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Cycling across London

One of the best ways to get around London is by bicycle. Let me rephrase it. Cycling is the BEST way to get around and across London.

When I lived in Westminster (Victoria, Pimlico, St James Park - yes CENTRAL London), I would cycle everywhere. I cycled to Chinatown to do my shopping. I cycled to Green Park, St James Park, Battersea Park, and anywhere green for my dose of nature. I cycled to look for a place to live.

Today my friend suggested that we cycle to Holland Park. No way, I thought. It would take too long. I haven't done serious cycling for a few years. By "serious", I mean the kind in which you can't afford to be late. In the past few years, cycling was a means to an end, such as grocery shopping, visiting the dentist, etc. Cycling was also a meandering activity, an end in itself. But to cycle instead of taking the tube or minicab, well, that's something else.

The London Cycling Campaign has been pushing for more cycle paths. In the process, they've printed some useful cycle guide maps. We traced a route that included quiet residential streets and roads with clearly marked cycle paths. Unfortunately, this being a Saturday, cars were parked on the narrow bike lanes.

In London, cyclists are considered to be nuisance by both pedestrians and drivers. We are neither here nor there. When I need to cross a road, I may get off my bike and join the pedestrians. When roads get too congested, I may cycle on the pavement. I choose when I want to be a pedestrian and when I want to be a motorist.

I look forward to the day when cyclists have their own lanes. I look forward to the day when cyclists are respected as mobile citizens. It will be a long time before Londoners learn bicycle etiquette from the Dutch and the Germans.

17 August 2002 Saturday

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