Better cycle lanes needed to encourage spokeheads

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Last week Him Indoors swept in on a wave of sweaty euphoria. ‘Have we won the rollover?’ I ask.

‘Better! According to my new app I am the fifth fastest cycle commuter on the Eastern Road! Watch out Bradley Wiggins, Rio 2016 here I come!’

My husband, I discover, has some new jiggery pokery on his phone which tracks his speed on the daily commute and collates it with times recorded by other Pompey cycle geeks.

‘It’s my best rating yet,’ he adds, ‘though today I was wind-assisted.’

‘You said it,’ I reply.

I hate to extend the time he lingers in the kitchen in luminous Lycra, but I can’t resist questioning the data.

‘If the only people you are competing with are the kind of time-rich nerds who analyse their trajectory to work, many may be in mobility scooters.’

He responds: ‘Further testimony to my awesome athleticism. I am not battery-powered!’

Sadly I cannot remove Him Indoors’ battery. But in the case of many other Hampshire cyclists, I actually could. E-bikes, cycles with added battery power, are gaining popularity and Hampshire stockist Freego reports 1,131 sales this year.

Unlike normal bikes, they offer extra oomph to get you to work un-sweaty and unflustered. They require no helmet or insurance but enable you to accelerate at lights in sync with the traffic.

It’s hoped they will overcome the British resistance to cycle-commuting and tackle our over-reliance on cars.

But while 25 per cent of journeys in the Netherlands are now made by bike, the equivalent figure for the UK is a paltry two per cent, even since the advent of e-bikes. The problem is our cities are ill-served by cycle lanes and Pompey is no exception.

Pedalling along in Southsea is okay, but if you follow the cycle route from North End to the coast you weave through at least three unnerving underpasses.

Let’s hope, in the coming revamp of Portsmouth, the council spares a thought for cycle lanes. We could all breathe the sea air more deeply if commuters became spokeheads and joined Him Indoors on the Eastern Road.