Day 1 of the tube strike…

…and it was chaos on the roads.

Everything was choked. The cars, the taxis, the trucks and the buses were all bumper-to-bumper pretty much for the entire length of my 6.5 mile journey.

And there were pedestrians everywhere, some of them even strolling along cycle paths (!!), and many wielding maps and wearing looks of confusion on their faces.

I’ve never seen such an odd collection of people on bikes either, nor as many trundling down Kensington High Street at 7.45am on a dreary Wednesday morning. I spied bicycles that had obviously been dusted off for the first time in a year (or maybe longer) and quite a few cyclists of a particular age who looked like they hadn’t been near a bike, much less ridden one, for a decade or more!

Fair play to those who were brave enough to hit the road on two-wheels for the first time. I’m sure some of them will get a taster for cycling and it might just be the start of a beautiful relationship from this day forward. Many will wonder why they hadn’t done this years ago. Others will no doubt have second-thoughts though, particularly if they experienced the crush at both ends of Hyde Park Corner or had to battle the traffic down Kensington High Street this afternoon, which was a bit of a free-for-all with every kind of vehicle battling it out for road space. I can fight it out with the best of them, but I found tonight’s rough-and-tumble a little bit too rough, not helped by one particular numbskull riding so close to me, on the inside, that he forced me into the traffic, and then took off only to do it with two others further down the line. Idiot.

Obviously a lot of the cyclists I saw today need to brush up on their road rules — and their manners. I’ve never seen so many cyclists sailing through red lights under dangerous conditions and I lost count of the number of cyclists who whizzed through pedestrian crossings at full tilt. Is it any wonder cyclists get a bad name when they put people at risk like this? I witnessed three near misses on this morning’s journey involving cyclists speeding through red lights, scattering pedestrians in their wake. This is when I wish I was carrying a carton of eggs with me. No prizes for guessing where I’d be lobbing them!

I was also astounded by the behaviour of one chap who pushed between me and another cyclist as we stood stationary at the traffic lights at Trafalgar Square. He literally bumped his way between us, knocking both of us, with nary an “excuse me” or a “sorry”. His whole objective was to cycle through the red light, and yet, if he had have waited two seconds he could have done so without barging his way past us. I’m going to have to learn to simply park myself in such a way that no-one can get past without asking — and judging by the uncommunicative manner of British commuter cyclists that ain’t ever going to happen.

The best part about today’s “expedition” was cycling past long lines of stationary traffic. It was a particularly speedy route down Birdcage Walk this evening, which was bumper to bumper for the entire length, and similarly fast down Kensington Gore, before it all went a bit pear-shaped back at Kensington High Street, with traffic leaving little room for cyclists.

I suspect tomorrow is going to be more of the same. To avoid the worst of it, I’m going to aim for a 7.30am kick off. I’ll let you know how I get on…

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6 thoughts on “Day 1 of the tube strike…

  1. They’re not excluded from roads either but you don’t see many pedestrians getting in the way of motorised traffic.
    Unfortunately ringing your bell or offering a polite “excuse me, bike coming through” doesn’t work much when very many pedestrians have iPods plugged in or are gabbing into their mobile phones!

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  2. Oh dear sounds like a horrible experience mate! Hopefully those new cyclists will figure out the rules fast – I’m all for more cyclists on the roads but not if they’re gonna behave like idiots. Maybe the behaviour was just due to increased frustration at the transport.
    I’m hoping that this tube strike and the efforts by London Cycling campaign will result on more people asking themselves why did I never cycle before today?

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  3. Don’t get me wrong; we all have to share the space and god knows I see enough cyclists acting like they own the road, however pedestrians also need to be aware of potential dangers and need to watch what’s going on around them (as do cyclists). Stepping out onto a road while speaking on a mobile phone is a prime example of not taking enough care; I have seen many near misses over the years because pedestrians have been too intent on talking on their phone rather than checking to see whether it is safe to cross the road.

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