Tuesday, 23 October 2007

On yer bike

A new experience in the City is cycling. I have been lent, I hope on a fairly permanent basis, a bike from a friend here which I use to pedal from place to place. There are one or two peculiarities that pertain to Rome:
1) There is a lot of traffic, many say. Well the amount of traffic is not so bad really but there is a great deal of it at certain times. Therefore the nervous cyclist must plan as to when are the better times to travel? A. Has he/she recently given up smoking? If so, driving in Roman traffic may return one to the habit, since the inhaling of fumes seems to be part of the course. B. On the other hand, if he/she is a smoker, cycling in the city may give a different experience of inhaling smoke, and so an addiction may quickly develop to driving through the City. C.Finally, a cyclist who is a smoker may discover that the very inhalation of a new form of smoke may encourage him to give up the habit - but you may end up with A..
2) There is a lot of crazy traffic, many say. There is more crazy traffic than a lot of traffic. Driving in Rome involves inhabiting spaces as a means of pushing forward: therefore a degree of daring and willingness to 'slip through' is rapidly developed by drivers, motorino riders and, amazingly, cyclists - and more amazingly, bus drivers. Here one must drive with WIT - Wrought Intelligent Thought - wrought, because only the experience of such formula 0 driving would cause such thinking; thought, because one must think a journey through and be aware of time factors in the time of journey commencement; and intelligent, because one must calculate, be aware, estimate, predict and risk. Ah risk. Well, that's where prayer to the Guardian Angels (we priest are meant to have two - and do we need them!) come to our aid and are the object of much intense invocation.
3) There are a lot of red lights in the City - but for most cyclists they can mean green when red...
and that goes for motorino riders too....and drivers...indeed, the population.
4) There is a lot to see in the City. When you cycle, look around. See the sights. See ancient Rome. See the colour and the beauty. But remember WIT.
5) Lock your bike. Many bikes get stolen. So lock it. I have inherited a colossal lock, a mighty chain to wind around the bike, with a clanking lock that makes me feel more turnkey than cyclist. It does the job. It scares them away.

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