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Cycling to Work
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Posts: 14
Joined: Mar 2010
Post: #1
28-03-2014 03:24 PM

Why don't more people who live in SE23 cycle to work? A lot of people catch the train into central London and it is such a miserable experience. I stopped doing this some years ago, replacing the drudgery of public transport with the sheer pleasure of getting to work under my own steam, and have never looked back.

My commute is just over 7 miles and takes around 30 minutes. Door to door (including shower at work) it is ever so slightly quicker to ride in than catch the train. Why don't more people do this?

The obvious answer is that the roads are dangerous. Which I agree sometimes they are. But I rarely have any serious problems and (touch wood) haven't had any actual accidents for a number of years. I think it is a misconception that the roads are prohibitively dangerous. I'm curious to see what other people think...

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Posts: 61
Joined: Oct 2006
Post: #2
28-03-2014 03:34 PM

I tend to cycle from work in the summer, from around April - October. I cycle from HOP to Camden NW1, its just over 10 miles and it takes me about 45 mins.

I ride my motorbike in the winter months.

Either way I take the train as little as possible

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Posts: 1,538
Joined: Apr 2006
Post: #3
28-03-2014 04:09 PM

I used to ride my motorcycle to The City every day but got taken out by a drunk driver and was off work for nearly a year as a result. I would rather be squashed on a train then squashed on the road.

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Posts: 273
Joined: Aug 2008
Post: #4
28-03-2014 04:42 PM

I wouldn't dare cycle on the roads around here - I'd be terrified. i see appalling driving every day - people going through red lights, using mobile phones, ignoring zebra crossings etc............people get behind the wheel of a car and turn into complete morons as far as I can see

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Posts: 167
Joined: Apr 2009
Post: #5
28-03-2014 04:46 PM

I used to commute to Victoria (about 8 or 9 miles) and after a few years of continuous route refinement managed to get a pretty good (and fairly safe) route (it was not at all obvious to find). Agree that everyone benefits if more people commute to work by bike, but there are still lots of safety concerns (mostly involving lorries), and some require political will to change.

One of the things I used to find annoying was carrying my bike down the stairs in the morning. Lewisham council is doing something about the difficulties of storing bikes securely now - see this link for more details.

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Posts: 122
Joined: Apr 2012
Post: #6
28-03-2014 04:58 PM


This post was last modified: 28-03-2014 05:01 PM by MightyMouse.

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Posts: 285
Joined: Feb 2006
Post: #7
28-03-2014 07:31 PM

Shhh... don't let everyone into our secret! Cool

I used to think people who cycled to work were a little nuts. I wanted a bike to ride at weekends in the park and got one through the cycle2work scheme. When I read up on the details, the idea is that you do at least 50% of your bike miles to/from work so I figured that I should at least try cycling to work to say that I'd bought it in the spirit it was intended.

I rode it home from the office one Saturday afternoon and decided that cycling really wasn't for me. It was so scary. Someone told me that the council ran free cycling training so I signed up... and cycled to and from work all through the summer. The cycle training is one to one and they'll help you find a route, show you how to cycle assertively and explain how to deal with tricky junctions and situations. It's well worth doing.

Now I cycle year round and I hate days where I have to get a bus or train even when it's raining or cold. Only ice/snow or very high winds (or a big night out) will stop me. My commute is one of my favourite bits of the day; there is always something that makes me smile. Today it was the blossom on the trees in Stradella Road and then the smell of cut grass at Vauxhall on the way home.

The ride wakes me up on the way in and destresses me on the way home. It's 6.5 miles each way and sometimes in the summer, I'll take a longer route home just for the fun of it. Seriously everyone, if you've got access to a bike and somewhere to park it at each end, take some cycle training this summer and give it a go. Thumbsup

Poppy - there are some bad drivers (and some bad cyclists although let's not rehash that debate again) but the vast majority of both are considerate and safe.

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Posts: 50
Joined: Oct 2013
Post: #8
28-03-2014 07:39 PM

I've been wanting to do this for so long but don't dare. I have access to the ride 2 work scheme as well which makes getting a good bike much cheaper. I work in the City, just over Tower Bridge and whenever I try to work out a route on the map it just looks terrifying. I work from home 3 days a week so I'd only need to do it on 2 days.

Your post is really inspiring me to do it applespider. Maybe I'll sign up for the course and see how it goes. I once got into running and ran all the way home, to do that powered by your own two legs after years of getting the tube is a wonderful feeling.

Anyone hear about that crazy proposal to build cycle tracks above the train tracks?! Sounds mad and I'm sure it will never happen but it would be pretty amazing! No more traffic to contend with.

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Posts: 285
Joined: Feb 2006
Post: #9
28-03-2014 08:12 PM

Go for it Thorners!

I'll bet the idea of cycle lanes above the rail tracks came from a non-cyclist. Just imagine the steepness of the ramp you'd need to get up there... and then what you'd do each time the train went through a tunnel.

Building cycleways alongside any new stretches of track might be quite pleasant though.

Or build tunnels for the South Circular and major trunk roads (a Cross-road project) and send the heavy through traffic underground, leaving the upper streets for pedestrians, bikes and slower local traffic, reclaiming our streets for local communities.

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Posts: 1,111
Joined: Jun 2008
Post: #10
28-03-2014 08:33 PM

Thorners - my husband cycles from Forest Hill to Liverpool Street about three times a week. He uses the recommended routes and doesn't hit a main road until Broadgate! Have you used the TfL website to get to the best cycling route?

