10 Forsythia Grove
CORSETTSHIRE ZY6 4GT
November 15 1999
My Dear Ralph
I am so glad that you are persevering in your new-found role as student nurse pet. I look forward to your starry rise into the upper echelons of the profession!
I myself am feeling a little discombobulated subsequent to this morning’s attendance at the Outer Hamlet swimming station. I did at least (this time) remember to bring the £1.00 refundable charge for the locker and the shampoo . . . I have now resorted to the making of an actual list of essential equipment before setting off across the blowy park to this destination. Once (can you believe it) I turned up minus the actual swimming costume! However, once ensconced in the – thankfully warm-ish – water, I did find it quite delightful to motor up and down the lanes for one-or-two lengths. The pool is (fortunately) fairly denuded of swimmers on a Sunday morning, and it is possible to make headway through the water without being head-butted by someone approaching from the opposite direction – or overwhelming one in a cloud of spray as they pass!
I did, eventually, decide to leave my – newly-serviced – bicycle behind me in Forsythia Grove for, although there are cycling racks outside the swimming station, one can never be quite sure that a whole bicycle will greet one upon exit from the building. And by the time one has removed the lights (front and back); front basket, and water bottle – and disrobed oneself of helmet and sparkly reflective outfit – there is quite some crate of kit to lug into the building. I am not even sure that the basket would fit into the swimming pool locker!
I have, in addition, been giving some thought to the matter of bicycle outfit legislation. As you know dear, I also motor about in the Banger 0.9L (Mk3) during the course of my day-time endeavours. And just recently, it has been absolutely tipping it down with rain in the early hours – making it difficult to see those cyclists who are decked out in muted-grey jumpers, a fuzzy hat, and no visible manifestation of lighting (front or back). When I looked into the subject of bicycle lighting, it transpired that there is absolutely no legal requirement for bicycles to be fitted with lights – and so, if you are riding about in the day, you are under no legal obligation to have bicycle lights on (whatever the weather and lighting conditions) if they are not fitted . . . This appears to be legal loophole pet! You are, of course, required to have both a front (white) and back (red) light on if you are cycling about after dark.
It is, however, apparently a legal requirement to have one’s bicycle fitted with front and back (and wheel) reflectors for day-time use. But, even if these are fitted, they surely do not give the same level of protection as actual lights?
I feel that, in this day and age, and bearing in mind the speed, volume, and size of road traffic – and the fact that there are around 19,000 reported incidents involving UK cyclists per annum – that bicycles should to be following similar legal requirements to the motor car, i.e. lights should be fitted (and used in conditions of low day-time visibility). I also feel that cyclists should be required to wear high visibility/reflective jackets during daylight hours, for this would also help them to be seen by drivers in cars. Well, mustn’t rant on dear. Before you know it, I might find myself progressing on to the subject of bicycle bells and the annual service!
What might be an idea is for Outer Hamlet to have a ‘Cyclists’ Lights and Clothing Day.’ This could even be fun and might involve local bicycle retailers and the cycling club. There could be raffle prizes (lights and high viz clothing!) laps around the swimming station, sandwiches, tea and cake . . . Gosh pet. I could wax quite lyrical – and for quite a while – upon this subject! Maybe I should suggest it to some personage in authority? What the day most definitely should not be called is: ‘Cyclists’ Safety and Behaviour
Day’ – for that might be a considerable put-off to anyone looking for a thrilling day out!
Anyway pet. I am heading off to the pub (safely ensconced behind the wheel of the Banger 0.9L) before I am in receipt of any boos and hisses from anyone who might be looking over my shoulder as I pen this.