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

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

Cycle safety – more than just red lights and helmets

Strangely, Boris has so far been silent on the issue of using mobile phones while cycling

Strangely, Boris has so far been silent on the issue of mobile phones and cycling

Oh dear, oh dear. First there was Boris and his comments about cyclists running red lights and wearing headphones. Then there was Operation Safeway, with 2,500 police offices deployed at major junctions across London to hand out safety advice to cyclists. And now traffic police in London have reportedly been given targets for the number of cyclists they have to ticket each month.

All this in response to the recent spate of people being killed or seriously injured while cycling in London. Anyone would think it was their fault they got knocked off their bikes.

Actually, anyone would – and they do. That’s the problem. Continue reading

How do I keep finding myself here?

From this evening's protest (photo credit: London Cycling Campaign)

From this evening’s protest (photo credit: London Cycling Campaign)

Two years ago, when the news broke that a female cyclist in her 30s had been killed at Bow roundabout, my dad says his first thought was that it was me.

My parents tend to keep their fears to themselves, so I didn’t actually find this out until it had been proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that I was alive and well – in other words, after I’d phoned them. Equally, while I’m sure the news this past week has had my mum lying awake at night worrying about me, I haven’t heard a peep out of them.

Because, let’s face it, for the parent of a cyclist in London, this has not been a good week.
Continue reading

CS2: Lane of the Brave?

Cycle superhighway 2

Cycle superhighway 2 (By Felix O (Barclays cycle superhighway no 2, Mile end. e1) [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons)

“God you’re so brave, cycling in London. I could never do that. I’d be afraid I’d get myself knocked off, or killed.”

I can’t tell you how many times people have said that to me, or words to that effect. Tens. Hundreds, maybe.

I used to get mildly annoyed when someone tried to tell me I was a hero for doing something as ordinary as riding a bike. I used to think if they could stop being such scaredy cats, they’d see it was really quite simple: you just get on the bike and pedal. OK, you have to pay attention to the traffic around you, but you learn to do that quickly enough. I mean, if I can do it, then anyone can.

These days, though, I’m starting to think they may have a point. Continue reading

Cycle chic? Mais non

Yes, this really is what I look like on my bike (helmet aside - I now have a lovely purple Bern one)

Yes, this really is what I look like on my bike (helmet aside – I now have a lovely purple Bern one)

Dear reader. I have a confession to make.

Almost every day I see lots of well-dressed women on their bikes. Women in leggings and short skirts, in skinny jeans, in peg leg trousers – even in leopard print dresses. Women riding rattling old road bikes, traditional uprights and shiny new step-throughs. Women, in short, who are the embodiment of cycle chic.

You may think, from reading this blog, that I’m part of this stylish sisterhood.

Alas, dear reader. You would be wrong. Continue reading

So, why do we need space4cycling?

Demanding space4cycling outside the Houses of Parliament

Demanding space4cycling outside the Houses of Parliament

“Don’t get me wrong, I mean, best of luck to you all, but London wasn’t built for bikes – it was built for cars.”

The policeman on duty outside the Houses of Parliament that Monday evening seemed a little bemused by the sight of so many cyclists massing on Parliament Square. Compared to the many other protests that have passed his way – anti-war, anti-student fees, anti-capitalism – I got the feeling he thought our concerns were a little, well, trivial. Irrelevant, even.

Irrelevant? Trivial? Clearly the 5,000 or so cyclists – myself included – who were taking part in that evening’s space4cycling protest, organised by the London Cycling Campaign, didn’t think so. Continue reading

Blue paint is not enough

2013-07-12 18.36.53

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