Cycling back from the center of London out to Leyton last night afteer the day's caching, I found that I couldn't get into a gear lower than fourth. That makes it harder to cycle at high speed, of course. However, it didn't occur to me to have a look to see what the problem was, I was expecting something that I'd only be able to fix with the tools I had at home.
When I looked at it today, I saw that the problem was that a lump of gravel had got caught inside the derailleur, A bit of wiggling with a small screwdriver and long nose pliers, and it was out, and the gears now work fine!
I was very impressed yesterday with how bike-friendly London has become, Going in from the East, I found myself on "Cycle Superhighway 2" which goes from Stratford to Aldgate. And it really is very nice.
Most cycleways are just line painted on the road, and cars still whizz path leaving you inches of clearance. And cars park on them, so you have to get out into the main traffic. Or you can go on bus lanes; then the cars and lorries are banished, but the taxis are lethal, and you keep encountering stopped buses, so you have to get out into the main traffic.
But on "Cycle Superhighway 2" most of the route is on a separate cycleway, that cars, buses and taxis can't get on to, because they'd have to go over a kerb. I felt *really* safe on those. And where you don't have the seperate cycleway, at least you have a lane that's continuous, painted blue, and of a decent width. Vote for Boris!
As I was going back at night, going east out of London, quite a large flock of bikes were going the same way. That also makes me feel safer; a car is less likely to do something silly when there's a bunch of us, and it also means that people who drive in London are actually expecting bikes. So yes, I have heard about some cyclists being injured or killed, but the thing to avoid is overtaking large vehicles on the inside, because they can't see you, you shouldn't be there, and if they're turning left, you aren't expecting it and can't get out of the way.