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Riding to the economic rescue


By Alistair Kellie, Managing Partner

Two years ago I wrote about how cycling was replacing golf as the networking activity of choice and how levels of cycling would soar (‘Active Networking – is this the end of the long lunch?’).  This has turned out to be the case but of course, for totally unexpected reasons.

However, since the lock-down started, the lanes of rural Hertfordshire where I live have been far busier with cyclists.  Yes, some of these cyclists are MAMILS who are now riding alone (with the odd exception) rather than in pelotons, but there are also now many more families out and about together, which is lovely to see.

The number of cyclists is likely to continue to rise as people opt for two wheels rather than take public transport either due to health concerns or because of restrictions on the number of people who can use public transport. Indeed, Grant Shapps, the Secretary of State for Transport has allocated a further £2 billion to turn England into a ‘nation of cyclists and walkers’ to reduce the spread of coronavirus on public transport. 

This investment will be crucial to ensure there is enough space on the roads and pavements for these self-propelled commuters.  Without careful thought by policy-makers, landlords and employers about additional cycle routes, secure parking and washing & storage facilities, many first time cyclists will quickly return to other modes of transport.

Whilst these cyclists aren’t jumping on two wheels to network, they will be benefitting from a ‘free’ journey to work with plenty of time to think of the day ahead, unencumbered by emails and social media.  As a result could we see a surge in creativity as people have more time at the start and end of the day to mull over innovative and transformative ways of working?  At the same time, marketeers might see this growing two wheeled cohort as fertile ground for targeted advertising campaigns.  Can we expect to see digital signage at traffic lights aimed specifically at cyclists?  Will cycling clothing include more wearable technology?

So for those new to commuting to work on two wheels, some pointers and for those who should know better, some polite requests:

  • Always obey the Highway Code and never jump lights even if others do…it’s simply not worth it and you’ll give the rest of us a bad name;
  • It’s not a race (all the time), so why not enjoy the sights and sounds of your commute and definitely give plenty of room to other cyclists;
  • Signal clearly if you are changing direction and always expect the worst from drivers…but they are not the enemy.  Thank them and be considerate to them.
  • Indicate to other cyclists if there’s a pothole or other road hazard – see here.
  • Always use lights and wear bright clothes…it doesn’t matter if you look like an 80’s backing dancer, you will be safer;
  • Acknowledge other road users…out in the country road cyclist all nod or wave as we pass each other…time for that to enter the cities;
  • For those who live a little further out, there are now some excellent electric bikes;
  • If you buy an expensive bike, an adequate lock is likely to cost about 10% of the value of the bike…
  • …and new for Summer 2020, wear a mask or face covering!

For a more detailed list of do’s and don’t’s, it’s worth reading The Rules of the Velominati, the self-styled ‘Keepers of the Cog’.   But remember, you don’t need to be lycra clad to jump on a bike.

I hope more people have the chance to enjoy a safe and friendly ride into work.  So until such a time as I can cycle into London and enjoy weekend rides with friends, I’ll continue my non-commute around the Hertfordshire countryside.  First though, time for a long lunch.