A recent and surprisingly pleasant move from the long-loved trails of grot and canals of Camden Town to 020 8 land has prompted me, after several blissful years of bike-only commutes, to get on the tube now and again.
Our local tube station – in, gasp, zone 4- resembles a pre-Beeching branch line halt, freshly tended flowerbeds and all, but more on that later.
What has become immediately apparent is that everyone continues to be useless at travelling on the tube. London’s underground railway is the world’s oldest. Our Victorian forebears should have provided a user’s manual to go with their mighty achievement. It may, however, make the pocket map more of a dossier of handy tips. Two suggestions to include in the appendix:
There are signs requesting riders to stand on the right of escalators. They are polite. If one person ignores this then the whole thing grinds to a halt. Londoners then get to do what they do best: tut. It’s time polite signs were replaced with barking dogs, trained to attack those persisting with the ‘continental method’ of standing.
When I last lived in the burbs I was, for some of my time there, a small boy. Riding the Piccadilly Line into central London for football matches and other fun days out my father compelled my brother and I to surrender our seat to ladies and the old. This seldom happens now, yet little else makes you feel like a decent human being in a harsh world of savages more than hopping up at Finsbury Park to let someone else sit. Perhaps London Transport would consider a give up your seat day. Or just get those dogs in again, aimed at men in suits who refuse to embrace the swinging dongles.
This short rant is a cathartic exercise needed after a mere week of non rush-hour journeys. Heaven knows how commuters put up with it every day. Perhaps, to paraphrase Morrissey, we endure, because we must. You can however get a bike for less than 200 which will give you a smashing alternative.