Two Wheels Good
Back when the internet was young — or at least the commercial, available-at-home internet — I sent an email with the subject line, “Bicycle on the Superhighway”. It was about me having a publicly-accessible email address for the first time since uni (as opposed to one that was only usable within the company where I worked at the time).
This was back when people — inspired, if I recall correctly, by Al Gore — were calling the net the “Information Superhighway.”
This post is not about all that, though; this is about literal cycling on a literal superhighway: specifically London’s “Cycle Superhighways.”
Since the building where I now work has showers, I decided it was time to get back on the bike. And since it’s in Westminster, it turns out there’s a really easy route, that uses CS6 and CS3: down Farringdon Road and west along Embankment, by the river.
These are fantastic cycling facilities, especially the Embankment one. Properly separated from the motor traffic, plenty of room to move and overtake, great sequencing of traffic lights so you hardly have to stop. It’s hard to fault it. Especially compared to nearly every other pathetic painted cycle lane in the city.
It gets a bit hairy where it all ends, in Parliament Square: the traffic there is unfeasibly heavy. Who drives near parliament?
If there’s a downside to it all, it’s this: I suspect that the motorised traffic is busier and faster, exactly because it’s not tempered by having bikes in the mix. I can’t be sure — I’ve never used Embankment before, and it’s years since I used to cycle regularly on Farringdon Road — but it feels to me that there’s a crazy amount of traffic and that it’s going faster than ever.
The latter can’t really be true — there are still speed limits, and they either won’t have changed or might have dropped to 20 mph in sections. But I still get this sense that, freed from interacting with the fragile two-wheeled minority, the armoured legions behave more like they’re on a motorway.
Whether that’s the case or not, the number of people cycling — especially in the recent bright spring weather — is huge. The only time I’ve seen more cyclists together was when I did the London to Brighton ride many years ago.
And also in the mix now are electric scooters and electric skateboards, which makes it all the more interesting. There’s even the odd cycle rickshaw.
It’ll be interesting to see how the volume changes with the seasons, but you can’t beat it for a way to commute: it’s faster than the tube, it saves you money, and you get some exercise. I recommend it for anyone who’s able.