Celebrating Cycle to Work Day
How do you usually get to work? Public transport? By car, perhaps? Or maybe you live close enough to be able to walk? For an increasing number of Brits, the daily commute has been vastly improved by the addition of a bike. In fact, according to the 2011 Census, 741,000 working residents aged between 16 and 74 cycle to work in England and Wales – an increase of 90,000 in just one decade. The number of people cycling to work in London doubled in the same time period.
Some are still wary, though. Concerns about safety, lack of equipment or experience can put people off making the switch, despite the obvious benefits, such as reduced travel costs, fewer delays and, of course, better fitness.
The UK’s Cycle to Work Day 2018 is an attempt to change this mindset. Now in its sixth year, Cycle to Work Day aims to demonstrate that with a bit of preparation plenty more of us could swap our train or car for a bike, at least for a couple of days a week. The idea is to encourage adults across the UK to embrace cycle commuting for one day, in the hope that – for some at least – it will kickstart a new habit that might just last a lifetime.
This year’s celebration takes place on Wednesday 15th August and the organisers hope that the turnout will be bigger than ever. Last year, over 40,000 people pledged to take part, of which 835 employers and 2,372 retailers around the world gave their support.
“The idea,” says Cycle to Work Day’s David Wallace, “is to create a date in the calendar where people who might not consider themselves cyclists, or haven’t been on a bike for a while, come together and give it a try. Everyone’s journey is different, but this is about creating strength in numbers. Cycling to work is the simple way to boost your health, improve your wellbeing and reduce your impact on the environment. It doesn’t matter if you’re a passionate cyclist or just starting out, it’s a really collaborative day. You don’t have to do this on your own and there’s no competitive element to it. No one sees your stats, it’s just you adding your miles to the overall pot.”
And the pot is definitely growing. Since its launch six years ago, more than 130,000 cyclists have taken part in Cycle to Work Day and have:
- clocked up 2.4 million miles – the equivalent of travelling 91 times around the world;
- saved more than 500,000 kilograms of carbon dioxide – the equivalent of 64 return flights from London to Sydney;
- burned 74 million calories, which is the same as cycling the Tour de France route 557 times in a row;
- saved £510,049 from people taking a bike rather than public transport.
You don’t even have to own a bike to get involved. “We actively support bike rental schemes, such as the Santander bikes in London or Go Bike,” says Wallace.
If you are tempted to get yourself a new set of wheels, however, Cyclescheme – Cycle to Work Day’s founder – offers an affordable way to get a new commuting bike and accessories. Backed by the UK government’s Green Travel Plan, the initiative helps you obtain any bike and/or accessories via your employer. You then pay a monthly ‘salary sacrifice’ to essentially hire your kit for a 12-month period. At the end of that period, you have the option to buy the bike outright, saving at least 25% in tax while allowing you to spread the cost.'
For many this year’s Cycle to Work Day will be their first time on a bike in years. The key to success is in the planning. So, if you’ve signed up, or are considering it, you might want to consider the following key areas:
- Plan your kit – we’re not talking just the bike and your Lycra here, but carrying our checks on your bike lights. Do they work? This is important because it’s illegal in the UK to ride without working lights. Likewise, you need to check that your tyres are suitably pumped and your gears working properly.
- Plan your route – there are loads of great apps out there to help you, although a bit of due diligence can be helpful so that you don’t find yourself cycling the wrong way up a one-way street. You might also want to consider testing it out on a weekend when the roads are likely to be a bit quieter. This will help you figure out logistics like big junctions and traffic lights.
- Plan your snacks – not everyone can handle a big breakfast in the morning, but it might be worth having something small before you go and taking energy bars for the road. Also, plan what you are going to eat when you get to work – cycling is hungry work.
- Plan your arrival – a lot of people are put off the idea of commuter cycling because you get to work hot and sweaty, but an increasing number of companies now provide employees with shower facilities. Pack your bag the night before so that you’re not rushing around first thing in the morning wondering where you left your work socks.
For more tips and information on getting ready for the big day, check out the Cycle to Work Day blog.
To get involved in this year’s event, all you need to do is head to the Cycle to Work day website and pledge the number of miles that you intend to cycle on 15th August. Companies can get involved too, pledging to support their employees who choose to participate.
Proviz has supported Cycle to Work Day for a number of years and co-founder Rupert Langly-Smith says it’s a great event to get involved with. “We have worked with Cyclescheme for many years and they do a great job at organising the day. The event itself and the bike scheme are great ways to encourage people to get on their bikes more, or indeed for the first time in a while. It’s good to get those legs moving for a healthier way of life.”