Interview: London Cyclist (Andreas)
London Cyclist is the premier destination of the commuter cyclists of London. With our focus on the growth of cycling as a consumer trend this month, Andreas was kind enough to share his thoughts on cycling, commuting and social, in the capital.
You provide an invaluable source of info on all things London cycle commuting. What inspired you to start?
When I moved to London I started cycling with my housemate to work every day on Gray’s Inn Road. The more I got into it, the more I started searching for gear recommendations, such as the best bike locks, how to find great cycle routes in London and so forth. Most of the articles I found were geared to high end cyclists, so I decided to write something focused on the everyday commuter such as myself.
What’s your objective now you have an established online community?
Whilst London Cyclist is no longer my full time occupation, I hope the community will continue to grow and we can keep highlighting some of the issues facing cyclists in London and help direct people towards action they can take. Of course, we’ll also keep providing the same great gear roundups and tips that people find useful.
How have you seen London cycle commuting change?
Whilst previously cycle campaigners were quite scattered in their approach, there seems to be a lot of cohesion now calling for a Dutch like infrastructure to come to London. You definitely see the effects of this in London, with impressive new cycle infrastructure coming in. This will encourage new cyclists to join, who feel the safety benefits.
What’s your biggest frustration?
I’d say that I am my biggest frustration! Sometimes I let the actions of other drivers (and cyclists!) get to me. I get annoyed and frustrated and that doesn’t really make for a enjoyable ride. I’ve definitely got a lot better at it though!
What’s been your most fulfilling moment?
It was pretty fun getting to try out the new Cycle Hire bikes before anyone else. TfL gave me one of the early models and I decided to stop to take some pictures of it at iconic locations around London. It definitely drew a lot of attention! Last year we also hired our first full time writer, which felt like a real milestone.
How did you build the community?
I made sure that right from the start we had a newsletter that people would receive every Friday morning at 10.05am without fail! In the early days I spent a lot of time reaching out to other bloggers and seeing if we could exchange links. That helped build the popularity of the site at the start.
Where do you hope to see it go in 2017 and beyond?
There’s a lot of competition online for people’s attention, but we hope to keep standing out with very high quality, friendly advice for the everyday cycle commuter. Whilst a lot of my time is taken up these days at my other company Nibble Apps, I hope to free up more time to work on London Cyclist in the later half of 2017.
What are your top tips for those considering cycle commuting? (Suspect you’ve got a well-trafficked piece of content addressing this!)
When my girlfriend first started cycling in London, I felt like a cycle safety instructor, telling her to check over her shoulder, ride further out from parked cars and stop in the middle in front of cars at traffic lights. These were all things I learnt at a one on one cycle training course, which have made an enormous difference to how safe I feel on the roads. We’ve written a comprehensive guide to safe cycling on the blog, which I’d recommend as a starting point!
How do you find social and email content interact: do you find some channels are better suited to different tasks? Why focus on email over a blog, for example?
I’m a fan of email because there’s a predictability to receiving it, so it almost becomes a routine to expect an email every Friday morning. I feel like I can build a good relationship with my audience that way, without having to resort to Buzzfeed style headlines to get clicks!