Wednesday, 21 April 2010

Old signs, new roads

According to to my mapping program, I've now cycled every road for 146 square miles in the area.  This figure must be wildly, no wildly wrong - it's more like having cycled every street in a medium-sized city. The streets I've cycled are marked as a grey area on this map:

The red radii  mark the next directions which need exploring on future rides, so that the area ridden expands out from where I begin my rides.  The day before yesterday I was wandering around the south-east parts.  I even stopped to photograph the old ''Youngs'' bike shop sign that their successors have obligingly left in place.
(It's a bit of nostalgia for me - I've owned 2 Youngs bikes and cycled to the south coast and back many times on a Youngs frame.  With a young body, of course.)

Today, though I went via Crofton Park, over the bridge into Nunhead, ''did'' the edge of Peckham Rye, and then north to Bermondsey.  I saw one of the Daren Bread signs, but this time it had not been painted onto the wall, it was a, presumably later, affixed sign.  Still hanging on just!  (This is on the corner of Surrey Road and Inverton Road, Camberwell.)
Later I took in Nunhead Lane and as I had a camera on me I took this one (end of Barset Road).

I got distracted by a young lad from the shop just behind the camera - he was wondering, even after I'd explained to him,  why I was taking photos of a street road sign.  Eventually he admitted that he'd never noticed it.  I wonder how many times he's looked out of the shop window at it without seeing it.


As you descend from Nunhead into Peckham, it's very noticeable how the standard of driving deteriorates.  Instead of getting safely and efficiently from A to B, the rules seem to change into an obligation to perform manoeuvres in the wrong place - three point turns at a junction, for example, whilst talking on a mobile phone, or driving onto the roundabout an Asylum Road without slowing or even looking right to see if anyone is already on the roundabout with right of way.  While talking on a mobile phone, obviously.  Never has a pub been better named:

It's a good job I learned about getting around in Peckham with the armour protection of a car around me.  Cycle on the brakes...


A couple of  minor observations about cycling every road.  First, you'd expect that roads were about getting places.  And they are but only in part.  Virtually every newer development follows the dead-end principle.  It's a maze of roads that don't go anywhere - the aim is for quiet, therefore no through traffic, and for somewhere to park the car.  I've done an uncounted number of U-turns.

Even where there was originally a fairly square grid road pattern, council building projects in a place like Peckham have also blocked off hundreds of roads.  Which could be ok for bikes in theory but isn't because the bike gets blocked off too, denied access because the bike counts as traffic.

The rule seems to be: EVERYBODY WANTS TO BE ABLE TO PARK NEXT TO THEIR HOUSE BUT THEY DON'T WANT CARS GOING PAST.  The ultimate aspiration is therefore, logically and in practice, dead-end.

Secondly, people see a bike and automatically think the rider is a local.  So they ask you where number 39 is.  And you have to say, ''I've never been here before.''  Conversely, people think you're lost when they see you pootling up a cul de sac and give you directions.  It's simply too complicated to explain that you don't know this road, in fact that's why you're there!

1 comment:

CarolineLD said...

I love that Daren bread sign! And I'm glad I'm not the only one to get strange looks when I'm photographing odd bits of wall.