Regular readers of this blog might know that I like cycling. It is the cheapest, healthiest and most fun way to get about, or at least it would be if the British weather was better and London was more bike-friendly. This picture shows a bike box on Waterloo bridge - a space where cyclists can get ahead of traffic. But can you spot the bike LANE?
The bike lane is in the little dark space between those two buses. Imagine when the traffic roars away and you're between the canyon-like walls of buses and lorries. There have been fatalities.
So on Saturday T and I decided to go on the London Cycling Campaign's Big Ride. It's aimed at convincing London's mayoral candidates that London needs to be as safe for cyclists as Holland. .
The D-I-S-G-U-S-T-I-N-G, rainy freezing weather hadn't deterred several thousand people from gathering in Hyde Park with bikes of all shapes and sizes.
including some that were downright odd
Many people brought their hardy little kids. This little girl has a huge red butterfly painted on her face, I don't know why. Perhaps "going to the facepainter" was a bribe to persuade her to sit in her cycle cape for 3 hours waving her London Cycling Campaign flag..
The fashionable child below not only had matching suit and accessories but was well prepared with a pink parasol too.
This one looked a bit quizzical. He and his brother were being pedalled along by their dad. Daddy must have the strength of a lion, at least if he takes them anywhere with hills in that massive rig.
This one is attached onto her mum's bike, and Mum has also attached a zebra to keep the child happy.
Many people came in fancy dress. The gentleman below picks up the Dutch theme. (I do approve of Dutch attitudes to cycling, but ... *whisper whisper* you just try driving in Amsterdam at night, with all those crazy cyclists whizzing along with no lights - terrifying...)
The brolly hat shown below seemed colourful and elegant, yet practical. Well, practical anyway. Or maybe just colourful.
This cyclist brought along loads of balloons and made himself a striking hat. Here you see him offering me a tiny balloon the size of a plum.
This man is riding a tandem around Britain with a skeleton on the back. He's cycling to raise money for academic scholarships and has an interesting website here.
(Sorry for the lousy pictures by the way, they were taken on my phone since my camera doesn't like water. )
Some people looked very interesting. A classic bike club came along - I admired this 1920's cyclists's hat.
And this man totally looks the part of "cyclist"
Lots of people liked the bike glimpsed below - it's made of bamboo. And what about those tattoos? one on each calf, AND fab Goretex bootees - think I'll get some of those boots.
The ride was very slow at first, with a lot of waiting around to get through traffic lights - it took about five minutes of waiting at each light, and we were towards the front. Goodness knows what it was like at the back where the crowds had really built up.
We went round Hyde Park, along Piccadilly, past Fortnum and Mason's food emporium, beautifully decorated for the Queen's Diamond Jubilee (I much prefer it to the Olympics, which are overshadowing it.) Those are the Queen's Beasts on Fortnum's facade. Click here if you want to know what the Queen's Beasts are)
We got wetter and wetter and wetter. These are my hands, going numb, cold water everywhere.
I snapped this patient, dripping little boy when we reached Trafalgar Square.
This participant had the inspiring slogan "Never Too Old" and a balloon to prove it.
The bobby on his bike kept a watchful eye on the proceedings. I've always thought it's a pity they don't issue them with policemen's cycle helmets, dark blue with a badge on the front.
There was a long fast run to Victoria embankment, the riders spread out and we ended up whizzing under an arch of red balloons, feeling glad we had made our point that the present system for bikes in London upsets and annoys everyone, and really needs to be changed.
We signed a petition ...
then T and I doubled back towards Waterloo Bridge (site of that awful cycle lane in my top picture).
We had to carry out bikes up four flights of stairs to get to the bridge, but it was worth it to get to the sanctuary of Somerset House with its excellent coffee shop. Below us on the Embankment, the cyclists streamed on towards the finish..
We decided to try and buy a teeshirt like this man's (below). In case you can't read it, it is modelled on a wartime poster which says KEEP CALM AND CARRY ON. The teeshirt designer has added one word, to make it say KEEP CALM AND CARRY ON CYCLING.
Anyway, if you want to vote for the most cycle friendly candidates in the London elections, it's recommended to put Green first and Labour second on the ballot paper. Whether I can bring myself to vote for Ken Livingstone, is another matter though....