I try not to bang on TOO much about cycling on this blog, and particularly the campaigning side of it (no really, this is genuinely the non-banging-on version) but the truth is it’s effectively a full time job (on top of my other full-time jobs, which include, if the last week is anything to go by, gardening). Yesterday was a case in point. We’ve recently heard that Highways England for some reason has responsibility for maintaining a number of bridges that take roads over disused railway lines and it’s decided to ‘maintain’ them by effectively filling them in with gravel and then concreting it over.
This is a serious campaign issue as it would put a giant spanner in any attempts to reopen the old railway line to Stranraer either to trains or, failing that, walkers and cyclists. It’s also extra annoying that an English body can apparently do this to Scottish bridges and the council’s response has been to roll over and let Highways England tickle its tummy.* More to the point, one of the bridges was only a few miles away and we decided a recce would be in order. So yesterday three of us headed out to check out this bridge that was apparently in need of drastic work so that it could support ‘modern traffic levels’ including 40-tonne vehicles.
Along this road.
Note the heavy modern traffic levels (e-bikes do weigh a fair bit, it’s true, but tend to come in kilograms rather than tonnes …)
After a gentle ride untroubled by any modern traffic at all apart from one speedy cyclist who needed to overtake us as we bimbled along three abreast, we came to the bridge and did a spot of exploration (they don’t tell you you need advanced fence climbing and bank scrambling skills at cycle campaigner school).
Having taken photos and extricated myself from a barbed wire fence, we then decided to take the scenic route home.
Because that’s what being a cyclist is really all about.
(top tip, don’t let the mountain biker suggest the route if you’re not comfortable riding on gravel, which my bike handles like an arthritic giraffe in two-inch heels despite supposedly starting life as a mountain bike back in the 80s. On the other hand, do stop to forage when you find a massive patch of wild strawberries on the way)
Of course, that still left the actual campaigning part: the social media posts, writing it all up, promoting the petition, raising the issue with local politicians, and also annoying your regular blog readers with cycle campaign chat. So that was Saturday gone, albeit mostly enjoyably. And today will be taken up with ride leading – also a lot of fun – so that’s the weekend gone. It’s worth it, and I think it’s important, but the next time someone asks me why I took over a decade to write my new book I might point them to this post…
* What makes it even MORE annoying is that the other bridge they’re planning to fill in will block a landowner’s access completely to half his fields and they can apparently just do that with no consultation, whereas a single objection by a landowner to any proposed cycle path which might mildly inconvenience their farming activities kicks the whole scheme out of touch for ever.