Or, how to make paperwork  into an excuse for a ride…

The ongoing saga of applying for my college funding continues. I returned the bale of paperwork that the government office demanded, signed and sent off another bale, and then filled in a couple more forms that I got from another office. And waited. And waited…

Then an email came saying I’d neglected to send The Important Form that they needed to start the entire process. The Rules demand the Important Form, so they couldn’t start the process without it. I had to send the Important Form to them, like, now*.

The problem was, I got this email on Tuesday night. The earliest I could get to a post office was Wednesday lunchtime. The form would then arrive on Thursday morning, but all forms have to go to the main office, not my local office where the file was. If the central office was having a good day, the Important Form may make it back to my local office on Thursday, or more likely Friday, and then someone may look at it on the following Monday.

Alternatively I could go to the local office on Wednesday morning, drop off the form as they opened and go to work. The office is in exactly the opposite direction to work, which meant going on a bike ride along the river Neckar into Stuttgart.

The next morning I got up at silly O’clock, rolled down into the valley, dropped the Important Form off at a quarter to eight in the morning, and pointed the bike towards Stuttgart.

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The Neckar Valley gets very industrial as you approach Stuttgart. Alongside this massive lock gate is an equally massive casting works for a well known car company.

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The cycleway diverts around the back of the harbour. Nice and quiet but with a railway on one side and a river on the other for about a kilometre I wouldn’t want to try it after dark.

Things went well for the first part of the journey and I had a good chance of making it to work on time. Then I was signposted off the direct route and down a side road. And then another side road. and an underpass, then back up a steep hill onto a narrow pavement. Which went back down the steep hill. Ten minutes later I was twenty metres closer to Stuttgart, and found the next part of the cycleway.

Which was closed.

A sign sent me back along the way I’d come until I could cross the river to this route:

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Still, at least I wasn’t on that massive road or stuck in that big traffic jam. Even with detours I was making better progress than they were.

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And, to be fair, the diversion was clearly marked and well signposted. Rather better than the normal route, in fact.

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As soon as I turned away from the river and into Stuttgart proper, everything became more civilised.

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They’re even trying out that tree-huggy new idea of a ‘Bicycle Street’, where bikes have priority and cars need to give way. To make sure drivers get the hint there’s a massive blue bike sign as you come into the ‘Bicycle Street’. I’d have taken a photograph, but unfortunately it was mostly covered by an illegally parked truck.

From the Netherlands.

I was late for work. Fortunately several colleagues have been through this process with this particular office before, so they know the score…

(Sorry for the rubbish picture quality: I was using a small ‘point-and-hope’ camera which didn’t like the lighting conditions at all)

*This is a rather free translation of the german.