Cycling in London part two and a rant

Waiting in the cycle boxI’ve resumed cycle commuting after nearly a year’s rest. Well, aside from some trips down to Clerkenwell or to the Festival Hall for the odd meeting.

The new commute is twice the length of the previous one. This one goes from Camden to Shepherd’s Bush, as the map from Runkeeper shows. Previously, the Paddington route was pretty level and was nice on the canal which got me close. This one has a fairly wicked incline on the way back as we climb out of the Ladbroke plains up to the mountains of Hampstead.

I’ve done Shepherds Bush before but mostly on the canal, with that annoying break under Maida Hill, and then a drop down Scrubs Lane to the BBC. This time I resolved to use the TfL recommended route going round the back of St Johns Wood, across Maida Vale, down onto the Harrow Road, then parallel to the railway, past the Pall Mall depository and a quick run down a residential street parallel to Scrubs lane to the BBC. TfL reckon 30 minutes, I’m doing it in under 40 which I think is quite fair considering my age, fitness and my crappy bike.

Overall, it’s a pretty quiet route with even the Harrow Road being relatively safe as the traffic hardly moves on it. There’s a cobbled street shortcut I only take if things look bad; a cobbled street I’ve seen a guy on a penny farthing negotiate!

Which brings me to a major bugbear for me. I’ve been yelled at for caring about this before, and in comparison to having big trucks turning left and not seeing bikes on their inside it’s relatively minor thing, but I can’t help it! On a route with probably 20 or so junctions with cycle boxes, I can guarantee at least half of them will be just ignored by cars leaving bikes to edge out into the junction, as in the picture. WHY? What’s so hard about obeying some simple road markings? I could fill a blog every week the the number plates of such twits. People: it’s not that hard!

My next steps are:

  1. I’m booked into the maintenance course at Evans. Normally I’d just pay the tax and get my bike serviced, but I figured I might as well learn how to do this stuff.
  2. Real soon now, upgrade from a hybrid to a road bike and see if I can shave some more minutes off the time and not be dead by the time I get up the hill to St Johns Wood.
  3. Invest in spandex as that obviously makes you go faster.
  4. I’m not convinced that a pannier for my laptop bag would be a win. Any opinions?

Even over five miles, it’s still quicker than the tube. Cycling in London isn’t scary. Just be really, really careful and paranoid. Everyone hates you.


Update: Jasper reminded me. Chicanes. There are a couple on this route, but not as busy as the ones by Lords. So that’s something.

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