06 October 2009

Bike Monopoly 21: Strand

Gershwin's song 'Strike up the Band' was apparently referred to by wordplay-happy British musicians as 'Bike up the Strand', no doubt to the mystification of our mid-20th-century transatlantic chums.

In practice, biking up Strand's three-quarters of a mile (no definite article - at least, not according to the streetname signs) can be a very tedious affair, particularly westwards towards Trafalgar Square, or round the traffic-Dante semicircle of Hell known as Aldwych. The road is jammed with lane-hopping buses, taxis, buses, taxis, buses and buses, and the buses can be a problem too.

It's a long and eventful journey though. Starting from the griffin at Temple Bar, the boundary marker for the City, you cycle westwards past the Royal Courts of Justice (above right), the facade of the old closed Strand tube station (right), and Somerset House.

Then, past Waterloo Bridge, you have on your left Savoy Court, the only place in Britain (by repute) where you have to cycle on the right both ways (it's currently being quasi-pedestrianised though).

This part of Strand is home to a million shops where you can buy the sort of things you buy in shops. So thick is the traffic, and sometimes the drivers, that you'll see cyclists scooting along the central reservation past the queues, just because they can (right). It leads you to Charing Cross on your left, before throwing you slightly off-kilter on to the bottom of Trafalgar Square.

Monopoly's Strand costs £220. What could this buy you there? In the words of the music-hall song, 'Let's all go down the Strand (have a banana)'. For that sum, depending on offers of the day, you could buy well over a thousand bananas from the Tesco Express on Strand.

Bananas can be a measure of cycling distance - we once met a German on a recumbent who ate 31 bananas in the 310km between Berlin and Hamburg, which suggests Strand is about an eighth of a banana.


  1. Is that all this recumbant German ate, or was this mixed with other things too? (brautwurst and rye bread, presumably)

  2. He was also eating cakes so large that the earth is under collision threat from smaller asteroids. He was two metres tall and called Matthaus, and told us lots of amusing stories about East Germany before the wall came down.

  3. Surely that should be one-eightieth of a banana if the Strand is 0.8km. For a £220 you could buy maybe 44 copies of Roxyy Music's 'For Your Pleasure' CD featuring the marvellous "Do the Strand".

    As Bryan Ferry never sang:

    Is a nice fruit
    It gives you energy
    But it can´t beat Strand power

  4. Doh, you're right - one-eightieth of a banana.

    You expect a mathematician to be good at arithmetic? When you get to degree level the answer to everything is one, zero, pi, or infinity - you stop seeing other numbers completely. Never play darts with a mathematician.

  5. Remember I am the author of, among other things, 'Bluff Your Way in Maths', which has been reprinted in about 12 languages including Hungarian and Slovak (I'm not making this up).

  6. I can't make up my mind whether I'm impressed or not!



  7. You've all gone bananas.

    If 310 km = 31 bananas, then 1 banana = 10 km and 0.8 km = 0.08 bananas. Which is approximately a 12th of a banana, not an 80th.

    BUT, three-quarters of a mile is about 1.2 km, not 0.8 km. Which would be 0.12 bananas, which is about an eighth, so Rob was right in the first place.

    Personally, I find that a banana is good for about 15 km. Maybe I'm a bit smaller than Matthaus, or maybe my bananas are bigger than his ...

  8. Bananas were 12p each in Tesco's on Walworth Rd this morning, making £220 equivalent to 1,833 bananas. Which could power Gareth for 27,500km, enough to get to Sydney via Vladivostok or something.

  9. I'm embarrassed now. Sorry Rob. Good on you Gareth.