One in eight people in London own a bike, and now I’m one of them. I’m definitely in a minority though. Shamefully, only around 2% of all journeys in London are made by bike, compared to 4.3% in Cardiff and a huge 37% in Amsterdam.
Regardless, I became another statistic when a few weeks ago I dusted off my old bike that I’ve had since childhood – a purple Raleigh mountain bike – and brought it to London. Tube and bus fares were crippling me, and I couldn’t think of a better way to enjoy the last of the summer. I live about three miles from work, and cycling is the easiest and quickest way to get to and from the office.
My virgin voyage started off with a quiver. I hadn’t been on a bike for about five years, and while I rose admirably to the challenge, it wasn’t without its hiccups. Not properly researching the route led me around some of London’s busiest roundabouts and down its heaving streets. I got beeped at by angry lorry drivers countless times as I weaved my way in and out of double decker buses, occasionally fearing for my 23 years.
I did eventually get to work, sweaty and slightly shaken, but triumphant at not having paid over the odds to stare into somebody’s armpit for half an hour. After the initial issue of not having a route or any comprehension of the Highway Code, I cycled home with a colleague. It’s a cliché, but as the wind whistled through my hair, I knew that I was doing the right thing. The sheer amount of cyclists on the road shows just how popular cycling has become.
From then on, cycling has been a great experience. There’s nothing quite like breezing past the hordes waiting at the bus stop for a service that will be rammed, and arriving at work before them.
What’s more, it’s buy-one-get-three-free: I’ve saved on a gym membership, a weekly travelcard and I’m being environmentally friendly.
Is cycling your main method of transport? Would you consider cycling to work instead of driving or using public transport? Let us know below.