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The stress and the joy of cycling to London

Putney-FreeCycle-ARH20130803-0957-FT4-120835-resized

Here we are in the narrow cycle lane on A308 just near Putney on our way into central London. Get us to LondonTown quick!

This past weekend, we set out to join the RideLondon FreeCycle event taking place in central London on Saturday.

We loaded up the Thule bicycle trailer with our four bicycles and drove off to Putney, a place recommended by a friend as a reasonable distance from the centre to get free parking and have a ride in. It was about 6 miles – a reasonable effort and a good warm-up for the 8 mile loop ahead.

Thankfully our family is used to cycling amongst people driving cars – but it wasn’t long until both Tolii and Tosha started asking when we would reach the part without traffic.

Both of them are true champions for cycling in the few miles – I liked that they gained a bit more experience of cycling safely on the roads – but I would not call it a joyful journey.

STRESS OF TRAFFIC

The stress was always there of knowing people might choose to pass us that little bit too close, even if we were in the (too narrow) cycle lane along the A308. There street did have signs marking it out as a cycle route and directing us towards central London.

Map of cycle ride from Putney to London's Parliament Square 2013-08-03

The route we cycled from Putney to central London to join the FreeCycle event (click for map).

About half-way along, the cycling superhighway no.8 (CS8) – otherwise known as a dollop of blue paint – appeared.

JOY OF TRAFFIC-FREE

Once in central London, the fun of cycling on traffic free roads was a joy. We had a lot of fun going around the route and seeing all the sights – including the several funny bicycles! Like the sofa-bike!

The 6 mile journey back to the car was more difficult than getting in partly because we had let our guard down throughout the day and had to suddenly contend with traffic again; partly because the signs weren’t frequent enough; partly because the CS8 sometimes put you in the thick of traffic; and partly because…frankly, we were pooped!

SPACE FOR CYCLING

If only there were more segregated (not just blue paint!) routes in London. Not only would it make cycling there safer – every day! – but it would also make it more of a joy!

Map of route from RideLondon FreeCycle to Putney

The route cycled, and partially walked, back to Putney after RideLondon (click for map).

You can read all about our journey on our two campaign websites:

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