Cycling in Liverpool: Why riding your bike to uni means you must’ve lost your marbles
Have you not seen the size of Brownlow Hill?!
If like me and you just got back from a years abroad, or if you're just another oblivious rider of the 699, maybe your were just as shocked as I was when you realised that cycling in Liverpool is a thing now. But apart from saving pennies on a bus pass, it being quicker than walking and keeping you healthy, why on God's green earth would you want to cycle in Liverpool, every learner driver’s worst nightmare? Christ, those pesky hill starts are the worst.
Battling the wind, rain and minus temperatures
Every morning I walk to uni, and every morning I walk past more and more bikes parked outside the SJ. It’s not getting any warmer out there, folks. On the contrary, it’s the season that the elements come looking for a fight. Wind, rain and Baltic temperatures is what Liverpool has to offer daily, and I can tell you now, cycling in those conditions is definitely not fun. It’s also not very safe. Strong winds could blow you off your bike, the massive puddles of rainwater don’t exactly make breaking or cycling close to the edge of the carriageway easy and the minus temperatures definitely mean you have to layer up, which must make it kind of difficult to move. Cycling is definitely more of a summer/spring thing.
I think we all know that as a nation we aren’t exactly the safest drivers. Since cycling is a very new trend in Liverpool, there are no cycle lanes. No cycle lanes means having to cycle on the road next to the crazy drivers who swerve, speed and scare you half to death. Your average driver will see you as a moving obstacle, making them slow down to snail pace, which is just going to demotivate you, especially when you’re 10 minutes late for your lecture already. Although I hate them (sorry, not sorry), I’m always very cautious when it comes to bypassing bikes- a bus size gap is big enough, right? I can't say however that other drivers take that much caution. No helmet is going to make you feel safe when the 86A comes within millimetres of your handle bars, especially in the dark.
There appears to be a big hill ahead of us
I’ve briefly mentioned it before, but has no one ever noticed that huge hill Uni Square is on top of? Or the steep incline which starts near the Bombed Out Church? Or even the innocent looking elevation on Smithdown Road? Walking up any of those hills is difficult and makes you feel sweaty and gross, never mind cycling up any of them. It might be doing wonders for that peachy booty, but it’s definitely not making you smell any nicer. Sidenote: you definitely look like a weirdo peddling stood up.
Bike garage? Erm, what's that?
So you've arrived on campus. You're slightly sweaty, wet and in desperate need of a change of clothes, but before you can solve any of those issues, you have to leave your bike somewhere. If you get to uni later than 9, there will most definitely be no space for you to leave your bike near the SJ and there is really no point in locking your bike up near Harold Cohen – you're a humanities student for God's sake. The lack of designated bike parking on campus is another reason why you should just leave your bike in a shed and walk/get a bus into uni. Either that, or you'll have to be creative and chain your bike up to a fence, a tree or even a bin. Take your pick!
Trendy shmendy- who needs a big butt anyway?
So maybe it's 'in', and maybe it means you’re saving money on a gym membership and bus pass, but cycling in Liverpool gets a no from me. I've lived in cities where there were more cyclists than students so I’m more than used to bikes being everywhere, but in Liverpool there's a lack of cycle paths and places to leave your bike, plus the hills just take the mick quite frankly. If Liverpool is ever to become the British cyclist capital, there’s a lot that needs to change, starting with flattening those hills!