Monday 25 November 2013

80 percent of Cambridge cyclists are illiterate! A cultural survey

Green Dragon Bridge, Cambridge, showing signs and two cyclists

When you cycle downstream along the Cam, you eventually come to the Green Dragon Bridge. Signs on either bank ask cyclists to dismount. I conducted an impromptu survey of 102 cyclists last Friday, on whether they dismounted or ride across. 80 rode across, 22 dismounted.

Two curious dog walking passers-by asked what I was surveying, to which I solemnly replied I was monitoring cyclist literacy. One commented that surely it was alright to cycle across the bridge - as long as it was done safely and with due consideration to pedestrians. The other reflected that this survey was actually a reflection of cyclist fitness. Those who dismounted did so because they could not cycle up the bridge incline!

Later that day I was in two separate Skype conversations to Germany, where I asked what the German response would be. One replied that they would only cycle across if no one was there to see, as otherwise someone would object. The second posited that this situation would not arise as all pedestrian bridges they encountered naturally ─žad a cycle path.

So, we Brits assume that rules are generally optional, with leeway for interpretation by our common sense whilst in Germany sensible construction makes regulation unnecessary.

What do you think?

Baits Bite Lock on the River Cam

Tuesday 19 November 2013

Moonlit cycle ride home along the Cam

Out of the warm room, departure from the friendly bloggers group. I wheeled out the bike, all wrapped up against the chill on Burleigh Street.

Dropping speed for the approach to Elizabeth Way bridge, I made a split moment decision to go back via the river. Seventeen swans silently swam down the silver stream of the Cam, towards the gibbous moon.

Cycle tyres thrummed past the new Chesterton bridge, the last of the road, then across the cattle grid onto the tree shadowed towpath. Across the Green Dragon bridge, a right turn to ignore the warm invitation of the pub lights. Soon I was back on the river path, with a swerve to miss the last of the night's lovers on their romantic walk.

No city lights, just the bright moon, cycle headlight and the occasional golden squares from moored riverboats. The hard dirt path sparkled as its route mirrored the river's ribbon. Now dark adapted, eyes had no problem finding the way under the tree-framed starry sky. The only sounds were the crackling gravel under the tyres, the air rushing past the anorak hood and the steady breaths of aerobic exercise.

On the opposite bank, the sodium glare of garden floodlights marked The Plough at Fen Ditton. Back in the welcome night, it was under the A14 flyover until the guillotine shadow of Baits Bite Lock heralded the return to a tarmac path.

Then a left turn onto Fen Road, leaving the river behind. A night train crossed the fields under the now open sky and, with windows glowing, continued like a slow horizontal firework towards Ely.

Into street-lit Milton. Harsh frost glittered on the car in the drive. The bike was safely parked in it's Apple-store-scented garage. Glasses suddenly misted over on opening the kitchen door to find the promise of a hot, streaming mug welcoming me home.