Friday, 10 September 2010

Cycling: The Only Way to Travel

If you're reading a bike blog you probably already agree with me, but I thought I'd marshall my arguments for my thesis:

You'd be an idiot not to ride a bike in London.

I'm a bit of a cycling evangelist and really, I'd love you to be too. So here's an easy guide you can use to persuade the most hardened tube weasel onto two wheels.

It's Cheaper
A monthly oyster travel card for zones 1-2 is roughly £100. If you live further out, or you use pay as you go you'll be spending way more. Over a year the absolute minimum is about £1000.
In contrast, a reasonable entry level bike will cost you about £300, plus two services a year costing about £40 each.Bung in a few inner tubes and maybe a pump and you're looking at £400 a year- and that is if the bike only lasts you that long (it shouldn't). 

Personally I can think of better places to put £600 than Boris Johnson's budget sheet.

It's Faster
According to TFL, over an average journey of 4 miles in central London, cycling is always the fastest mode of transport. See this brilliant post on London Cyclist for a real life test. My personal experience bears this out, especially if you need to go east to west in North London.

It's Less Stressful
If you have even a little of  typical urban control freak tendancies, you will know that there is nothing more frustrating than being at the mercy of the whims of the London transport system. Granted, some days everything works amazingly, but isn't it always the day you have a vital meeting/date/interview to get to that the whole network goes into spasm and spits you out? With a bike you'll never have to wait for a bus or a train again, change three times to travel two miles or get stuck in a tunnel. Self-determination is priceless- the only thing controlling the length of your commute is the strength of your own two legs.

It's Greener
Feeling a little bit smug about your carbon emissions can't hurt, can it?

And most importantly.....

It's much, much, much more Pleasant
I, like most people make most decisions on a pain vs pleasure basis. And honestly, cycling is ALWAYS more pleasurable. On the days when it is raining hard and I think 'I don't really want to get wet' and opt for the tube I always regret it. You get wet on the way too and from the station anyway and the train will be rammed with damp people poking you with their umbrellas, steaming and scowling. On the roads, wet faced but smiling, the cyclists stay a pleasant temperature and arrive home feeling revitalised.
In terms of gear, a decent breathable waterproof jacket will do you. Lots of people swear by waterproof trousers but I find them squeaky, clammy and a bridge too far in the style stakes. Instead, I wear shorts, or short skirts and tights that dry fast.

And if you think that on hot summer days it might be less  sweaty not to cycle.... you've clearly never been on a London tube (or bus) in August. If you're going to sweat anyway, you might as well earn it.

Finally, and you may not all find this, but whenever I'm on a bike I feel I'm a member of the Famous Five off on a mini-adventure. And we all need a bit more of that in our day.

1 comment:

  1. Cycling is cheaper? Oh no....not once you're addicted! The cheap entry bike gets traded in for something at least £750 + all the proper cycle gear needs buying. Decent bright yellow (the first thing the police ask you following an incident - what were you wearing?) waterproof jacket is at least £60. It might only cost £40 to get a service but once you've replaced the worn out bits don't expect to come out of a service without having spent at least £100! I admit my cycling mileage is 120+ miles per week....
    BUT no paying gym fees, no being squashed in trains, no getting home late because of signal failures. Yay!