Reasons to be Cheerful

April 7, 2019

With everything – globally and nationally – apparently collapsing around our ears, may I note a small measure of progress, albeit locally?

One year ago, our local Farmers’ Market moved from a site by the bypass, inaccessible by bike, to Bigtown Station’s short-term car park – thereby driving a coach and horses through Bigtown’s Parking Strategy (and, indeed, iron law) that no parking space may be lost without the creation of an equal and opposite parking space, even temporarily, lest a rip occur in the fabric of space time or the Hellmouth open.*

This should have doomed it to instant failure, and yet, as we cycled down on a grey and cold and frankly not all that springy morning we discovered that the place was, as it always is, hopping. Not only were people quite capable of parking a little further away and walking over the railway bridge for their cheese, pies, other kinds of pies, four different brands of local confectionary, and haggis samosas** (but not, to the other half’s disgust, ice cream) – but they were also able to cycling there.

Compare and contrast:

bike parking

Bike parking at the Farmers’ market a year ago

market parking

Bike parking today (including a couple of tiny bikes tucked away in the middle)

Not only that, but half those bikes, I don’t even recognise

As I took a photo for Bigtown Cycle Campaign’s various social media platforms, the lady who was doing a stint as market greeter turned to me and smiled.

“Aren’t they great all these bikes? I just love seeing everyone coming in and parking their bikes. Isn’t it wonderful that people can cycle to the market now?”

Isn’t it just?

This put me in such a good mood, I didn’t have the heart to tweet this particular example of Bigtown parking at its finest (although, to be fair, I think it was probably more a case of ignoring the four-hour parking time limit yesterday, than someone wanting to be in pole position for the queue for the pies).

market parking

* actually, now I come to think of it, that might explain everything …

** don’t mock until you’ve tried them. Bigtown streetfood at its finest.

What’s Brown and Sticky?

April 3, 2019

I suppose, thinking back, I should have been forewarned when I stepped out of the cafe this lunchtime and discovered that the banging tailwind I’d sailed into Bigtown on had dropped, meaning I wasn’t going to face a banging headwind for the return, uphill, leg. As I’ve said before, this pretty much never happens, so when it does, the wary cyclist should be keeping her eyes peeled for compensatory hazards such as broken glass, untethered dogs, runaway lorries or (checks notes) sticks.

Or, more specifically, innocent looking sticks that have an unobtrusive long thin whippy twig attached that is perfect for getting itself caught up in the wheel of said cyclist when she blithely bounces her front wheel over it while turning into the local park. Cue slow motion comedy fall, fortunately unwitnessed by anyone else. This is now the second time I’ve come off my bike in ridiculous fashion in less than a year, after an entire adulthood spent largely keeping the rubber side down. All I can say is, once more I was saved by my habit of riding slowly because I have sustained nothing but bruises and not even damaged my lovely new trousers. Oh, and the bike is fine, before you ask.

You might argue that campaigners for safer cycling should probably sort out their own safety before worrying about anyone else’s (or at least, be sure to avoid any lurking sticks). But I’d argue in reply that what cyclists need is the sort of conditions where they can make stupid mistakes like that, without ending up under a timber lorry. Falling over on a path in the park is embarassing. Falling over on a busy road is potentially fatal.

All of which is a very tenuous way of saying, if you are in Bigtown and you want the sort of conditions where you can make a complete tit of yourself in safety, you may want to come and make a complete tit (or indeed udder) of yourself in public – on Bigtown’s inaugural Mad Cow Ride*

Whether I’ll get our occasional neighbours to come and join us is another question.


* Originally ‘Critical Moo’ but that was a bit niche, apparently