Thursday, August 5, 2010

London as a cycling capital - there is hope still

Boris Johnson’s Barclays bicycle hire scheme has been encountering some teething problems in the first few days of its introduction. To be perfectly honest, I expected much worse – vandalism, theft, fraud, bicycles falling apart and so on but to give Londoners some credit, the issues aren’t widespread and those affected are relatively patience about it all.

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That said, there are already some cases of theft with bikes ready to be exported to Ukraine. Some surfaced on EBay almost the very same day the bicycles rolled out. Apparently, the police have installed tracking devices in decoys planted round the capital.

William K Wallace mentioned in my earlier post that he wouldn’t even think of cycling in London given its busy traffic and aggressive motorists. Interestingly, someone I know who is based in Cambridge made the exact same comment as well. Not only that, he contrasted London’s motorists with those in Cambridge – the latter tend to give priority to cyclists.

I can’t help but draw a comparison of the situation back in Singapore. Despite have wider roads and traffic lights at almost every single junction, the Singaporean motorists are known for their aggression. Cycling to work on a regular basis is almost unheard of especially if it requires going through the city centre. In fact, cyclists resort to cycling on the pavement much to the ire of pedestrian. The constantly hot and humid weather doesn’t help a single bit.

So despite London’s narrow winding roads, numerous blind spots, reckless motorists, Boris Johnson’s quest to make London the cycling capital remains undeterred and the Barclays Cycle Hire is a small step in the right direction.

Well, if you have to ask, I don’t cycle. I’m one of those who will ride a cycle right into the wall even if their life depends on it. But I’m open to offers for tandem cycling – I just need someone to steer. What about you? Do you cycle on a daily basis or just hopeless at balancing like me?

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3 comments:

drcrab said...

not a reply about the cycling but more about the driving. we drove into London a few weeks back and it wasn't so much the navigation that was the issue (unfamiliar roads etc) but it was the inconsiderate drivers!! seriously, one wonders if they'd even passed their driving (whether in this country or their home country!)...

which then brings us to the next point of cycling. husband used to cycle to work (when work was nearby)... but he still cycles around occasionally, and when he does, he takes the little one with him on the back and G absolutely loves it....! dunno if we'd do that if we were in London!

William K Wallace said...

London has some of the worst and most aggressive drivers in the world. And on top of that this city has way too many cyclists that haven't got a clue about the rules of the life, which is a bad combination if you ask me.

C K said...

@drcrab,
The multitude of traffic signs in London doesn't help, does it? Curiously, as a pedestrian, I thought that London motorists are relatively fine. Haven't seen the point of driving in central London though.

The London cyclists are indeed battle hardened. Who knows? They might actually fall asleep if they were to cycle out of London!


@William,
Saw some cyclists weaving through in and out of the traffic, not wise at all. It takes two hands to clap, doesn't it?