Cycling England

London Love Lost

This morning was crisp and sunny, the start of a perfect autumn day. That and the fact I was running late motivated me to ride my bike to work, something I’ve done far too infrequently of late. Implausible as it may sound, I can make it in faster on a bike that on a bus. The other advantage of a bike is I can’t use my BlackBerry.

As I was riding along Kensington Palace Gardens, a grand private street (but public to cyclists) housing many of the world’s embassies to the UK, I was feeling a bit of affection for London that I haven’t felt for a long time. For once, the superiority of the countryside wasn’t readily apparent. I even thought I’d blog about how much I liked London today.

Then I turned onto Kensington High Street, the busy thoroughfare at the bottom of embassy row. Police were everywhere, and, whoa, that’s a helicopter parked in the middle of the road. People were gawking and holding up mobile phones to photograph or video the scene. We were close to a tube and a terrorist attack crossed my mind, but the emergency vehicles were more fire brigade than bomb squad. Despite riding my bike I was still late, so I moved on.

Once at work my colleague explained the ruckus: a cyclist had been knocked off of his or her bike by a double-decker bus. The air ambulance was called and apparently an emergency leg amputation had to be performed. Suddenly my feeling of virtuousness about riding my bike to work seemed naive and misplaced. My London love evaporated as quickly as it had appeared.

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