NAME: Henry Thompson
LOCATION: UK and Yemen
OCCUPATION: Environmental consultant
Where do you live and what’s it like riding in your city?
I live in East Oxford in the UK and work overseas. Oxford and Cambridge are the two most bike-friendly cities in the UK—almost like Netherlands. Lots of mothers and multiple kids. Riding here is just part of life, the traffic is stupid so nobody drives unless they have to. Bike theft is a hassle so people have pretty scrappy bikes. There’s been an increase in ‘London freestyle’ on road rules so people now just go when the traffic permits. It’s pretty clear that people get scrunched by trucks when they are obeying the rules... So best ride for yourself and stay alive.
What was your favorite city to ride in, and why?
I liked being a student in Netherlands in the late 80’s. We biked around Wageningen on slouchy black fietsen—sometimes dead drunk. The beefy rear racks are there for a purpose: getting a ride sidesaddle behind a Dutch lady was the best treat. Biking into the teeth of a January north wind was no fun—maybe that’s why they have trains. I liked cycling in Tokyo in the mid 70’s. Cycling was for poor people and kids—but on a hot summer night one could get the breeze and just cruise round from Roppongi to Ueno to Minato, meet people on their bikes. London is fun but the air quality is dire. Missoula MT was fun for a while, but is that really a city? I haven’t dared ride a bike in Sana’a but people do—there’s a brave set of time trial folk.
Why do you love riding in the city?
There is no other way to move. Best of all I like bits in the road where I can explode—basically a sprint through some sections of traffic were I know all the cuts and spaces. In London, Victoria to Piccadilly through the paths in back of green park, or the section from Hampstead Heath to Regents Park through Camden. Unlike anything else it makes you live. I went on the Sheldon Brown memorial ride and around seventy very convivial people turned up with some classic British frames.