My friend John nicely surprised me by sending me a ready made guest blog, completely out of the blue. John is a regular user of the Luton Dunstable guided Busway as a bus passenger as he commutes to work each day. Perhaps John is typical of many who used to cycle when they were younger but now have a bicycle collecting dust in a shed or garage. Here John takes us through his honest down-to-earth experience of getting on his bike and cycling the entire length of the Busway cycle track.
I thought I would write a guest blog for Doug, after using the Luton Dunstable Busway cycle track for the first time last Sunday 6th April. This was the first time I had got the bike out of the shed for 10 + years, although I used to cycle quite a bit when I was a child or teenager. I got the bike out as my youngest son wanted to go out on his new bike for the first time and he wanted me to go on my bike. I had to pump the tyres up as they were flat but this was easily done with the electric car pump we have. Like me, I guess he was encouraged by my wife asking for her bike last Thursday. She went out on it, again the first time for 10+ years. She went to the L&D bus stop which was a round trip of 3 or 4 miles and then last Sunday to Luton and back. She is loving the Busway cycle track, but can only do it when the boys are not around or I am here to look after them.
So having taken my youngest out for a short trip to try his bike out, I deceided to try the cycle track out myself for a ride. As I mentioned, I used to cycle a lot when younger but I am not used to mountain bike gears, so need to learn how to use them. I have known about the cycle track for a long time due to commuting to my work by bus 5 days a week since it opened. We have a stop just 3 minutes walk from our house, so accessing the cycle track is very easy and fast.
On my cycle ride I set off thinking I would go to the L&D stop and back. Once I got there though I thought I would go a bit further to the Chald End Lane bridge then once there I was like well I might as well go all the way to Luton! Once I got to Luton it started to rain so I didn’t stay around before coming back again, luckly the rain did not stay for long. It probably took me between 45- 60 mins each way and that included putting my chain back on.
So having been on the cycle track for the first time what did I think? I am not sure if stones are the right surface for it, I did notice that both my wife’s tyres and mine are now white! Also there seemed to be a certain line along the track where people must always ride so there are no stones on that part. When I wasn’t on that line it felt like the wheels were maybe slipping slightly especially when going faster. Also with it being stones I am not sure how good it is for going fast on. Also the A frame cycle gates are a pain to go through, although it was easier to get the bike through then I first thought. You are just picking some speed up or just getting a nice rhythm in your cycling and you come up to a gate and have to slow to a stop and then build back up again.
Will I use it again? Yes probably I will do as it is handy, but I will not be changing the bus for the bike as it is a bit much for me and a bit slower. I also felt it in my legs the next day, although that would probably get easier if I was doing it more often.
So my thanks to John for stepping forward with his guest blog. My own view is it is local people like John who are the measure of success for the Busway. He uses it for daily transport which means he’s using an efficient public transport system – that is something which helps our communities in many ways. He’s gone that one step further and tried out the cycle track, together with his wife and young son.
I think this is important. In a cycling world of high-end machines and enthusiastic MAMILs, we should always encourage cyclists at all levels and this is a reminder of how cycling is viable for recreation, fun for families, improving health and daily transport. Well done John, the world of cycling needs more people like you!