I moved to Manchester some three months ago. Relocating from Central London with its tubes every three minutes, to struggling with my local bus every 30, was proving a difficult adjustment, then one very generous friend gave me a bike.
I now love cycling, simply because I can get anywhere in the city easily, and living in Salford, I have discovered I am surrounded by green space.
I only have to cycle for five minutes and I am pootling along the banks of the Irwell spotting herons and butterflies, or racing towards a large country park. I now cycle to work, to meet friends, to the shops and aimlessly for pleasure at weekends.
The day of Manchester’s July heatwave, I just downed tools and set off for a long lunch in Heaton Park, which wouldn’t have been possible without my trusty new bike.
This is a big turnaround for me. I thought I was the anomaly who had forgotten how to ride a bike, as from the age of ten, each cycling attempt left me with a new injury. I knew that if I was going to be safe, I needed some help.
My instructor from Transport for Greater Manchester came to my house, and after making sure my bike was secure, he patiently watched me wobble around in our first session. I’ve just had my last of three sessions where he watched how I cycled to work, and we went through some of the trickier junctions and roundabouts to show me how I could be more visible, or often, more confident in how I approached them.
I can’t recommend getting a bike enough – and the free training is a great way to build confidence and to feel secure that you are doing all you can to be safe. Being able to cycle has given me access to so much of the city I would not have had by walking alone, or relying on public transport.
I can’t drive either, and to be honest, there’s a thrill from just being on a road – not to mention moving faster than 3mph on foot, or worse, by rush hour.