How will the explosion in popularity of cycling evolve post-lockdown?
Wherever you may go, you can see it: cycling has enjoyed a massive resurgence and become more popular than ever during lockdown. People have dusted off old bikes to take their daily exercise, families are cycling out together and friends are going for socially-distanced bike rides together.
Now, with more people returning to work, increasing numbers of people are planning to commute by bike. This is great to avoid using public transport and also spares using the car, saving both money and pollution. It’s also a great way to get regular exercise.
But where will the resurgence of cycling go from here? asks Catherine Bedford from Dashel
There’s a preconception about cyclists being Lycra-clad and having all the “right” gear but, as people have found when taking cycling up, you don’t need to invest in loads of stuff to get on your bike. You just need to get on and ride it!
However, I do think that, as people cycle more there will certainly be a move towards more natural fibres. For people commuting to work, this will help ensure that they don’t arrive at their workplace feeling – and looking – hot and sweaty. People will be far keener to wear cotton than polyester, for example.
I would always go for comfort over fashion but, if you want to be a fashionable cyclist, there’s plenty of great, stylish fashion-wear out there and I think as people get more used to cycling as a way of life, they’ll find their own cycling style. Also, when new cyclists realise how much money they are saving on car expenses or bus and train costs, they might start to invest those savings in specialist or stylish kit.
Another misconception about cycling is that it’s all about speed. But consider the Netherlands, for example, where cycling is a much more relaxed pastime. They go at sensible speeds and enjoy their surroundings as they cycle, arriving at the destination without being out of breath, sweaty or exhausted.
Also, as we learn our routes and realise that they’re probably much more direct than the road or tube routes we have been so accustomed to, we’ll find our journeys are not as long as we have thought they would be.
I think we will become much more like the Scandinavians in our cycling. I also suspect our style will follow suit, away from stereotypical cycling clothes towards more stylish looks. Brands such as Dashel, Hill & Ellis and Finisterre will increasingly be seen.
It’s important to be safe but this also doesn’t have to cost a fortune. Cyclists should ensure they’re legal and safe while sticking within their budgets.
For example, you don’t have to be clad head-to-foot in day-glow to be seen – a high-visibility sash that you can wear over your coat, and costs as little as around £8.00, will still ensure you are seen.
Surprisingly, helmets are not legally required as they really are extremely important for safety. If you aren’t a fan of the traditional helmet shapes, there are some nice stylish ones out there these days!
Also, new cyclists may not have realised yet that there are more routes than they would have imagined where they can cycle away from cars.
Will it last?
I believe so! Once people realise the benefits of cycling, they’ll want to continue. For a start, if you’re cycling to work, you’re getting your daily exercise in the time when you would previously have been sat on a bus or a train. This, in turn, saves you time going to the gym in the evening, freeing up time for you to spend with your loved ones, which many of us have realised the importance of over the lockdown period.
And we know that exercise generally makes you feel good by raising endorphins but, when cycling, it really helps you unwind on your way home from work. Because you have to concentrate on the roads, you have to switch off from the niggles of your day. Thus, you can clear your head on your way home from the office and arrive home feeling fresher, happier and more relaxed.
I also believe there will be a rise in e-bikes, meaning you don’t have to arrive at your destination sweaty. Plus, e-bikes and e-scooters will come to be seen as an affordable commodity, when compared to the price of a travel card or a second car.
I do hope that all you new and returning cyclists enjoy!