Explore the borough on your bike
We recently spoke to two residents who have been exploring the borough on two wheels and want to share their top tips for cycling in Lewisham
Len has been cycling since he was a small child and after contracting polio he has been using cycling to strengthen his lungs. Amy has been cycling since she was 16 and has been using her bike to commute to work and explore at the weekends.
When did you start cycling?
Len: I began cycling as a small child aged about five. I had polio, was very ill and spent time in an iron lung. Cycling was the perfect exercise to strengthen my weakened legs.
Amy: I have been cycling since I was 16 and I lived in Yorkshire. I would commute 20 minutes to work and back and the entire journey was cycle paths. At 23 I moved to London without a bike and didn’t cycle for over a year.
Why do you cycle now?
Len: It’s definitely a mobility aid. I have a mobility scooter, which is great, but if I used it all the time I would be very overweight and unfit. It’s the perfect way for me to get exercise and get around.
Amy: I usually cycle for my commute to work but I also enjoy going for a cycle to explore new places.
What do you enjoy most about cycling?
Len: The fact I can get around and get exercise at the same time.
Amy: I enjoy being able to get to places that I wouldn't be able to get to on foot and to just explore more of the area and find places that are fun to ride around.
Do you have any hesitations about cycling in London?
Amy: When I started cycling in London, I was absolutely terrified as I was new to the area and had only ever cycled on a cycle pathway in a quiet town. I was terrified of the traffic and knowing where to go but after a few practice cycles it definitely got easier. I think just learning the route and cycling in traffic helped me to overcome my fear as I realised it isn't actually as scary as I thought it would be. I am very observant and every day I feel more and more confident in my journey.
If you could name one thing that the council could do to make things better for cyclists, what would it be?
Len: More safe protected spaces on the roads would be great, this would be useful for when I’m on the bike or mobility scooter. There’s currently not enough room on the pavement and it feels very unsafe on some of the roads with fast cars driving by me. I would go much further on the bike and on the mobility scooter if there were more safe protected space on the roads.
Amy: I cycle from Charlton to Hither Green on my work commute and when I get to the heath it is not very spacious for traffic and cyclists so I would love to see more cycle paths on busy routes such as these. Also, having streets in town centres that were blocked off just to pedestrians and cyclists would make it more comfortable for people. I think making sure busy city centres are cycle friendly would be great and ensuring there are places for people to lock up their bikes too.
What advice would you give to anyone who might be thinking of starting cycling?
Len: Get some training! We called it cycling proficiency when I was a kid, and I did it. It really helps and every cyclist should do it.
Amy: Start small and gradually increase your journey. Once you are comfortable and used to cycling you can start cycling further and on more complex routes. Start cycling on quieter roads if you are a little worried and then when you are used to how cycling on the roads works you can push your boundaries. It gets easier the longer you do it and you will enjoy it.