Beating the strike
Thursday, 4 November, 2010
Getting to work under my own steam has not been without its hazards over the years. I’ve been blown off my bike by a council pest control van, forgotten my Vaseline on a morning run to the office and arrived with shredded inner thighs and once left my rucksack open whilst cycling to another job, littering the road behind me with underwear and grooming products.So it was with some trepidation that I considered running to get to a midday meeting in the heart of London’s West End. The tube strike had deemed it necessary to consider a Plan B and a short run from Liverpool Street station to Oxford Circus seemed the sensible option.Given the vague nature of information coming out of Transport for London as to which lines would be working, how well they would be working and how many angry, sharp-elbowed commuters would be using the system, any attempt to use the underground seemed more hassle than it was worth.So, having caught the overhead from leafy Romford (yes, leafy - most of them are on the roof of my car), I threw my rucksack over both shoulders and pulled out my map. All I needed was a bum bag and I’d have looked like a tourist. Obviously, you get to see more of the city on foot and given that my directions were based loosely on using appealing looking pubs as landmarks, I felt I was gaining valuable knowledge of the capital's watering holes into the bargain. I was slightly worried by the sight on High Holborn of two blokes loading Boris bikes on to the back of a lorry, but plodded on regardless until I witnessed an old lady nearly get mowed down by a black cab. A sharp tug on her arm pulled her back onto the traffic island as the taxi rattled past, horn blaring.The strike had clearly brought the masses out on to the pavements and there were a few more hold-ups as the foot-traffic thickened near Tottenham Court Road and those with less experience of walking around town diced with death by double decker. It was less than three miles from the city to Soho, I covered it in about half an hour - including map-reading stoppages - and I was able to use a gym nearby to shower and change. As a novel way of getting to work the train and trainers combo had been a successful one. I’d saved a life, witnessed bike theft (probably) and squeezed in my short run for the day. I’m not thanking the tube staff for downing tools, but you just don’t get that much value from a ride on the underground. When’s the next strike?