City cycling clinic
Updated: Thu Jul 30 2009
Where to leave your bikeIn his column in The Times recently, Matthew Parris said that it would vastly improve life in his village if cheese wire were strung across the narrow lanes to garrotte passing cyclists. By way of retort, I have my own similar improvement for life in the city. I propose, equally in jest you understand, that all cyclists attach sharp objects to their spokes and ride like Boudicca along London’s thoroughfares, flaying the tendons and scratching the vehicles of anyone – black cabs, bendy buses, pedestrians stepping into the road – who makes life difficult for cyclists.At the top of my hit list would be property owners who don’t allow you to lock your bike to their railings, particularly in light of Ken Livingstone’s latest proposed law to allow the forcible removal of all bikes left chained up. In theory it is their private property so they do have the right to do with it as they wish, but the decision to erect snide notices reading, ‘Bicycles left on these railings will be removed’ seems to me governed more by a knee-jerk, get-off-my-land attitude rather than any coherent reason. Around St Paul’s Cathedral there is charity enough to allow bikes on the opposite side of the road. However the Royal Courts of Justice on the west end of Fleet Street have gone so far as to erect an additional barrier around the railings to make extra sure no one parks up. They say that bicycles left on the railings pose a security risk.Further into town it gets worse. Down the Strand and around Bedford Street, Long Acre and Bow Street, the problem is exacerbated by too few bicycle racks for too many cyclists. Every lamp post available is festooned with bikes, while the wrought iron railings stand unadorned. Yet these doughty railings are quite the best street furniture for deterring thieves when a bike is secured to them with a decent lock. Famously, during World War II, many similar railings were removed and recycled for the war effort. How fitting for those premises to put their railings back into public service, this time aiding the city cyclist.
Route ratingMiles Two and a half.Calories burned 120.Security risks posed Possibly one.
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