When he’s not popping up on our TV screens presenting popular programmes like Find It, Fix It, Flog It and The Great House Giveaway on Channel 4, actor and property developer Simon O’Brien can often be found cycling around the city on his bike.
“Walking and cycling is a great, socially distanced way of getting around and is hugely positive,” says Simon, who is also Liverpool City Region’s walking & cycling commissioner. “Not only for the environment and our air quality, but also our physical health and mental wellbeing.”
And he adds: “With many of us spending more time at home due to the current lockdown, it’s more important than ever to get out in the fresh air, on our own or with our household or support bubble.
“We’re lucky that there are so many fantastic places to ride a bike or take a walk – from Prenton to Princes Park, Whiston to Widnes, Southport to St Helens.”
So why not do what Simon says and head off into the great outdoors?
Here are some of Simon’s favourite low-traffic routes to enjoy on foot or by bike – as well as some handy hints and tips before you set off.”
My Top Walking and Cycling Routes
The Loop Line (or any part of it)
Liverpool’s brilliant Sustrans route from Halewood to Aintree. My own personal favourite is leafy Queens Drive!
The seafront at New Brighton and beyond
There is always something invigorating about riding next to water and the coast of the Wirral has plenty of choice for that.
Stadt Moers Park
Miles of traffic-free routes to wander along near Whiston.
Spike Island, Jubilee Bridge and Bridgewater Canal
Try out the new bike lanes across the old Runcorn bridge to Spike Island in Widnes or the Bridgewater Canal in Runcorn depending on which way you are going.
Or invent a local loop…
There is something satisfying about riding in circles, however big or small. Use a section of some of the fab routes mentioned above or pick out some local parks or green spaces on the map and then join them up into a loop with quiet side roads or bridleways.
My favourite example:
Start at the statue of Eros at Sefton Park, ride up to The Needle and onto the bike lane to the traffic lights.
Go straight through the lights onto Windermere Terrace and into Princes Park, then along to the gates at Princes Avenue. Join the new cycle path in the middle of Princes Avenue. Get off the end and then go down Upper Stanhope St, wiggle past the old Cains Brewery and down to the river. Head along the Promenade and cut up through Otterspool Park to Aigburth Road, then under the subway and into Sefton Park, along the lake and back to Eros.
Top tips for a good bike ride
It’s amazing what a difference a bit of TLC for your bike and a few bits of good kit can make to the enjoyment of a ride.
1. Pump the tyres up
Somewhere on the side of your tyres it says inflate, then there are numbers with p.s.i after them. I recommend getting hold of a ‘track pump’ with a gauge and keeping your tyres pumped up to the right p.s.i. Trust me, it’s the difference between feeling like you’re riding through treacle or feeling like a Tour De France champion!
2. Get the saddle right
When you are peddling you want your legs to be just about straight when the peddle is at the bottom of each turn. Basically, when you are standing in a stop position with your bum on the saddle, you should be just on your tip toes. If you use all the power in your legs you will go further for less effort.
3. Use a pingy bell!!
Get a small bell with a spring ‘pinger’. One single ring is enough to politely let anyone know you are behind them. Pedestrians have the right of way in my book always. Oh, and it’s the law too.
4. Make Sure Your Lights are Rechargeable
They’re reliable and you’ll save money on batteries. Whenever I am on the road I ride with my lights on day or night.
5. Get a properly-waterproof jacket
Fork out for the best one you can afford. Keep your body dry and everything else is fine, whatever the weather.
Top tips for a good walk
1. Slow and Steady: Walk at a steady and manageable pace, particularly if you’re going for a longer a walk. It’s more tiring than you think it’s going to be.
2. Get your shoes and socks right: Try to wear thick, comfortable socks and good lightweight shoes with good support.
3. Dress for the Season: It might sound obvious but check the forecast and try to wear clothes to match the weather. Warm, light clothing when it’s colder and cool, comfortable clothes when it’s warmer. And, you won’t need it just yet but, in the summer, remember your sunscreen and a hat.
4. Keep Hydrated: Drinking water before and after you have a walk is really important. And if it’s a longer walk, or it’s hot outside, try to take some water with you.
You can find out more about walking and cycling in the Liverpool City Region by visiting merseytravel.gov.uk/active-travel/