…And this whole country grinds to a halt.
Trains cancelled, flights grounded, roads impassable. It would be fair to say we’re not very good at handling snow round here.
Reluctantly I have to admit that that includes me. Normally, I wouldn’t let a small thing like a bit of weather stop me cycling. Come rain, come wind, come cold, come sunshine and I’ll be on my bike.
But snow? That’s a whole different matter. That’s when I find myself – for once – agreeing with all the naysayers who tell me, ‘Oh you can’t cycle, it’s far too dangerous.’
Anyone reading this in…oh, pretty much anywhere else in northern Europe or the northern US – places where they get proper snow every year – is probably laughing at me right now.
I would probably be laughing at me right now if I were one of the cyclists in the picture below. According to Cycling Vienna (who posted the photo on Facebook), ‘More than 30cm of fresh snow within 24 hours. Traffic jams all over the city. No more planes starting. But cyclists still to be seen in Vienna.’
Am I just being a scaredy-cat? After all, there’s really not that much snow. A few inches as most. And once you get away from the side streets the roads are mostly clear – much of the snow has turned into slush or melted away entirely. As long as I stayed away from the gutters (which I do anyway, regardless of snow) I’m sure I’d be fine.
But then I remember one of the last times I tried cycling through the snow. It was a few years ago – after the infamous snow day of 2009, when even the buses stopped running in London. My bike was at my then boyfriend’s flat and I needed to get it back to my house. It was only a couple of miles and mostly on main roads – what could possibly go wrong?
I was almost home when it happened. The streets round here, then as now, hadn’t been cleared. It was early evening and, as the temperatures dropped in the growing darkness, patches of ice had formed. My back wheel hit one while turning a corner and that was that. My bike slid from underneath me and I hit the ground.
It wasn’t a bad accident at all. Far from it. Apart from a slightly bruised bum I was absolutely fine. But I couldn’t help thinking how lucky I’d been. What if there had been a car coming when I fell? What if it had happened on a busier road?
It’s those thoughts and the memory of falling that are keeping me off my bike right now. Call me a scaredy-cat if you like, but as long as there’s the slightest possibility that I’ll skid and fall into the path of a car, then I’m not getting on my bike.