AT THE beginning of this year my bike was no more than an inconvenient piece of clutter in the garage, which had to be shoved aside at least twice a day to allow access to the freezer.

It had lain in such a position for many years. The intention was there, to jump on it and speed about my business, getting fit in the process, but it didn’t happen.

If I went anywhere, however short a journey, it tended to be in the car.

It’s a different story now. For the past six months my bike has been my lifeline. It has taken me everywhere, from frequent supermarket trips, into town to see friends and on rides into the countryside simply for pleasure.

I’ve invested in panniers, into which I can fit quite a decent sized shop, and anything that won’t fit in I stick in a rucksack.

I’ve met so many people, while out and about. Cyclists and pedestrians stop to chat - at a safe distance, of course. And I’ve discovered so much more about my locality, from previously unknown shops to quirky gardens and scenic short-cuts.

More than a third of people in the UK said they could ditch their cars in favour of cycling or walking after the Covid crisis, a study by Cycling UK has revealed.

The findings, which were revealed in a poll carried out by YouGov on behalf of the cycling charity, also showed that just under one in ten people in the UK are cycling more during the crisis.

And looking towards a post-lockdown era, 36 per cent of people said they would rethink their travel habits in the future to use cars less.

I have been driving for more than 40 years, but in April, during lockdown, I drove in front of another car on a roundabout leading to my beloved, 15-year-old motor being written off.

This wasn’t without irony. Throughout those decades I’ve commuted across two counties, along busy A roads and motorways, for years, in all sorts of weather and traffic conditions without so much as a scratch, yet during a period when the roads were virtually empty, I managed to cross the path of another vehicle.

Getting a new - or in my case a new used - car in these times hasn’t been easy. There doesn’t seem to be much available in my favoured make and model and at the budget I have set for myself.

So, to date, I’ve managed without. I’ve had no worries about speed cameras, parking wardens or MOTs. The financial savings on petrol alone are noticeable.

Not that there isn’t a down side to cycling.

While motorists complain about the odd pothole, cyclists have to suffer cycle ‘lanes’ which are more like gullies at the side of roads, peppered with drains, cracks and rubbish.

A bike is okay for transporting a few groceries, but try cat litter or a bag of coal. And our cat once needed the emergency vet. Thankfully, I have helpful neighbours.

Outings are weather dependent. As winter approaches, I won’t be so keen to cycle everywhere.

My husband and I also love taking day trips to the moors and coast, something that is very hard without a car.

But perhaps the worst aspect of being carless is the inability to be able to easily and quickly visit family. Travelling the 50 or so miles to see my elderly parents now involves a five hour journey of two buses, a train and a half-hour walk. And that’s just one way.

For this reason, more than any other, I have come to realise, I really do need a car.

But I won’t abandon my bike - it is now and ever shall be a permanent part of my life.