Riding in this part of England is a challenge. First and most important: Stay to the left. I cannot describe how disorienting it is to have cars traveling on the opposite side of the road. This is apparent even when crossing the street on foot. You realize how much of the structure of vehicle movement you have internalized and do quite automatically.
The streets are narrow with no shoulders. Often the streets are not even wide enough for two cars to pass side-by-side. People also park their cars half-on/half-off the sidewalk. Compound that with people driving like they are in a James Bond movie (crazy fast swerving around those parked cars). Although this is kinda scary, I actually think that the drivers are responsive to driving around bicyclists and swerving across the center line is pretty normal. This is unlike the US where the center line is some kind of mental barrier and drivers get mad at cyclists for being in “their way” instead of just calmly going around.
Some of the sidewalks are designated as cyclist and pedestrian, which make them 4 feet wide instead of 2 feet.
The pavement of the sidewalks is a patchwork of different sand types in the concrete.
We’ve found a decent route from the hospital to the shopping district (corporate shopping district that we unfortunately need to access right now for lack of much local knowledge) that alternates between cyclo/ped and in-street lanes. One of the most frustrating aspects of traffic is that they do not stop for pedestrians. Rarely is there an intersection where cars need to yield to pedestrians and certainly not at roundabouts. Pedestrians need to look for the few and far between stop-lighted cross walks (that allow you to cross for about 5 seconds) or the “zebra crossings” that have the more familiar white stripes in the road and also have striped poles and yellow flashing globes (pictures later).
Going carless is underway, also going TV-less for right now.
Cheers and Stay to the Left.