Safak's cycle story: Why I ride a bike
1st January 2021

Safak's cycle story: Why I ride a bike

I am a 38 years old woman living in Bicester for two and a half years. I don’t drive and never had a driving licence. I know, very unusual for this country. But I wasn’t born in the UK and in the ‘having a driving licence by the time you hit 18’ culture. I am originally from Turkey where there is a comprehensive and affordable public transport system, as not everyone can afford a car. After I left Turkey, I lived in Germany which also has a great public transport culture. As a result, I survived without needing to drive or having a driving licence, that was until I moved to the UK.

Using public transport is not common here - this is a chicken and egg situation; as everyone is driving, public transport is not needed, or public transport is not common everyone needs to have a car. I had two options to be able to be more mobile and not being dependant on my husband and his driving skills: having a driving licence or cycling. Both presented a barrier as I didn’t know how to cycle either result of growing up in a country with more dangerous roads than here and not a bike path in sight. For me cycling presented the quickest, simplest and cheapest way to get mobile.

I started to practice and learn how to cycle first time in September 2018. As we live close to the cycle paths it was not a big deal at the beginning. Just going to the supermarket was the first target and I am telling you it was not easy. Especially if you are 38 and it is very obvious that you are trying to keep your balance. Then I started to cycle to the train station to take the London train where I work. This was a bit trickier as there is no continuous bike bath all the way to Bicester North Station. So, this means I needed to hop off and walk some of the route to reach my destination. I was still not comfortable to cycle on the road at this point.

My experiences have taught me a lot, getting to grips with cycling, route finding, dealing with traffic and much more. There is much to share with those of you new to cycling or thinking of hopping on a bike to go to the shops or take their kids to school. So I will talk about how I start to cycle on the road, how I built my confidence and how I dealt with my first puncture in the next blogs.