Pedal power and a drive to the Hairy Field

Uxbridge Gazette - - OPINION -

ON THE road to Ca­nary Wharf last week I was in­ter­ested to see how many peo­ple travel to Lon­don by bike. Al­though we are used to Boris John­son and Jeremy Cor­byn weav­ing their way to par­lia­ment on their trusty 21st cen­tury steeds, it is still a sur­prise to wit­ness hordes of hel­meted com­muters, pre­sum­ably hop­ing to save the planet by leav­ing their gas-guz­zling cars at home.

And money of course. They’ll be saving quite a bit of filthy lu­cre.

This may not be as wor­thy but is not to be sniffed at, with con­ges­tion charges, petrol prices and train fares go­ing up yet again in the New Year.

I’d like to think that the cy­clists who bat­tle their way through wind and rain and taxis do use their sav­ings to re­ward them­selves with a few treats; maybe un­wind­ing at the end of a jour­ney with a glass or two, per­haps a meal out – or a new ano­rak? The very earnest could al­ways do­nate their sav­ings to Green­peace.

Chil­dren seem now to pre­fer to get their ‘ex­er­cise’ from watch­ing oth­ers race about on their plays­ta­tions.

As my th­e­saurus of­fers ‘ef­fort’ and ‘ex­er­tion’ as al­ter­na­tive words to ‘play’, maybe walk­ing down the road to see friends in­stead of email­ing them, or climb­ing trees, would be bet­ter op­tions.

Do chil­dren still ask for bikes as presents? Slip­ping seam­lessly into Old Git mode, I can still re­mem­ber the thrill of see­ing my new bike, fes­tooned with rib­bons and pol­ished to per­fec­tion by my dad, un­veiled one Christ­mas morn­ing. For me, it sim­ply promised free­dom.

Apart from a bi­cy­cle pump, all I needed to con­quer the world was a bas­ket for my cheese and pickle sand­wiches and a plas­tic mac.

All very Enid Bly­ton, I know – and yes there was much less traf­fic then – but some­how my re­li­able Raleigh and I sur­vived with­out Ly­cra, sat navs, hel­mets or mo­bile phones.

Progress though should not be knocked. Be­fore I passed my test, Mr F would pre­fer to bal­ance an at­las on a steer­ing wheel while he drove, rather than deal with me curs­ing at the wrong page of a map as we missed yet an­other turn.

Now we have sat­navs, which are bril­liant in­ven­tions and also make us laugh.

Our favourite in­struc­tion so far is be­ing told to take a turn into Harefield Road, de­scribed by Ms Sat­nav as ‘Hairy Field Road’.

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