If you pass by Gremlins Bicycle Emporium on Richmond Row Thursday evenings, you’ll likely notice a group of cyclists gathered to take a ride around the city.
It’s part of a weekly communal bike ride which brings out at least 40 to 60 Londoners taking different routes to cycle to various parts of the city. They’re hosted by Gremlins’s employee Mason Lover.
“I try to pick a new route every week,” said Lover. “It’s about 25 kilometres each week at a pretty chill pace and we just touch a new corner of the city. Everyone just comes out for a good time.”
As the weather continues to get warmer, more bikes will be on the busy roads of London, and cyclists believe that everyone, including themselves drivers, and pedestrians, has a responsibility to share the road to ensure a safe commute for everyone.
“Cars and cyclists need to get along in harmony and without sharing the road, they will not,” said Rogan Bennett, who rides with the group every week.
The group recommends drivers give cyclists at least a meter of space on either side to keep a safe distance. They also want to see more complete bike lanes that are designed with the input of fellow cyclists, Bennett said.
“Cycling is only growing and people need to embrace that it’s an alternative mode of transportation that many people use out of both necessity and passion,” Lover said.
Cyclists should ride with their helmets on, and use bells and lights to make themselves more visible, Lover said, adding that it’s best to ride below the marked speed to ensure safety.
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‘A good sense of community’
The weekly tradition started about two years ago as a way to build community among cyclists while they enjoy their favourite activity, Lover said.
“We wanted to jump into the community as best as we could, and we all really love getting involved in any sort of cycling activity and it was a great way to get everyone out to our communal ride that’s just about having fun,” he said.
“Everyone loves it, we have a blast, everyone is respectful and inclusive which is really what we’re trying to promote with these rides.”
Hannah Gross has been riding with the group since it started, and finds it to be a great way to meet like-minded people and make more friends, she said
“It’s a good sense of community, you get a good group of people out and it’s very diverse,” Gross said. “You get the old, the young, and the in-between so it’s a good time.”
She suggests that drivers don’t honk at cyclists and slow down around them instead. Her advice for cyclists is to not pass each other on a blind corner, and to just stay behind another cyclist until it’s safe to go around them, Gross said.
Gross would also like to see improved bike lanes, especially on routes that get a lot of foot traffic such as Richmond and Oxford Streets.
“Those white poles that stick out of the ground, we don’t need them,” she said. “We can just stay inside the lines, people get stuck on those and it causes people to fall off their bikes.”
Pedestrians should also look out for lights and bells, Bennett said, adding that taking two more minutes out of your day and slowing down can save lives.