On days that I cycle to work (so far not everyday, but two out of the three days I work) I now do this:
- 8:15 – put bike rack on car
- 8:25 – leave the house with children, bags and bike. Wrestle bike onto bike rack.
- 8:30 – drive to school – remembering to slow down even more for speed bumps now that I have the bike on the back of the car.
- 8:45 – park the car at the childminder’s house ready for that evening. Wrestle bike from bike rack. Dismantle bike rack and put it in the boot of the car.
- 8:50 – walk 5 minutes from the childminders to school, pushing the bike and testing everyone on their spellings. Lock the bike by the school gates.
- 9:00 – drop off C and O
- 9:05 – put on pink high vis jacket (thank you Anna!) and bike helmet and set off down the road, amid the school run traffic madness.
- 9:25 – nearly back where I started, two blocks from home!
- 9:30 – cycle past London 2012 Olympic Park, dodging concrete mixer lorries
- 9:35 – arrive at the Homerton side of Victoria Park.
- 9:50 – leave Victoria Park and cycle down the Hackney Road, dodging delivery vans
- 10:00 – turn off Old Street and head down Moorgate into The City, dodging pedestrians and being overtaken by bike couriers.
- 10:05 – arrive at work, slightly tardy. Lightning fast change of t-shirt and brush of hair.
- 10:08 – arrive at desk, drink pint of water and change shoes, hoping nobody notices I am 8 minutes late and a little bit flushed.
Just as with my commute by tube, I love the growing familiarity of all the tiny details of the journey. The brightly coloured hoardings around Olympic Park, the pretty park-keepers’ cottages in Victoria Park that look like Hansel & Gretel houses, the enormous fountain over towards the Bethnal Green side of the park that I never knew was there. A warehouse near Columbia Road Market called Boris’s Bags Emporium and a fantastic set of cycle lanes that take me past a whole row of tiny Italian coffee shops (complete with Italian waiters lounging in the doorways…) as I reach the final few backstreets before work.
I now arrive at my office from a different direction. No more St Paul’s Cathedral to lift my spirits, but instead I zoom past the beautiful and empty Guildhall courtyard and cross the end of the sweetly named Prudent Passage.
Cycling has changed my perspective on how big London is. Hackney has always seemed like a bit of a trek from our house, because to get there by car or bus is such a performance. But it takes me barely 10 minutes by bike and I’ve realised it is almost literally just around the corner from us. On the other hand, from the children’s school, which is close to the border with Essex, into The City really is quite a long way. I appreciate the tube a whole lot more now!