For this week’s episode of the road.cc Podcast, we decided to turn our attention to the big, all-consuming, unavoidable story dominating the national headlines and inspiring hundreds of artificially provocative column inches at the moment.
That’s right – we’re talking Remco Evenepoel’s latest Vuelta rant! No, of course not (sorry, Remco fans). It’s a ULEZ special on today’s podcast – what else? – as we assess whether the divisive policy’s extension will have a positive impact on cycling in London, before Jack chats about getting back on his bike after hip surgery with bike fitter, physio, and cycling recovery specialist Bryan McCullough.
In part one, George, Jack, Ryan, and Simon gather around the table (well, at least the metaphorical Zoom one) to discuss the much-debated extension of London’s Ultra Low Emission Zone, which after months of often toxic political and online discourse, finally came into force on Tuesday in outer London.
For those of you lucky enough to have avoided the ongoing media meltdown over ULEZ, the extension means that motorists driving older, non-compliant, high-polluting vehicles in London will be charged £12.50 a day, a policy described by mayor Sadiq Khan as “not easy but necessary to reduce the capital's toxic air pollution”.
While the zone, as noted by Simon in the episode, only affects a relatively small number of drivers, some bike companies have sensed an opportunity in recent weeks to persuade the capital’s residents to swap their non-compliant vehicles for a bike.
Brompton, for example, are offering Londoners 10 percent off some of their models as part of the ULEZ scrappage scheme, while Dutch bike subscription company Swapfiets are running a special one-off introductory discount on their e-bikes, which the brand says will offer “savvy and sustainable Londoners the chance to bypass the new £12.50 daily ULEZ charge and cruise into work on an e-bike instead”.
But will ULEZ convince some motorists to give up their car for a bike? And will the policy, along with other measures seemingly designed to entice people out of their private motor vehicles (such as Low Traffic Neighbourhoods and cycling infrastructure), help make London safer for people on bikes?
Or does the recent plethora of bike offers, as some on social media have suggested, only add further fuel to the (conspiracy-stoked) fire that ULEZ is simply another way to curtail the God-given right of British citizens to drive? Needless to say, it was a lively chat.
Putting aside the big stack of newspapers for part two, Jack caught up with Bryan McCullough, a physio and bike fitter who specialises in injury recovery for cyclists.
With a combined thirty years’ experience in those fields, Bryan is the founder of ‘The Bike The Body’, a specialist clinic that combines those two passions and aims to help cyclists “achieve their goals and enjoy their ride – whether its commuting to work, riding, a sportive, or racing”.
Bryan’s experience in helping cyclists of all abilities as part of their rehabilitation programme, especially in the wake of knee, back, and hip surgeries, certainly proved useful and timely for Jack, who has spent the summer recovering from a hip resurfacing operation, necessitated by the end-stage osteoarthritis he was diagnosed with a few years back (a misspent youth of pogo-sticking will do that to you).
In a really interesting discussion, Bryan chats with Jack about how cycling can be a perfect route to recovery following major surgery, thanks to its low impact nature and range of motion, and why the all-important bike fit can prove even more essential as you aim to regain your confidence and strength on the bike.
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At the time of broadcast, our listeners can also get a free Hammerhead Heart Rate Monitor with the purchase of a Hammerhead Karoo 2. Visit hammerhead.io right now and use promo code ROADCC at checkout to get yours.
Ryan joined road.cc in December 2021 and since then has kept the site’s readers and listeners informed and enthralled (well at least occasionally) on news, the live blog, and the road.cc Podcast. After boarding a wrong bus at the world championships and ruining a good pair of jeans at the cyclocross, he now serves as road.cc’s senior news writer. Before his foray into cycling journalism, he wallowed in the equally pitiless world of academia, where he wrote a book about Victorian politics and droned on about cycling and bikes to classes of bored students (while taking every chance he could get to talk about cycling in print or on the radio). He can be found riding his bike very slowly around the narrow, scenic country lanes of Co. Down.