I can exactly pinpoint the moment when I transformed from a casual city pootler to a full-blown urban cyclist.
I shipped my bike to London and used it as my main mode of transport for two years, day-in, day-out. Through sweaty summer tube strikes and frosty winter mornings. Using it to get to work, to gigs in Camden, art galleries at Southbank, the opera at Covent Garden and Portobello market. NEVER dressed in lycra (in fact, I rode to my birthday dinner in a tutu skirt one year).
My friends, family and colleagues were initially aghast. ‘Cycling in London? With all those mouthy black cabs and huge double-decker buses rearing up behind you? Don’t you feel unsafe?’
Well, the brief periods where I did feel a bit unsteady (my first encounter with Shepherds Bush roundabout and the Hammersmith Flyover) were completely outweighed by the joy and freedom I felt cycling around the city at my own pace. My favourite route was to travel at twilight from my home in Paddington, crossing Hyde Park, skimming past Buckingham Palace, waving to Big Ben and crossing the Thames bathed in the colours of the London Eye. Every time I rode on Westminster Bridge I would slow down, drink in the view and breathe a huge sigh of gratitude for having the opportunity to live in this vibrant city.
In fact, I still get a little homesick remembering it. And if my little anecdote doesn’t convince you why cycling is the best way to get around London, maybe this video from ibikelondon will.