Yesterday, balanced on two wheels, I ventured into central London for the first time in three months. From the Ealing streets, through Kensington Gardens, Hyde Park, and up the Mall to St James’ Park, it was immeasurably more enjoyable than the equivalent tube journey.
We weren’t the only ones. The category of cyclists we encountered varied hugely, from lycra-adorned enthusiasts whizzing past us, to friends in floral dresses pedalling to picnics in the park, rosé bottles balanced precariously in wicker baskets. One thing was clear to me on yesterday’s adventure: cycling is the future.
The trend for inner-city cycling is growing exponentially and cities are adapting themselves to meet the demand. Cycle lanes are being widened to allow for the incoming influx of two-wheeled commuters. Offices will have to build more shower facilities to accommodate their perspiring employees’ arrivals. Bike subscription start-ups are emerging left, right and centre, eager to benefit from this newfound enthusiasm. Transport for London is rolling out 14 more docking stations for Santander bikes across London, adding 1,700 more bikes to the scheme. It’s a revolving revolution.
Yes, this isn’t going to miraculously eradicate pollution or extinguish car usage. If anything, we might be about to see a greater volume of cars on the road as well as bikes, with people turning to private cars rather than public transport for fear of infection, although, from today, the wearing of a face mask on public transport is mandatory in England, which will hopefully lessen the paranoia.
Regardless, yesterday’s foray offered a tantalising glimpse of a bright future for our cities; quiet streets with fewer vehicles and a broader range of people on bikes, benefiting from changed priorities and critical mass. In the midst of a world that seems to be spiralling into pits of negativity, it is important – and reassuring – to recognise these silver linings. Let’s hope policymakers, town planners and transport chiefs up and down the country find ways to help accelerate this two-wheeled revolution.