I’d have a post full of interesting* cycling infrastructure to show you from our recent trip to Northern Ireland (actually on the drive down there were some interesting bike lanes on the Ormeau Road that were on the pavement most of the time and then hopped back onto the road across the junctions so they had right of way. I’ve not seen anything like that in the UK – or anywhere, come to think of it – I wonder what Belfast Bike Lanes or NI Greenways have to say about those) (Update – thanks to the excellent NI Greenways for finding the Google Streetview link to the ones I mean).
I have actually written about cycling in Newcastle (Co Down, that is, not the other Newcastle) – but for the first time we had two bikes at our disposal, so we cycled a lot more, including places I had only ever been to by car before. It’s revealing experiencing somewhere you thought you knew by bike for the first time, if only because you discover where all the hills are. We used to holiday in Newcastle all the time when I was growing up (all through the troubles) and I remember the ‘Ulster salute’: one finger lifted off the steering wheel to greet an oncoming driver. That reflected a different age, when cars were rare. Now the place feels very car dominated, and there’s a new kind of Ulster greeting – the squeeeeeze by of a car that needs to overtake a bike when there’s no actual room to do so because there’s another car coming the other way. There’s a nice curve on a busy road between the cottage and the rest of town that, pretty much every time I cycled it, a car passed me despite being unable to see the oncoming traffic, whether I pulled out to ‘take the lane’ or not. The only car that didn’t had Dublin plates and left the other half slightly unnerved as it tailed him all the way along the seafront. Sometimes you get to the point where you’d rather they’d just hurry up and kill you and get it over with.
Despite all this, we saw quite a few bikes – more than I’ve ever noticed in the town before – of all shapes and sizes, about 95% of which (including all the posties) were on the pavement. Indeed, cycling back along a nice straight 60mph road with not even a strip of paint for a bike lane, that included us. I’m all for being a legal cyclist but I’m not that keen on being a dead one. And the only person we met on the pavement was another cyclist going the other way and a chap on a recumbent handcycle. Nobody seemed to mind, one way or the other.
Anyway, a you’ll be pleased to learn that a new battery has restored my phone into something resembling life and so, in lieu of all those interesting* pictures of bike infrastructure, here are some holiday snaps instead.