”Your bike needs some love.”

This is what the very nice bike mechanic said to me a few weeks ago (Hackney Peddler N16 8AA) when he helped me back on the road after my chain came off and despite my best efforts , I could not re attach it.  He wouldn’t accept my offer of money.”Your bike needs some love .” Great line. For the last two weeks  , it’s been receiving that love , and I phoned them again today to see if it was ready . Daycocks N16 8BP are a very different kind of bike shop but no less accommodating. Lovely people. After having so many bikes stolen , I’ve ventured into the second hand market and am possibly paying the price , a new cassette , a new chain and a few other odds and sods. All bike shops are struggling with the demand of course in these corona times and it’s hard just to book a bike in for repair. Finally picking it up tomorrow and will be treating myself and the bike to a long spin to see how it...

”It’s like cancelling Ramadan or Christmas !” Dunwich Dynamo in the balance…

Gutted to read a story this week, on BBC Suffolk, that cyclists are being discouraged from the Dunwich Dynamo , still (just) on course for 4th and 5th July. Having done it four times over around 12 years, and had a wonderful and slightly different experience each time,I’ve been limbering up for my fifth Dun Run in 11 days time. I had to laugh at this comment of a veteran about Ramadan, the beauty of the event is that it is unofficial ; there is no registration, no tabards and no nonsense— just a simple and beautifully pointless 120 mile cycle through the night from London Fields near where I live and work in Hackney out of London into the villages of Essex and on to the Suffolk prairies for Dunwich at around 9 am on the Sunday morning. My friends are in two minds and we’ll now have to see if it’s a case of holding back for a year until...

public transport in this brave new world

One aspect of corona that I find difficult to deal with is being told to avoid public transport. It’s not that I use it that often normally, work is a short cycle from home in North London and the bike is mostly how I nip about . It’s being told to avoid it that is so strange and the fact that so many bus drivers have lost their lives. I realised the other day when I saw my Oyster card that I hadn’t used it for the longest time ever .I grew up in North London and have lived here all of my five decades. One of the reasons I ‘ve always been a Ken Livingstone fan is that he transformed public transport in this city , both in the 1980’s and later as the first ever mayor of London. He invested and improved so heavily that it’s the go to option for millions rather than a sub standard service with buses covered in graffiti and three an hour which is how it was when I was growing up. At the end of my street now, the buses arrive in minutes and I really like the reimagined Routemasters too. There’s a funereal feel for me to the pictures of deserted tube trains with passengers wearing masks . Ditto the buses. I hope there’s an eventual return to the full use of public transport, subject of course to millions of people working from home and not needing to use it...

London’s cycle provision, good enough ?

For many years, I have , through a psychiatric report, made claims for travel expenses for cyclists who are too scared to cycle again after an accident which has caused injury. This is how Nathalie put it today : ”I’m not sure I’d call my decision not to cycle as a phobia–I therefore don’t think it can be ‘cured’ . As the accident was unavoidable from my perspective, it has made me realise how unsafe the roads in London are while drivers like that are on them and the city’s cycle provision is so crap. The impact of the accident on my life is not something I want to repeat and so the best way to avoid that seems to me to not cycle on London roads- especially as my commute is an 18 mile round trip. My job is permanent and I own my flat and have no intention of moving so I don’t see how this will change unless the city’s approach to cyclists changes....

As I cycle through a locked down and deserted London…

Yesterday, I had a wonderful experience cycling through London as my one daily exercise blast.I left the office in Stoke Newington at 2 pm with a plan to return around 4pm  and I realised very early on that i could for once stick to the main roads instead of the backroad cycle routes that i know so well. Cycling as though I am a 38 bus , I told to myself as I tootled along, Albion Road, Newington Green, Essex Road, and onward into the West End. The reduced noise was the first thing that struck , the streets were not completely empty of course , plenty of buses , many completely empty of passengers. There ‘s quite a few roadworks going on , sensibly timed for lockdown to minimise disruption. I spoke to a guy on a penny farthing, we hoped the roads would stay like this forever . The new space around me and the massively reduced noise enabled me to appreciate buildings that I felt I was seeing for the first time, a lovely church by the Royal Courts Of Justice , the bells playing that lovely tune from every London playground, including mine,Oranges and Lemons. As I cycled along, I sang to myself, as I thought of bills I need to pay,”when will you pay me , said the bells of Old Bailey ! ” So much to enjoy and so much to return for ,there’s around two weeks left of lockdown it’s looking like, and as Arnold Schwarznegger once apparently said, (I’ve never seen the films), ”I shall...

air pollution link to covid deaths

Incredible story in today’s Guardian,studies showing that people living in urban areas of high NO2 nitrogen dioxide are more susceptible to catching Covid 19. If true, this is climate change dynamite and will only add to the growing sense of a desire to breathe cleaner air after we return to a post corona world. There’s so much hardship and death around in these extraordinary times  but there are also stories like the above and in places like Thailand, the loss to tourism has been marine life’s gain , sea turtles and sharks appearing in the sea close to land for the first time. A small part of me wants the lockdown to go on so that the world can see more of what it has been...