I am incredibly conservative on my routes. For 15 years I did Dulwich Village, Red Post Hill, Herne Hill Road, Loughborough Junction, Brixton Road. Essentially as I once lived off Herne Hill Road and knew the route.
Then I did a bizarre one - Champion Hill, Grove Lane, Camberwell, through a bit of Burgess Park, coming out near the Elephant where I went behind Southbank Uni and eventually onto Blackfriars Road. Funnily enough never experienced danger on either Blackfriars Bridge or more recently the Elephant, even though they are known accident hotspots.
One day I saw that a colleague had beaten me and I found out that she went down the canal path, OKR etc. Looking at the map this was the flatest and straightest route. Embarassingly I was worried about Peckham at the time - despite having no issues in going through Loughborough Junction which was far more dangerous.
On dangers, the main one from my Brixton Road route was road rage; something I am far more aware of now. The other was the hit and run on Red Post Hill that slammed me into a back of a parked car. No helmet in those days, and very lucky at the bike was a write off not me. Now - as I discussed above the odd vehicle that runs a bit close - not always men, and a mix of vans, cars and taxis at say once a month. And genuinely you can hear them coming.
For a time I went down the back roads on traffic calmed routes. Two incidents - the funny one when a family ran out in front of me, I banged the anchors on, went 90 degrees and fell on one of the school kids. He wasn't hurt and I was angry at the parent for letting them run across. An no apologies to the zombies who walked across tonight on their phones without looking near Lambeth Palace. Yes did cycle at you on purpose. Perhaps you may look in future. Anyway I digress. The other bother was two accidents in quick succession when they relaid the roads around Heygate street, and the white lines were too slippy causing me to come off twice in quick succession in the rain, ironically on the cycle marking. Thanks to Southwark Cyclists - and particularly the late Barry Mason. Thanks to the cycling solicitors who gave me free advice. And thanks LBS for settling out of court.
And Southwark Cyclists, we had a good on line chat aobut a NKR cycle lane which I very much argue against.
So where does that leave us? I started cycling in London 30 years ago when there were far less of us. I have a small number of routes which I know off the back of my hand. Cycling super highways generally go in the wrong direction for me so I cut across them, only once gettng grief from a cabbie for not using the segregated route. I am out of my comfort zone when I go down the embankment and see zillons of cyclists hammering it - I prefer the road as the cars generally get less close to you than bikes coming the other way on segregated routes! I get confused on Blackfriars Road on which side I should be on. I get frustrated at the bottle necks, for example by the Royal Vauxhall Tavern and peed off when tubleweed and debris blow across the segregated routes making them more dangerous than the main road. But just because I am happy cycling with the cars, shouldn't mean that I don't see the benefits to the masses of some of the cycle routes.
My favourite useless cycle route is the A4 going out to Heathrow - cracked paving stones and junctions/drives every few yards whereas you can do 15mph on the nice road surface of the A4. And talking about pants, Heathrow access is exactly that, where I cycle through the tunnel waving two fingers up at the CCTV (did that in 1995 and returned last year to find still no cycle access.). Another great ride was the A13 cycle path, great cycling next to an urban motorway....
In case you couldn't tell I work in environmental transport and know shedloads. I had a 20 minutes conversation with Ashok, CEO LCC one summer, poor chap!
But I still drive occasionally, have a motorbike licence and only got back into cycling by mistake (as is most of my career) so understand that apart from London the masses aren't doing this elsewhere and on a cold wet day when I am going to a meeting and have the choice of sitting in my wet clothes or having to bring a change of clothes and change in the toilets I understand the challege.
Thanks LJC56 - I'll check it out.
And thanks to "you lot" (I mean this politely) for listening. Always enjoy the debate.