You could almost believe it was actually Spring as the sun shone down on London this week, warming the city up for what felt like the first time this year.
So instead of driving up in the company vans or joining the masses travelling underground with no sign of the sun, our Project Managers, Erin and Kevin, decided to take a different approach to their site visits across the city and hired some Boris bikes for the day!
Their journey started at Waterloo and they cycled off to their first appointment at Southbank Tower making sure they could be seen by wearing their Dröm hi-viz jackets and keeping safe with hard hats!
Once they had finished at Southbank they cycled down past the London Eye, the world’s tallest cantilevered observation wheel at 135m high, which opened in 2000 as part of the city’s millennium celebrations. The wheel has 32 capsules, one for each London borough and rotates at 0.9 km/hr i.e. one revolution takes 30 minutes.
They then faced the traffic over Westminster bridge and headed towards Parliament Square en route to St James’s Park, stopping for a quick selfie in front of Big Ben! The clock tower is actually officially known as Elizabeth Tower and has been since 2012 in honour of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee. Previously it was known simply as the Clock Tower or St. Stephen’s Tower. The tower is 96m high and was designed by Augustus Pugin. Big Ben is the nickname for the bell which chimes the hour. The hour hand of the clock is 2.7m long and the minute hand is 4.3m long.
Their next appointment was in St. James’s square so they took a shortcut through St. James’s Park (stopping at Buckingham Palace on the way). As with driving, you should never use your phone while cycling, so Kevin sensibly stopped to take a couple of business calls …… and a couple of hayfever tablets!
Once Kevin had finished they headed off to their next appointment at St. James’s Street following the guards from Buckingham Palace as they rode up the Mall! Once business had been concluded on site our intrepid Project Managers started the journey back to Waterloo taking a shortcut back to the Mall past the Duke of York monument. This statue was built to honour Prince Frederick, second eldest son of King George III. The column itself was built in 1832 and the statue itself was placed on top in 1834. Prince Frederick has been immortalised in the nursery rhyme ‘The Grand Old Duke of York’ and is widely recognised as bringing the British Army into a cohesive, capable, modernised force following his command during the French Revolutionary Wars.
They made their way back through the park passing Horse Guards Parade en route. Horse Guards was once the HQ of the British Army and nowadays hosts Trooping the Colour, the annual celebration of the Queen’s birthday. It was also the scene of jousting tournaments in the days of Henry VIII and more recent sporting events include the Beach Volleyball competition at the London 2012 Olympics.
It was two energised colleagues that returned to the office on Tuesday afternoon. Their day on the bikes had numerous health and environmental benefits, very fitting for a wellbeing company.
Cycling is a great way to keep fit. It improves your cardiovascular fitness, thereby decreasing the risk of coronary heart disease and strengthening your immune system. It is great for muscle tone, especially in your calves, thighs and bottom, and is good for people with joint conditions as it is considered a low impact activity. Other benefits include weight loss as you are burning calories, improved co-ordination and there are also links to good mental health.
Stop breathing the stale air in an air conditioned or overheated office and get outside into the fresh air (ok, maybe the air in London isn’t particularly fresh but it’s still good to be outside!). Once outside, inhaling the oxygen in the fresh air leads to an increased production of serotonin which promotes feelings of wellbeing and happiness. Increased oxygen in your bloodstream helps increase white blood cell functionality when fighting bacteria and germs and it also helps your brain function better, increasing mental clarity.
Leaving the car behind ensures a decrease in your carbon footprint. The CO2 and carbon monoxide emissions from cars, vans and buses have increased enormously the more vehicles we have on the road. These gases are known as ‘greenhouse gases’ and they trap heat inside the planet’s atmosphere. However an increase in production of these gases is increasing the temperature of the planet which in the long term is contributing to extreme weather and climate change through global warming.
Erin and Kevin were lucky to have such a sunny day too – the Vitamin D present in sunshine has so many benefits including building strong bones, protecting against cataracts and boosting immunity, whilst the warmth of the sun has been linked to lowering blood pressure and helping us sleep better. The sun can also improve our mood considerably. Please remember to wear a suitable sunscreen when out in the sunshine though.
For more information on Santander cycles (or Boris bikes as they are more commonly known!) please visit: https://web.santandercycles.tfl.gov.uk/