Can we call it after yet?! We was sent back to school after Easter where we had certain year groups come in for lessons. You can usually tell immensely the amount of traffic in the mornings and afternoons are a lot down to school traffic, roads were still relatively quiet on our commutes but whereas the family cars were missing, the void was now full of vans and lorries making deliveries and transporting goods. On paper, roads could be as safe as walking on the pavement if everyone paid attention and looked out for each other. Obviously, throw in a human with no consideration and their own agenda on the roads and that idea goes out of the window.
As more restrictions are being eased, roads are becoming more busier again with motor vehicles. We are still in the middle of a pandemic and although the guidelines have changed to you can travel to other places, we feel we are not ready to take that risk yet. You have to use your own judgement (like some of the government members have done!) but who wants a second wave? Who wants to mock all the work the key workers especially the NHS workers have put in to keep the rest of us safe? We can be a very forgetful society, the news have stopped reporting the number of people dying daily of COVID-19 but people are still losing their lives. We're not ready yet to cycle with others, we have our family to think of and that trumps everything for us. I'm not criticising anyone who has, follow the guidelines, keep yourself and others safe and hopefully you'll be fine. We will look into some social distance rides soon but I'd rather be safe than sorry. We are not aware of anyone who has contracted the virus but that's the approach we're taking, we hope we never do.
For everyone who has made the switch or at least included a bit more bike in their life, let's hope that carries on. One thing we didn't mention was that we lent our gravel bike to our Dad and bro' who have been using it regularly for a bit of exercise. Safe to say the have enjoyed the freedom the bike gives you and my bro' has been on daily 8 mile rides to build up his cardio. I am missing that bike though, had some gravel adventures in mind pre-lockdown but I'm glad it's been put to good use. I'm just wondering what state it's in right now...!
On that note, we did use the time during lockdown to 'service' our other 2 bikes in the fleet but it is never without issues. We lost the internal cabling straw somewhere so we've learnt our lesson to properly research before any job no matter how confident we feel! So we're quite determined to continue the development of our maintenance skills and we have started to pass that knowledge on to. One colleague at work can now change an innertube independently, we've all been there and think he really appreciated the tips. We also want to keep the good vibes going so have put together a box of stuff (a saddle, old cassettes and other bits and bobs) along with some racing kit kindly donated by Sam Hodges to send over to a cyclist/mechanic in Rwanda.
One thing to look forward to is the upcoming and manic season of pro cycling. What a crazy end of the year that will be for the sport! I just hope Mrs NITP is ready for a remote war although little NITP always wins with Baby TV! On the local scene, we heard a few updates from Sam who has had to pause his promising season with Verulam Racing. It seems unless social distancing is eased considerably, circuit and road racing will be logistically hard to run. Time Trials have started already and you can see why, one rider out on the course with a big time gap between the next trialist, it can work. So Sam has had to turn his pedals to Zwift and win a few races on there which brings us to the next adaptation. The virtual Tour de France and other animated events. Confession, we have not been the virtual tour, we just not had the time believe it or not. When there's a now walking baby in the household, eyes have to be on the mini me rather than the avatars jumping all over the television screen. But the virtual sport coverage has definitely boomed. All sports have had to be creative in some way to keep their audience exposed to their passion but also to keep their sport alive. It's not hard to see that the sports that have the money to keep going have made it through the pandemic. It's the domestic scene which has suffered the most and will continue to suffer.
What now then? Well, there needs to be a fight for the pop up cycle lanes to be permanent, there is an opportunity to shift people's attitudes towards active travel. Those who are against it need to see that with less cars on the road, there will be less traffic which means vehicles still on the road for journeys such as deliveries or transportation will become more efficient. Not forgetting the benefits of cleaner air, how can anyone argue with that? Just don't get it myself. There also needs to be firmer deterrents for speeders. It can be scary on the roads at times when you see someone flying with no care for others around, it's enough to put people off cycling and it might sound bias, but no one should be dying on the roads, end of.
We never did visit Richmond Park during lockdown mainly because we couldn't because no one above 12 years of age on a bike was not allowed, but if you have been following how the Royal Parks have been controlling the cycling numbers especially in Richmond, it has been a bit farcical. At one point, cycling was banned unless you were a key worker using it to commute through or as we said, a youngster under 12. Some roads in the park were lifted but only at certain times and days which led to a lot of confusion. Now, all roads are open to cycling but some of the car parks have been reopened. So what message is this sending out? Surely, a better option would be having a regular bus service from the surrounding towns to take people into the park to keep motor traffic to a minimum. After all, Richmond Park is a designated National Nature Reserve, should it not be looked after as one?
Let's hope that any positive changes that have been implemented during this unprecedented global pandemic can continue to be just that, positive and lead to a more caring, considerate, humane world because with the amount of loss the world has suffered and it continuing, it's a very fragile time for the human race and we can either be the problem or the solution...