Yesterday I decided to bike part of the way to work. So I cycled to the station and then carried my bike over the East London line to Shadwell where I intended to get onto the cycle superhighway (the CS3) and reach Canary Wharf. In my past attempts at this, I’ve been okay with this plan until the point I reach Westferry Station where for some reason I just can’t seem to locate the ramp that carries you to Westferry Circus. So I always end up reaching a point where I have to get off my bike and then get into a very small elevator – all very cramped for a big retro bike. I figured that I have to stay on the road. I was on the right road, unfortunately for me I was riding towards the wrong direction and soon found myself on a very broad, high-speed motorway. I went on some faith for a while but then realised that I was parallel to my destination and this highway seemed rather long. I pulled off onto the pavement and rode back, asking some worksmen for directions along the way. Eventually, I found myself again at the same elevator route. Later at work, I realised how stupid I’d been.
Then in the evening, I was determined to try the route along Regent’s Canal to get back home. I’ve tried to avoid going down this path for long. I cycled along a stretch of this one weekend and found the power struggle between pedestrians and aggressive bikers, and aggressive bikers and myself very unappealing. But everyone is usually all praises for this route because of how serene it is, and how much safer it is compared to riding along the roads.
I consulted the map before I left work. I tried following it but soon enough I needed fresh directions. Consulting the gps on my phone I was to turn into “shoulder of mutton alley”. I did. And of course I went the wrong way. I pedaled around Limehouse Basin (formed by the river Thames through the Grand Union Canal). It’s actually rather nice with some lovely boats parked there. I just couldn’t find what I was looking for. I circled about a few times. Following other cyclists who were all clearly not going to the canal. I asked a gentleman opening the lock for directions. He tried explaining something which didn’t quite make sense to me. He had to excuse himself though – a beautiful white yatch was coming through Grand Union and he had to attend to it.
I finally got some clear directions. I proceeded correctly from then on. But I really have to say – I hold my old reservations on cycling along this canal. I hate ringing my bell at pedestrians asking them to jump out of my way. I usually throw in a thank you or sorry but with all the bike traffic there it must be really annoying for people to walk there at all. It is nice though, despite a lot of muck and rubbish floating about in the water. I don’t like the blind spots and sometimes there are some pretty aggressive bikers around the corner. Especially on the slopes when they overtake pedestrians and ride right at you, cutting you in your (rightful) path, leaving you to try not falling into the water. And some swear pretty nastily too, and rather loudly. It’s not pleasant. The majority are not like that. From what I’ve seen, most tend to follow the code. It’s a handful but I guess it could be different during rush hour.
In any case, a note to myself. Should I ever do this again, I don’t need to go all the way through the shoulder of mutton. I need to cut through Ropemakers Field from Narrow Street. That way I reach the canal directly and don’t need to circumvent Limehouse Basin.