Are you a new cyclist in London, or do you know someone – a friend, family member or work colleague, perhaps – who wants to get in the saddle as new lockdown restrictions come into effect on Thursday, but doesn’t know where to start? Well, London Cycling Campaign (LCC) may be able to help, with the launch of a scheme called Cycle Buddies which pairs seasoned riders with inexperienced ones.
Specifically designed to help support people who want to cycle more during the coronavirus crisis, the initiative aims to help people undertake essential journeys by bike safely, while also boosting their physical and mental health.
With more than 20,000 supporters and members as well as 30 borough branches across the capital, there’s no shortage of experienced riders for LCC to draw on, whether it be for a trip to the shops or a local park for exercise, or even commuting, with government advice being to walk or cycle when possible.
The scheme also complies with the restrictions that come into place later this week allowing two people from different households to exercise together, and has so far enabled 100 new cyclists to be paired with a Cycle Buddy.
> What the new lockdown rules mean for YOU as a cyclist in England
One novice cyclist who has signed up to the scheme, Mary Burke, said: “Cycle buddies is really easy to sign up to. It doesn’t cost anything and it is incredibly useful.
“It encourages cycling newbies to commit to using the bike more and gain confidence with it. Riding with a buddy is really enjoyable and I learnt a lot from the experience.”
Another, Mary, said: “Before lockdown I used to go dancing three times a week – we would be dancing till late and you are always on your feet. Then I had to give all that up in lockdown. Cycle Buddies has given me a way to replace my dancing.
“Before I joined Cycle Buddies I was just doing short local rides – now I feel confident to go much further. I’m in my 50s, and it’s so much better for me getting around like this. Cycling is fantastic for the heart, for your self-esteem and for your whole body.”
LCC chief executive Ashok Sinha commented: “We are campaigning hard to see more and improved cycling infrastructure installed across London.
“Cycle Buddies helps people use the new Streetspace cycle lanes and low traffic neighbourhoods to make their journeys by bike.
“Cycle Buddies will also help LCC do our bit to make London a more diverse and inclusive cycling city.”
The scheme is currently operating in the boroughs of Brent, Bromley, Camden, Hackney, Islington, Lambeth, Lewisham, Kensington & Chelsea, Southwark, Tower Hamlets, Wandsworth and Westminster, as well as in the City of London, and new riders can sign up for it by following this link.
Picture credit Tony French/London Cycling Campaign