‘I haven’t looked back’: the women who discovered cycling in lockdown

2 months ago 64

Fiona Forster had ne'er felt comfy cycling connected the engaged roads adjacent her location successful St Albans, but erstwhile the cars disappeared during lockdown past twelvemonth it opened up a full caller world.

“I would ne'er person gone retired successful the postulation levels similar they are now. I was excessively disquieted that I’d get knocked disconnected by a car oregon idiosyncratic would thrust past maine excessively quickly, I conscionable ne'er had the confidence,” said the 40-year-old who is self-employed. “But I ne'er saw a car astir apt for astir of April.”

She started cycling longer distances, taken portion successful a 100km sportive, and implicit a twelvemonth aboriginal she continues to rhythm doubly a week, contempt postulation levels going backmost up. “I don’t consciousness susceptible present connected the roadworthy wherever arsenic I would person before,” she said. “And without the lockdown, I don’t deliberation I would ever person done it.”

New information shows Forster is 1 of galore women to person got connected to a motorcycle saddle during lockdown. The fig of cycling trips made by women successful England rose by much than 50% successful 2020, with quieter roads helping to unfastened up cycling to a demographic known to beryllium much wary of the dangers of the road. Women’s cycling accrued from a 4th of each trips successful 2019, to conscionable nether a 3rd successful 2020.

Fiona Forster.
Fiona Forster.

“I wasn’t a cyclist astatine all, but it was made truthful overmuch easier due to the fact that determination weren’t cars each implicit the place. I deliberation I tin lone header with them present due to the fact that they’ve travel backmost gradually and I started without them,” said Louise Watson, a 54-year-old teacher successful Leeds. She started cycling conscionable aft the archetypal lockdown began, mounting retired to thrust 5 miles and ending up doing 20. Over the summertime she completed a 100 mile cycle.

But present that postulation has resumed successful afloat force, Watson – similar galore – has recovered it hard to support up her caller passionateness arsenic overmuch arsenic she would like. “I’d emotion to spell retired and rhythm consecutive aft enactment but it’s conscionable truthful engaged and I don’t privation to enactment myself successful that presumption due to the fact that determination are conscionable excessively galore cars.”

Lizzie Harris, a 38-year-old doc successful Newcastle upon Tyne, started cycling to enactment during lockdown successful bid to debar nationalist transport. She said the quiescent roads and other rhythm paths which were installed transformed her experience: “I felt overmuch safer and I noticed that the chronic cough I had disappeared erstwhile the postulation disappeared.”

While she feels the concern has improved, she would invited stronger cycling infrastructure present that the roads are engaged again – she was knocked disconnected her motorcycle by a car earlier this year.

“If radical consciousness the conditions are harmless capable – arsenic galore felt they were during lockdown – we volition spot much cycling and not conscionable the aforesaid mostly antheral demographic,” said Duncan Dollimore, Cycling UK’s caput of campaigns. “It shouldn’t instrumentality a pandemic to nutrient an summation successful cycling, but it’s an accidental to physique connected the authorities would beryllium huffy to ignore.”

Tracy Park cycled from Lands End to John o’Groats.
Tracy Park cycled from Lands End to John o’Groats. Photograph: Handout

It wasn’t conscionable metropolis cyclists who recovered lockdown liberating. Tracy Park, 55, lives successful the Lake District wherever galore rhythm routes would usually beryllium clogged with tourists. “Cycling successful the Lake District pre-Covid, successful the summertime months you wouldn’t spell retired implicit the upland passes due to the fact that determination would beryllium millions of tourists there, driving truly severely and stopping and parking successful the incorrect places.

She started going retired connected motorcycle rides 3 to 4 times a week and says the acquisition meant she yet ‘got’ cycling. “I yet worked retired what each those people successful Lycra were connected astir and I haven’t looked back.” Earlier this period she took 2 weeks disconnected enactment to rhythm from Lands End to John o’Groats.

She inactive cycles regularly but has had to find alternate routes present that the crowds are back. “They’ve each arrived backmost successful their hordes, and I wholly get that due to the fact that radical can’t spell abroad. So I’m acrophobic they’ve reclaimed it again truthful we person to spell and find the quiescent roads they aren’t on,” she said. “But I consciousness similar cycling has opened up a full caller satellite for maine successful a truly affirmative way.”