January Reflection

by Carla Reid

It is a known common practice that as we come to the beginning of a New Year, we reflect on the past twelve months and set new goals for the twelve months ahead. Reflecting on our successes and achievements, the things that could have gone better and the things that have just not worked out. It’s a time of introspection for some or should I say most; and as a goal orientated person I too am no different. At the end of 2023, we all hope for a BETTER 2024.

In 2019, the COVID 19 pandemic propelled many into changing their lifestyle and habits, connecting more with loved ones and prioritising self-care and their mental health. This was evidenced by the increase in persons taking up cycling as a form of exercise and enjoyment in 2020.

According to We are Cycling UK, data collected from the Department for Transport, it is suggested that pedal cycle traffic was 45.7% above 2019, the highest level of cycling since the 1960s. Press release from Cycling Scotland suggest a 47% rise in cycling between March 2020 and March 2021 and Transport for London autumn’s 2020 data showed a 7% increase in cycling in inner London and a 22% increase in outer London. What fascinated me was data collected by the Department of Transport official statistics for walking and cycling which showed that the average miles cycled per person increased by a whopping 62% between 2019 (54 miles per person) and 2020 (88 miles per person), more than double the average distance in 2002 (39 miles per person). I can certainly attest to this as my cycling journey has grown from its inception of a 7 miles commute twice a week to an impressive 100 miles, completing events such as  Ride London and Dunwich Dynamo; an achievement which I’m extremely proud of. And, if you look very closely, although I do not yet have the statistics, something exciting is happening……RESPESENTATION. Look closely and you will find a changing cycling landscape, more diversity, more females, more persons that look like me and more persons with disabilities.

To date, the Black Unity Bike Ride Alliance lists almost twenty groups and clubs, all committed to increasing pathways for riders from Black, Asian and other diverse groups and communities.

With the pandemic well behind us, 2023 brought with it new challenges of financial hardships from the cost of living crisis, with 55% of British people believing that the economy was one of the top three issues facing the country. With that being said, cycling still remains an excellent cost effective way to improve your physical fitness, mental well-being and an option to save the pennies opting for commuting rather that travelling by more expensive alternatives. Most importantly cycling is fun.

So as we reflect on 2023 and set new goals for 2024 let us make cycling and inclusivity a goal. No longer sitting on the side-lines watching others go by; let me inspire and encourage you by suggesting a few nuggets; that you too can be a part of an inclusive, representative cycling community if only you commit to START:

  1. START – For some time I wished I was brave enough to cycle. I would drive by and see others and long to be as brave as them – until one day I just did. Things can always seem overwhelming until you pluck up the courage to just try.
  2. SAFETY  – Do your research to keep yourself safe. There are local cycling instructors nationally who will support you to get safely into the saddle.
  3. COMMUNITY – Find a cycling community, they’re brilliant, encouraging and will help you to progress.
  4. HAVE FUN – Cycling is fun. It’s an adventure. It’s a time for self-care. Enjoy your local community or venture further afield. You’ll see so much that you did not take notice of before.
  5. HEALTH – Cycling by default will increase your fitness. You will eat healthier so that you have the energy to cycle, you will sleep better because you’ve cycled, you’ll be happier because exercise releases endorphins and so much more.

2 thoughts on “January Reflection”

  1. Very well said, Carla.

    All London boroughs offer free cycling sessions from complete beginners to building & improving skills and confidence, to cycle on the road road.

    1. An enjoyable read which resonated with me throughout. Feeling motivated to set new cycling goals for 2024. Joining a community of like-minded individuals has definitely been inspirational, informative, educational and very motivational. Thanks for this Carla

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