Six people transforming the way they travel
Last week things went swimmingly with some cycling in the busy Edinburgh Streets resulting in raised confidence over all. My old Cycling Proficiency Training came back to me and I started to feel more confident signalling, choosing a good position for approaching junctions and roundabouts and such like. I think that being a car driver has helped me in anticipating the traffic and in choosing a line on leaving traffic lights, negotiating roadworks and roundabouts and road position in general. Anticipating the manoeuvres of drivers also required some special insight at times, I found.
I improved my ‘cycling one handed’ skill set which enabled me to glance behind when signalling my intention to cross to the middle for a right turn. I definitely wobbled less. Dismounting at traffic lights also became easier though I found myself in a bother with positioning when I first started out. The Cycle Boxes at traffic lights are excellent and seemed to work well for me. Feeling somewhat gung ho, I decided to cycle down to Leith for an evening meeting and return IN THE DARK. I needed lights.
One of the benefits of having tried to ‘get cycling’ over several times in my life is that I had bits of equipment of varying vintage stowed like squirrel stashes in nooks and crannies about the place. Examples included tools scattered between the van and the toolbox in the back toilet; lights stowed up on the shelf in the back toilet; my best beloved bike trapped in the shed (but we knew that); my safety helmet stuffed in the boot basket in the front porch and the key for the bicycle lock confined in the Little Key Cupboard.
I felt ready for my night ride because I had sourced (finally!) those squat, discontinued or hard to source little batteries for my catseye rear lights (which were dead) from BG Cycles in Portobello. Imagine my disappointment when I discovered that the front headlight of unknown vintage a) did not fit the clip on the front handlebar and b) did not work anyway. I could have howled with disappointment! I had geared the whole day to this moment and now it just slipped from my grasp. Could I cycle anyway? I had a red light for the rear of the bike – so that was ok, I just needed a white one for the front… So I rooted out the little ‘light on a headband’ I had and tried that. So there was I standing in the kitchen, bedecked with my lights and trying to convince myself that I would ‘Be Safe, Be Seen’.
I chickened out and drove to Leith. Wimp. Afraid of the dark? Well yes, I was. I was afraid that I might not be seen by the cars and buses on Leith Walk or Easter Road, I was afraid that I might not be noticed by pedestrians crossing over the road in front of me, and I was afraid that I might not be able to see the road surface properly as I went along.
The meeting was great was great, by the way, with lots of interesting discussion – and I gave a friend and her bike a lift home because she had no lights – and she didn’t want to cycle home in the dark.