Night rider

Bigbennight_3Tonight I got to ride through London’s streets in the pitch black. I’m not exaggerating.

As I cycled over Westminster Bridge, looking up into the illuminated clock face of Big Ben, I couldn’t help but notice the colour of the sky behind the tower. Normally, as I cycle past, the sky is awash with pink clouds as the sun sinks towards the horizon. This evening it was the colour of bitumen.

Along Horse Guards Parade I had to steel myself for a literally blind ride: the street lights along this section of road are practically non-existent and my headlight does nothing except let people know I am on the road. The only thing I had to guide my way was the tail lights of a couple of black cabs disappearing into the distance and the all-pervading water-marsh smell of St James’s Park.

The Mall was slightly better lit, but by god, the bike path along Constitution Hill was like pedalling through black velvet. I couldn’t see a friggin’ thing.

Scarier still was Rotten Row. I’m not surprised that back in the 17th century William III had 300 oil lamps installed, creating the first artificially lit highway in the country, because he was fearful of his life when he walked through Hyde Park in the dark. I was fearful of my life too, more because I was scared of colliding head-on with another cyclist dressed all in black (and believe, me there’s a lot of them about, apparently they are just too cool for fluorescent cycle wear.)

Tomorrow night I think I might strap a 100-watt floodlight to the front of my helmet to guide the way and be done with it.

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4 thoughts on “Night rider

  1. You’re a brave one, Kim! I can’t imagine bicycling in London when I imagine the traffic. This is the time when I am grateful that Oslo is not such a big city but the hills that we have here make for such challenging rides :).

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  2. Wow…that does sound like a dangerous journey. Floodlights might be the way forward. Is there an alternate route you could take? Silly of me to ask, if there was, you’d probably have taken it.

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  3. OsloFoodie, I’m not really that brave. About half my route is on dedicated cycle paths so I only have to fight my way through the traffic for about three miles or so. I think you’re probably braver to tackle Oslo’s hills!!
    Tamar, don’t get me wrong – I’m highly visible on the road with a flashing red light on my rear rack, a headlight mounted on my handlebars and fluoro cycle wear. When I see other cyclists riding without lights and dressed all in black it makes me really angry.
    Kinuk, as strange as this will sound, this is probably the safest route I could possibly take because it minimises my exposure to traffic. I think it’ll just take me awhile to get used to riding in dark conditions after really enjoying some beautiful balmy long summer evenings on the back of the bike. Sigh.

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