Cycle to Work Day might be over for another year but we think every day’s a Cycle to Work Day. Chris Bennett, our Head of Behaviour Change, shares his top reasons to get – and stay - in the saddle.
1. It saves you money
It’s a no brainer. After the initial outlay on a bike or sprucing up an old bike that’s been collecting dust in your garage, cycling is free. You won’t have to fork out on the wear and tear costs of running a car or the price of a bus or train ticket, there’s no need for parking and the only fuel you’ll need is food. Earlier this year our research found that if short journeys (less than five miles) currently taken by car were switched to bike, the average person in Scotland could save nearly £2,000 a year – the equivalent to a nearly 9% pay rise in take-home pay.
2. Cycling to work can be quicker and easier than travelling by car
Research by the Local Government Association has found motorists spend nearly five days a year stuck in traffic because of mounting congestion on our roads. With the Department for Transport predicting 55% growth in traffic levels and an 85% rise in congestion by 2040, the problem is only set to get worse. Cycling to work means you can avoid the stress of being stuck in a traffic jam.
3. It’s an easy – and cheap - way to build physical activity into your daily routine
According to government guidelines, adults should get a minimum 150 minutes of physical activity a week, but the British Heart Foundation Physical Inactivity Report 2017 found that 39% of UK adults - that’s around 20 million people – are failing to meet this target. One way to make sure you’re getting enough exercise is to do 30 minutes at least five times a week - the perfect length for short, local journeys by bike. A 20 minute bike ride can use the same amount of calories as a cappuccino, a bar of chocolate or a 175ml glass of wine and adults who cycle regularly can have fitness levels of someone up to 10 years younger.
4. It could make you live longer
University of Glasgow research published in the British Medical Journal earlier this year found people who commuted by bike had a 41% lower risk of premature death, a 45% lower risk of developing cancer and a 46% lower risk of developing heart disease. And if that’s not incentive enough, findings elsewhere reveal that on average cyclists live two years longer than non-cyclists.
5. It’s good for your mental health too
Physical activity can increase mental alertness, energy, positive mood and self-esteem, as well as reducing stress and anxiety, according to the Mental Health Foundation. Many people find cycling to and from work clears the mind and helps them shake off the stresses of the day.
6. Cycling can play a huge part in tackling city air pollution
According to the Royal College of Physicians up to 40,000 early deaths are attributable to air pollution each year in the UK – only smoking contributes to more early deaths. Road transport is responsible for 80% of the pollution where legal limits are being broken and what’s more, research shows those who travel by car can experience five times higher pollution levels than those who cycle and three and a half times more than those walking the same route.
7. And if all that’s not enough, just think of the wind in your hair, the freedom and all of the fun you’ll have along the way.
Cycling brings you closer to nature and the changes in the seasons. Whether it’s spotting wildlife or noticing the leaves changing colour on the trees, two wheels are better than four when it comes to connecting with nature and getting to know your local area. Who knows, you might like it so much that you’ll end up spending your leisure time in the saddle too.