Guest post by Chris Bean
They call it London-on-Sea, so it definitely fits on this blog. Right? Good. Biking in Brighton is, well, not that different from biking in London – there are potholes, buses, taxis and gormless pedestrians to keep you amused. The whole experience is however, distinctly provincial compared to riding around London, and it does have some lovely highs – riding along the coast with the sea to one side and gorgeous Hove buildings on t’other has a certain glorious buzz to it.
What’s it like down here for bikers, then? Pretty good! The weather’s surprisingly dry (this Kiwi can’t believe how little it rains down here – NZ’s green for a reason!) and bus drivers are trained to look out for us – let them out of a bus stop and you’ll get a thumbs-up. Taxis will pull impossible U-turns, just like anywhere, but they’re mostly modern vehicles, so at least they won’t gas you.
We’ve got a few segregated bike lanes, including one the Tory council tried to remove, and the country’s only Green MP! Yes indeed! Caroline Lucas hails from here, and she’s really keen on cycling. It’s a University town – students, being cheap, are keen riders.
Beware the biker that goes to the town centre: pedestrians in the Lanes are oblivious to all forms of traffic. I’ve had people carrying children step in front of me without a care in the world. How’s this different from normal pedestrians, you ask? Well, they do it to cars and buses too – walkers rule the Lanes, and that’s how it should be. I generally get off and walk if it’s busy. If you can’t beat’em, join’em.
If you fancy getting out of town, that’s easy too – there’s the Devil’s Dyke look-out, 40 minutes or so from Brighton Station up a gradual incline. From there, you can admire the view and explore the South Downs. Or you can tootle along the sea-front in either direction – east is best though, it’s more picturesque and there’s a cycle lane for miles.
As for bike shops, there’s Sydney Street bikes in the Centre, and the ‘golden tip’ is G-whizz cycles, open on Thursday, Friday, Saturday – he operates out of a garage and he’s a committed bike nut!
Finally, if you get stuck around Kemptown on a Friday or Saturday, the DIY guys at Cranks will be happy to help you out.
Cycling is basically the only way to get around Brighton and Hove – bring your bike next time you come down and get away from the centre’s crowds! Any of you Brightonians out there got some good tips or stories?