This Is What It's Like To Be A Female Cyclist In London
The Debrief: It’s fine. Totally, completely fine.
To celebrate National Cycle To Work Day, which is today (do try and keep up), I took to the streets of London to show you just how scary, sweaty, exhausting, unpleasant and intimidating cycling in London is. Which it’s not at all. Like, at all.
I genuinely couldn’t live in London if I didn’t cycle. Firstly, I couldn’t afford it – I’ve probably spent a grand total of £30 on transport in the last year. The entire year. Cycling to work and back every day has saved me, literally, thousands of pound.
Also, if the two weeks where I didn’t have a bike (it was getting a new front fork for those of you taking notes) are anything to go by, I’d also have been a weeping, frustrated, insomniac mess if I didn’t cycle. Crushing onto pit-smelling trains, nauseatingly winding through the city on brake-happy buses or, god forbid, having to take the tube. It made me miserable, I slept badly, I didn’t get enough exercise, I spent a huge amount of money and invariably turned up everywhere either late or furious or both.
As a female cyclist, your city is your oyster. You can go anywhere, at any time. You never have to worry about the scary walk to the bus stop or having enough money to get home. You can leave parties when you want and will always get back from work before the rest of your colleagues, however far they’re going. You can overtake men (oh my god, I love overtaking men – especially ones in those padded cycling shorts that make them look like they’re wearing a massive sanitary towel), whizz past the huge, unmoving queues of traffic and can judge your journey time so accurately that you’ll always get everywhere three minutes early.
It keeps you fit, gives you great legs and makes you much more independent. Which is all I want from life. Of course, we all need to take road safety seriously – as cyclists, drivers and pedestrians. People do get injured and killed on the roads and we can all do our bit to stay safe:
- Learn where drivers’ blind spots are and keep the fuck out of them
- As a rule of thumb, try to make sure you can see the driver, as that means they are more likely to see you
- Indicate with gusto – you should give cars plenty of warning if you’re turning
- Don’t get too close to the back of other bikes
- Look around you – a bit of eye contract will make people much less likely to cut you up
- Remember that you are a vehicle. You can take up as much room as a car if you want – don’t let people bully you off the road, into the gutter or out of the way
- Use bike lanes and those rectangles at junctions
- I have worn a cycling helmet religiously ever since I hit my head so hard on the road that I lost my sense of smell (if I hadn’t been wearing a helmet at the time the fall may well have killed me)
- Get your bike serviced as regularly as you can be bothered, but always make sure that your brakes are up to scratch
- If in doubt, indicate left, slow down and get off. Pride be buggered
Oh and if you’re worried about cycling to work because of helmet hair or having to get changed then, really, we need to have a deeper conversation about your life choices.
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