Cycling to work through the rain soaked city centre this morning, I was getting a little fed up of end to end taillights and cars that come so close that if you attached Gillettes to their door trim, they’d shave your legs for you (if you like that kind of thing). Boulevard De Nantes was busy and tired. Greyfriars Road was full of pedestrians standing back from the kerbside lest a tsunami of oily water cascade over their slacks. I turned right onto Fitzalan Place (scene of the December incident), mindful of the cars rapidly slowing before another set of traffic lights. Enough is enough I thought. I need space. Air. Freedom. Taking the long way around I sliced through Adamsdown.
Turning right off Moira place and into Kames Place I headed for the footbridge. Large shoulder height bike calming measures make it plain that this is not a place to ride. I dismount. Walk up the slope of the bridge and crest the top. In the opposite direction a lady in her late-60s is pulling a shopping trolley. She looks up. Queue brief exchange.
“Do you want to get on your bike love?”
“No, it’s ok thanks, I shouldn’t really ride here”
“Aw….Thank you for thinking that way. No many do”
“Thank you for thinking that way”. Instantly her statement lodged in my head. I smiled at her, wished her a good day and walked on, with a feel good factor of 10. Yeah! Good for you sunshine! Puff that chest out. That’s the good deed done for the day with karma levels suitably topped up.
Except it wasn’t a good deed was it? Not really. I observed an obvious and understandable rule – don’t cycle on a narrow footbridge (I’m no saint, but I’m definitely not daft). For this lady to make that comment, she must regularly dodge cyclists*/people on bikes (there’s a difference – see explanation below) as she uses the bridge. Just to retirate this; a pensioner with a shopping trolley has to avoid bikes on a narrow footbridge. When you see how constricted the space is, it stuns me to think anyone is inconsiderate enough to ride over the bridge when pedestrians are using it (it takes a second to hop off the bike and a minute to cross the bridge on foot). On reflection, it’s the little incidences that remind you that every time your perch your backside on a saddle, you’re a potential ambassador for the bike – always worth remembering as we pursue better cycling provision.
*A cyclist is a person who appreciates and enjoys the utility of the bike and its associated health benefits. A person on a bike doesn’t really give a stuff about any of that romantic nonsense thank you very much, and is only using this bloody bike because a far more agreeable journey via car/motorbike/<deep breath> public transport is currently not possible.