Explore New London Cycling Routes on Cycle to Work Day
Updated: Aug 11, 2020
Cycle to Work Day is happening on Thursday 6 August 2020.
Now in its ninth year, the team at Cycle to Work Day are doing things slightly differently due to the fact that many people are now working from home. Whether you’re commuting to work or not, they’re encouraging us all to ‘ride anywhere, for any reason and with anyone’. They’re also offering to some great prizes if you take part!
We think this is a fantastic excuse to get out on your bike and celebrate the joy of cycling and what better way to do that than to explore some of London’s newest cycling routes.
One of the silver linings (and we always try to look for those) that has come out of months of lockdown is that many new cycle lanes have been created in and around London, as well as in other parts of the UK. Many of these pop-up bike lanes, which were initially intended to be temporary, are going to be made permanent, which is great news.
The UK government has also recognised the importance of making it easier and safer for people to cycle and walk. They have proposed new plans to improve the cycling and walking infrastructure of our cities which will bring obvious benefits to our health and wellbeing, whilst also helping the environment through improved air quality through a reduction in car traffic. More silver linings to look forward to!
Take a look at the full list of routes that are being created and improved for both cyclists and pedestrians as part of Transport for London’s ‘London Streetspace Programme’ here. You can plan your cycle journey around London via the many Cycleways here.
But before you get out on your bike, there are some things you should consider.
Get your bike and your body ready
It’s very important to ensure your bike is correctly fitted to suit your height and body type. This will help you to cycle more efficiently and decrease your risk of injury.
Cycling is a very repetitive form of exercise. Even if your seat and handlebars are adjusted properly it can still take a toll on your knees, lower back and neck. Be sure to warm up properly, start gently and take it easy for your first few cycling journeys.
You can expect to experience tightness in certain leg muscles such as your quadriceps and ITB (Iliotibial band), so stretching after cycling is essential. Have a read through one of our previous posts to learn more about avoiding knee pain whilst cycling.
What if I don’t have access to a bike?
Where there’s a will there’s a way! Perhaps you know a friend with a spare bike that can be easily serviced or repaired, or maybe you have an old bike hidden away that just needs a little bit of love.
Late last month the government launched the ‘Fix your Bike Voucher Scheme’ which gives you a £50 voucher towards getting your bike repaired at a wide range of retailers. It's proved so popular that they’ve already allocated all of the vouchers in the first batch. But they will hopefully be releasing more soon.
If that all sounds like too much effort, why not take advantage of a great offer from Transport for London. All you have to do is complete a short online Cycle Skills course and you’ll receive a 24-hour access code for Santander Cycles. You can make as many 30-minute journeys as you want for free within a 24-hour period.
Throughout the history of cars and bikes sharing the roads, there has been an inherent tension and lack of understanding between cyclists and motorists that still exists today. And let’s face it, that tension also extends to pedestrians. Any changes to our road infrastructure are bound to unsettle one or more of these groups. We need to nurture a culture of respect between these different (but overlapping) communities and one way to do that is to encourage empathy through good example.
It’s highly likely that you’ve experienced walking through the streets as a pedestrian and witnessed or experienced aggression from cyclists and motorists. At the other end of the spectrum, for those of us who also drive, it’s very likely that you’ve been frustrated by cyclists running red lights or pedestrians stepping out in the road without looking. These little actions can cultivate resentment and disrespect on all sides.
Cyclists are in a unique position to bridge the great divide between these three communities and one way we can help do this is through our behaviour on the road. It may seem like a small thing but stopping at a red light shows the motorists and the pedestrians around you that you are respecting the same rules that they are, and by extension, you’re respecting them.
The next time a pedestrian steps out into bike lane without looking, try slowing down, ring your bell, resist the urge to yell at them and give them a cheeky smile instead. Maybe they were unaware that their once familiar street now has a new bike lane that they have to cross to get the bus stop. They’re much more likely to learn a lesson and notice a bike lane in future if you showed compassion and understanding.
There will always be aggressive drivers and unaware pedestrians out there, not to mention cyclists who give us all a bad name. But we have the power to choose how we react to them, just as they have the power to choose how they react to us and our behaviour.
Let’s all work together to help make street travel more enjoyable for everyone, regardless of whether it’s by foot, bike or car. Not just on Cycle to Work Day, but every day.