Looking for Trouble

Newcastle harbour

Anyone visiting this blog for ford updates, pesky wildlife and rides down to Papershop Village must be sorely disappointed, for the gadding about continues and we are now in Northern Ireland for what was supposed to be a quiet week of walking and seaside pottering. Things aren’t 100% going to plan, mainly due to my out of control cycle-campaigning habit (just say no, kids) combined with some poorly timed freelance work but we made it over okay yesterday afternoon, and today I managed to drag myself away from my laptop for a short period of time because the Brompton and I had SCIENCE to be done

Last year, I missed out taking part in the Near Miss project because I was recovering from my hernia operation and barred from cycling, so this year when I heard it was running again, I signed up like a shot – picking a date this week because they were apparently short of data from Northern Ireland. We had planned a longer ride today, to maximise our input, but the other half was indisposed so in the end my contribution to research had to consist of me and the Brompton pottering between various shops. I had high hopes of at least one exciting near-death experience on the streets of Newcastle, because in my experience the drivers here tend to give you room if there’s room to be given, but just go ahead and pass you anyway if there isn’t, which always makes for a fun ride. Add in the fact that the high street is a snarl of double parked vans, darting pedestrians, and people pulling out of parking spaces, and the prom is full of meandering pedestrians and dogs on expandileads – not to mention a killer one-way system that funnels all traffic onto the kidney-bout on the edge of town whether it wants to go that way or not, and I was sure that this would provide far more food for research than my normal run down to the papershop where I can generally count the number of other cars I encounter on the fingers of one hand.

Obviously, despite the title of this post, I didn’t want to distort the research by changing my own behaviour, so I didn’t really go looking for trouble, although it’s possible my decision to cycle out to the Tesco on the edge of town instead of contenting myself with Lidl wasn’t entirely down to the fact that going into Lidl makes me want to shoot myself. Even so, despite even braving the one-way system and the Castlewellan Road, I encountered nothing but courtesy and consideration, including one driver who stopped to let me cross the road, another who started to pull out of a parking space and stopped when they saw me coming, and a third who hung back all the way round a blind bend until it was safe to pass. If it wasn’t for a white van man with a trailer who managed to squeeze past me on the way into town, I’d have had nothing to report at all. Still, no data is still data, right? And yes, I am aware that of all the things a cyclist can whinge about ‘hardly anyone trying to kill me’ doesn’t really rank up there among the most urgent.

Brompton in Newcastle

101 uses for a Brompton: taking part in research

And sadly, you can only sign up for one day to submit your near miss diary so I can’t spend the rest of the fortnight being miraculously protected from impatient drivers by the magical powers of Sod’s Law. I shall just have to find other ways of amusing myself instead.


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