Sunday, 10 October 2010

The Mellow Route to Earl's Court

Cycling from Kennington to Earl's Court Exhibition Centre would be the stuff of nightmares for many, but a quick check of TfL's Local Cycling Guide no.7 reveals that for much of the journey there's an off-road and scenic route. Pedal Power Kennington had a great ride on it in the sun today to visit the Cycle Show.

Nip over the river at Lambeth Bridge, down John Islip Street and Lupus Street, and you can cycle on the shared use pavement along the Chelsea Embankment and Cheyne Walk. On one side you have the river, views of Battersea Park and houseboats. On the other you have the mass of queueing cars that you're meandering past. On to back streets for a quick look at the antique shops and auction houses in Lots Road before nipping across Kings Road and Fulham Road to cycle up through the wonderfully atmostpheric Brompton Cemetery (above) to the back entrance of Earl's Court.

There is one little fly in the ointment on the riverside Embankment, which is part of National Cycle Network 4 (like the M4 but with a total budget equivalent to less than a foot of the motorway). Crossing the road leading to Chelsea Bridge is a doddle due to a Toucan crossing; likewise Albert Bridge. However at Battersea Bridge the powers that be have decided no pedestrian or cycle crossing lights or crossing time is necessary.

So you stand there while traffic goes straight on over the bridge, then the lights change and traffic turns left over the bridge, etc. etc.
After observing this a few times you take a deep breath and just chuck a couple of the smaller kids into the way of the cars. The drivers beep at them getting in their way but, 'cause they're kids, squeal to a stop. While they're in chaos you get the rest of the group to go across. Simples, innit.