When I got back from Germany, I was a little sad. The are many things that the Germans are really good at, and roads is one of them.
When I got home, I was confronted by something that I’d enjoyed avoiding, which was England’s roads. For me it’s a depressing thought, to try to drive in to one of the largest and fastest growing cities in the UK, covering 5 miles over an hour and burning two litres of fuel for the privilege. Not to mention that the road is leveller in Japan, and that if I don’t pay exact attention to my speed I could be making a £65 donation to her Majesty. It feels a terrible shame, that in Great Britain, a pioneering force in the development of the auto mobile, I now have so much difficulty.
But I might just have found a solution:
The tow-path of the Leeds-Liverpool canal is an alternative route to Leeds, for cyclists and joggers. It has been designated as Route 66 on the National Cycle Network. It feels almost like a motorway for bicycles. There’s no speed limit, no speed cameras, no taxis cutting me off at junctions, I am constantly moving, I feel like I am making progress. What’s more, the people are very nice, fishermen, other cyclists, joggers, canal boaters, everyone travels courteously, moving out of the way for each other, and those benefited say Thank you.
And looking at the economics of the journey. To drive to Leeds City Centre, on a good day takes about 20 minutes, and on a bad day or during rush hour, it can take over an hour. If I ride the bus, I sit in the traffic where I would of been in the car, and if I go by rail, it takes around 35 minutes minimum, and all of these options have a similar price tag. On the other hand the bike is free, and it only took me 35 minutes riding from the suburb of Horsforth to the town centre. Better still, its healthy, and it makes me feel good about myself.
What I like most, is the freeing feeling that comes from being in control of my affairs. We have been reluctant to relinquish our cars, yet also irritated, paying for fuel, waiting in traffic, having to drive with pin-point accuracy within extraordinarily low speed limits. As motorists, we feel repressed, mistreated, and used to pay debts from other areas of the government. We all know that motor vehicles are essential, yet in spite of that, the “green” card is repeatedly played as the reason for restrictions and taxes. Alternative methods of travel make us suddenly free, no longer at the mercy of oil companies and green policy. I get myself to town, and at the end of the week, I’m £15 richer. I’ve been riding through the British country side, seeing parts of the British industry on my way, and greeting the British people as I pass them by. It is a very moralising experience.