The pros and cons of cycling in London

Have you ever considered breaking out the bike and cycling around the bustling city of London but you’re not really sure if it is for you or not? Whether you are considering tossing your travel card in the bin and commuting by bicycle or you just want an alternative for exploring the city, here are my pros and cons of cycling in London to help you make up your mind.

The pros:

The Cost

Cycling to work costs around £10-£30 a month on average in maintenance costs, including bicycle insurance, which in my experience can be found for a fiver a month. If you were to compare the average cost of using public transport for a daily commute you would find the costs are certainly much higher!

Health Benefits

Now we’re able to get back to working in the office rather than working from home we can start to lose that Covid paunch that we’ve all put on since March 2020. Cycling has numerous health benefits at the very least it offers a break from sitting all day and you can get some physical activity! When cycling is your way to get around, you exercise twice a day as part of your commute.

Avoiding Public Transport

We all know that every journey matters, but if you’re like me and prefer to avoid the crowds (particularly due to Covid) then cycling is a great option. If you’d rather avoid being in a crowded commuter bus or train with someone’s elbow in your ribs and someone else’s music blasting in your ears, then dust off that old bike, check the tyres and brakes and off you go!

Positive mental attitude

Unlike when you’ve been stuffed like a sardine into one of the aforementioned public transport options where you might be frustrated, aggravated and ready to rip off someone’s head, arriving at the office after a gentle cycle or even a speedy one will leave you feeling good, fully awake, alert and ready to attack the day.

The cons:

You break a sweat

Unless your fitness level is great or you won the genetics lottery you will probably want to have a shower once you’ve arrived at your destination. Let’s face it, arriving at a morning meeting with damp patches isn’t the best of looks, so finding a way of freshening up is key. Office buildings sometimes offer showering facilities (especially if they also offer bicycle parking), otherwise, your alternative is to sign up to one of the many gyms in London local to your work and pop in for a quick shower on the way in, which is an additional cost.

Bicycle Crime

Sadly, the chance of finding your bicycle has wandered off without you is fairly common in London. Unless you’re able to bring your bike into the office or use protected parking facilities having your bike stolen is a high risk. This can be mitigated by using a good locking technique as well as locking up your bike in a secure area, which may not always be available.

Road Safety

This is obviously a big one. Sadly not all road users are the observant, thoughtful type and getting on the road on a bike can be dangerous. In my experience road safety involves asserting dominance in traffic, correct lane positioning, not riding in the gutter, indicating and those are just some basics. The most important thing is to make yourself seen. There are a number of road safety courses you can take if you’re interested in learning more.

Initial Financial Outlay

I mentioned in the pros list that cycling is much cheaper when compared to public transport, and in the long run that is true. However, when you make your initial investment in your bike and gear you will find that it can be an expensive outlay. A very basic but decent set-up could set you back £250 for a basic bike, £50 for locks, £30 for cycling lights.. the list goes on. There are some cycling schemes that help you with discounts that your employer can sign up for. Otherwise, some bike shops will offer you finance to pay off the amount over say 12 months.

These pros and cons are from my own personal experience and in my opinion, the disadvantages of cycling to work can be mitigated – and for me are far outweighed by the advantages.

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