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In search of the superhighway

Catherine Carr | 14:45 PM, Tuesday, 18 May 2010

By Catherine Carr


0530 Wake up in Cambridge.

0550 Peel children from legs.

0645 Train to London.

0830 Meeting in Broadcasting House, at which some bright spark has the idea to send me in search of the new cycle superhighway. Apparently these new bright blue lanes will criss-cross London to allow commuters to get to work without ending up being sandwiched between two buses. Or two taxis. Or two buses and a taxi.

0900ish make calls to Transport for London to get guest for programme. Unfold bike. Call Cycle Touring Club for guest as well. Ask colleague to call BOJO (Boris Johnson's) office in case he wants to talk about the "great oak" of a cycle network which he says must start with an "acorn". Warning bells go off somewhere in tired woolly head, that maybe an acorn in Clapham might be hard to find. However blue.

0930 Get recorder, bike, A to Z and notebook. Entertain hare-brained idea to pedal to find cycle lanes, in a bid to make comparison between super and not so super cycle routes more 'authentic'.

1030 Discover that Clapham is miles from Broadcasting House.

1031 Discover that the fly that had ended up in my eye was in fact three flies.

1032 Look for cycle lanes.

1033 Look a bit more.

1034 Call Transport for London and they tell me that the cycle lanes are at the very early stage (acorn, remember). They suggest Balham or Tooting. I hang up and swear softly.

1040 Field call from office who wonder where on earth I am. Feel a little bit panicked that somehow I have to find cycle lane, assess it, interview someone, get back to BH, put interview and stuff in computer and edit it. All before 1230.

1050 Interview someone in a bike shop. Bit tenuous, but at least she has seen some blue paint in the borough.

1055 Bingo!! Blue superhighway!! Plus six or seven very obliging men en route to Paris in aid of Royal Marsden Cancer Campaign. They are smack-bang on top of (very short) stretch of super-highway. And hadn't even realised. These highways will not be ready until July, so we weren't expecting them to stretch all the way from Morden to the city yet.... But I was expecting more than 50 or so metres of blue paint.

1100 Find some builders building the superhighway. Persuade them to turn on their pneumatic drill for a burst for my piece.. and then ask them if the cycle lanes will be ready for July. A man in a hi-vis jacket says "no". I get that on tape. It's quite funny.

1106 Cycle to Stockwell and tell office I am coming back and hump folding bike to tube. Regret beige skirt. Not for first time this morning, either.

1108 Sit on tube.

1109 Eat apple.

1110 Dream of a latte.

1111 Finish apple.

1112 Listen to stuff I had taped, to get an idea which bits will go where in final piece.

1130 Back to office and load recorded stuff onto PC, start marshalling it into some kind of order.

1135 Establish that my colleague Lucy has sorted interviews and briefed all and sundry. Good-oh.

1150 Try to find a studio engineer to help make the piece sound pretty (iron out all the traffic noises and de-umm it.)

1202 Ask Lucy to help me find an engineer.

1210 Ask Chris to help Lucy to help me to find an engineer.

1220 Run up three flights of stairs, through the radio drama studio to find engineer (find Vicky, who works like lightning on the piece).

1240 Piece finished. Three and a half minutes of me breathless and with a rising and shrill voice somewhere in Clapham/Tooting/Balham with flies in my eyes and a grubby beige skirt on, chatting to bemused men in lycra.

1250 Interview with Transport for London and Cycle Touring Club goes on air after my piece. Peter White sounding bouncy and in control (as usual) despite the activity behind the glass screen. And the late arrival of any script for the interview.

1300 Off air.

Listen to Catherine's report.

Catherine Carr is a reporter for You and Yours.



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