So did the January Dry-Athlon go to plan? And how about those new exercise regimes you promised yourself you would stick to? Lots of people like to use the arrival of a New Year to make some changes to their lifestyle such as eating healthier and doing more exercise, but actually making those changes is not always easy.
Commuting by bike was a change I made to my daily routine over 2 years ago. It seemed like something drastic at first but following a few simple steps and making gradual changes made it far less daunting and I am proud to say I now cycle to work every day.
I love it because it gives me the flexibility to travel when I want to and not be so tied to the busy rush hour trains, or the costs and queues that accompany car travel.
I arrive at work feeling fresh and energised and now really notice the difference if I miss my morning cycle!
It’s never too late to make good on those New Year promises and you’ll find it so much easier to stick to if it fits into your day better. This is how I got started and stuck to the best resolution I ever made.
I was a bit concerned about the cost of getting everything you need to cycle safely, but the money you can save by avoiding high fuel costs and transport fares more than makes up for what you spend initially.
It’s always worth checking whether your employer offers incentives for staff such a Cycle to Work scheme, which can provide financial help for buying bikes and cycling gear through salary sacrifice. If your employer doesn’t offer anything currently, why not suggest it to them? The Cycle to Work Alliance has information on how the scheme works and suggests who employers can work with to put something in place.
Read more about support Sustrans offers employers to increase the number of their employees travelling actively and sustainably.
You may have an old bike in the shed so what better time to dust it off and get those wheels turning again. Take a trip to your local bike shop and get them to check out the condition of your ride. Most will have qualified mechanics on hand and it is vital to ensure your bike is roadworthy before embarking on your new travel challenge.
There are plenty of outlets online and in person that will sell you a second hand bike. Gumtree and E-bay are of course popular choices but make sure you check that you are buying from someone reputable. Research your local area for places that deal in second hand bikes or see if your council can suggest any local bike recycling schemes.
Read our tips for choosing a new bike.
I roughly knew the route I would need to take for my inaugural commute but found it so useful to plan ahead and do a practice run in my spare time so I knew how long it would take. There are lots of online tools you can use to plot the best route for you. Sustrans’ has an online map where you can discover what sections of National Cycle Network are near you, and we have tips on planning your route. Cycle Streets and Google Maps will plot a route between two points for you so check out your options and try it in advance.
Checking the weather forecast is always wise and with decent waterproofs I am able to ride even in the wet now, but it is a good idea to get used to your commute before tackling all the elements.
There’s no need to try and do everything at once; start by cycling a couple of days a week and, as well as noticing the difference it makes to your wellbeing, you’ll also start to see what sort of kit will make your commute easier.
I started with a backpack but discovered that Panniers and baskets are a great way of carrying your essentials around, be it a full change of clothes or just your lunchbox!
Part of the reason I love commuting by bike is because it helps me both gear up for and wind down after work. When I put foot to pedal, there is no reason to think about anything but enjoying the ride. However, there are inevitably some days where I feel a little less enthused, especially if it is cold or wet outside and this is where my cycle buddy Hannah comes in very handy!
Hannah lives on my estate and we cycle to work and back home together, putting the world to rights as we go. Having some company on your commute is a great way to stay motivated. If you’re thinking of commuting by bike, why not see if anyone else in your workplace already does and if you may cross paths?
Read more about how effective bike buddying can be.
I used to cycle on road a fair bit as a kid with my family during the summer, so have always felt relatively sure of my abilities, but I was amazed at how much more confident I felt with a bit of guidance from the pros. Cycle training will teach you how to cycle safely and appropriately on the road, helping you develop the skills and confidence to tackle even busy city streets. Many providers will give tailored sessions and even come along on your commute to give you the best possible advice on cycling to work.
So if you fancy making a lifestyle change that will leave you feeling and looking great, hopefully my experiences show that commuting to work on a bike isn’t as far-fetched as you may think. From not cycling at all as an adult I now cycle the 5 miles each way regularly, and it’s by far the most convenient and enjoyable way of getting to work!