Questions in The Guardian we can answer

What makes Cambridge a model cycling city?

Because it\’s flat.

Remarkably, our author, a cyclist, doesn\’t mention this fairly important fact.

You could, for example, have all of the same infrastructure in Bath and you\’d end up with the same three mad people you have now on bicycles. Because the place is built on a series of steep hills. That the university is on top of Claverton Down….the south of the city is built upon said Claverton Down, Combe Down, Odd Down and Southdown…..down in this part of the world meaning \”up\” or hill……doesn\’t really help.

Similarly, stick Landsdown, Widcombe hills (or, for the really masochistic, Weston hill) or the Wellsway in Cambridge and watch the car population soar.

18 thoughts on “Questions in The Guardian we can answer”

  1. Actually, there are plenty of hilly cycling cities. SanFancisco or Portland are both hilly but cycle meccas. As is Barcelona (and that’s hot too). London is beoming one, and has one or two big hills. Bristol has lots of hills, and lots of cyclists, ditto Edinburgh.

    Hills are less important than cycling infrastructure.

  2. Probably, also, most of the cycling nuts are upper classies who don’t do much physical work. Cycling home after a hard day’s graft is unpleasant, and motorised transport- be it public or private- is a much more appealing option when you’re knackered.

    When I was first in London, I had a bicycle. But cycling home up Camden Road- a long, debilitating hill- soon had me trading it for a bus pass. Also, buses are enclosed. Which means that on a rainy day you don’t end up at your destination soaking wet and stinking like a brothel keeper’s armpit. Which is nice.

  3. “Also, buses are enclosed. Which means that on a rainy day you don’t end up at your destination soaking wet and stinking like a brothel keeper’s armpit. “

    No, you just have to risk the chance that you’ll be seated next to someone like this…

  4. As a Wellingtonian, born and bred, London does not have any big hills. Neither does Bath, although at least Bath can be described as “hilly”.
    I once lived in a flat in Wellington in a building that had 6 floors with one flat on each floor, 4 of the flats at ground level, and the top flat, although not at ground level, was below the level of the road the building was on.

  5. San Francisco a cycling mecca? I don’t remember seeing a single bike while I was there but I am sure you have some evidence for the claim.

  6. I used to cycle in Edinburgh. Bus drivers who thought they were playing GTA and cobbles stopped me. The hills weren’t too much of an issue, although the turn from Henderson Row into Dundas Street was always slightly depressing.

    And the change from tarmac to cobbles (at Northumberland St?) really hammered it home.

  7. Camden Hill “Long & Debilitating”? Ha!

    Yes. The problem with cycles, I hate to have to break this to you, is that they are powered by human muscles, which get tired, unlike reliable engines which humanity invented precisely so we weren’t restricted by our own muscle power.

    But like I said, cycle nuts tend to not be the types who’ve been using those muscles for 12 hours straight and just need a sit down.

    As for weather, no such thing as bad weather, just the wrong clothes.

    No, actually, you’re just being a puritan zealot there, I’m afraid.

  8. No, you just have to risk the chance that you’ll be seated next to someone like this…

    True. Cars are much better. But as a rider of many buses, it’s rare that I’ve had to sit next to somebody who stinks as badly as a cyclist.

  9. “I used to cycle in Edinburgh….cobbles stopped me”: I’ll bet they were setts not cobbles. Unless they changed everything after I left.

  10. I think it’s also down to a couple of other factors (like Oxford): lots of students in quite a small concentrated city, and that lots of it is listed, so no-one can build a block of garages or a car park.

    Peterborough is also flat but you don’t see many people in bikes. Probably because they’d get nicked.

  11. Bristol is meant to have a relatively large proportion of cyclists, I’m pretty sure it is not flat.

    Cycling population is usually driven by infrastructure and culture.

  12. I moved to cambridge from Glasgow about 5 years ago and was initially amezed at the number of cyclists.
    My reasons are:
    It’s flat
    It’s very dry.
    The roads are narrow therefore encouraging slow driving so cyclists don’t feel it’s so dangerous.
    Driving is a pain due to narrow roads, restrictions & high parking charges.
    There is a long term culture of cycling due to the University & this encourages a safety in numbers feel.

  13. Edinburgh cycling – I used to live in stockbridge at the bottom of the new town and cycle to King’s Buildings which meant going over the royal mile – a climb of nearly a mile. Lots of cyclists of all ages do it. Cobbles? Real cyclists call them “pave”

    Cycling infrastructure increases the number of cyclists, which increases safety in numbers.

    Once you get fit, the hills don’t matter. I like the rain on my face, because I’ve made a virtue of necessity.

    Something else I’ve noticed. Girls very much prefer to have sex with men with firm thighs.

  14. Cambridge is a Cycling Mecca because
    a) its flat
    b) there’s nowhere to park a car in the middle (well not MANY places and you mostly have to pay lots for them)
    c) the one-way system is so bad that when it got a mention in Dirk Genty’s Holistic Detective Agency everyone I know who had tried driving in Cambridge nodded in agreement when they read it. And quoted it to friends and…
    d) there are a lot of impecunious students who can’t afford a car but find that the distributed nature of the university means it is too far to walk

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *