Why I cycle (Cyclist of the month)

Cyclist of the month

Anne got into cycling about a year ago. Having given up her car she needed a quick and healthy way to get around… and transformed her way of life! Read Anne’s full story below…

“I stopped cycling when I moved to London, intimidated by the traffic. Then my bike was stolen, and I thought I’d stopped pedalling for good. Then last year, two things came together to make me take the plunge and buy my bike.  

“Firstly, I tore the cartilage in my knee. I was taking multiple painkillers and the doctors were pessimistic. At physio, I started using an exercise bike to build my strength, but it was mind-numbingly boring. I wanted to get a proper bike, but I live at the top of a steep hill and I couldn’t face pushing the bike up it every single trip. Then I found out about e-bikes. I never thought they’d be powerful enough to get someone like me up a hill, but found they had plenty of power.

“Secondly, I was concerned about pollution and the worsening climate crisis. We all need to make changes, and the single best thing I could do was to get rid of my car. Most people can manage without a car in London, and I certainly can. The main problem was that I need to be able to get to remote places to see family and friends. Trains are great, but it’s those last few miles at the end that are the problem. Taxis are expensive and rural buses are rarer than hen’s teeth. Capacity for full-size bikes on trains is limited, so I took a deep breath, sold the car and bought my folding e-bike. I cycle to the station, jump on the train and cycle the last bit at the other end.  

“It cost more than I got for the car, but it’s been well worth it. I love cycling now. I love the freedom. I love not having to find a parking space, I love how quickly I can get to places. As a local Vicar I do lots of short trips and the bike is perfect for popping around the community. The only time I’ve needed to use ZipCar is to take the dog to the vet.  Apart from that, I really haven’t missed the car. It’s amazing the amount of shopping you can get on a Brompton if you try! The maximum range of the battery is about twenty-five miles, but I’m learning to ride without assistance and save the battery for hills.

“The most helpful thing for me was the training provided by Lewisham Council. I was terrified of London traffic. My instructor was patient and helpful – he even showed me how to negotiate the scary roundabout by Blackheath Standard so I can cycle to Marks and Spencer! It gave me more confidence and I’m a safer rider now.

“I wish the cycle paths joined up a bit more and were better signposted. Some of them don’t feel safe after dark, so I end up on the A roads at night. You have to be a bit hard-nosed and ignore rude drivers. 

“Cycling has changed my life. I’m in my fifties with several health conditions and the e-bike gives me the helping hand I need. I’m hearing impaired, but that doesn’t cause a problem, I just have to look behind me. For the first time in years I’m enjoying exercise, and my knee is back to normal. I haven’t regretted selling my car for one second. Exercise is now an automatic part of my day. I feel ten years younger than I did before I bought my bike.”