As central London slowly grinds to a halt and public transport feels the strain of an increasing population, there’s never been a better time to shirk the smelly armpit in your face on the Underground, pocket the Uber fare or leave your car at home to join the blooming ranks of cyclists skipping to the front of the traffic queues every morning. With the recent opening of prominent new segregated cycle lanes and a number of smaller schemes making quieter roads ever more cycle friendly, Bankside is now arguably the best connected city quarter in London by bike, and more and more people are taking advantage.
A recent Transport for London study has suggested that cycling in London is showing remarkable growth. Bicycles now account for 32% of all the vehicles on the road in Zone 1 in the morning peak time, and the number of people commuting to central London by bike is expected to overtake the number by car within three years. Increasing safety measures and awareness has meant that, despite the growing number of cyclists, casualty rates are the lowest ever recorded. In Bankside itself, our 2015 employee travel survey of nearly 1000 people suggested that over 12% regularly use cycling as their main mode of transport for their commute.
We've all seen the headlines about the high percentage of people that don’t manage to fit the recommended levels of exercise in to their lives and that’s not a surprise – we are a busy city! But more and more people are finding that they can improve their fitness by working in gentle but regular activity to their daily routines; commuting by bike is a perfect example.
Commuting from further afield? That doesn't have to stop you. Why not try leaving the train early and cycling the rest of the way on a Santander Cycle Hire bike, or perhaps using a fold up bike? Our very own Urban Gardener, Ida Nilsson has recently discovered the delights of cycling to work in the spring weather using one of Better Bankside’s fold-up Bromptons. She says: “Cycling is just such a fun way to get to work. I really enjoy getting to know the streets and at this time of year seeing all the trees spring into life as I travel to work." For employees of our member businesses, these are available to trial for two weeks if you too want to see what all the fuss is about.
In fact, if you start planning now, you can get ready in time for our next Cycle to Work day on 26 April, in conjunction with Southwark Cyclists and Team London Bridge. There will be Dr Bike (our free monthly bike health check), there will be prizes and there will be teams of beginner and experienced cyclists riding from Nunhead to Blackfriars, or North Dulwich to London Bridge. Whether you live near the starting points or come through by train and jump off early, it could be the perfect opportunity to find a new way into work. You can see more about what will be happening on the day on Southwark Cyclist’s webpage. If you want to get some free one-to-one training beforehand to boost your confidence, you can arrange this with Southwark Council if you live or work in the borough (which, if you work in Bankside, you do!).
If you’re an experienced cyclist then team up with a friend and encourage them to cycle in in the run up to Cycle to Work day. Tweet a photo of you and your buddy to @betterbankside using #cyclebuddy - there will be prizes up for grabs!