Riding as a tourist in my own town!
A tourist in my own town. Checking out a FZ8S Fazer 800 in advance of tomorrow’s GBMCC run, I chose to ride home from Surrey Quays the long way, taking in Canary Wharf, Euston Road and Wood Lane; using routes I used to tear around on my bike years ago. All but unrecognisable now, the street layouts are similar but the traffic lanes are completely changed and then there’s the oppressive traffic monitoring and controls to be very wary of. So no more tearing around the City on two wheels or racing dispatch riders on sports bikes between the cars on Euston Road. And hardly any motorbike parking bays.
The reason that you don’t see touring bikers in London is that it’s now really difficult to ride here, even more so than it used to be. This 2015 model Fazer 800 is fine, even with the top box. A dispatch rider from days of yore would love it as a ride. But there’s almost no scope to use it between Wapping and Hammersmith, nowhere to open up and worse, lots of traps: speed cameras (are all of them real?); box junctions with cameras on them, bus lanes that alternate between being biker-permitted and biker-prohibited. What’s that all about if not revenue generation? You now have to go through barrier checkpoints for Canary Wharf, sometimes for The City and even Tower Bridge has saturation TV camera control. Of course (as a biker pointed out) the UK is a leader in this technology, having needed it at least since the IRA terrorism of the 1970s, but now we're 35 years on from 1984 and Big Brother control has really arrived. Riding between the mirror-faced skyscrapers it really felt like I was being watched every minute of the way.