Those of you who've been reading this blog for a while will know I'm a pretty upbeat person. "Gratingly chirpy", even, if you're a somewhat misanthropic current affairs journalist. Most of the time I spend with Trusty is truly pleasant, discovering the array of wonderful routes in this great city. Many of the best cycling streets, especially if they involve a hill, leave me beaming and wanting to high five pedestrians. However, there are some days, and some streets, which instead leave me crying, shaking and wanting to punch someone. Probably the miscyclopist who designed the road.
Regent's Street is possibly the worst example. Near by Oxford Street is bad, filled with ugly shop-fronts and clogged with dozy shoppers and taxis, but it is at least single lane. Regent's Street should be much better. It is beautiful, a long, wide curve lined with stunning white terraces, a giant version of Bath's Royal Crescent. It should be an absolute pleasure, up there on the 'best cycling streets' list, but instead it is a death trap.
Every bus route in central London seems to run down Regent's Street. There are two, and sometimes three lanes of the huge red predators, weaving and swaying in a complicated dance between stops. They are my very own Red Scare. I always feel like Indiana Jones in the Temple of Doom, darting between falling axes and flamethrowers as they pull out and pull in with equanimity. There is no cycle lane in which to take even fleeting sanctuary. Part of the trouble is that there isn't really any other traffic to slow the buses down, so they actually pick up quite a lot of speed. Perhaps the drivers sense the slow crawl of Piccadilly and Trafalgar Square approaching and just want to let the throttle out while they can. I really wish they wouldn't. I really wish they'd use their mirrors. I really wish I wasn't too stubborn to get off and walk rather than risking my life. And I really wish someone would sort it out. Because the genteel shops and charming architecture are going to be no consolation for the tourists who witness one of us splattered like strawberry jam across all three of those lethal lanes.