Author Topic: Commuting through Chelsea  (Read 3515 times)

Hummers

  • It is all about the taste.
Commuting through Chelsea
« on: April 11, 2008, 08:46:19 pm »
An infrequent cycling commuter am I.

Now. You have to understand that commuting in the sleepy backwater of Pompey is generally a gentile affair.

However, I tried to commute from North Acton to Clapham Junction this week and found it a very interesting if almost life changing experience.

I've commuted in London before and have had near scrapes with people turning left in front of me etc. but this was another level completely.

After nearly being squished between two high sided vehicles, twice, plus being forced off the road at a pinch point by a cab I realised that if I was to survive, I had to change tactic and toughen up.

You just can't pootle absent mindedly though can you? It's almost like you have to develop an instinctive and aggressive style of riding that is alien to how I normally ride.

How others cycle like this daily, with the chances of being 'offed' stacked against you, is beyond me and all I can say is 'chapeau' to you all.

H

border-rider

Re: Commuting through Chelsea
« Reply #1 on: April 11, 2008, 08:54:08 pm »
Good post Mr H

When I used to commute every day into London I used to ride that way - now if I try I'm a country bumpkin in the Big City

I tut and shake my head at the RLJers, I let taxis out, I obey the rules of the road.  If I did it every day I'd be dead :)

Re: Commuting through Chelsea
« Reply #2 on: April 11, 2008, 09:02:21 pm »
I find London to be OK, if a bit heavy on the brakes due to the stop-start traffic.  I suppose if you're a l33t messenger you just weave round it all.  The drivers seem semi-competent, unlike round here where I'm sure half of them have never passed a test.
Never tell me the odds.

Re: Commuting through Chelsea
« Reply #3 on: April 11, 2008, 09:51:13 pm »
I noticed that I adopt a completely different, very defensive style for my commute (which is very central). I suspect everyone (avoided several accidents because I ride along expecting people to left hook me etc) and generally get up as much speed as possible where it helps ie going round Vauxhall Cross.

I can keep it up for the half hour it takes me to commute, but much longer might be a bit of an effort!

Tourist Tony

  • Supermassive mobile flesh-toned black hole
Re: Commuting through Chelsea
« Reply #4 on: April 11, 2008, 10:05:41 pm »
Yup. Concentration is of limited duration for me too. But I do love some bits; oddly, Victoria Embankment. Brain out sprinting...

Re: Commuting through Chelsea
« Reply #5 on: April 11, 2008, 10:52:11 pm »
I quite like Albert Embankment, esp if the lights are timed correctly. It's pretty much the only straight stretch. Although there is sometimes an awful wind there, I look upon that as hill training...

Re: Commuting through Chelsea
« Reply #6 on: April 11, 2008, 11:09:41 pm »
The secret in London, and any other busy location, is to not be a cyclist but a road user.   Just ignore others, obey the rules of the road, and trundle along to your destination.

The fact you're on your bike is irrelevant.

Re: Commuting through Chelsea
« Reply #7 on: April 12, 2008, 12:14:12 am »
Yup. Concentration is of limited duration for me too. But I do love some bits; oddly, Victoria Embankment. Brain out sprinting...

When it's not rush hour, London Bridge -> West End (or thereabouts) is *great fun* along the Embankment. When it's too busy, the crawling-slowly cars can be irritating, and the air in the tunnel is horrible.

nicknack

  • Fledgling Swampy
Re: Commuting through Chelsea
« Reply #8 on: April 12, 2008, 12:55:55 am »
I did some London cycling recently after a, er, um, 30 year absence. Seemed much the same. Just toddled along minding me own business. Got where I wanted to go. Don't know what all the fuss is about.  :)
There's no vibrations, but wait.

jane

  • Mad pie-hating female
Re: Commuting through Chelsea
« Reply #9 on: April 12, 2008, 07:23:25 am »

I've been riding in London for 30 odd years now- can't quite make up my mind whether it's easier or tougher now than then.  I think drivers noticed me more years ago. A tiny little punk in a kilt, fishnet stockings and DM's with a red and black mohicans on a Holdsworth racing bike stood out on the roads then in a way I just don't now.  Well, to be honest, any cyclist stood out a bit on the city's roads back then, and I think I was given  more space on the road.  Over the years I've had several different commutes and also spent time on and off as a messenger. There's definitely more competitition for road space with both motorised traffic and other cyclists which can make it feel more dangerous.  In the last ten years I've had far fewer offs and near misses than in my first ten years, but that could be due to experience and far less reckless behaviour on my part as I've grown older and wiser and grown out the mohican.
    Jane

