Wednesday 14 June 2017 14.00 BST Last modified on Wednesday 14 June 2017 14.04 BST
It is not something I admit very often, especially as the Guardian’s in-house bike reviewer. But I drive: a lot. Often quite short distances. I didn’t even have a car when I worked for the paper in London and Berlin. Yet as soon as I got the call to move to Manchester as the North of England editor it was written into my contract that I’d need four wheels rather than my usual two.
You could blame Dr Beeching, the villainous engineer who persuaded Harold Wilson’s government to close more than 2,000 British train stations and 5,000 miles of train tracks in the 1960s. Or the transport bosses determined to make taking bikes on trains as difficult as possible, who threaten to confiscate steeds locked up on railings outside the station when their deeply inadequate bike racks are full.
But you could just as easily point the finger at the urban planners in northern cities who have waved through countless new developments with nary a thought of how to encourage people to cycle to them.
Take MediaCity in Salford, home to 2,700 BBC staff after a mass relocation which began in 2011. I go there in summer to swim in the quays. It’s cleaner than you think and only about two and a half miles from my house in Old Trafford.
I’m ashamed to admit I drive it quite a lot, and back, having yet to find a quick bike route that doesn’t involve dicing with death. Some of my colleagues who have gone to war may think I’m exaggerating. But they’ve not done battle with the White City Circle, a triple lane roundabout in the shadow of Old Trafford, flanked by a miserable Harry Ramsden’s and a huge branch of Curry’s.
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