23 December 2009

London alley that gave birth to pavements

Fancy some illegal pavement cycling? Here's the most historic place to do it. This tiny cul-de-sac off Whitehall gave birth to the pavement, and therefore the entire pavement cycling menace that threatens western civilisation. It's Craig's Court, the tiny alley first left as you go down from Trafalgar Square.

In the mid-1700s, there were no pavements. Pedestrians, horses, carriages, chirpy costermongers with carts of pig offal, all jostled each other on the dirt road surface, right up to the housefronts. There were a few calls for improvements to the road surfaces, but fighting wars was much more important. Obviously that wouldn't happen nowadays.

However, Arthur Onslow, speaker of the House of Commons, was involved in an accident while trying to get his carriage into this very alley. Starting a tradition which continues today, he decided not to blame the driver, but someone else. The problem, he decided, was caused by the lack of this new pavement technology. Soon after that Onslow was instrumental in passing a bill to introduce pavements to London's streets, resulting in the widespread slaughter of innocent civilians by cycling torpedoes that we know today.

Unfortunately, the pavements are so narrow that it's virtually impossible to cycle on them. I tried, leaving a trail of carnage and destruction (not illustrated), but was soon forced off into the road.

There's little else in the alley to detain you. Harrington House is there, whatever that is, but the pub is more promising to explore on a chilly winter's day. Cheers. Merry Christmas.


  1. how about starting the league of pavement cyclists, we could could start with london to brighton!

  2. Sensational idea! Is there a 'pavements only' option on Microsoft's route-planning software?

  3. Maybe we should go back to the old days? A more extreme version of decluttering roads sounds quite reasonable.

    Less signs, segregation would definitely benefit the so-called marginal transportation means of cycling and walking.

    I just thank my lucky stars that we don't have "jaywalking" legislation in Britain. Or maybe it has been added by the nanny state and I just never noticed.

    In the meantime I shall walk my bike along the pavement and take up much more space than is reasonable!

  4. I like the fact that despite not being wide enough to drive a car down (without driving on the pavement) they still have put double yellows on both sides.
    Thats almost as bad as the twin double yellows on the segregated cyclepath on Queen Victoria Street in the city.