13 reasons why biking is better, by Leo Cardini.<br />The thirteen reasons are:<br />1. No car tax or insurance,<br />2. It makes you happy,<br />3. You can stop going to the gym,<br />4. You can carry books flowers and food,<br />5. No parking problems,<br />6. It reduces stress,<br />7. Your heart is happy when you use it,<br />8. It gives you legs of steel,<br />9. You save money on fuel,<br />10. The earth is happy when you use it,<br />11. You can sing on it,<br />12. Zero emissions,<br />13. You can carry your bags.<br />

Cycling in Barnet has become more popular in recent times encouraged by health bodies, government, climate activists and cycle clubs. During the Covid pandemic more cyclists were out with the opportunity to explore empty streets and lanes, solitary exercise and fresh air. The end of the pandemic brought back group cycling including racing and leisure clubs more in evidence with solitary cyclists still most popular.

Why Cycle in Winter?

Seems strange to write about cycling in Barnet in winter but it is an all-year sport and once kitted out with layered clothing, gloves, hi-viz jackets and lights when necessary, the cyclist can still enjoy healthy exercise as long or short rides in cooler weather, trips to the shops, visits or commuting to work. With traffic congested roads in Barnet you may find cycling can get you around town a lot quicker and parking is easier – but don’t forget to lock that bike.

New and Rusty Adult Cyclists

Road sign reading 'Road ahead closed except cyclists'
Cyclists only can pass!! - Hadley

Many Barnet residents interested in learning to cycle or to improve their skills and confidence on busy roads may not be aware but the local Council offers basic and advanced skill cycle training through Cycle Confident (https://www.cycleconfident.com/sponsors/barnet/). Adults have the opportunity to learn to cycle and rusty cyclists to improve skills and confidence.

Whilst most cycle clubs expect cyclists to be confident and able to ride safely, they can point rusty riders towards other groups to help, for example Breeze Barnet offers free riding opportunities for women only of all abilities. They will help build confidence as part of a friendly, inclusive group (https://www.letsride.co.uk/groups/breeze-barnet). Cycle Buddies puts new riders, male and female adults in touch with experienced riders.  Buddies can then meet up and ride together – to work, to the shops or just to the park for a bit of practice. (https://forms.gle/Rfy5Nj6YSmFm7zdQ7). Bikeability (https://www.bikeability.org.uk/find-cycle-training/), the Department for Transport’s flagship national cycle training programme for schoolchildren in England, helps address training for adults as well.

A number of Internet sites can help you check over your bike to make sure it is safe and in shape or leave it to one of the local bike shops. Halfords do a free Bike Health Check with a paid for maintenance programme or suggestions on maintenance and repair.

Cycle Routes in Barnet

View looking along the cycle lane, with white posts separating it from the rest of the road.  Three cyclists, a removal van and a bus.  It looks wet
The A1000 Cycle Lane

There are limited cycle paths in Barnet and more in evidence as the cyclist gets nearer to Central London. However Barnet Council is seeking to deliver more cycle paths and has been consulting with the public for example on the experimental A1000 cycle lane now providing a connection between North Finchley Town Centre in the north and the boundary with Haringey borough in the south.   Local Barnet bicycle groups also may include cycle maps on their websites such as Barnet Cyclists (https://maphub.net/BCC/routes).

Using the TfL Journey Planner (https://tfl.gov.uk/modes/cycling/) it is possible to plan a cycle route in and around Barnet which will try to put the cyclist on available cycle paths and safer routes. Google maps also provide an option for travel by cycle. National cycle groups and organisations can also be searched for maps of Barnet cycle routes such as British Cycling Let’s Ride (https://www.letsride.co.uk/routes) which covers routes further afield for the avid explorer cyclist.

Cycle Groups in Barnet

There are many cycle groups in Barnet which may be found through Internet searches. They include racing road bike groups as well as leisure groups including those associated within other organisations such as churches and interest bodies such as the U3a. Cycling in a group helps broaden skills and find new routes and enjoy the company of fellow cyclists in a competitive and social environment.

Thinking About Cycling Again?

Get in touch with a local group and explore the help available in Barnet or contact Cycle Confident about learning or improving cycling skills. The main thing is to Get Cycling and don’t wait till the perfect day in summer but start now.

January 2023