A Tale of Two Journeys

It was the Brompton’s turn for a day out today with a return visit to Glasgow and the Cycling Scotland conference where, in a change from last year’s format of having a lot of men in suits read their powerpoint slides to us, there were a couple of women reading their slides to us as well (although, top tip for conference speakers who’d like to at least try and project a less blokey image for their subject: twisting everything round to a reference to the evening’s impending football match is not the way to do it).

I could blog more about the conference itself but if you follow me on twitter you’ll have likely got the gist: it was the usual parallel world in which everything was wonderful and Scotland will be the new Netherlands any minute now. What was more interesting* was the trip to and from the Velodrome where the conference was being held. Once you know the route, you can actually cycle there almost entirely on cycle paths without tangling with traffic – apart from the small matter of a four-lane one-way road with about a million buses to get you down to the river, needing to convert to a pedestrian to get across another monster road, lugging your bike down a flight of steps to get to the river path, waiting several eons for the lights to change on the toucan crossings, and needing to cycle across an unmarked and unsignposted bit of pavement to find the flagship segregated cycle path to the velodrome. But hey, if cycling through cities was easy, everyone would do it and we can’t have that can we? Oh no wait, hang on…

On the way back, having managed to forget my Brompton front light (and lose a glove, but I was sort of expecting that), I was grateful to be offered a lift in a taxi to the station by the staff of a cycling organisation who should probably remain nameless. This had the advantage of being warm, dry, and protected from the traffic by a nice hard shell of metal and came with the entertainment value of a driver lecturing us about cyclists who didn’t bother to use lights (oh the irony). It was, however, also much much slower than trying to cycle back would have been, as Glasgow’s rush hour traffic congealed in all those wide multi-lane streets that disfigure its city centre. The problem with our cities isn’t just that they don’t really work for people on bikes. They don’t even work for people in cars either, not even the ones like Glasgow where cars have been given almost all the room. So now all we have to do is convince the powers that be that solving the former problem might just solve the latter too…

You never know, it might work.

* for a certain value of interesting

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