Fair Weather Cyclists Welcome

 

Fair weather cyclists welcome

 

As I write this, it’s 25°C and sunny. I know my commute home along Cycle Superhighway 2 will be slightly more crowded with cyclists than usual. There will, of course, be the typical mix of London cyclists which range from middle-aged men in lycra to cycle hire youths to Brompton commuters. But today there will be another type of cyclist in the mix: the fair weather cyclist.

The fair weather cyclist is characterised by slower than average acceleration, tyres with slightly less than the recommended PSI of pressure, and strict adherence to cycle lanes even when the bus lanes would be quicker. You may think that the year-round cyclist sneers at the fair weather cyclist for consuming scarce cycle infrastructure and slightly slowing the flow. Maybe some do. However, I’d like to make one thing absolutely clear: I welcome the fair weather cyclist on the streets of London.

The best thing for cycling is more cyclists. It’s the whole ‘critical mass’ argument. The more people who cycle, the more we can justify building cycling infrastructure, which will result in more cyclists. As effective as schemes to convince people to take up cycling can be, the sun probably does more to get people cycling than even the best behaviour change campaign could.

IMG 1822If you’re a fair-weather cyclist and rode in today, I say ‘well done’ to you. If you got off the tube this morning, saw the diverse crowd of cyclists, and had a little twinge of envy (or regret), then try giving it a go tomorrow. Get yourself organised this evening so that you’re ready in the morning. Inflate your tyres. Pick out your cycling gear and work clothes. Set your alarm a bit earlier so that you’re not in a rush. The hardest thing to do is to get started, but once you are out riding in the great weather, you’ll pity those stuffed on our public transport system. You’ll be glad you’re a fair-weather cyclist.

 

But it’s just too far!

Maybe it is. But maybe it isn’t! Think about it in the context of exercise. Maybe you exercise by lifting things up and putting them down. Maybe you run in a big loop and end where you started. What if instead, you took some of that time, and added it to your commute? For example, you turn a 45 minute public transport commute into a 60 minute cycle commute. Adding 15 minutes to your commute and getting your exercise sorted sounds like a pretty good deal. If you live further away and take the train, how about cycling to the station, then getting a hire bike from the station to your place of work?

 

But my bike is in questionable condition!

You can probably get it tuned up for free with a Dr Bike session through your local council. I just found a free cycle tune up event next weekend near my house. You could also have a cycle mechanic come to your home though a service like Nip Nip. Or you can wheel your bike over to your local bike shop.

 

But I’m not quite ready!  

Some people are just not ready to cycle tomorrow. I totally understand. Aside from distance, the main reason for not cycling (even in good weather) is the feeling that the roads are just too intimidating. Did you know that you can get free cycle training from your local council? I took training a few years ago in Ealing just to sharpen up, and I became a better cyclist. If that sounds too freaky for you at this point, why not head over to Hyde Park and rent a Santander Cycle Hire bike to zip around the park on the cycle paths?

 

No you don’t understand – I literally don’t know how to ride a bike!

You could be starting from scratch. In London it’s more common than you might think. Again, your local council can provide you with basic cycle training in a safe off-road environment with a qualified instructor.

Given the right support and the right motivation, you too can become a fair-weather cyclist. You’ll be more than welcome on the streets of London.


 

I joined Mattinson Partnership in October 2017 to head up MP Smarter Travel, our consultancy specialising in environmental and sustainable transport services. My background is in town planning and transport, in which I specialise in public consultations for major schemes, travel behaviour change, urban freight and bespoke research. At MP Smarter Travel I am responsible for overseeing projects, providing technical review and managing business development. I am from Ontario and I've been a Londoner for over ten years. I'm a dedicated two-wheeler, commuting by bicycle and hopping on my motorcycle on weekends to see what's out there.

ank@mpsmartertravel.co.uk

 

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