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.


  1. William St, I think.

  2. Doh! Corrected - thanks (was 'Williams St').

  3. Lol - I've been cycling through here twice each day for the past year on my commute!

    It is always a bit of challenge, as the cycle lane is often blocked by a parked delivery van or massive Rolls Royce or Bentley.

    Also had the odd run-in with oncoming traffic - shouting at them for blocking the cycle lane. John Lewis delivery van is culprit who comes to mind.

    It is a good short cut into Hyde park however.