Recently, I bought a bike.
I got it second-hand from The Bike Station, an organization that refurbishes old bikes and sells them at discounted prices. They only sell adult bikes on Saturdays, so after I heard about them I wandered down one weekend, only to find that they had already sold out for the day. They warned me to come early, so a few weeks later I showed up an hour before they opened and shivered with other prospective cheap bike owners until they finally opened the doors. I ended up being 12th in line, and by 10:30 there was a long line of people behind me.
Once inside, I stared at the array of about 40 bikes of all shapes and sizes, ranging in price from £45 to £120, unsure where to begin. After trying a few, I decided on the purple one, not just because it's purple, although that is why it caught my eye. ;)
Edinburgh has lots of bike paths. More commonly called cycle paths here, but whenever I say that people seem to think I'm saying "psychopaths" because of my accent. True story.
Anyway, I went out exploring on a bike path by the river the other day.
I find it fascinating that unlike those of many major European cities, Edinburgh's city centre isn't located on its river. Cycling by the Water of Leith, I sort of felt like I was in the forest at times.
Bike paths are awesome because I'm sort of wimpy when it comes to cycling in traffic. This is nothing new, and I stuck to bike paths / quiet streets in Ottawa whenever I could; however I'm even wimpier when faced with traffic driving on the left. As a pedestrian, I've gotten used to dealing with wrong-side traffic by now, but since I don't drive a car I haven't had to contend with being on the actual road until now.
It's nervewracking. Something I hadn't even considered before getting on the bike was that when cycling on the left, one must shoulder-check over the right shoulder, rather than the left. After years of checking automatically over my left shoulder, teaching my neck to do it the other way is harder than I thought it would be.
Moreover, there are roundabouts. Oh, roundabouts. Apparently they are safer and more efficient than other kinds of intersections, but because I'm not familiar with them yet, they scare me. I haven't cycled around one yet because I'm freaking terrified. This is something I have to get over, but man. So much fear. My boyfriend drew me a helpful diagram about which lane to be in for which exit, and it's great, but I still haven't gone out and tried it. One day. For now, I'm sticking to the paths.