How well do you know York? Most of us reckon we have a pretty good working knowledge of the city. With its snickelways and snickets, alleys and ginnels, it’s easy to get a bit lost, (or more likely side-tracked), in our fair city. It’s safe to assume, however, that we can all get around a lot better than if we were plonked, say, in the midst of deep space? All that is set to change, as there is a scale model of the solar system in our back garden. I’ll repeat that. There is a scale model of the solar system in our back garden. Cycle The Solar System might just be my new favourite.
Running from Millenium Bridge to Riccall, the 6.4 mile (10km) cycle path was constructed and is maintained by Sustrans, who bought the route of the diverted old East Coast Railway line in the early 1980s, for the princely sum of £1. Soon after, Cycle The Solar System was introduced as an entertaining, healthy and educational venture.
The scale of the model is 575,872,239 to 1, which means that every 100 metres of the track equates to 57 million kilometres in space. The speed of light is approximately 1.16 mph, so, within the constraints of the model, it is possible, at walking speed, to be travelling at three times the speed of light, and when cycling ten times the speed of light.
Cycle The Solar system is an excellent way of seeing a part of York rarely travelled; certainly not by car. In a time of ever-changing curriculums and extra-curricular activities, it is comforting to know that the basic knowledge of our position in the universe is still being taught. More importantly, this knowledge is teamed with some good old fashioned exercise. For adults and children, Cycle The Solar System is an important and informative endeavour, and one that should long continue.
More information on Cycle The Solar System (including lots of construction photos and science-y stuff) can be found on the official website.