Following the release of Boris Johnson’s plans for the future of cycling in London, Jack Rich takes a bike ride through London in 2026…
Leaving the house in the morning, I throw on my coat and scarf and slurp the last of my coffee. Out on the road, my bike computer tells me I’ve allowed myself an hour to cycle the six mile trip to the office. This is more than enough time – but my overestimate is deliberate. Because it’s 2026, and London has been transformed.
Casually riding in jeans and shoes
Riding along at a leisurely pace, I’m wearing jeans and casual shoes – and so is everyone around me. There’s a girl wearing a beautiful long blue coat in front of me on an old Dutch bike and behind me there’s a mom cycling alongside her child heading to school.
I’m riding past Canary Wharf on what used to be the worst part of my journey, but it’s improved no-end: whereas I used to have to swerve to avoid clattering into an opening car door, or a bus pulling into a stop, I’m cycling along a segregated path with an island between bikes and cars. It actually goes all the way to Victoria (they call it Crossrail for bikes) and it’s helped make cycling in London an absolute pleasure. Other cyclists, also riding casually, join from adjoining cycling paths.
I used to dread the next part of my journey – a junction notorious as being a hotspot for accidents involving cyclists. I used to have to get prepared to cycle as fast as possible and “keep my wits about me” as our Mayor used to say. He’s the Prime Minister now.
Phased traffic lights, and clear cyclist-only stopping areas, as well as mirrors for lorry drivers have helped make the junction as safe as possible. I’m quickly on my way again.
More people on two wheels
Approaching the office and I’m overtaken by a man on an electric bike. It seems lazy to me, but I’ve noticed they’ve become increasingly popular and it’s just nice to see more people on two wheels.
At work there’s an incredible amount of bikes in the office. I remember when there used to be just a handful of us. Dare I say it, people used to see us as almost “weird” for cycling to work. Now the number of bikes has tripled. The office certainly feels a lot more energetic in the mornings.
After a day at work again I cycle home again – cycling through a busy, but safe and friendly local neighbourhood before reaching my home. There are plenty of bikes about – adults and kids alike, all since my borough was designated a ‘mini-Holland’.
I used to cycle in lycra, with protective eyewear, cycling shoes and a commuter rucksack – but now I only wear that for long rides. Cycling has become more and more popular, but also more and more accessible: when I moved to London I dreaded getting on my bike. Now? I relish it.
I’m sure some will say the above is optimistic, idealistic and unrealistic. Perhaps it is. But there have been many articles discussing the realities of Boris Johnson’s Vision for Cycling, but he should be applauded, somewhat at least, for at least having the vision. Let’s just imagine his plan comes off in its entirety: Cycling will be so much fun. I love spending time on my bike now, and that’s with the risks and the politics. I can’t wait to see how cycling in London improves in ten years’ time.
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As seen on The Guardian, BBC and The Independent.