What’s the best thing about living on Hayling Island?

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

I’d say there’s nothing to beat cycling home over the bridge, with the sun on your face and the wind in your hair. Try it! And if you commute off the island by car, why not try it with a split car-share?

What’s a split car-share? Car-sharing is great in theory, often easier in the morning, but much harder to co-ordinate coming home. So why not split it? Share in the morning, and put a folding bike in the boot to cycle home!

You’ll go green, cut traffic and get fit. And the money you save on the car will pay for the folding bike in no time. If riding over that bridge doesn’t put a broad smile on your face, then I’m afraid you are beyond help. See the rest of our web site for more info.

Second best thing about Hayling? It’s friendly. “Hi” was named after Hayling Island, after all, so please call “Hi” or ring your bell to warn pedestrians on a shared path. Or just to be friendly.

And if you wave a thank you to drivers who let you across, both of you will feel better, and they’re more likely to do it again.

Talking of shared paths, we all remember the no-cycling signs at Hayling Park, but I can confirm that cycling has been legal there for quite a while now. The Havant Borough Council cycle map shows two shared cycle paths, one going east-west past the Community Centre to Richmond Close, the other north-south from the tennis courts to Bacon Lane.

They will be even better from the summer, when the paths will be widened and the signs updated, using the community money from the Halyards development.

You can understand why a few pedestrians have been nervous of cyclists, if they had a bad experience in the past with reckless cyclists breaking the law. So now it’s legal, it’s up to the rest of us to show that we can share paths responsibly, or “Share with Care” as I saw on a sign recently.

Hayling Island’s on the world cycle map! On our last cycle tour in New Zealand, we joined WarmShowers.org, which connects touring cyclists with others who can host them. And we’ve just said goodbye to two South Koreans who stayed with us for 2 nights.

They’ve been all over the world for 2 years, last stop Iceland, now cycling up through Wales to Ireland, then Scotland, Netherlands and France. They had some great stories, and even cooked us delicious Korean seafood pancakes. Cycle touring is a great way to make friends.

We love cycling, but walking’s great exercise too. May 21-25 is Walk to School week, a five-day walking challenge, organised by Living Streets. If you don’t already walk to school, do give it a go. Mengham Junior is supporting it, possibly others, but anyone can join in. Just Google it for more details. Good for you, good for your kids, and good for Hayling’s environment.

Our local Cathedral Challenge rides for new and returning riders are well under way now. We have many new riders this year, and by the time you read this, we’ll be onto the silver challenge, building up gently to get to Chichester Cathedral. It’s great to see the smiles on people’s faces when they realise they really can do it.

If you haven’t ridden for a while, or you want to give younger riders some riding, the island has plenty of safe havens to practice. The beach car parks are still very quiet, as are many other car parks out of peak hours. If you’re a bit more confident, we have lots of quiet roads and cul-de-sacs where you can practice without worrying too much about traffic.

We do recommend a cycle helmet, especially for children and anyone who hasn’t cycled recently. You probably won’t need it, but if you do have a bump, it can make all the difference.

Standards are quite high by law, so you don’t need to spend a lot, unless you want to chase the latest fashion. Much more important is to adjust the straps so it is comfortable and firmly attached, especially children. No point having one if it slides out of the way when you hit something.

But although most cyclists wear them, they don’t want them to be made compulsory, because it deters people from getting the health benefits of cycling, which far outweigh the risks. One study of head injuries coming into A&E found it would be more cost-effective to give them to motorists and pedestrians.

Finally, we don’t think the council is doing enough to build more cycle paths, so I’m standing in the local elections. I don’t mind if you don’t vote for me, but whoever you do vote for, please demand that their support for cycling is more than skin deep.