** UPDATE, TUESDAY 4th Feb 18.00: Over 50 rides led by volunteers all across London will set off tomorrow morning. Thank you, London cycling community, you're amazing! See here for the BikeTheStrike route map and find out if there's a ride near you. **
Unless there's nothing short of a diplomatic miracle, London's Underground network will come creaking to a halt from Tuesday evening for a 48 hour strike.
Whatever you think about the politics of the strike, there's no denying that the Underground carries more people every day than the rest of the UK rail network put together. In a nutshell, that's an awful lot of people who still need to get to work on Wednesday and Thursday morning...
Most of you reading are probably already committed cyclists and know the joys of using a bicycle to get from A to B in the city and how easy, fast and stress-free it can be.
But there's plenty of people in London who will be considering using a bike to get through the strike who might be feeling nervous, may be inexperienced at cycling with London traffic or simply may not know the way overground to their place of work.
So here at i b i k e l o n d o n we thought we'd combine the goodwill of the London cycling community with the magic of social media and put together BikeTheStrike!
The way it works is simple; if you're a cyclist and you'd be happy to guide another slightly apprehensive rider to work, add your details and draw your cycle route on to our #BikeTheStrike action map, which you can find here.
List where you will depart from (local landmarks, tube stations, or pubs are good places to gather), at what time you'll leave, what your Twitter handle is so people can reach you, and which tube stations you will pass on your way to your destination.
To plot your route, click the "pin" and "line" tools which appear in the top left hand corner of the map (see below) You should be able to draw your whole route as one line, which you can then choose to colour code or add text to under the "Bike The Strike Routes" layers.
Joining a BikeTheStrike ride:
On the other side of the cycling spectrum, if you're a rusty rider looking for someone to show you the way, or to give you a bit of gentle encouragement, check the map for routes near you, and tweet any ride leaders whose route suits your needs, et voila you've got your very own bike buddy to show you the way and take you gently across town and in to the office.
People leading rides are in no way liable for you during your cycle journey, and there's no assumption of legal responsibility here (phew, that's the nasty legal bit out of the way) but if you need some "blitz spirit" to help you get to work during the strike, the London cycling community is here for you.
So, what are you all waiting for? Get mapping and tweeting your route right now, and who knows what new two-wheeled friends you might meet along the way? #BikeTheStrike!
Top tips for rusty riders:
- Give your bike a quick once over before you leave;
- Pump up your tyres, give your chain a spin, squeeze your brakes
- Pack your waterproofs and a spare set of clothes. (Cycling in the rain is surprisingly okay. Sitting at your desk all day in wet knickers is not.)
- Don't forget your lights - not only a legal requirement but damn useful too as it will be dark when you leave work in the evening.
- Keep an eye on social media, note the contact details of your BikeTheStrike ride leader, tell someone where you are going.
- You'll need a lock to secure your bike at your destinaton (preferably two)
- Don't forget to say thank you!
Top tips for BikeTheStrike ride champions:
- Try to map your route accurately, and mention the stations you will pass; some riders may wish to "get off" along your route.
- Try to set an easy pace as some of the riders may not be as used to hurtling through central London streets as you are.
- Consider setting off earlier than usual when roads are quieter, and to allow yourself more time.
- If you say you're going to do a ride, do it!
Check out the BikeTheStrike route map, and add your cycle journey today.