A typical London cycling death?

Woman and man cycling on bike path

Are women on bikes more at risk then men?

The news this week that a female cyclist has died after being hit by a lorry in Denmark Hill has brought cycle safety into the spotlight once again.

So far this year six cyclists have been killed on the capital’s streets – all six of them in collisions involving HGVs. Five of those killed have been women, prompting Edmund King, president of the AA to describe the collision which led to death of Claire Hitier-Abadie in February as bearing “all the hallmarks of a ‘typical’ London cycling death – a female cyclist killed by a tipper truck turning left”. Continue reading

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Beware the wrath of the cycling gods

Shadwell - not the most convenient place to get turfed off the Overground

Shadwell – not the most convenient place to get turfed off the Overground

I fear I may have offended the cycling gods.

No sooner had I published my last blog post than I started to develop a chest infection. Cue three weeks (and counting!) of hacking up a lung and generally feeling pretty rubbish.

So rubbish, in fact, that I’ve been unable to cycle for most of that time. Continue reading

Follow, follow, follow, follow…

CS7 - no more than a strip of blue paint, and sometimes not even that

CS7 – no more than a strip of blue paint, and sometimes not even that

…Follow the painted blue line.

Now, obviously, the big news over the past week has been the announcement that the long-awaited ‘Crossrail for bikes’ will go ahead. But here at Cycling with Heels, I like to keep things old school. So, while everyone else has been getting excited over the promise of being able to ride across London in a fully segregated cycle lane, I’ve been getting my first real experience of the original cycle superhighways. Continue reading

Cycling, driving and convenience

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The Peak District – where I saw more people out on their bikes than I did in the centre of Sheffield

Given how long I’ve been living and cycling here, you’d think I’d be used to how many cyclists there are in London. Maybe it’s because I don’t get into central London very often – especially not during rush hour – that, whenever I do, the sheer mass of bikes flooding through the traffic always takes me by surprise.

I had the day off work recently. After visiting the Imperial War Museum for the afternoon, rush hour found me at the intersection of Waterloo Bridge and Aldwych. As I waited to cross the road, I watched in amazement at the phalanx of cyclists whizzing past. At every red light around me there were even more – at least twenty or thirty, maybe more, at each junction – bursting out of meagre advance stop boxes and snaking back through the traffic.

Compare that to my experience when I went up to Sheffield to deliver the trusty steed to his new retirement home. Continue reading

I am woman, watch me charge

Tavistock Place cycle path - does it need a fast lane a pootle lane?

Tavistock Place cycle path – does it need a fast lane and a pootle lane?

It was early Saturday night, and I was heading out for the evening with a friend. He was over visiting from Mississippi, a hot and humid state where the pace of life is considerably more laidback than here in London. Heading up the High Street to catch the bus, I became aware that he was no longer by my side. He was, as I saw when I turned to look back, a good few paces behind me.

“C’mon!” I urged. “Can’t you walk a bit faster? We’re going to be late!”

“Can’t you walk a bit slower?” he replied as he finally caught up with me. “Why d’ya need to rush everywhere?”

I don’t rush, no matter what my friend might think. Continue reading

This, above all, is why I cycle

The ladies' pond on Hampstead Heath

The ladies’ pond on Hampstead Heath

Ripples on the surface of the murky brown water reflect a kaleidoscope of colours – blue, from the almost cloudless sky above; green, from the leafy trees, bushes and rushes enveloping the pond; brilliant white where the sunlight catches on the water’s surface, and the occasional flash of red from the lifeguards’ bright shorts and shirts.

A gaggle of geese glide gently by, seemingly oblivious to the swimmers bobbing and splashing around them.

From the platform at the water’s edge I take a tentative step down the ladder, then two. As my toes touch the water, I let out an involuntary yelp. It’s cold. I pause for barely a second, gathering up my resolve, then launch myself in. Cold is, after all, why I’m here. Continue reading

Of bike storage and gyratories

No room at the inn?

No room at the inn?

I moved house last month.

I mention this not merely to explain why things have been quite quiet on this blog lately; what with packing, organising the logistics of the actual move, unpacking, sleepless nights worrying about the move and then, in the new place, getting used to sleeping in a strange room, the subsequent headaches from the stress of it all, and then – once I’d finally settled in – the horrible summer cold that sneaked up on me when I wasn’t looking, I didn’t have the time nor the head space to write anything.

No, I mention this because the move has had two wholly unexpected bike-related consequences. Continue reading

“Come on love, get yer kit off”

Warning: this post contains pictures of naked people.

The World Naked Bike Ride crossing Waterloo Bridge

The World Naked Bike Ride crossing Waterloo Bridge

I was heading down Old Bond Street towards Piccadilly when I saw them.

I’d spent the previous hour cycling through the side streets of Soho and Mayfair in a fruitless search for some buttons for the cardigan I’d just finished making. After trying four different haberdasheries to no avail, I decided to head to Waterloo to have a coffee and wait to catch sight of the London leg of the World Naked Bike Ride.

Except there they were in front of me – a stream of naked and semi-naked people on bikes, all heading along Piccadilly, not 20 metres ahead. As I reached the lights, I realised there were no marshals nor police escort blocking the traffic: naked flesh mingled with cars, buses and taxis. What’s more, once the lights changed to green, the cars queuing up behind me would be joining them – as would I. Continue reading

Tweed Run – 17 May 2014

A little light refreshment along the way

A little light refreshment along the way

In a narrow, winding street just off Clerkenwell Green, lined with shuttered shops and old warehouses converted into modern office space, all was quiet. Except for me and a man out walking his dog it was completely deserted. There was no indication that anything was going to happen to make this particular Saturday afternoon any different from every other Saturday afternoon in this part of town.

And then from around the corner a lone cyclist appeared, dressed in head-to-toe tweed and riding a vintage bicycle. Continue reading

A Sunday morning pootle

On a dull, overcast day the canal was all but deserted

On a dull, overcast day the canal was all but deserted

It’s not often I’m happy when the weather forecast predicts rain – but on a recent Sunday morning I was.

I’d arranged to meet friends for lunch at a restaurant near Paddington. A quick check of Google maps revealed that the venue for our get-together was located right next to the Paddington Basin, and that by far the easiest way for me to get there was along the canal. This seemed like the perfect opportunity to pop my cycling-along-the-canal cherry.

There was just one problem. Continue reading