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Charlie Allenby
Photograph: Andy Parsons

‘Why I took to the road’: we asked a Londoner what inspired him to start cycling

As part of our collab with Transport for London on encouraging people to take up cycling this summer, we interviewed Charlie Allenby, 27, from Bounds Green

Written by Time Out. Paid for by Transport for London
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Thinking of taking up cycling this summer? There’s never been a better time to get into the saddle. You already know that it’s a healthy, cheap and green mode of transport – but on top of that, TfL is about to launch a new network of Cycleways in late August. These new routes will connect neighbourhoods and boroughs across the city, and they’re safer and easier to navigate. What's more, TfL is running free Cycle Skills classes and guided Santander Cycles rides on Sundays throughout August and September. 

To further inspire to get rolling, we interviewed a London cyclist to find out what got him into bikes in a big way. 

Discover more cycling tips and information at tfl.gov.uk/cycling.

              


So where do you cycle?

Everywhere! Whether I’m heading to work or meeting up with friends, I’ll generally have my trusty twowheeled steed in tow. I’m based up in Bounds Green, so I spend a lot of my time riding back and forth between north London and the capital’s centre. I also venture further afield at weekends – up into Hertfordshire, over to Richmond Park or even as far as Windsor.

When did you get into cycling?

I’ve been big on cycling since I was a kid, and my black BMX was my pride and joy. I got myself a proper road bike when I went to uni and it’s gone on from there. It’s now such a key part of my life that I can’t imagine not hopping on one of my bikes to get from A to B.

Why did you first take to the road?

Before living in London, I used to drive everywhere. But when I moved here in 2014, I decided I’d start riding to work to try and save some money and keep fit. I discovered that going by two wheels was just as quick as commuting by public transport. That was about five years ago and I haven’t looked back since.

And how was it getting out there?

Although it can be nerve wracking at first, riding a bike in London can end up being really liberating – and all the segregated cycle lanes make it a lot safer. You end up seeing a lot more of London... and you don't need a gym membership.

Any words of advice for people looking to follow a similar route?

Build your confidence up on roads you know and, if going somewhere new, try out TfL’s journey planner – it’s a great way of finding the quieter routes where you won’t have to deal with as much traffic. A lot of it is just having the confidence to do it for the first time.

To improve your confidence, book a free cycle skills session at tfl.gov.uk/cycling

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