Wednesday, 17 February 2016

In which I redesign the Old Kent Road

Segregated cycle lanes are popping up all over London at the moment, with what seems like a dozen more in the works once the current crop are complete.

So I wanted to consider the Old Kent Road in Southwark, and wonder: could we fit a cycle lane down here?

Wednesday, 3 February 2016

In which Westminster is fantastic for chocolate shops, and terrible for cycling

The City of Westminster has several Themed Cycle Rides. You can join an organised tour, or follow the route on your own. We did the tour of chocolate shops on our own, in an outing that was both delicious and sadly illuminating.

Firstly, the chocolate shops themselves: whoever thought this tour up was a genius. The staff were friendly and helpful, very knowledgeable and with personal recommendations for what to try. Not one of them was grumpy and uninterested in us, though we turned up only intending to sample a single item. In every new shop, I decided that this was where I was buying presents for everyone I know for the foreseeable future.
Even if you don't eat chocolate, the décor alone was worth a look in Prestat, Choccywoccydoodah, and Pierre Hermé - and the others weren't bad either!

But the cycling - wow, Westminster. Ouch. Has anyone from the council ever ridden a bicycle?

There are 3 types of streets in Westminster: broad main roads, which are terrifying to cycle on; back streets full of queueing cars, too narrow for overtaking, even on a bike; and quiet, empty little streets, which are a joy to cycle on - until either a black cab comes whizzing up from behind and honks at you for having the temerity to be on their shortcut, or the street comes to an abrupt end at a busy main road.

The shops are far too small to bring a bicycle inside. A fellow Londoner sums it up:
And if you are unlucky enough to be doing this with friends, good luck finding enough free lamposts for all of you.

If you are going to take this Cycle Ride, book into the official one and take safety in numbers. Or even easier, ditch the bike, and use your feet. A train to Knightsbridge for the finale is cheaper than hiring a city bike anyway - because obviously TfL want to incentivise more people to travel on the Piccadilly line. But that's a rant for another time.