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  • Cycling under the influence

    I would generally never set out to cycle in a state other than stone cold sober. But the other night one drink turned into several and suddenly I was following my friends back to theirs for ‘one for the road’. It’s a long way from Piccadilly to Clapham, yet we sailed across Green Park, round Buckingham Palace over Chelsea Bridge and through the mean streets of south London in half the time, fuelled by the giddy power of alcohol. #Strangely, there’s actually no legal limit for cyclists. There’s a charge for being found ‘drunk in charge of a pedal cycle, carriage or animal’(drunken dog walkers tread with care) but you have to be obviously incapacitated. Theoretically, you can’t even be arrested on the spot for this as it’s a summons-only charge but, as the police tend to treat drunks as emergency health cases these days, you and your bike run the risk of being bundled into the back of an ambulance and ferried off to the nearest A&E. More sobering thoughts come from studies at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, US, which found that a single drink increases cyclists’ risk of death or serious injury by five times. And, because riding a bicycle requires greater coordination than driving a car, the danger rises dramatically with alcohol intake. Having five drinks before riding your bike increases the risk a whopping 20 times. Strangely they don’t mention the increased invincibility and warm glow.

    Route rating

    Miles 4.6 (Piccadilly to Clapham)Average cycle time A fleeting 20 minsCalories burned 170White wine consumed 4 glasses

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