Thursday, March 24, 2016

In Which I Assess UK Biking

Granddaugher and daughter out on long walk with me in the UK.
Lego bikers--I was playing
with a granddaughter. And Legos.

I’ve got to get ready to register for RAGBRAI—the deadline is coming soon—and in preparation, I’ve taken the week off of biking.

I’m visiting my daughter in the UK. I’m not exactly UK bike ready, and there isn’t a bike for me to ride, either. I’m making up for it with extensive walking this week.

So a few brief, random observations on British biking:
  • Despite narrow streets and sidewalks so narrow that parked cars half block them, bicycles are more common on British streets. And because cars are smaller and go slower, I doubt despite the lack of space that British bikers are more in peril. Probably the opposite. And in going to school to pick up grandchildren, a fair number of parents have a kiddie bike attached to the back.

  • Bike racks in busy areas, such as downtown, are often full. Many bikes have baskets and carry bags, as well as fenders. British common bikes seem built for serious use, rather than the main purpose of American bikes, which is recreation.
Bike rack in downtown Norwich, England. Grey, cool weather does not keep these bikers home.

  • Helmets and reflective vests exist in Britain, but are not quite as commonplace as in the U.S. On most points, I would say the Brits are ahead of us in biking, but on this point, I would say Americans are ahead. Yay.
Anyway, I do feel that the week of intense walking is doing me some good. I have a sore left knee that actually seems to be getting better. Walking in the UK is challenging enough—you have to train yourself to look in the opposite direction when crossing the street—I suppose it’s OK I’m not trying to bike here. But I am looking forward to getting back to the states and back on my bikes!

Daughter and wife on walkway of 1,000 year old cathedral. I guess this is one place I would not bike. And below, view from upper floor while riding double deck bus. More busses as well as bikes in UK.

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