Cycling in London

bikingLondon

Just like most Dutch people, I love biking. For me it’s the best way of transportation within a city. You don’t have to wait for your bus or tram to arrive, you can leave whenever you want, which gives you a lot of freedom.

But when I moved to London, I wasn’t completely sure whether I would start biking or not. I’m used to biking in Amsterdam, where traffic can be just as busy as in London, but the big difference between those cities is that in Amsterdam cyclists are at the top of the traffic hierarchy, and in London they are absolutely not. Another big difference is that in Amsterdam, and actually in all of the Netherlands, everyone cycles. Students, children, the elderly, business people, even the prime minister cycles to work. Whereas in London the typical cyclist is somewhere between 20 and 50, rides a racing bike and wears special bike clothing. Lots of people wear a helmet, some put on a visibility jacket, and others go all the way and put on anything that is fluorescent yellow. Even shoes.

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In London, cycling is not just seen as a means to get from A to B, but as a very serious sport. As I said a lot of people wear special cycling gear and some of them also cycle as if they are training for the Tour the France. Also bicycle racing seems to be quite a ‘hip’ sport and hobby in London. I’ve also seen quite some (hipster) cafes that, apart from food and drinks, sell cycling gear and sometimes even have a bike repair place in the back. And they are often decorated with bike accessories such as shirts of the Tour the France. I recently had lunch at one on Old Street called Look mum no handsIt’s a really cool place, and the coffee and food are delicious!

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I think London has great potential to become a real bike city, just like Amsterdam. Especially now the mayor, Boris Johnson (who’s already got the public Boris (barclays) bicycles called after him), has confirmed that the city will get segregated bike lanes and a cycling superhighway. But for now, I must say that biking in the UK’s capital is a challenge and sometimes I feel like I need at least double the ears and eyes I have. Nevertheless, I’d recommend anyone to start biking, because if more people start to bike, other traffic just has to adapt and the city will ultimately become more bike-able 🙂

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