£1,250 for a travelcard? You could get a bike for that!

Cutting through the congestion and having a more enjoyable journey to work are the most common reasons people commute by bike in London, but with today’s fare increases riding a bike in the capital makes even more financial sense than ever.

Transport for London claims that travelcard prices have risen by an average of 3.1 percent, but that masks some far steeper increases. A zone 1-4 travelcard is now £1,800, up from £1,688, an increase of 7.3 percent.

But even a travelcard for central London’s Zone 1 and 2, which takes about 40 minutes to cross by bike or Tube according to the TfL website, now costs £1,250 per year.

As the CTC’s Chris Peck points out, that’s enough for a decent bike and all the trimmings.

“With prices on public transport again rising, the benefits of cycling to the pocket are becoming even greater,” said Chris.

“For those on a tight budget, cycling is not only be the cheapest way to get around London, it’s also the fastest way. For those who are sick of tube delays, strikes and strap-hanging, giving up a Zone 1-2 season ticket and taking up cycling could reward you with a budget of over £1,250 for equipment, which will buy you a very decent and reliable bike plus accessories.”

It’s good for you too. An oft-cited statistic is that new cycle commuters on average lose a stone in weight in their first year of riding. There are far more extreme examples of the benefits of cycling, though, such as the incredible shrinking cyclist Gary Brennan,who lost 26 stone

Transport for London says the price increases are justified by the need to invest in the network, but Labour has described the rises as “inflation-busting”, especially the increase in zone 1-4 fares.

The party’s transport spokeswoman on the London Assembly, Val Shawcross, said Boris Johnson was “saving people £4 a year on their council tax but is taking vastly more from them in higher transport fares”.

Janet Cook, from passenger watchdog London TravelWatch, said people were having to pay “an increasingly large share of their regular income on commuting”.

Or they could get a bike.

Our official grumpy Northerner, John has been riding bikes for over 30 years since discovering as an uncoordinated teen that a sport could be fun if it didn't require you to catch a ball or get in the way of a hulking prop forward.

Road touring was followed by mountain biking and a career racing in the mud that was as brief as it was unsuccessful.

Somewhere along the line came the discovery that he could string a few words together, followed by the even more remarkable discovery that people were mug enough to pay for this rather than expecting him to do an honest day's work. He's pretty certain he's worked for even more bike publications than Mat Brett.

The inevitable 30-something MAMIL transition saw him shift to skinny tyres and these days he lives in Cambridge where the lack of hills is more than made up for by the headwinds.