Wednesday, 18 November 2015

#BelfastOnThreeWheels

Most people who know me know I have a little bit of a Northern (Nordic) soul, so it didn't come as much of a surprise when I decided to invest in a Danish cargo bike for the nursery run, shopping and general getting around. This post is my three month or thereabouts appraisal of my experience of Belfast on three wheels.

Generally it has been positive despite the early advice I received from McConvey Cycles who I had initially approached to source a bike for me. Even today I have the advice stored in the back of my mind, "we don't do those", "but could you order one for me" (and presumably make profit), "no, the clue is in the name mate, they aren't made for this country". Honesty and inaccuracy in equal measure. I am confident the view will change, because there is definitely interest and a market for them.

I have found that handling on three wheels is an education and very much a learn as you go experience. I definitely feel safer on three than I did on two wheels vis a vis interaction with motor vehicles.

Being on a wider bike forces a cyclist to occupy more of the road rather than retreat to the gutter which is a positive. Not sure how the PSNI would view my bike width given the advice to not cycle two abreast, but my experience of the police on cycling issues hasn't really been a positive, they really don't seem to get the bigger picture of positive outcomes for social interaction, public health and so on. Like DOE, they seem to have a touch of the zero cyclists means zero cycling casualties view of life.

Drivers in Belfast continue to be very much a mixed bag of people trying to cut you up to be stationary at a red light first contrasting with those who are wonderfully respectful of you as a fellow road user. Maybe there is an element of cycling Stockholm Syndrome whereby you over appreciate basic courtesy because it isn't forthcoming from all, but there are definitely many very good drivers out there!

One particular trait I have noticed is a number of drivers who give the impression they feel they have right of way (when the don't, emerging from a side road for example) simply because you are on a bike, but this isn't restricted to drivers, pedestrians sometimes give the same impression on crossing the road but to date I haven't minded stopping and can confirm I haven't run anyone over yet!

On the electric or not question, electric assist has meant that I don't feel like I have been on a hill (at least upwards) for three months. It is a really good component of making every day cycling available to many more people and I would certainly recommend.

Most importantly of all my son loves travelling in the front and we are able to cover 20-25 miles a day without a great deal of effort!

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