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.
Acknowledged by the Telegraph as a leading cycling journalist, John Stevenson has been writing about bikes and cycling for over 30 years since discovering that people were mug enough to pay him for it rather than expecting him to do an honest day's work.
He was heavily involved in the mountain bike boom of the late 1980s as a racer, team manager and race promoter, and that led to writing for Mountain Biking UK magazine shortly after its inception. He got the gig by phoning up the editor and telling him the magazine was rubbish and he could do better. Rather than telling him to get lost, MBUK editor Tym Manley called John’s bluff and the rest is history.
Since then he has worked on MTB Pro magazine and was editor of Maximum Mountain Bike and Australian Mountain Bike magazines, before switching to the web in 2000 to work for CyclingNews.com. Along with road.cc editor Tony Farelly, John was on the launch team for BikeRadar.com and subsequently became editor in chief of Future Publishing’s group of cycling magazines and websites, including Cycling Plus, MBUK, What Mountain Bike and Procycling.
John has also written for Cyclist magazine, edited the BikeMagic website and was founding editor of TotalWomensCycling.com before handing over to someone far more representative of the site's main audience.
He joined road.cc in 2013 and these days he lives in Cambridge where the lack of hills is more than made up for by the headwinds.