The Invisible Visible Man)
Sunday, 4 September 2016
A long-ish ride, confusing signs – and why cycling has to stop being towns’ dirty, hidden secret
The taxi driver who had arrived to pick up the rest of the family could scarcely have expressed more astonishment if I’d announced I planned to ride my bike to the moon.
“You’re really going to ride that to Neston?” he asked, nodding towards my bike. “You know it’s a really long way?”
“Of course I am,” I replied with all the nonchalance I could summon up while fixing a puncture. “I can easily ride 100 miles in a day.”
Yet the taxi driver’s scepticism about my plan to ride the 30 or so miles from Bunbury in Cheshire to my parents-in-law’s house near Neston on the Wirral would turn out to be better founded than I expected, albeit for reasons other than simple endurance.
The experience made me realise the fundamental shortcomings of one of the most popular ways of providing cycling infrastructure in the UK and many other parts of the industrialised world – sticking it on disused rail lines, canal tow paths and other places where it won’t get in motorists’ way.