The long hot summer is just about clinging on and the beginning of term is just over the horizon. What better time to plan your journey ahead and consider getting in to campus at your own pace on two wheels?
If you haven’t contemplated this choice before, the first thing to stress is that you don’t have to be a lithe, lycra-clad, lung-busting machine to join the Roe-Cycling community. It isn’t an all or nothing proposition. You can join the ride from a range of perspectives
Need some more convincing? Here’s our Top 5 motivations that may give you that extra little push off you need…
- £££ Save Money – You won’t have to top up your Oyster so often!
London transport is not cheap, as you’ve probably already found out. In fact it’s said to be the most expensive in the world. So one simple step to cut costs is to hop on a bike. With current monthly travelcards running at £98 for zones 2-3, or an eye watering £153.60 if you include zone 1 as well – that means if you cycled regularly you’d only have to keep going for a month or two to save the cost of a new bike. Or even less if you dig out that old bike from the back of your parent’s shed.
- Great Exercise – get fit without the gym membership fees
You can get achieve the double whammy of travelling from A to B while at the same time burning off those calories and feeling healthy. You just need to raise your pulse rate a bit and won’t have to chase up Roehampton Lane like Bradley Wiggins to feel the benefits.
- Wellbeing – have fun/clear your head/energise
Don’t treat travel as a chore. Moving around in the open air helps clear your head and feel wide awake. It seems counter intuitive, but by cycling to Uni you can arrive to lectures not exhausted, but boosted by that release of adrenaline and endorphins (and save even more money by needing one less cup of coffee!). Recent studies have suggested even wider mental health benefits from cycling include reduced stress, improved memory and deeper, healthier sleep rhythms.
- Convenience – you design your own timetable
Just missed the bus or frustrated with cancelled trains? With a bike you set the schedule. Once you’ve sussed your route you will know to the minute how long it takes to get from your digs to that lecture in Whitelands. No more waiting for transport connections. Hop on your bike and run your own bespoke timetable – and if you really value your sleep you could win yourself a few extra winks in the knowledge that it takes exactly 24.5 minutes to go from your bed to seminar, regardless of leaves on the track at Barnes, or the Number 72 bus stuck on Hammersmith Bridge!
- Good for the environment – go green to your studies
Beyond the obvious benefit that cycling uses no fossil fuel and helps reduce your carbon footprint, there are a raft of other ways that cycling is good for the environment. Aside from the occasional ‘ting’ of your bell, your bike brings noise and air pollution right down. An increase in bicycles also provides a safer road environment. There is more space between traffic, at a safer pace and less hazard to other road users.
Particularly with the reputation of the dense traffic in London, you still might feel there are obstacles to getting you in to the cycle lane. Recent research through the NUS UniCycle project, suggest key concerns focus around safety on the road, security for your bike and confidence in cycling generally. The best way to respond is by arming yourself with information – and there is a huge and growing set of resources out there!
Just work your way around the following five preparatory steps, and that should help build your confidence for when you start your journey;
Buying a bike
Clearly the first step is organising some wheels and kitting yourself out properly. Like everything nowadays, there is a dizzying array of choice. Have a look at this useful summary from the London Cycling Campaign to help you in your selection. The four ‘must-do’s kit-wise are:
- Visible/reflective attire
With this last item our recommendation is not to hold back on the budget, but invest in a good lock as you will certainly save in the long term with your bike staying in your safe hands!
The skills required to keep you in one piece and your bike with two wheels intact will become second nature. It’s a matter not only of looking out for other traffic, but becoming familiar with aspects such as positioning in the road, making eye contact and, crucially in London, being very, very careful if passing heavy vehicles on the left-hand side. Here are a couple of sites to help you with your homework: SusTrans; British Cycling
Figuring out the best way to get from A to B also involves some choices. You can shift between the fastest route, the quietest route for traffic (which has the added benefit of avoiding air pollution) or, if you have more time the most scenic or relaxing route. Planning this ahead also helps build up your confidence and ensures you won’t be exposed to hesitations on potentially busy roads with other impatient commuters only a horn beep away!
Dedicated cycle routes and the famous Cycle Superhighways are included in a number of excellent resources. If you like an old-fashioned fold out map, then definitely go for the Transport for London cycling guides – fold them out on your kitchen table, grab a cup of tea and strategise your route to bust the jams and bottlenecks! Online there are sites such as Cycle Streets, and a number of apps including cycling options on the integrated transport app Citymapper. You can also plan routes based on air pollution levels using Cross River Partnership’s Clean Air Cycling Routes, which use live data to help you avoid the most-polluted routes without adding too much time to your commute.
Parking – Showering
Thanks to a previous cycling promotion initiative at University of Roehampton, there is excellent provision for locking up your bikes safely on campus. The following map shows the locations scattered all across the campus, with many incorporating bike shelters to protect your trusty ride from the elements.
Each college also provides changing and showering facilities, to ensure you arrive at UR clean as well as energised!
Once you’ve committed to cycling in or around university, it’s a useful skill to know at least the basics of maintaining your bike. With just a little bit of homework you can ensure you’re in the position to know how to respond should you get a flat tyre or a clunky chain. There is a vast amount of resources on sites like YouTube which show you step by step how to work through the essentials. Try this link at Love To Ride, as a starter – and remember you don’t have to turn into Bicycle Repairman to give youself a helpful boost in confidence with those extra maintenance skills 😉
Bonuses from cycling at Roehampton
As well as saving money on your commute, providing brilliant exercise, boosting your Zen and feeling of wellbeing, or help green the urban environment! You can take it easy and use your bike for leisure in this leafy corner of London. Right on your doorstep are the wonderful park spaces of Richmond Park and Wimbledon Common. This Londonist article gives you an overview of cycling around our neighbouring open spaces.
It’s a perfect time of year to start up as a beginner or reconnect with cycling if yo’’ve previously lapsed. To motivate you further, the LoveToRide site is full of motivational information and tips. The site also coordinates the fantastic #CycleSeptember campaign where there are heaps of goodies and prizes to be won.
To lend some rhythm and keep you in gear, here is our Peddling Playlist 🚲
Tell us what your choices would be, as well as anything else regarding cycling at Roehampton using the hashtag #URcycling
Just give it a go, hop on your bike and be part of the Roehampton pedal power revolution!