Alison Dodd's Blog

Bicycles

My bicycle is my main form of transport.  Whether it’s to and from work or the pub, shopping in town or at supermarket or general errands , I do it on my bicycle. 

I do own a car but it has no tax and is off the road.  I should sell it really but I hate dealing with car sales people so it just sits there gathering dust (literally).

In Cambridge, travelling by car is a pain in the backside.  The traffic can be really bad so getting anywhere takes a long time, and once you get there you either can’t park or have to pay extornionate charges.  And don’t even get me started on the state of the buses in Cambridge!  Cycling is the best option all round – you can dash past the queueing traffic, travel through the car-free city centre and always find somewhere to park for free.

I’m a cyclist who obeys the rules, unlike countless others in Cambridge.  I have lights on my bike.  I stop at red lights and pedestrian crossings.  I don’t cycle the wrong way up one way streets.  I dismount in pedestrian-only areas.  I always use arms signals and I generally behave as I’d like others to. 

My pet cycling peeves are:

  • pedestrians who suddenly decide they want to cross the road and don’t bother to look before doing so because they don’t hear any cars coming
  • other cyclists behaving badly because it gives us all a bad name
  • foreign students who hire bicycles without knowing the rules of the road (e.g. we travel on the left in this country and what a no entry sign looks like)
  • drivers who don’t indicate then give you a dirty look because you didn’t read their mind
  • pedestrians shouting at cyclists for some imagined bad behaviour when in fact they are doing nothing wrong (for information, cyclists don’t have to dismount in Fitzroy & Burleigh streets before 10am or after 4pm Monday-Saturday – read the signs, they’re very clear)

I own three bikes. 

  1. An old Batavus, given to me by a Dutch friend before she returned to The Netherlands.  It’s a bit too big for me and I don’t feel especially safe on it so it’s just a standby.  My husband could use it if he so wished, but he doesn’t so it doesn’t get used much.  I’d feel happy leaving this at the train station though so I keep it for that reason.  It has a luggage rack at the back but the straps are overstretched and pretty much useless.
  2. An Italian dutch-style bike by Torpado.  I bought this two years ago to be my main bike but I don’t think the build quality is great and I’ve had a few problems with it.  I keep it as my main alternative to bike 3 should something ever happen to it (e.g. flat tyre at 8:55am when I have to be at work by 9am or, heaven forbid, theft).  I’d feel happy to lend this to a visiting friend but it doesn’t stand up to the rigours of every day commuting).  It has a basket on the front and a luggage rack at the rear (no straps though).
  3. My beloved new Gazelle.  Words cannot describe how much I love this bike and I fall in love all over again every time I ride it.  I’d NEVER leave this at the train station and I feel uncomfortable leaving it parked in town for any length of time.  Secure parking with CCTV is my friend.  I’m evangelical about this bike hence my numerous blog posts devoted to it.
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