Archive for the ‘Places’ Category
I have been in Adelaide for the Australian Cycling Conference which happily co-incided with the Tour Down Under. Having lived here during my PhD in 2006/07, I am fond of the city and have always found it particularly nice to get about by bike. The past week however has seen an otherwise cycle-friendly city become even more inundated with cyclists and all manner of eclectic bicycles. I have seen very expensive carbon fibre, steel tourers, vintage tricycles, shoppers, hand-made freakbikes, bone-shakers, cargo bikes, penny farthings and more.
Going through some of the Hull interviews, connections between cycling and experiences of places strike me again. From one interview, about things that you see while cycling around the city:
We’ll see a building like on Spring Bank there was years ago a fire station and we didn’t realise that all the structures above it just show that that was the fire station. The berths along the waterway, you see those and then the old ships, and when you go along to the ferry you can see the old barges that that have been wrecked are there, along that way.
I’ve been thinking about the way that cycling can enable particular experiences of places not just now, but in the past – links can be made between what is left in the present and how we or other people may have lived in the past. This is something that I’ve felt cycling along the East London waterways. Your knowledge about the past shapes how you feel moving through the present: I remember students being amazed when I’ve told them some of those overgrown channels were constructed by people, teams of navvies digging into the ground to create the freight highways of the time. I could see that when they walked along the canal next time, they would see it a little differently.
In Hull, many people have a strong sense of the past, shaped through collective and individual memories. You can still see many signs of the past alongside the industries of the present, like when I cycled across the waterfront earlier this year.
The contours of the city bear (sometimes hidden) witness to loss and exploitation as well as pride and community. On the docks I found a memorial: initially I thought perhaps someone had recently died at that spot, going closer I realised it was a memorial to all those who had died at sea, with fresh flowers and cards left to their memory. Sometimes cycling along the East London waterways I think about the navvies who dug the canals, a hard and dangerous job which also regularly claimed lives.