A new danger to cyclists

What no one ever tells you when you start commuting in London is to watch out for the inherent dangers posed by wildlife.

I'm talking about dogs and squirrels and ducks that refuse to budge off the cycle path in Hyde Park despite the constant ringing of your bike bell!

Yesterday I discovered a new threat to my safety: low-flying geese.

I'm not joking. First, I stopped to let them waddle across the cycle path. Then, a little further down the line, another group of fatties, beaks rooting around in the soft dirt of Rotten Row, were startled by something unseen (perhaps a dog or a hawk?) and decided that now was the time to take to the air. I'm not sure if you have ever seen a greylag goose take off, but they take a very long run up before they gain enough momentum to fly.

So here I was trundling along Hyde Park while a gaggle of geese — perhaps a dozen in total — started running at right angles towards me, wings flapping and feet slapping onto the earth, and I just knew that their line of flight was going to coincide roughly with the position of my head. What did I do? I think it was some weird combination of pedalling as quickly as my legs would allow while ducking my head and hoping for the best!

In the event, I escaped unscathed, but I swear I could feel their feathers just grazing the top of my helmet as they headed for the clouds!


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