Re: Commuting through Chelsea
« Reply #10 on: April 12, 2008, 05:09:16 pm »
Yes, you do have to be far more proactive and make moves well in advance riding in London than out, IME.  It's rewarding though, there's nothing like the feeling of london town jamming.
Your Royal Charles are belong to us.

peliroja

  • Mrs Woolly
Re: Commuting through Chelsea
« Reply #11 on: April 12, 2008, 06:40:13 pm »
I find riding in London is fine but it did take me a while to get to this stage of confidence. You do have to keep your wits about you all the time, and ride assertively. I avoid the Kings Road at all costs, however. Too many cabs, peds, and zebra crossings. I much prefer the speedy Embankment.

peter carter 2

Re: Commuting through Chelsea
« Reply #12 on: April 12, 2008, 06:43:24 pm »
Jane,

I am also a London cyclist of a similar vintage

Do you remember when the only hi viz was a flourescent sam browne and green karrimors where orliebs

I used to use a green us army  trenchcoat and a beret as wet weather gear....


Jules

  • Has dropped his aitch!
Re: Commuting through Chelsea
« Reply #13 on: April 12, 2008, 07:18:04 pm »
I find riding in London is fine but it did take me a while to get to this stage of confidence. You do have to keep your wits about you all the time, and ride assertively. I avoid the Kings Road at all costs, however. Too many cabs, peds, and zebra crossings. I much prefer the speedy Embankment.

s'funny. I ride Putney Bridge to Sloane Square on my way in and have no problems.

The strange thing is that I ride the Embankment, Lots Rd, etc  home.

...and I  don't know why ???
Audax on the other hand is almost invisible and thought to be the pastime of Hobbits ....  Fab Foodie

Re: Commuting through Chelsea
« Reply #14 on: April 12, 2008, 07:20:15 pm »
King's Road is an awesome skating run, mind you that's closer to 21.30 on a Wednesday night, and we take over the road, LOL!
Your Royal Charles are belong to us.

Re: Commuting through Chelsea
« Reply #15 on: April 13, 2008, 05:01:11 pm »
Putney to Southbank. Over Putney Bridge, Kings Road, Embankment, Parliament Sq and cross the river again at Westminster.

Don't have much of a problem with London traffic at all, but then I'm probably used to it.
"Yes please" said Squirrel "biscuits are our favourite things."

ian

  • fatuously disingenuous
    • The Suburban Survival Guide
Re: Commuting through Chelsea
« Reply #16 on: April 14, 2008, 11:03:51 am »
I'm of the slightly warped mindset that enjoys the bump and grind of central London traffic. You can't do it absent-mindedly admittedly, but traffic speeds are relatively low and you learn to be looking ahead and assume that if it can happen, it probably will, and take the appropriate evasive action. I clamber up Crystal Palace hill, swoop down through Dulwich, Camberwell, Elephant and then over Southwark Bridge and it's quite an enjoyable ride, usually good enough for me to make an excuse to the go to the office if the weather is sunny.

Of course, if I turn up at the meeting and anyone notices that I've cycled, there's the usual discussion about "isn't it dangerous?" and the standard incredulity. I suspect some people think that cycling into London for a meeting is akin to navigating up the Congo in a pedalo.
!nataS pihsroW

jane

  • Mad pie-hating female
Re: Commuting through Chelsea
« Reply #17 on: April 15, 2008, 09:25:27 am »
Jane,

I am also a London cyclist of a similar vintage

Do you remember when the only hi viz was a flourescent sam browne and green karrimors where orliebs

I used to use a green us army  trenchcoat and a beret as wet weather gear....



And bike messengers were few and far between and not considered cool just a bit weird and geeky- I always seem to manage to miss being cool by about a generation,  but I  became an  expert at being  weird and geeky so it was no problem.
          I had a plastic anorak thing for when it was really wet- my dad gave me one of those cape things once but even I considered that deeply uncool (for god's sake dad, my grannie wore one) and never wore it.  And then I went to a bicycle fasion show in trendy Hackney a few weeks back and what did I see the coolest, hippest young models there wearing?  Must get up in that loft and have a root around.
          Jane