Skip to Content
Streetsblog New York City home
Streetsblog New York City home
Log In
Bicycle Safety

Biking [on the Wrong Side of the Road] is “Normal” [in London]

Emily Thornberry, Member of Parliament for Islington South and Finsbury in London and chairwoman of the all-party parliamentary cycling group, debunks 10 persistent myths about bicycle commuting in this op-ed for London's Guardian:

In London, cycling to work is at last becoming "normal": it is no longer the reserve of Lycra-clad men. As a member of parliament, my four-mile round commute to Westminster takes under half an hour. If it's so easy and so quick - why aren't more of us commuting by bike? Here are some of the common myths that people claim prevent them.

"But won't I be killed?" The Department for Transport's own statistics show that, over the last three years, cycling is - per mile travelled - safer than walking. Indeed, the more people who cycle, the safer it becomes, because drivers get used to seeing cyclists on the road. As more people have taken to their bikes in London, so there has been a 50% drop in cycling casualties per mile ridden since the mid 1990s.

We all need regular exercise and the truth is that most people do not get enough. I discovered in February that I have the cardiovascular fitness of someone almost 20 years younger.

"Don't I need lots of gear?" All you need is a bike, a lock and some lights. With a few outstanding exceptions, Lycra really doesn't do justice to the figures of most people over 30. If you feel most comfortable wearing a suit, then wear one and cycle slowly. You are going to work, not climbing Mont Ventoux.

"Won't my bike get stolen?" A good lock and a secure area to park your bike will help. More enlightened employers will often provide the latter. Forming a bicycle user group in your workplace can improve your chances of obtaining decent facilities.

Photo by Aaron Naparstek, biking in London with Tom Bogdanowicz of the London Cycling Campaign, March 2, 2007

Stay in touch

Sign up for our free newsletter

More from Streetsblog New York City

Friday’s Headlines: Hochul’s Fantasy World Edition

The governor has gone off the deep end. Plus other news.

July 19, 2024

Speaker Adams: Council May Not Use its ‘Sammy’s Law’ Power to Lower Speed Limits

The Council may not lower the speed limit, even though it fought so hard to get that very right from the state legislature.

July 19, 2024

Parks Dept. Has Money But No Timeline to Finish Eastern Queens Greenway

There's tens of millions of dollars for the greenway, so when will parks build it?

July 19, 2024

Thursday’s Headlines: Paris is a Lot Cooler than NYC Edition

The City of Light has figured out how to reduce the heat island effect. Plus other news in today's daily digest.

July 18, 2024

Exclusive: Legal Team Announced for Suit Against Hochul’s Congestion Pricing ‘Pause’

Attorneys from three firms have inked a joint defense agreement to fight "the governor’s illegal decision to cancel congestion pricing," Comptroller Brad Lander said.

July 17, 2024
See all posts