I thought I'd ride a bike here in Cambridge. I had visions of me (with long, flowing hair) pedaling through the streets on a one-speeder with a basket with fresh flowers and a baguette -- sun shining -- perhaps singing and practicing going no-handed. Oh so misguided.
People don't ride their bikes here for sport or pleasure. Is is transportation -- getting to work, the shops, the pub, school. And I have seen death and gravity defying riders -- the mother with one toddler behind, one in front and shopping bags on the handle bars, talking on a cell phone, without breaking stride. No one has helmets on. They aren't wearing sporting clothes. People regularly smoke while riding. Or smoke AND talk on the phone while riding.
It is not like we have all dedicated bike lanes either. Many roads are really not meant for travel in both directions for cars -- and then add bikers on top of that and it is squishy. Lots of bikers. And of course, bikes don't have to obey traffic laws. Everyone knows that. Stop lights are for suckers in the cars.
The bikes are ratty- with Sainsbury bags on the seats because it almost always likely to rain here. They are old and rusty and banged up and it seems they are locked up with shoelaces or not at all. I think of how many friend's bikes have been stolen in DC with heavyduty state-of-the-art locks and wheels taken off and whatnot. Seems like it is no biggie here.
I frankly think I'd be better off learning to DRIVE on the left here than bike. At least then I;d have doors and a roof protecting me. I'll admit it, I am a little chicken. Or maybe since the leisurely wheel down the street is out of the question, I'll just stick to hoofing it. The joy is in the journey, isn't it??