Bike Riding In The City: 9 Reasons Why Cycling Is The Best Way To Get Around London
Sponsored Feature: It's time to ditch public transport, and ride a bike instead.
We're always being told that cycling is the best way of getting about big cities. But, really, is it? Yes, and London is no exception to the rule. Epic landmarks, beautiful parks, a public transport network that's bursting at the seams like a sumo wrestler's skinny cotton trousers. Seriously. Get on your bike. It's truly the ultimate vehicle to explore our capital city.
Still not convinced? Looking for us to expand on this argument? Looking for us to explain exactly why cycling is the best way to get around London? Fine. No problem. We're happy to do this. In fact, we'll do it now.
Here's the definitive list of reasons you should sack off trains and buses, and travel by bicycle instead. On top of that, we've teamed up with Continental Tyres and are offering cyclists the chance to win a spot on the sold-out RideLondon 100 sportive.
1) The Freedom
While vital train lines get clogged up by fallen leaves, and carelessly discarded takeaway kebab boxes, you're free to pedal hither and thither without interruption. When you're on a bicycle, you're basically your own boss. Traffic jams? No problem? Cancelled trains? No problem. Cyclists can set-off when they want, go whichever way they want, and travel through life to the rhythms of their own improvised timetable.
We're not saying Mel Gibson was referring to cycling in London when he made that classic pre-battle speech in Braveheart, but next time you're pedalling past a load of disgruntled car drivers in the capital...why not scream "FREEEEEEEEEEEEEDOM" at the top of your lungs? Go on. We dare you.
2) The Chance To Raise Money For Charity
Who doesn't like raising money for charity? The lovely feel good warmth you get afterwards, and that sense you've done something good for the world; there's nothing quite like it is there?
The Prudential RideLondon-Surrey 100 sportive is an event that offer participants a chance to ride 100 miles of closed roads in and around London, as well as follow in the tyre-rolls of the London 2012 Olympians. Taking part in this epic event, and raising some money for charity, is a real must for the capital's cyclists.
And while this year's event is sold-out, we're happy to report that Continental Tyres are offering you lucky pups the chance to win one of 50 places on the starting line. To be in with a chance, enter the competition here.
3) The Health Benefits
Doesn't need much explaining this one, but we'll explain it anyway. Riding a bicycle to and from your house or place of business is a lot healthier than sitting on a busy commuter train and eating your own body weight in donuts you purchased at the station. That's science, or something that's at least vaguely in the scientific ballpark.
Good for the mind, good for the body; pedal around LDN, and your friends will be calling you Harry Healthy before you can change out of your skin-tight cycling gear. Bicycles are the perfect way to combine exercise and adventure. Start using a bike in the capital, and you'll be hooked like a fish before you know.
4) The Sights
When you're on the underground, during rush hour, with an accountant's elbow wedged against your ribcage and a legal secretary's face buried in your armpit...it's not the best (especially if you're the legal secretary with her face buried in your armpit).
You'll look around the carriage and see only disgruntled commuters. You might try to read your book, but it's not happening. No way. Not when you're the filling in a human sandwich. Visually, it's a pile of unwashed pants; some adverts, the underground maps you know by heart, and a load of unhappy human faces.
Surely there has to be something better than this? Surely there's a way to travel across London above ground and see nice buildings, nice parks, and all-round niceties along the way? Well, old sport, of course there is. Cycling! Cycling across London means you'll actually, shocking newsflash alert, get to look at the city itself.
Underground? Pah. You're a person, not a badger.
5) The "Boris Bikes"
Clown, comedian, part-time politician, and overgrown toddler; Boris Johnson is different things to different people. But BoJo, as we've decided to dub him, is also the person who many people in London tend to associate with the capital's excellent public bike system.
BoJo was the Mayor of London when the bicycle hire scheme launched in 2010, and the name "Boris Bikes" has stuck ever since. The scheme has been an overwhelming success for London, with the capital now home to over 10,000 hire bikes and more than 700 docking stations. Even if you don't own a bike, there's no reason not to travel across London on two-wheels when the mood strikes.
6) The Money You'll Save
In the long run, cycling around London is definitely cheaper. A week-long season ticket for travel across zones one to three, for example, will set you back £38. Do that every week for 52 weeks, and you're watching as £1,976 of your hard-earned cash gets washed down the drain...never to be seen again.
Get on your bicycle and pedal your way across London instead, and the money picture takes on a far more rosy glow. London isn't exactly one of the world's most affordable cities and, as a famous supermarket advert once said, "every little helps." Whether you purchase a new bike, a second-hand bike, or get yearly Boris Bike membership for £90; cycling round London will definitely be cheaper than trains, buses, cars, or taxis.
7) It's Quicker
Stuck in the car, crawling down the road an inch at a time, or speeding past traffic on your very own pedal-powered-speed machine. Which way's quicker? Held at a red signal for 20 minutes, on a crowded commuter train in the middle of summer, or speeding past the train station on your very own pedal-powered-speed-machine. Which way's faster? You get the idea.
The top speed of bicycles compared with the top of speed of cars and trains might make you think that cars and trains will get you places quicker. When it comes to a congested capital city like London, however, the reality of time it takes to cover distances is often completely different to what you might expect.
When the popular motor show Top Gear raced a car, a bicycle, a boat, and various public transport across London the winner was, to the dismay of presenter Jeremy Clarkson, the bicycle (by a comfortable margin). Something to think about next time you need to get across London in the speediest time possible.
8) It's Cool
When Britain started winning Olympic cycling events, and Tour De France titles, the public took bicycles into their hearts. Finally, as a nation, we were good at something. Spain and Germany had their football, New Zealand had their rugby, and we had cycling. Suddenly, the entire population wanted to get in on the action. Bicycles here, bicycles there; people couldn't get enough of bicycles.
London proved to be a real hotbed for this cycling addiction. Pop-up cycle-themed cafes, hipster shops specialising entirely in bicycles; make no mistake, cycling was cool with a capital 'C'. If you want to be one of the coolest cats in town, go sub-zero by riding a bicycle.
9) It's Fun
Some things about London aren't fun. Ludicrously high rent prices where you have to sell vital organs just to afford a shelf in broom cupboard, for example. Cycling, however, is fun. Cycling is really fun. In fact, just thinking about how much fun cycling across London can be has made us want to stop writing these words immediately and hop on the nearest bike.
And so, with that in mind, we'll wrap things up here. It's time to ride a bicycle around London, and have a big heap of fun in the process. Fun! Fun! Fun!
Want a place on the start line of the sold-out RideLondon sportive? You can win one of 50 places in the RideLondon-Surrey 100 by entering this competition sponsored by Continental Tyres, the official tyre of Ride London 2016.