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Biking British

Boston Globe


Biking along the River Cam means sharing the road with joggers, walkers, commuting cyclists, and cows.

CAMBRIDGE, England - On this summer evening we stroll along the River Cam, enjoying the breeze. We have walked this path all week, most often in the lull between dinner and bed, and know to be on the alert for the sound of rolling tires and the b-r-r-ring of a bike bell. Which is why we leap as a cyclist roars up from behind.

“Out of the way!’’ he bellows as he flies past, his booted feet pumping with the speed of a jackhammer.

So much for British civility. For a country that prides itself on etiquette, Britain seems to have granted cyclists absolution. They dodge, they weave, they yell. They pass on the right, they pass on the left. And God forbid that you get in their way. The drivers aren’t much better. In the week we’ve been in Cambridge, where I teach a summer writing course at Gonville & Caius, one of the oldest of the legendary university’s 31 colleges, we’ve seen one cyclist on St. Andrews Street tossed from his bike as the car to his right got too close and another challenge a lorry on Trumpington Street and lose. We’ve read about a TV celebrity chef purposely running a group of cyclists off the road.

We turn and head home, defeated. Avid cyclists on our own turf, my husband and I had envisioned cheerfully pedaling through verdant fields and thatched-roof villages. Cambridge, after all, is known as the Biking Capital of England, the compact city of flat terrain where one out of four residents bikes to work, and 1,900 cycles cross the Riverside Bridge every day. The city with an intricate web of bike paths and lanes. Yet with the fury of the boot-clad cyclist still ringing in the summer air, we question our courage. We question our skill. We question how anyone can safely navigate through this city of cars and crowds to get to the rolling countryside.


Selected Works

Yankee Magazine
Travel essay published in the anthology "Around the World."
How does one survive biking in Cambridge, the legendary English city of narrow, winding streets, congested traffic, bellowing drivers, and cows? Lots of cows.
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Hockey great Bobby Orr may have knees like no other, but that doesn't mean the rest of us haven't abused the joint beyond its intention.
Boston Globe Magazine cover story on the gentrification of this seaport city on the coast of New Hampshire
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Book
Write Choices blasts through the boundaries between different forms of narrative nonfiction, focusing on the choices all writers of all forms make at every juncture, from choosing an idea, to collecting content, to creating a structure, to revising.
A powerful narrative illustrating the impact of abortion politics on women and health care workers.