Following on from our borough insert feature, Anita tells us what cycling means to her.
I have been cycling since I was seven, using my bike to get to school both at primary and secondary. I have been a London cyclist off and on for the last 25 years. When my son Merlin was born I was keen to be able to cycle with him as soon as possible. He was on the back of the bike in a child seat as a baby and used to love the cycle rides for sleeping. He started with a balance bike and has been on his own bike since he was 4, sometimes with a tow bar in the early days and now cycles to secondary school as well as weekend and evening rides with me. It is important to me that he is a confident cyclist and feels safe as well as being active and in the outdoors. We have been on cycling expeditions up the Lee Valley and to Debden House for camping on our own and with Newham Woodcraft Folk.
When I took on my current job it involved a lot of changes and one of those was committing to becoming a daily cyclist as it was the only way I could fit everything in with both work and childcare and also saved me the cost of the annual travel card I used to need before. I work as a Baby Feeding Specialist for Barts Health in Tower Hamlets, cycling for work involves more than just commuting as I am not only cycling to work but around during the day to visit clients, move between work places, attend meetings and trainings. Cycling is the most efficient way to get around, when I work with students who are not cyclists I usually give them a 15 minute head start on public transport and usually still arrive ahead of them. I use the Cycle Super Highways but also the canal and riverside paths.
I cycle in all weathers. Wearing specialist cycling clothing and shoes isn’t really an option as I can’t change easily every time I visit clients in their own homes so I have had to come up with a work wardrobe for cycling which can take me from my bike to a hospital ward, meeting or client’s home. I’m not cycling fast aiming to get a best time on the commute but aiming to arrive in good time without breaking out in a sweat! Knee length skirts and dresses that are not too wide nor too narrow are great as they keep clear of the chain and wheels and dry quickly if caught in the rain! Long leather boots are good in winter and can be wiped down after a muddy cycle along Limehouse Cut!
I am a keen Geocacher (www.geocaching.com) and go out on cycle rides after work seeking out hidden containers around London or attending events. This has taken me further afield by bike than ever before and using google maps to find cycling routes to geocaches has expanded my cycling knowledge, fitness and confidence in London taking me on routes I never knew about. I also combine train and bike for longer journeys.
I am now trained as a Ride Marshal and Ride Leader with London Cycling Campaign and hope to be able to encourage more women to gain confidence in cycling.
For this inaugural Newham Cyclists Women’s Ride in conjunction with the Forest Gate WI we are doing a relatively short and steady ride, along ‘The Line‘ sculpture trail. There will be plenty of stops to look at the sculptures and take in some refreshment. This is not a ride for those looking to boost their Strava ratings!
If you don’t have a bike or are bringing a friend who doesn’t, you’ll be able to hire one from View Tube Bikes!
We will be doing a pick up at 10.00 from Coffee7 in Forest Gate for the WI, so anyone who would prefer to meet us there can do so. (Obviously no good if you’re hiring a bike from the View Tube!)
Our route will take us across the river on the Cable Car (both ways) – so please bring your Oystercard or contactless for the cheapest fare (£3.50 each way).
Bring your camera & your sunscreen & your waterproofs – it is the UK after all! We will be making a stop for lunch, but if you’d prefer to bring your own, there is a good picnic spot. Don’t forget to bring plenty of water too.
This will be our first ride with the Forest Gate WI. We will be meeting and starting out with the main Lea Valley Ride. However, we’ll be taking a much gentler pace and peeling off to have a cup of tea and some cake, probably at Springfield Park, before heading home.
There will be a pick up point at Coffee7 at 9.30am for anyone coming from the WI.
In celebration of International Women’s Day LCC will be linking to blogs from women talking about LCC and their ‘Space for Cycling’ campaign. They’ve kindly asked if I’d like to participate so here goes!
Hmmm, maybe a bit of background about me first. My name is Lisa and I’m a gardener based in Forest Gate. I can usually be seen trundling my kit up and down the local streets in a shopping trolley with red roses stuck to the front. My sister-in-law’s nickname for me is ‘born too late’ as my heart resides in the 1940’s, hence my business being called London Land Girl. As far as my cycling style is concerned that also seems to be stuck in the 1940’s. I’m a heel wearing, no helmet, anti-Lycra, no to hi-viz kind of girl.
I started cycling again in 2008 as I suppose like many adults I hadn’t been on a bike since I was a kid. At the age of 7 I can remember being very proud of my brand new, shiny, bright red Chopper bike and riding it round and around the square of grass outside our flat in Bethnal Green – no particular place to go and for no other reason than I could and because it gave me such great joy to do so! Today the joy’s still there but the bike is not so shiny or new as I’m riding a 38yr old Elswick Hopper Safeway. Still bright red though!
For me LCC’s ‘Space for Cycling’ campaign is about sharing that childhood joy with as many people as possible by fostering a society of competent and confident cyclists and ensuring they have a secure environment in which to pursue that joy. Hopefully the provision of safe integrated cycling in our towns and cities will not only improve the overall environment of town centres (benefitting everyone not just cyclists) but also relieve the tensions that exist between pedestrians, cyclists and motorists, of which I’m fully aware as I am a cyclist, pedestrian and car owner all rolled into one.
For me not being a member of LCC is pure madness for anyone who cycles – why wouldn’t you want to be part of an organisation that’s fighting your corner for you?
LCC is the voice of reason in a sea of nonsensical and contradictory legislation so join up today -Â your cyclists need you!