Get on a bike and get in your smile-miles

This is the article we submitted for the November edition of the Hayling Islander. The published article was subject to editing by the Islander.

Did anyone go to the Portsmouth Glow Ride in October? Hundreds of cyclists, from age 3 upwards, cycling along a Southsea seafront closed to traffic, just after sunset, with bikes lit up like Christmas trees. Lots of kids and families. Magical! Lots of smile-miles that evening. And back before the ferry stops. Do try it next year.

If you’d like to cycle around the island, but are put off by the busy roads, don’t assume you have to ride the same route you’d drive. Take a look at a street map. Hayling is crammed full of quieter roads that often run parallel to the ones we drive on. Quieter means safer, more enjoyable and more smile-miles.

Cycling onto the Hayling Billy Trail from Mengham centre can involve quite a long detour up to the Station Theatre, or cycling down West Lane, which is not fun or safe. Fortunately, there’s a great shortcut through Saltmarsh Lane and Denhill Close to the Billy Trail, but it’s only a footpath at the moment.

The council were hoping to upgrade it to a cycle path next year, but it missed out on the funding round, so Cycle Hayling has applied for special community funding. Please wish us luck, and sign up on our website to support us if you think that’s a good idea.

We’ve been asked again why cyclists block the traffic over the bridge when there are good cycle paths both sides. And they are pretty good there, just where the road is too narrow for cars to safely overtake at busy times. Let’s make friends, not enemies, and use the cycle path.

We often get asked if traffic air pollution makes cycling less healthy? Well the latest research shows that car air intakes tend to suck in raw exhaust fumes from the vehicle in front. But cyclist’s heads are higher, where the exhaust gases have mostly dispersed. So cycling is doubly healthier than sitting in a car.

Tip of the month: With darker mornings and evenings, be seen by wearing high-vis clothing and bright lights. We love the tiny USB rechargeable LED lights, slow flashing for better visibility and battery life. Every time you finish a ride, charge them up like your phone, so they’ll always be ready.