Isn’t this what it was like 20 years ago?

As reported by Treadly and Me, a primary school in Melbourne, Australia has introduced a green travel scheme that has been hugely successful. (You can read more about it on The Age website.)

While I’m not aware of any similar schemes happening here in London, I can report that there seem to be more and more children riding bikes to school in my local area. Mind you, they are being escorted by adults and most are, frustratingly and illegally, riding on the footpath!

Whenever I catch the tube and walk to the station (sadly, something I’ve done every day this week because I’ve been too lazy to cycle) I almost get killed (a bit of poetic licence, but you get the idea) by two child cyclists careering downhill around a blind corner on the footpath. Their mother is with them on foot but seems remarkably oblivious to the danger her sons are causing. She strides on by while her little darlings scatter pedestrians left, right and centre.

I’m usually too shocked to say anything to her, but I wonder if someone confronted her recently, because this morning she was riding a bike on THE ROAD, with her two children following closely behind. I wanted to hug her! It only takes one person to make that brave move and then, with a bit of luck, other mums and their kids will follow suit. This can only be a good thing.

Strange how we can get so excited by the sight of something as simple as children riding their bikes to school, after all, wasn’t this the norm 20 years ago? What happened to us that we think the only way we can make basic journeys is to jump into a motorised vehicle that chews up resources and spews out pollution? And then we wonder why the planet is f**ked and our children obese!

A wrong turn

I took a wrong turn tonight, only because I got stuck in the wrong lane going around Parliament Square, and I ended up cycling through the streets around Victoria not knowing where the f**k I was.

Then I spied a decorative spire somewhere in the distance and assumed it was Buckingham Palace, so headed in its direction, knowing that I’d be able to orientate myself once I was in front of the Queen’s residence. Only thing is, it was the wrong palace: not Buck Palace but the Palace of Westminster. Yes, I did a full circle and found myself back on Parliament Square.

You can only laugh. A one-and-a-half mile diversion, all because of a wrong turn. Oh well.

It wasn’t a show worth drooling over

Well, I went to the cycle show at Docklands yesterday. In a word it was crap.

I got the distinct impression I was (a) the wrong gender; (b) not geeky enough; and (c) not sporty enough.

The whole show revolved around high-tech bikes and high-tech gadgets for bikes, neither of which I am interested in.

The retail space, which was separate to the rest of the trade show, was so small it was laughable. I walked in and promptly walked out when I saw the queue at the till!

Oh well. At least the weather was nice and we got to potter around Docklands for awhile. We caught the Docklands Light Rail to Heron Quay and then walked back to Canary Wharf, where we took some photographs and relaxed with an ice-cold cocktail. There are worse ways to wile away an afternoon, right?

Dressing for the weather

The weather has definitely turned autumnal this week.

I’ve swapped my long, baggy shorts for tights and my reflective waistcoat for my fluoro rain jacket. I guess it won’t be long before I put away my fingerless gloves and dig out my waterproof winter ones.

I’ve also had to start using my lights again for the first time since last Spring. This is because it’s getting darker earlier and earlier on the ride home. In just a few weeks’ time I know I’ll be cycling in the pitch black, something I’m not particularly looking forward to.

Still, the rain these past few days hasn’t turned me off cycling. I actually enjoy cycling in the rain — as long as it’s not too heavy — because there’s something refreshing and energising about it.

I think that’s one of the things I like most about cycling: experiencing the seasonal changes and getting a taste of the great outdoors instead of being shut in an office for most of the day. Who cares if you get a little wet in the process?

Bike porn

I received Evans Cycles winter catalogue in the post today. In fact, because Evans Cycles has both my work and home addresses, I received TWO catalogues.

It’s jam-packed with so many yummy looking bikes I couldn’t help but drool a little as I quickly flicked through the pages in the office this morning.

I expect I will drool a bit more this coming weekend, as I have a ticket to Cycle 2006, which is being billed as the UK’s premiere cycling event. 

I’m in the market for a new bike, so will enjoy looking around and seeing what’s on offer. But my first priority is to get some proper cycle shoes. Ever since I lost the guard off my chain ring I’ve been wearing my Ariat slip-on shoes, because they don’t have laces that might get caught in the chain. They’re comfy and sturdy, but they’re designed for horse-riding, which means the arch is perfect for hooking into a stirrup but a little crap for resting on a pedal!

Anyone got any recommendations? I don’t need shoes with clips; they just have to be laceless, comfortable and waterproof.

Letter to a ‘friend’

Dear Uptight-Man-in-Pinstripe-Suit who accused me of jumping the queue in Eat this morning,

It was not intentional. The barista, who serves me every day, told me my black coffee was ready on the end of the counter, so I reached across to pick it up. It was only natural for me to start pouring milk into it.

Given that there were two milk jugs free to use, I don’t understand why you thought I was holding you up: you could have reached across and used the other jug instead of standing there like an imbecile. Even if there was another woman in the way with a big, cumbersome suitcase, I still don’t understand why you hadn’t bothered to sort your milk out before I came on the scene.

Because you were standing a few metres back from the counter I assumed you were still waiting for the barista to make your coffee. How did I know you were holding a cup of coffee waiting for milk. Why didn’t you put the milk in it when you stood up to the counter to collect it?

Honestly, the mind boggles.

I’m glad you got the stress out of your system though: yelling at a complete stranger must be so satisfying. You’re lucky I didn’t yell back. One customer, who approached me afterwards, said I should have punched your lights out.

I said I didn’t agree. I’d just spent 30 minutes wrestling London traffic on the back of a bicycle: I didn’t need to wrestle a twat in a suit as well.

I’m not sure what your problem was. Perhaps you just don’t like cyclists and seeing my hi-viz coat and helmet was like waving a red flag at a bull.

Personally I think you should take up cycling for yourself: it helps to lower stress levels for a start.

Yours sincerely,

Kimbofo

PS> I hope you enjoyed your coffee.

Newspaper takes up cycling’s cause

The Age newspaper (in my hometown of Melbourne — although I haven’t lived there since 1994!) is running a month-long cycling series called Cycling the City, "which will examine the commuter routes into the CBD and highlight
major black spots that need fixing".

How I wish one of the London newspapers would do something similiar. Instead we just get articles slamming cyclists as being too agressive or selfish or law-breaking — facts that probably apply to just 2% of the cycling population! Bike bashing is flavour of the month right now, which is a shame, because we need all the friends we can get.