OK Then, Now What?

The first back-to-normal week of the year and four fairly short rides: the weather’s not that cold, but it has been stunningly wet of late. If nothing else, the very flooded Thames means the options for routes are very curtailed. Basically, from Reading, head north and pick your way carefully: it’ll be filthy and the puncture risks are high as you’re moving into chalk-and-flint territory, but you can work out loops that aren’t too bad. And, as (almost) always, getting out every now and then leaves you feeling better than staying in, even over this dreary month.

The highlight from the natural world this week has been the sight of a Red Kite timing his landing perfectly as he approached a perch in high winds. He came is so slowly, so accurately, it made me smile. (I also nearly crashed into the ditch as I was looking up for too long.) There’s always pleasure to be had from watching something done well, whether by a human or not. (Don’t watch me cycling.)

Catkins out too early

Yes, these are early. Yes, it is unseasonably warm.

As I’ve been riding lately, I’ve been thinking about what I was saying before Christmas: that we need to do more than merely moan if we’re unhappy about things. It’s brutally obvious, of course, that the question then becomes what to actually do.

You can report the pot-holes and flytipping you’ll see while you’re out riding. You can monitor whether the reports are acted on and keep on reporting as necessary. You can follow-up inaction with letters to the local papers, to the local MP. You can take direct action: if you just pick up any litter you come across near where you live that will make a difference.

You can monitor the direct-action activist sites such as SumOfUs and Avaaz, sign petitions and spread the word. You can stay with a cyclist-focus and fight for Road Justice. You and I can get involved in any number of ways: helping local charities; helping national charities and so on. One way or another, helping those less fortunate than you or fighting for justice isn’t that hard.

And that’s all fine and worthwhile. But it all leaves me with a nagging sense of it not being enough. Tackling symptoms is good – especially for the sufferer. But there’s still the question of how to prevent the symptoms occurring in the first place – how to make changes happen further up the line. But where to start and where to stop?