For significant numbers of us the lockdown is set to continue until July 2020 at least, and all the while the days are getting longer and warmer and the urge to get outdoors is mounting.
Jogging through the streets works for many but it's not ideal for everybody. Not only because it requires a certain level of fitness, but it can also suddenly thrust us into other people's personal space as we navigate pavements, road works and traffic.
A more leisurely and socially distanced way of getting about has seen a big upturn recently and may be a better choice of exercise and transport for you: cycling.
If you haven't been on a bike for a while – perhaps even since childhood, or the day you first passed your driving test, you may be pleasantly surprised at how enjoyable, healthy and liberating the experience is.
Transport for London have mapped out a variety of routes for cyclists in and around London including a mix of 'Cycle Superhighways' for faster commuter paths and 'Quietways' for more leisurely journeys that stay away from the main roads to avoid congestion, fumes and stress.
The web link https://tfl.gov.uk/maps/cycle has plenty of ideas if you have just purchased a new bike or one of the many tricycles spotted in and around the parks recently, and are yet to discover your preferred route.
The TFL Quietway route Q1 for example, starts at Waterloo station, passes down the side of the Old Vic theatre along Webber Street heading through Newington to Borough, keeping to the quieter roads, and leading out through South Bermondsey to Greenwich and the green spaces of Blackheath.
Komoot.com is also a fabulously detailed and dynamic website that allows you to tailor your route, calculating journey times, elevation levels en-route and also allows for the routes to be easily shared with your mobile phone so you have access to the map and data while you travel.
There are a few key things that should be flagged for new cyclists (experienced riders will undoubtedly have learned these lessons already):
- Be safe, be seen. Ensure you are wearing high vis clothing where possible, and position yourself on the road and at junctions where motorists can see you. You should also wear a helmet, even if you are on a tricycle.
- Stay hydrated. Especially during the summer, becoming increasingly parched is not going to help keep you safe, so remember to take fluids with you.
- The 'Pub Bike'. Consider having a second bike to your main 'pride and joy' which you keep for weekend riding when you can better manage safety and security. For day to day riding, have what is affectionately referred to by experienced cyclists as their 'pub bike'; a rusty machine that still gets the job done but if it's swiped from outside a pub or a shop you won't be too dismayed!
Until there is a vaccination for Covid-19, commuting is going to remain a challenge for Londoners and the biggest obstacle to getting back to work. The Santander Bikes (originally known as the 'Boris Bikes') provide a good alternative to the tube, enabling commuters to park them up near their workplace and pick up another to cycle home. At just £2 per day or £90 for the year it does offer a lot of convenience at a low price tag.
2020 to 2021 may see a big spike in public bike usage and even speed up installation of more bike lanes across the capital - reducing carbon emissions at the same time. Healthier, happier and calmer all round, you know – there may be some very significant silver linings to this cloud after all!