I spent some of yesterday afternoon with a friend, helping her to suss out a fairly quiet route from home to station and give her a few pointers as she doesn't have much confidence riding on the road. Now, she's a dead slow pootler so obviously I adjusted my speed to match and either followed or led as she felt comfortable. It's an awful area to cycle in (route is Brierley Hill to Stourbridge junction station for those out west of Birmingham) and although I encouraged her to ride on the road on parts she wan't necessarily sure of, I also just agreed with her that riding on the pavement in some areas was simply the most sensible, safe and practical option. I did remind her to watch out for driveways and the random freak occurrance of a pedestrian. A couple of things struck me: 1. On anything but un-trafficked side roads, doing 9 mph average seems to invite drivers to ignore you even more - I feel far safer batting along at 20mph on the busy bits on my way to/from work. 2. Sometimes an area has just had so much road building done without any consideration for anyone not in a car (god bless 60's-80's transport policy) that it becomes quite simply a real challenge to get anywhere by bike unless you are a very competant and speedy cyclist. Still, it's one more person on a bike in a very hostile cycling environment - she's chuffed that even going 'dead slow' as she described it, that it only took 17 minutes when the same public transport journey would be unpredictable to say the least with a 30-40 minutes 'best case scenario'! She's also commuting the 2 miles to work (she's a student and works in a hotel) which saves on her staff taxi costs on 6/7am starts. She admits that the impetus was living with a friend in York for a couple of months and getting out on the bike being 'normal' there - because cyclists are so few and far between here (I'm talking utility journeys, plenty of weekend warriors out in the country), the idea is just never entertained in general.