Nobody who knows me needs to be told that I am not a morning person. Not even I believed me when I claimed I was going to get up at 6.45am on a Sunday morning to go cycling.
But the allure of being able to experience a London without people did, amazingly, do the trick …
It feels kind of weird to say it, given the terrible circumstances that made it possible, but it was a spectacular ride. I just did a loop around central London – nowhere I haven’t been thousands of times before – but it was incredible to see the city this empty. Most places, it was me, a handful of other cyclists, and a few joggers. It was a truly eerie experience.
My intention was to ride for around an hour, the guideline maximum for daily outdoor exercise during the lockdown. I must confess this particular ride was rather longer. I’d expected it to get busier as the ride went on, but while that was true to some degree, it was still really quiet at 9am. I would argue that I fully respected the intention of the guideline, which is to limit the number of people out at any one time: I returned home while London was still incredibly empty.
I didn’t want to push things by taking a full-size camera out with me, so all photos were taken with my iPhone 11 Pro. A few notes for photo nerds below the slideshow.
I would say this was a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Especially as, before I did it, I would have rated the chances of me getting up that early on another Sunday morning as indistinguishable from zero. But, having experienced it, I think there’s a very high chance I’ll do it again (in future sticking to the recommended hour). This was like the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone without the decay and vegetation.
Update: As these rides have become a weekly habit, I have now created a website for the photos: londonwithoutpeople.com.
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