How cycling in Greenwich became a ‘lifesaver’ during lockdown

From the outside, Nena Kazantzidou looks like a seasoned cyclist. Her Instagram page is a colourful showcase of what London has to offer by bike. But in reality, Nena had actually been too terrified to cycle in London – until the lockdown began.

Nena lives in Greenwich Millennium Village. Before she moved to the UK from Greece, she used to cycle everywhere. But for the six years she’s lived in the capital, headlines of cycling accidents and the heavy traffic made her feel too scared to cycle the city’s streets. “The traffic is always too much here in London,” she said. “But then the pandemic happened, and I thought it was about time.”

At the start of the pandemic, Nena was made redundant. Then she was offered a role that “fitted perfectly with her passions and skills” but the company retracted the offer due to a hiring freeze. “In general I’m quite positive and optimistic, but this really, really affected me because I like being busy and doing things. That’s when I bought the bike. It was a lifesaver.”