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

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Na rower!*

Cycling, Polish style

Cycling, Polish style

“Look! It’s Bradley Wiggins!”

We’d just come back from the beach, and I’d been about to jump into the shower, intent on washing off the residue of sand, sun cream and saltwater I’d accumulated during the afternoon. But my friend’s shout from the living room drew my attention. I hurried back to the TV just in time to watch Wiggo, in his familiar Team Sky jersey, cycling through the streets of Krakow to win the final stage of the Tour of Poland.

Well, I thought, as I finally headed off for my shower. At least I can say I’ve got one thing in common with Bradley Wiggins.

We’ve both been cycling in Poland. Continue reading

Blue paint is not enough

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Call this a cycle lane?

Picture the scene. It’s a little after 11pm; you’ve spent the evening with friends down on the South Bank and now you’re on your way home. You follow, as you normally do when you’re heading home from central London, the cycle path that skirts past Angel. It’s unusually busy for this time of the night, but it’s been a warm evening so it’s perhaps not surprising that so many people are still out on their bikes.

As you approach the next set of lights, where the path crosses Goswell Road, you realise there’s something very familiar about one of your fellow cyclists. That mop of unruly blond hair, sticking out at all angles from underneath the rider’s helmet…it’s not…is it? You pull level with them, and glance to your right. Your suspicions are confirmed. It’s Boris Johnson. Continue reading

So, why are there more women on bikes than ever before?

Women cycling in London - an increasingly common sight

Women cycling in London – an increasingly common sight

Walking down Kingsland Road in Hackney the other day, I watched a steady stream of cyclists go past me. They were a motley assortment: some in full Lycra on expensive road bikes, some in jeans on single speeds, and some on traditional bikes, baskets held proudly aloft. As I looked on, one thing struck me: there were about as many women going past me as men.

There are, or so we’re told, many more men who cycle regularly than women: around three men for every woman, in fact. But, as illustrated by my wander down Kingsland Road, this doesn’t match what I see when I’m out in London. OK, my observations are hardly a scientific study, but they do suggest that, at least when it comes to commuting by bike, the gender gap isn’t as wide as it’s made out to be. Continue reading

Here we go again…

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Boris…my knight on a bicycle?

So. If Boris’s vision for cycling in London, announced last week, becomes a reality, it will be nothing less than a cycling revolution. Dutch-style segregated lanes! Crossrail for bikes! Quietways! Mini-Hollands! De-Lycrafying! Could this really be London he’s talking about?

Indeed it must be – because no sooner had the plans been announced than the criticism started. No, not of the plans, but of us cyclists. A journalist was quoted on the London Cycling Campaign’s Facebook page as asking, “Now these new facilities have been promised, do you think cyclists have a responsibility to improve their behaviour?”

Sorry?

Why, now that we’ve been promised some major (and long overdue) investment into the cycling infrastructure in London, should I have a responsibility to ‘improve my behaviour’? I already cycle in a safe and responsible manner, thank you very much. Continue reading

The pedestrian’s guide to cyclists

Three cyclists stopped at a red light

The Lesser Spotted Cyclist-stopped-at-a-red-light?

I had a close encounter of the pedestrian kind the other day. A guy had started to cross the road and then stopped suddenly, before proceeding to walk backwards the way he’d just come – right into my path. Having managed to avoid hitting him, I politely suggested he might want to look where he’s going in the future.

He responded by swearing at me.

It’s not the first time this has happened – nor is it likely to be the last – and frankly, I’ve had enough. I’ve had enough of being sworn at by pedestrians when they were the ones at fault, not me. And so I’ve decided it’s time I got my own back, and I’m going to do that in the best way I know how – by writing about it in this blog.

And so, without further ado (and with my tongue placed firmly in my cheek), ladies and gentlemen, may I present to you…the pedestrian’s guide to cyclists. Continue reading

Once upon a time…

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Clifton suspension bridge: there’s a cycle path down there somewhere

These days, most of the riding I do is about getting from A to B (where A is home, and B is usually work) as quickly and cheaply as possible. But once upon a time I used to ride my bike for fun. I would take my bike out on the weekends and I’d head out – sometimes with a destination in mind, other times not – and just enjoy the experience of being out on two wheels.

Most of these rides were done with my ex-boyfriend, a fellow cyclist. Usually we’d cycle north through London – past street after street of houses, shops and offices and past the traffic clogged roads – until we reached the edge of the city. Urban dreariness would give way to…well, I wouldn’t quite call it rural wilderness. We were only in Hertfordshire, after all. Continue reading