Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Is there something on in London soon?

Wednesday, 20th April: Today was a London day and I did think that I might take my Brompton down.  I had a meeting at lunchtime then at 2pm and 3pm on into the evening. This meant I would not be able to park my bike at Station Cycles as they would be closing before I got back. Which meant risking delay trying to find a place to lock my bike up at the Station or taking my Brompton to London and using it to get around to my meetings. In the end I chose to risk leaving my bike at the station.  The trouble is I was going to places I was not totally sure of finding my way (by bike) to.

I have occasionally seen (a) unicyclist(s) on my cycle travels around Cambridge. The most recent sighting was a chap heading onto the Cambridge Guided Busway from Rampton. A friend had a unicycle – they are harder than they look.  The Cambridge News reported on a chap who commutes to work on one. I wonder if they are allowed on the rush hour trains? A recent report on railway reform has suggested a variety of reforms, but no mention of a unicycle policy.  It does suggest that they (train operators not unicyclists) be encouraged to make more money from car parking though.  At first sight this looks like a reasonable step from a cyclist’s perspective, except the implication could be read that they should devote as much space as possible to cars and take away cycle parking (as that doesn’t pay).

I was not really looking forward to the train ride the last time I ended up standing for the entire journey down, despite travelling mid-morning.  This was going to be at a similar time.  At least I would not be travelling home in the rush hour (around 7.45pm). I did take a front light with me though, despite what a bad press we cyclists get I do see a lot of law-abiding ones. (I also have a back light permanently fixed to the bike.)

In order to stretch my legs before being cooped up all day I took a great circle route roundabout route to the station. I went out along Newmarket Road and then around Cambridge Airport and back down the Tins Path.

It was a pretty warm day and I had originally intended to wear a jacket when cycling to the station, but managed to convince myself it would be warm enough without – it was. In fact there seemed to be a heat haze around suggesting the day was going to be very warm. This is the view from Airport Cycleway across to the East.

I noticed that the road (Greville Road) they had stuck up verge protection bollards on has now also been subject to a 20mph speed limit. The order came into force on the 15th day of April" 2011. A whole bunch of roads were also done on the same day. If you notice the order was dated as the 14th of April, which was corrected by hand to be the 15th. As it happens I had a somewhat impatient motorist behind me as I cycled along the road – but since there are cars parked along it there was no room for him to pass unless I pulled in. Now if I am on a narrow road and a lorry is trying to pass and there are no opportunities up ahead I pull of. In this case though I was cycling near 20mph and so felt it reasonable not to have to delay my journey to the station so that a motorist could speed.

At the station my heart sank, there was no room in the cycle park opposite Station Cycles nor could I see a space in the cycle park next to the Station forecourt. Time was ticking by – I followed another chap into the park alongside Station Road. I followed him right down to the end or the row and back up another – flip, he was in line for the next space and there were trains to catch. As it happened we came upon several free spaces and as we locked our bikes up we chatted about the difficulty sometimes of finding a cycle space.

With less than 10 minutes to spare I walked into the station to see a huge queue in the line for tickets, but not many people waiting to use the automated systems. As I knew where I was going and what sort of ticket I wanted it was a no-brainer. After a minute or so I was onto the Platform with time to buy a newspaper in the hope of a seat – and yes there were quite a few seats available on the train – phew.

There was not a lot of time to take pictures in London, but as I walked along Regent Street I did wonder why there were so many Union jack flags flying across the road.

They seemed to be all over the place.

At this point I was heading off to my second meeting and this was the last picture of the day. My camera battery was flat, mind you I have a spare for my Sony DSC W-200 camera bought at great expense for just this sort of eventuality.

At my next meeting I quickly swapped the battery only to find it was also flat, I had forgotten to charge it the last time this happened to me. Ah well.

I ended up catching the 8.15pm home and I knew which platform it was going to be on as my timetable I had printed that morning had the information.  Mind you so did quite a few people, except it was the wrong one and we all had a delay whilst they worked out where the train was going to park itself at Kings Cross. (Perhaps the trains have the same problems that cyclists have parking at Cambridge Station.) whilst I am moaning I might as well also report that the train stopped at some point on the journey home, some problem with a train in its parking space a bit further up the line apparently.

When we did get to Cambridge there was mild relief to see my bike still parked where I had locked it earlier that day.  I was also quite surprised to see how many spaces were free.  Some say that the problem with lack of cycle spaces is caused by too many people leaving (perhaps even abandoning) their bikes – well it didn’t look like it to me. I would have taken a picture – but a flat battery.

And yes I do really know what the flags are doing up in London.

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