Wednesday, July 04, 2007
Cycling in Europe 1 - Tyneside
Two of the Campaign's members are off to Holland and Germany for a few days to experience first hand day-to-day cycling in nearby European countries. No lycra-clad thousand miles and more style cycling - this is a leisurely journey to Bremen in northern Germany by bike, ferry and train.
The start of this short investigative trip was the 12 miles or so from Newcastle Central Station (a horrendously wet day inhibited cycling direct from Darlo) to the ferry terminal at North Shields. This meant using the riverside cycle route along the north of the river Tyne.
Much of the route followed a very pleasant track bed, presumably an old industrial railway line, frustratingly interrupted by regular crossings of roads. At each of these crossings, the former bridge had been demolished, to be replaced by a long descending run (resulting in a gathering of speed) to the road crossing, followed by various barriers to maintaining that speed - barriers, give way signs, roads with no warnings to motorists to take care, and of course your average uneducated UK urban car driver who blasts his youthful way through such situations with a full throttle in a 30 miles an hour zone. All this followed by the steep climb up the other side.
One aim of our trip is to try to understand why so many of our motorists can be so unhelpful towards cyclists; another is to consider whether the adage that "we can't change them - this is Britain" is really true. This is crucial to us finding ways to make driving behaviour more considerate. We overnight on the ferry to Ijmuiden in Holland to see how - and if - they do it over there.