and gently rolling terrain looked like the ideal setting for a Silent Witness opening sequence - eerie, but with easy access for the productiont team.

07 January 2011

There was once a chicken and an egg...

This article will not surprise anyone, but it's not cheerful stuff either. In essence, Boris' cycling scheme has all the traits of the Curate's egg. Fittingly, everyone seems too polite to say so.

It is in the latter half that the article addresses the real problems cycling faces in London, and indeed pretty much anywhere in the UK: fear and infrastructure. The Economist is realistic (or pessimistic) as it fails to dig out the underlying causes of these two barriers - rather, it seems to conclude, with some cynicism, that they cannot be solved. Poor Yorick!


06 January 2011

First of 2011

The snow, the ice, the travelling to see family, the food, the booze: all these things conspired to keep me off cycling for the last three weeks - which felt like an eternity.  So yesterday I cycled into town and got refreshingly drenched, Manchester back to its usual winter self, grey, wet and grim - none of bright, sunny and dry, if freezing, weather.  No snow and ice covering our streets.