How and why to get in on London’s bike craze
By Alex Fargier
You may have noticed that the bicycle is still many Londoners’ intra-capital travel mode of choice. The number of bikes attached to railings, posts and other securing points attest to their reliance on pedal-powered transport. Cyclists are a regular sight on London’s roads and the latest census figures showed the number of cyclists had more than doubled in the decade up to 2011.
The attraction may be that one way to simultaneously save money and get fit in London (without breaking the bank) is to bike it. Granted, London may not have the best reputation when it comes to cycling. But despite the coverage of recent years, notably of cycling deaths and more recently air pollution, cycling is still booming and still offers a great deal of benefits. And with summer now here, what better time to try swapping your commuter seat for a saddle?
TFL schemes to improve cycling in London
The big news now is that TfL is currently investing “£4bn in improving London’s road infrastructure” including 50km of segregated cycle ways, an improvement on the simple paint which separates most cycle routes from the road in the capital today. As part of TfL’s 6 way transport commitment plan, £300m will go into 33 junction safety improvements so that by the end of 2016, 13 junctions will have been improved including major junctions in Oval, Stockwell and Elephant and Castle, which should make the Latin corner of London one of the safest to cycle through by 2017.
Budget & fitness friendly
The great advantage of commuter cycling is that it combines calorie-burning with the practical logistics of getting to work. But the financial benefits are not to be underestimated:
Cycling from Brixton to Elephant and Castle might only take you 20 mins at an average pace, only ten more minutes than a tube ride from station to station. This would save you at least £1.50 per day. Over the year, including weekends and holidays, the savings amount to between £350 and £400.
It makes even more sense if you usually travel to Zone 1 from Zone 2 by tube, or if your journey takes in 3 travel Zones: you could end up saving over £200 more. For example, cycling from Brixton to Pimlico, which itself is also just a 20 minute journey, would save you between £560 and £680 compared to Tube travel. Bus rides cost £1.50 each up to the cap of £4.50, so single trip savings are similar to tube trips within the same zone.
Bikes themselves these days don’t necessarily cost the earth either. The surge in cycling popularity may have seen many older classic race bikes acquire vintage and urban-hipster accessory status. However 2nd hand classic racing bikes can be found at budget prices too. With a little help either from the Internet or possibly your local bike shop, including servicing, you could end up spending only around £100 for your commuting companion.