Meet Ellie. She’s the first to admit she’s not the most confident cyclist. Hear how improvements funded by Streetspace for London encouraged her to get back on her wheels.
Returning to cycling
I probably cycled more during lockdown than in the 10 years after I left primary school.
When my university switched to online classes after coronavirus hit, I decided to spend lockdown at home with my family.
Although we live in a part of west London with great public transport links – Tube and buses – my parents prefer to shop and socialise by cycling whenever they can. It’s just so convenient, and an easy way for them to stay fit. 💪
I’m not as happy as they are to pedal down a busy street, with cars zipping past. I always worry about holding people up because I don’t go very fast. 🐢
But during lockdown I needed a way to get my daily exercise – and that brought me back to cycling.
Remembering childhood pleasures
I loved cycling when I was little. I spent most of one Christmas Day racing around the park with the bright pink bicycle I got that morning. I was secretly very proud that I could ditch the training wheels before my best friends. 😎
My primary school really encouraged and supported kids to ride their bicycles. There was plenty of cycle parking on the school grounds and cycling safety classes to go to.
The route between our house and school takes you down very quiet residential streets and across two parks, so it always felt safe. I’d meet friends on every corner and go in a pack. 🚴 🚴 🚴
Streetspace gave me confidence
Cycling was out for a while after age 11. My secondary school was a couple of bus rides away, through some of west London’s busiest roads – no way would I cycle there.
So when lockdown started I was very out of practice. At first I resisted going too far by cycling. We’re pretty close to Quietway 2 so I could use that to go past my aunt’s house and wave at our little cousins. But anything busier made me insecure.
To get to most of my favourite shopping areas and leisure walks along the river in Hammersmith and Chiswick, I have to go down at least part of King Street, which can be busy near Hammersmith Broadway and the cars get quite close.
Starting a new cycling habit
Then one day, red and white barriers popped up to create a temporary two-way cycle lane outside King’s Mall. Part of the street was marked off for people to walk on. Big queues had been building up outside some of the chemists and food shops, so the extra room made it easier to go past at a good social distance. 🛍️
Further down King Street, the existing cycle lane got a much clearer ‘edge’ to keep cars and vans away from cyclists. I love buses, but I’m much happier to cycle now that there’s a bit of separation between me and them! 👍
I’d heard about the Mayor’s Streetspace for London programme – now it made sense seeing it in person!
Even if these changes are only temporary, now that I’ve gotten some practice in I’m sure I’ll be cycling down King Street all the time. 👧