Now I have no intention of shuffling off any time soon, but my head is swimming with so many thoughts of danger and death.
Firstly, I don't want to be seen as making light of any of the tragic deaths as of late, it just late night ramblings.
Secondly, I don't want to be "Cyclist, 34, from London" try being a bit more imaginative than just adding me to a list of stats and being a reason to crow about your issues - not that there'd be any other choice of description in the fast paced world of news coverage
Thirdly, I didn't run a red light or undertake a moving truck, I had lights and more than likely some sort of high vis, I am a confident and very experienced cyclist, but also scared enough not to take on a moving (or stationary vehicle) one on one.
Tomorrow morning I'll be cycling to work, this is my 4th week in a temporary job, one that is (hopefully) the first step on a long and influential career in shaping towns and cityscapes for the better. The last 3 weeks I've been communing: train, tube, train which takes about and hour and a quarter door to door if all my connections are smooth and not too many people get in my way walking from platform to platform. I think in my first real experience of London public transport commuting I've gotten pretty good at knowing the right door to get on to deliver me to the appropriate exit point to avoid crowds as much as possible, but there's still always others slowing my stride from one mode to another.
The commuting was fun and exciting for the first week or so, buoyed along by my elation at finally being employed. But the only reason I was on public transport was because a few weeks ago some numbnuts pulled out in front of me on Brixton Road, I T-boned the car, leapt onto the bonnet and swore along the lines of "Look where the fuck you're going, DICKHEAD" He just hadn't seen me, on a clear day on a clear road and I was doing no speed at all. Which in itself probably helped me avoid injury, but I was so pumped with adrenalin my cursory bike check failed to notice the huge crack in the steel frame top tube and I scampered off without exchanging details, who's the dickhead now?
So now I have collected my refurbished bike (at unfortunately high expense to myself) and am looking forward to getting back in the saddle. My fitness has ebbed significantly I'm felling sluggish, like a wet sponge, and I'm pretty sure public transport is making me sick, or maybe that's the change in weather.
The climate since I was last cycling has changed. Not just with the changing clocks and northerly winds, but the amount of deaths and danger regarding cyclists in London, and the wider UK is quite frankly overwhelming. I admit I'm over exposed, though the outputs from the P2P research have slowed significantly with other priorities taking hold in my conciousness, I'm still very tuned into the blog-o-twittersphere. There are so many opinions and accounts and suggestions, I am still at a loss as to what needs to be done.
Whatever the politics, or infrastructure arguments, or vehicular cycling arguments, or obey the rules arguments or enhanced training arguments, it still stands that after almost 3 decades of regular riding, solo cycling all over the world, riding in groups across America or Tibet, I'm being kept awake by the fear of falling under a truck. And when I say 'falling under', i mean being crushed needlessly. I'm an individualist, people need to take more responsibility for themselves, but I'm also of the opinion that the fabric of London, and many other places need to be more human scale...
Even a car that runs on angels’ sighs & never crashes, would still encourage urban sprawl, bad land use (esp parking) & make its owner fat
— RTPI (@RTPIPlanners) November 15, 2013
My instant reaction to the outcries in the last week has been a bit non-plussed, as with all the other major issues that worry me in the world (beyond my own pursuit of a fulfilling career and settled home life) I feel slightly overwhelmed by my ineffectualness in being able to make a change. Sign petitions, make recommendations, demonstrate, legislate, don't procrastinate!
Though my fear now is a late night worst case scenario, the reality is that my route will not be fun, trawling through greater London traffic, battling with busses and potholes. Sucking up all kinds of fumes, urgh. We really do need to collectively do something about it, which is another reason for me to go to work, learn the machinations of the planning world and make that difference, my biggest problem with all that, is that ASAP is not AS enough!
Oh and if by some stupidly freeaky and truly tragic turn of events I do cark it, Sorry. Please can the statue be somewhere nice and prominent and representing me doing a one handed wheelie cowboy style (how sad that I never learnt to wheelie).
If you're doing anything in my name, do it better that I would yeah,
Ladies, I'm so sorry we didn't have more time together ;)
Gents, it's been a pleasure.
And I think this and this should be the start of the playlist,