Tourist Troubles: The Plight of a Cyclist

Why King’s Parade is the most dangerous street in the city

anger Cambridge cambridge student cycling Kings' Parade orgasm bridge Senate House senate house passage tourism tourists

The weather has been pretty great recently, and that comes with consequences.

The May sunshine isn’t something I’m accustomed to (its grim oop north) I can’t say I haven’t been enjoying the chance to wear my one pair of shorts in an actually decent temperature (usually they’re reserved for mid winter, just to remind everyone about my apparently genetic ability to cope with the cold). Unfortunately, such glorious sun comes with a cost… the biblical plague that is tourism.

Pembroke is a fairly open college when it comes to visitors, and generally those coming in don’t do much harm besides inducing that awkward ‘shall I walk through their photo’ situation. When I’m brave enough to venture out of my cosy little college though, I encounter a whole new breed of tourist, who on a semi-regular basis manage to almost kill me.

Flagrant abuse of a cyclists safe space

Flagrant abuse of a cyclists safe space

I’m one of the lucky NatScis at Pembroke blessed with two weekly supervisions at the Cavendish site (which is a long fucking way away), so naturally I have to cycle a lot. Sadly this almost inevitably means a ride down Kings Parade, where I’m forced to slalom round swarms of people who seem to have decided that at some point Cambridge’s most major road stopped being a route for cars and bikes and is now one massive bit of pavement. Some enjoy walking backwards across the tarmac while trying to improve their smartphone photo of Jesus Clock and the child they’re presumably indoctrinating. Every time this nearly wipes out yet another cyclist (who actually understands the concept of a public road).

The passage and the class lists make for a terrifying combination

The passage and the class lists make for a terrifying combination

Assuming I made it down Kings Parade without cracking my skull on the oversized camera of a Chinese tourist, now comes the joy of Senate House Passage. You know, the one where our beloved tourists decide to walk in a line of 6 down a cycle route about 3 metres across. According to Google maps, Pembroke to Cavendish is a 10 minute ride. Nowadays I leave half an hour prior to my supervision because of the 20 painful minutes I’m forced to spend trying to get past these oblivious morons. I know a single file system is a bit much to ask, but maybe double file? Triple file? Anything less than quintuple would be a blessing at this point.

Ah, now the wonderful orgasm bridge, inappropriately named of course, as there is nothing sensual about the heart palpations this fucking thing gives me. Busting a gut trying to get up that ludicrously steep slope only to be blocked by some gormless idiot who’s decided to stand in the middle while Mum takes a photo. Some are more considerate of course, keeping out of the middle, but even these have the audacity to tut (yes, tut) at you for getting in the frame of the picture that will inevitably be buried deep in their Facebook timeline.

More mis-sold that payment protection insurance

More mis-sold that payment protection insurance

Why, when people arrive in this silly little city do they suddenly think that every law, every courteousy, every principle associated with the concept of ‘walking’ goes out the window? Perhaps it’s the punt ride sellers, who seem to lead their prey (read: tourists) by example in racking up as many near death experiences as they can. Maybe they believe Cambridge is so dated that it precludes bikes and cars altogether (although God forbid we give them the chance to be trampled by a horse and cart). Maybe they’re just a tad dim. Whatever the reason, this has to stop. Other cities have a cyclists on the left pedestrians on the right system, but it really should be simpler than that.

If anyone other than procrastinating students and opportunistic Daily Mail interns are reading this, here’s a few guidelines: don’t walk on the road, leave some room on Senate House Passage and get off Orgasm Bridge. If I’ve been cycling slowly behind you for 5 minutes, its because I want you to move out the way, not because I actually enjoy my arduous journey. I might not be wearing a helmet (which says a lot about the relative value I put in my life and my hair), but there’s just no need to test the solidity of my skull.

Above all, don’t be a fucking imbecile when it comes to walking round the city. That really can’t be asking much.