17 June 2009
Private view, public shambles: William St bike lane
Sunny summer evenings roaming London on a bike are bliss. What's all this rubbish about it being expensive? Cultivate a few artistic acquaintances with ambitions to stage an exhibition, and thanks to London's thriving industry in Private Views, you'll never pay for a glass of wine or Dorito again.
We were at just such a vernissage last night (I only learnt that word the other day, so I have to use it all the time now). It was ¡Cuba libre!, a vibrant exhibition of photos from the country, in the flag-festooned embassy quarter of Belgrave Square. Several photos in the display include bikes, including my favourite pic: this rallying-cry with a picture of Che.
Of course, Ernesto himself was more of a motorbike man, but I'm sure when he did get in the saddle he was all for the ideals of real cycling. As were the attendees: Belgrave Square's upmarket railings were bristling with bikes.
And en route, going down William St off posh Knightsbridge, was more free entertainment: another of those strange criss-crossing bike lanes that some London boroughs like so much. (Google Street View shows it nicely.)
Evidently northbound bikes, going with the one-way traffic, are expected to swoop across to the right-hand side. Here they rub shoulders, panniers and pedals with the southbound bikes, who are squeezed into a vertical limbo dance between the door-opening zone of parked cars on their left and the oncoming traffic - and cyclists - immediately on their right. It looks harmless in theory (top) but in practice (bottom) you'll be ready for a couple of defibrillating daiquiris at your Private View afterwards.