I’ve been using bikes for transport almost all my life. It started when I was growing up in Devon: my dad, who knows the area like the back of his hand, showed me how I get to my grandmother’s and my aunt’s along country lanes with minimal traffic. The sense of independence and achievement that this gave me as a seven-year-old was really something special – and the fresh scones that were usually waiting for me on arrival also helped!
Since then, the habit of using a bike to get around has stuck, even after I learned to drive. The bikes I’ve had have never been particularly fancy, which has meant I could lock them and leave them without having to worry too much. At the moment, I have a hybrid bike, which I got through the bike-to-work scheme. It’s not perfect (a bit on the heavy side), but it gets me places, which is all I really care about.
I mostly use my bike to cycle from my house in Badger Farm to Winchester City Centre. We all know that Winchester’s not the easiest place to drive round, so it feels like a no-brainer to me to hop on my bike – and it saves me a fortune in parking costs! It also makes sense to me to use a form of transport that’s sustainable and keeps me active. But it’s not just about the practicalities – every time I cycle along Kingsgate Street and past the Cathedral, I’m reminded how lucky I am to live in such a beautiful place.
It’s great to see new initiatives in Winchester to broaden the appeal of cycling. I’m a big fan of Bespoke Biking, who can help you with all your cycling needs in a friendly down-to-earth way. I’ve also had some fun rides with Breeze, the women’s cycling network, who are a lovely and inclusive group.
I still think there’s more that could be done to encourage people to get on their bikes. The Winchester road system doesn’t really seem to take cycling into account, but I think there are several spots where road layouts could be tweaked to create routes that are more logical for cyclists. I’m glad to see that Cycle Winchester is working on this.
I hope this shows that you don’t have to be super-fit or to splash out on a fancy bike to enjoy riding around Winchester – if you have a bike that’s been lying abandoned in the garage, maybe dig it out and give it a go!