White commuting is another reason for wanting cycletubes in urban areas

It snowed yesterday. About half London took the day off and my cycle to work took twice as long. When I set off  home the back roads were covered with icy ruts. After about 20 minutes of precarious travel I came level with a bunch of 25 teenagers wearing hoods. They moved into the road and surrounded me as I drew level. Then they pelted me with icy snowballs. I wobbled, stayed upright and had to stop to dig the snow out of my ears. My wife asked why my voice sounded hoarse when I got home.  ‘Too much bad language at full volume’ I explained. The kids, no doubt,  were just having fun – relieving the ennui of urban life – but they made me wish God would release a sheaf of thunderbolts. Sadly, the morning news had nothing about lightning-strikes on groups of hoodies in South London – so I have another reason for wanting cycle tubes for green communters. Meanwhile, I will learn the rest of the poem:

Cannon to right of them,
Cannon to left of them,
Cannon in front of them
Volley’d and thunder’d;
Storm’d at with shot and shell,
Boldly they rode and well,
Into the jaws of Death,
Into the mouth of Hell
Rides the poor cyclist.

16 thoughts on “White commuting is another reason for wanting cycletubes in urban areas

  1. Henry

    Argh! The tubes sound like an excellent idea. Or, to keep the current road system safer for all we could use the brats as speed bumps. I might even go back to driving a car!

  2. Tom Turner Post author

    Cycling in London makes me feel like a Chartist, a Suffragette or a Freedom Fighter. Each cycle trip is part of a campaign for Cyclist’s Rights. Motorists and pedestrians complain that cyclists don’t behave well. But it’s OK for them. They have the roadspace parcelled up between them. Cyclists are forced to jump traffic lights and ‘recycle’ empty pavement space, because we have no other ways of completing our very green journeys in safety.

  3. Robert Holden

    Dear Tom,

    I advise :

    1) you advise the local police station, This sounds like it is something useful for the police.
    2) you have been stoned while cycling previously, it might be best to avoid this route for the time being.



  4. James Clarke

    I don’t envy you riding in London Tom, I hear so many tales. I am a keen cyclist and my commute takes me through seven miles of gorgeous countryside! but I have also been subjected to this kind of thing, even away from any town. The cyclist is an easy target, both verbally and it seems physically. I would love to see cycling tubes developed, as long as they remained a secure and safe environment.

  5. Tom Turner Post author

    Robert – my wife contacted the police – I did not think it worth it because of their total lack of interest last time it happened. They told her they would see if there was a patrol car in the area that could have a look. But they did not phone back. This incident was on the well lit Rochester Way.

    James – I think I would feel a little nervous in the dark on country roads without street lighting.

  6. James Clarke

    Tom – it’s not too bad, high viz jacket and decent lighting helps. There are also a few miles of pavement next to the road on the busy sections, there are no other users out here so I use them.

  7. Leo Phillips

    this is what the cycle helmet was designed for no? and the reason the high vis vest was desinged for, no? protection for the easy seen target.

    bit like computer gaming on the street,….another call for more activities for the youth generation.

    glad you are still around to write this blog tom!

  8. DAN

    Morning TOm,

    Apologies for the narrators dull tone of voice but perhaps the words and imagery may cheer up some of the cycling blues in this strong winter weather.
    – this ditty published in the ‘Kansas Cycler’ in 1895 celebrates the bicycle against its adversaries the church bishops who feel the lack of church goers is down to the dreaded bicycle……


  9. Leo Phillips

    is the enclosed cycle route not just a currative measure rather than a prevention of the anti-social behaviour? should we really be stopping the intergration of the social experience that is cycling through the city?

  10. Tom Turner Post author

    I see the cycle tubes as cheaper, nicer and better than trains – and with the enormous advantage of concluding your journey with a bike for the last mile. And once you have built the tube, THAT IS IT. There would be no running costs and hardly any maintenance cost. Compare this to £1m for a railway carriage and a vast expenditure on staff.

  11. DAN

    I moved to London 4 years ago now, after 6 months I was struggling because getting around took up so much time and energy (and money!)… but then I cleaned up my old bike that I brought with my paper round money when I was 13…

    Navigating my way round town, getting lost and finding places like this has led me to fall in love with London and its various characters through the city.

    As much as I have become a cycle advocator – I am not so sure this would have happened if I had been cycling through underground tubes without gaining my bearings and experiences along the way.

    A cause as worthy as cycling deserves to be looked at in higher esteem than to be buried below the life of London town. The visibility of a scheme is surely a high factor in its success.

    For instance, cycling in Amsterdam is unmissable and the best way to get around there. My parents came up to London from New Zealand over Christmas and were amazed at the number of cyclists on the roads here in London because they SAW them. They would not have seen them if they were underground. They have gone back with that memory.

    Re-balancing bikes and cars on the ground-level should come first I believe. If this is too much to ask for then move the cyclists closer to the Gods perhaps and give them a fantastic view as they glide through the city airspace!

  12. Pingback: The snowball effect | Garden Design And Landscape Architecture Blog – Gardenvisit.com

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