We’ve all heard that England is a friendly country towards cyclists, but what’s it really like cycling in UK England? After years of hesitation, I finally mustered the courage to buy a second-hand bicycle. On fb market, I found this baby for just 60 pounds. Not bad, right?
I haven’t ridden a bike for many years, but I slowly worked it out. First through the local neighborhood, and then through the city. For a beginner cyclist, I must admit that the road infrastructure for cyclists and the car driver’s behavior is very encouraging. There are literally everywhere segregated routes from car traffic for bicycles, clearly marked dedicated lanes that are usually physically separated by some kind of barrier (green space, curbs, stanchions, etc.). But by far the most encouraging factor is the behavior of car drivers towards cyclists in UK England. Every time or at least 8 out of 10 cases, when they see you approaching an intersection, they slow down or come to a complete stop and signal you to pass. And if you have to share the road with cars, the drivers stay calm behind you until the opposite lane is clear, and then they overtake you with generous clearance to the bicycle. That is, without horns, close calls overtaking, without harassment, verbal abuse, etc, you know the usual in Romania and East Europe in general.
Of course, in most cases, as a cyclist, you simply have no reason to be on the road. But some cyclists insist on being a…holes and prefer not to use the dedicated Bike lanes for various reasons (one of the excuses is that the track is not cleaned of gravel and shards, I for one never had that impression). I must admit that, as a car driver, I hate these kind of people who practically block the already congested traffic due to their slow moving bicycles. Traffic is even slower due to the newly build cycle lanes that took precious car lanes, so not using them as a cyclists just makes you a c…t!. Somehow the local authorities figured out that if they convert the only 4-lane avenue in the city, it into a 2 car lanes + 2 bike lanes road, it will solve the traffic problem. Brilliant! Anyway….
At the moment, we only went on the coastal route, towards the ferry terminal in the port. This route (like most routes in England UK), is dedicated exclusively to the use of cycling and walking. Often these routes cut through neighborhoods, parks, forests, make use of river fronts or sea front, are paved and illuminated. On these kind of cycling routes it’s an absolute pleasure to ride. But on the painted ones on the road where you ride among cars and lorries through noxious fumes and noise, and you have to share the lane with buses and taxis, I can’t say it’s a nice experience. Fortunately you don’t have to go on them if you don’t want to, there are detour alternatives completely separated from car traffic for those who know where to look. (photo sources: own photos, and 1, 2)
The longest route in our area is called the “Trans Pennine Trail”, and it’s got a length of only 215 miles or 346 kilometres! It connects the East coast from Hornsea with the West coast at South Port, passing by Hull, Manchester, Sheffield, Liverpool, with branches to Leeds and York. Cool right? The route is well marked, has it’s own special signs (locations, directions, distances, everything you need), bridges, footbridges, and everything you need throughout its distance. In essence, it is a coast to coast express road dedicated to cycling. And it’s just one of the cycling corridors that make up the UK’s national Bike lane network.
Okay, everything’s fine and beautiful isn’t it? So then, how come there isn’t a bike for every single person in England and they all prefer to sit in their cars clogging all the roads and highways? Well…, you see now, this is where reality steps in. In England UK, it’s raining! And it’s raining a lot, and I mean a lot!
If in the South of the country, the weather is a bit milder, here in the North, in the Yorkshire area in our case, it pretty much rains constantly with various volumes of water. A week without rain is somewhat of a rarity. You might a break during the summer months if you’re lucky, but that’s about it. If you happen to live near one of the coasts, you will discover that it is not only likely to rain when you are cycling in UK England, but you are also likely to face the relentless cold sea wind.
Now imagine your self on your morning commute to the office via bicycle. It’s raining and the cold wet wind is blowing in your face. You will arrive at work wet, exhausted and probably depressed and with a developing nasty cold. Put in the work (preferably physical labor for 8 to 12 hours), and then go back outside to your bicycle with the intent to go home. Surprise! it’s still raining! But now it’s not just a light splash, it’s absolutely pouring and there is even some hail despite the fact that it’s July! Driving a car, suddenly starts to make sense right?
So in conclusion, cycling in England is a very pleasant and healthy physical activity and the country offers you all the necessary infrastructure to encourage you to do so. But only during your free time and when it’s sunny.
If you have a really short distance commute you might be able to do it by bicycle. But this means carrying a spare set of clothes or having access to a locker room at work. There are plenty people who do this around here, so it’s possible. But for the vast majority of the population, it is simply not a realistic daily transportation option. So, cycling in UK remains just a healthy leisure activity. What do you think? Would you commute or do you commute by bicycle in England UK? I am waiting for your opinions and suggestions on the comments section or on the GarciaCalavera.com Fb page, which if you like you can give it a like to subscribe to future content.
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