Sunday, 20 September 2009

London Skyride

...or should I call it The Mayor of London's Skyride? No, I'll call it London Skyride because none of the other Skyrides feel the need to name it after their mayor. Anyhow, it happened today. I rolled up at Cutty Sark Gardens expecting there to be a handful of bikes - but you'd need pretty big hands for this lot:

And this was early, bikes were still arriving from all directions. Just after 11am we set off for London, (accompanied) children going immediately after the leader and the rest of us followed in what was possibly the most chaotic ride up to town - and definitely the slowest - that I've ever experienced. Here's a view of the monster crocodile just on our way down Creek Road

Just up the road, where Church Street joins Creek Road there was already one taxi driver at the front of the queue, swearing and handwaving and rolling menacingly forwards at one of the marshalls, fulfilling the traditional role expected of a London cabbie - and, of course, by almost everyone who's cycled in London . I don't suppose he'd ever seen that many taxi-fare dodgers in his life before. It was facinating to watch the different reactions of motorists, though most of the smiles and waves of encouragement did come from cars on the other side of the road.

Several hundred car horns later - isn't it illegal to sound horns on a Sunday? - we eventually stop-started-crawled our way to Tower Bridge and over to the Skyride eastern access point near Tower Hill.

A lass on a podium to the left of the picture above was announcing over a PA that they'd been expecting 50,000 but believed that they already had 60,000. I've no idea how you can estimate the number with any degree of accuracy - I had certainly never seen so many bikes in one place before. Even without lights, there were enough to create their own traffic jams.

Here's a tribute to Sponge-Boris No-Pants:

I guess I'm being a little really does makes a change to see London dominated by bikes without fear of traffic - well without fear of the usual traffic, anyway. Trafalgar Square seemed pretty spacious:

Though that's most likely because the route onto the Mall was so busy:

Strangely, the atmosphere wasn't particularly carnivalesque, more about lots and lots of people enjoying a gentle ride through a busier yet quieter London on a lovely warm Autumn day. Though there's always some clown who feels the need to go just that bit further, that little bit higher...this man, innocent though he looks, almost took me out on a sharp bend with his rear wheels. And he didn't even notice!

And of course some people just have to push the envelope, or in some cases, envelop the push bike: below are some BSOs (Bicycle-Shaped Objects)....

And if you've ever had to cycle into a headwind, you'll know the immensity of the force you're fighting against. This young lad has reconceived the Raleigh Chopper (c. 1975) by using a headwind to generate the power needed to ride into a headwind. Pure genius!

Almost finally here's St Pedal's Cathedral, simply because it is Sunday after all...

And, do you know what? Many cyclists are what I've seen called ''sociable loners'' - and I think I'm one of them. On the way out, the lass on the podium had revised her estimate upwards to 75,000 and I think I cycled past/round/with/had to evade most of them. It was quite a relief to get onto the Lower Road back to Deptford where you can ride more smoothly, without too many lights or people holding you up, doing silly things in the road, without upsetting tetchy cabbies. Because in the end, I want to cycle peacefully and safely with everyone, be they in a car or on a bike, without feeling in danger. So yes, there have to be more cyclists on the road simply to make drivers more cycle-aware. And you're not going to achieve that by segregating two-wheelers from the four-or-more-wheelers.

Still, it was a lovely day out, and doing it one day a year isn't going to ruin your life - unless you're a taxi driver with anger management problems. In which case, get your heart MOT'd at the first opportunity.


Deptford Dame said...

Great report, thanks for that. I missed it being out of town that weekend. I have to admit though that I also prefer the lonely open road and find the most stressful thing about commuting can often be the other cyclists! Thank goodness the bloke on the big yellow thing doesn't use my route!

Marmoset said...

Thanks DD, I really appreciate your comments. It's reassuring to know that you're not in a complete vacuum!

Happy cycling - we've had a lovely autumn for it this year.

Deptford dame said...

No problem, I've added you to my blogroll and will pop over from time to time to see what you're up to. It can be difficult to motivate yourself when you don't get any comments at all, I know all about that! A visitor counter such as Feedjit is good just to reassure yourself that you are not alone. Unless that is the case, of course...!