09 February 2010
Beachy Head, dangerous? Try cycling in London
Beachy Head, yesterday. No, don't worry. Things are bad but they're not quite that bad, yet.
I was visiting rels on the south coast, and what better way to get there than to take a train to Eastbourne and cycle a few miles west around Beachy Head? Well, several dozen, actually, given the weather we had yesterday: wind, mist, sleet, snow, chill, cold. I was getting a bit monosyllabic by the end, too.
Still, from the viewpoint at the Countryside Centre, there was a magnificent view of Beachy Head. Not the cliff, the namesake pub. Everything else was blotted out by the fog.
But there was, at least, the thrilling panorama: of mid-range hatchbacks parked majestically, with blurry couples beyond the steambath windows having tea and sandwiches and listening to Classic FM.
Bracing stuff, though. And the crumbling, overhanging cliff edge in a stiff northerly holds no fear for someone who grapples with the traffic at the Elephant and Castle every day.
And I was puzzled by this sign outside a home on the way there, on the long uphill slog out of Eastbourne town centre. 'Please respect residents and dismount from bicycles', it requests.
Dismounting is showing respect? In that case, London's cycle lanes must be among the most respectful in the world. You have to stop and get off to short-cut bad lights phasing, take the quicker footpath route, walk up the one-way bit, or clamber across roadworks, every five minutes.