This post was last modified: 28-03-2014 08:34 PM by rshdunlop.

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Posts: 273
Joined: Aug 2008
Post: #11
29-03-2014 10:29 AM

Applespider- thanks I'll try the cycle training and see how I get on. I do love the idea of cycling and certainly could do with some fitness training but the roads scare me as a pedestrian - let alone cycling next to some of the drivers out there!
There is a huge number og cyclist near London Bridge who seem to think red lights don't apply to them so I know it isn't only drivers, and there are some daft pedestrians who dash out in front of moving vehicles as well (just to balance things out)

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Posts: 811
Joined: Dec 2006
Post: #12
29-03-2014 12:58 PM

In an ideal world, all the BR tracks in London would be buried underground,
leaving a network of pretty flat, wide, safe cycle routes.
It could add 20 years to the average Londoner's life.

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Posts: 214
Joined: Oct 2011
Post: #13
29-03-2014 10:58 PM

I've cycled on and off for the past few years to Shoreditch. Reasons why people might not cycle, based on my journey:

I'd imagine if like me you have no shower at work, you need a Gym membership or something to have a shower at work.

As mentioned above, especially in the summer, London Bridge cyclists are a nightmare, both in terms of number and general cycling attitude.

On my journey I've had buses regularly pull out in front of me, taxis stop at no notice and one person to decide when stuck in traffic to get our of the cab right in front of the bike. The concerned taxi driver came over to check his door.

I've also (entirely my fault) come off my bike in a park and broken my arm.

Cycling up Honor Oak Road fro Peckham Rye is something I am never going to enjoy, especially the last bit!

That said I still generally enjoy it. I don't find it faster but about the same, on a good day with the traffic lights going my way I can do it in 30 minutes door to door, that is on mainly main roads (I go on the A2 now) but I then need to shower, get changed etc at a gym 10 minutes walk from the office.

I do feel better when I get into work and it is of course good for you. Despite what I wrote above, I find it generally safe if you keep your wits about you.

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Posts: 50
Joined: Oct 2013
Post: #14
30-03-2014 12:58 PM

RSH - I'll take a look at tfl, thank you. I think I will go ahead and get a folding bike which is not too expensive through the work scheme and then do a council course to learn some road cycling skills.

I'd love a brompton but if I don't use it regularly an expensive brompton sitting in the cupboard would make me feel more guilty! So a Tern it is.

Also heard that a cycle super highway is planned to come out to FH. I know cyclists have mixed feelings about those too though.

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Posts: 2
Joined: Sep 2013
Post: #15
30-03-2014 01:45 PM

Using the right route can make a huge difference. Try using the journey planner on the Cycle Streets site - their Quiet Routes are normally pretty good for avoiding scarier roads.

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Posts: 133
Joined: May 2007
Post: #16
31-03-2014 03:51 PM

Used to cycle from FH to London and back each day, (14 mile round trip) but since moving out to the sticks it's simply too far.

So now have an engine in the frame and do the 60 mile round trip each day by motorcycle - much easier up the hills, but don't feel so fit!

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Posts: 85
Joined: Apr 2008
Post: #17
01-04-2014 10:39 PM

I cycle from HOP to Old Street everyday all year round and have done for years. It takes a lot to get me on an overcrowded or delayed train! Anyway, echoing some of the above comments, do get cycle training as it makes the world of difference in how you cycle and view cycling (you can get free training from Lewisham or from the borough in which you work).
And if anyone look like me to show them a safe route to the City from HOP, then I'd be happy to show you (just message me).

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Posts: 285
Joined: Feb 2006
Post: #18
01-04-2014 11:18 PM

If anyone wants to cycle from Forest Hill to Victoria, I'd be happy to show them a good route one morning... which is happily fairly flat (well, at least once you're on the north side of the Horniman!)

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Posts: 50
Joined: Oct 2013
Post: #19
02-04-2014 07:35 AM

I used that cycle streets link above to find a quiet route to work and its pretty much all residential streets until London Bridge. I guess those streets have their own challenges with cars parked down both sides and not much room in between but it definitely looks less frightening than the tfl suggestion.

Ordered my ride2work voucher, should get my bike this weekend! Think I'll start with Dulwich Park until I do the council course. I noticed they do a group course over 5 sessions culminating in a Saturday ride to London Bridge which sounds good. Also if you're not sure they will lend you a bike for a month for a very small fee so you can try it out before investing.

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Posts: 285
Joined: Feb 2006
Post: #20
02-04-2014 08:51 PM

Good job, Thorners

I may be teaching you to suck eggs here but when you're going around the park, the first thing to do is to get comfortable with your brakes and stopping. That will give you the confidence to know how fast you can stop if you need to.

Then at a reasonable speed (enough that you're not wobbling - the slower you go, the more you'll wobble), practice your steering and see how light a touch you need to move slightly. You can practice cornering on the 'triangles' at the Dulwich Common gates.

This is a good time to practice doing lifesaver checks too - glance over your right shoulder and check what is behind you while staying in a straight line or before you practice sharper turns steering! That really is a lifesaver when on the roads.

Then practice taking one hand off the handlebars as if about to signal while still steering.

Then it's a case of just getting used to your bike - changing up and down gears so that you can do that as second nature. Remember to change down as you come to a stop; it will save wear and tear on your chain (and your legs) when you start up again.


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