With train and tube strikes affecting many people's commute, maybe it's time to try cycling into work... and here's why
For anyone who commutes to work on two wheels, the benefits are huge – and becoming increasingly more attractive as the public transport is hit by strikes and delays, and the roads are clogged with increasing numbers of cars.
Bike hire schemes, the Cycle to Work initiative, increasing cycle infrastructure and widespread provision of bike parking/showers in the workplace mean that cycling is a convenient, quick and easy way to travel to work.
Here we take a look at the reasons why commuting by bicycle really is great, and why more people who do it.
Your bike won’t go on strike
When London Underground staff take part in industrial action the use of London’s hire bikes spikes as people try and find an alternative way of getting to work.
You get fitter without trying
Everyone knows this one, but just think about it: instead of stewing on a crowded bus or sitting alone in your car in a queue of single occupancy cars, you’re exercising as a by product of getting to work. Win win.
You don’t need to own a bike, or even cycle the whole way
If you live near a cycle hire scheme such as London’s Boris bikes or Reading’s ReadyBikes then there are bikes available for commuters and tourists alike.
What’s more, thanks to the proliferation of docking stations you don’t need to ride the whole way from home to work: a combination of a train journey and a pedal in the sun can give you the benefits of cycling without the need for a change of clothes or arriving sweaty.
Everyone gets around quicker when more people cycle
Some motorists complain that cyclists get in the way and cause delays. But in truth, if everyone doing short journeys by car switched to more sustainable forms of transport – bicycle, bus, or even a car share – then the volume of traffic would decrease.
As a result of the decrease, tradespeople in vans, taxi drivers and others whose use of a motor vehicle is essential would be able to get to where they need to be much quicker.
With Cycle to Work, now we can all ‘evade’ tax
This is a way in which tax can be used is to incentivise people to do things that benefit society, in this case get on their bikes. It’s not the most straight forward scheme to get your head around, but essentially you save money and spread the cost of a new bike.
When you’re on a bike, you’re not checking your phone
Research from media regulator Ofcom suggests that the average British adult now spends over eight hours a day on media devices like smartphones, tablets and computers. That’s longer than they spend sleeping.
Unless you have a reckless disregard for your own safety, it’s unlikely you’ll be checking Twitter or posting selfies to Instagram whilst riding to work. This time on the bike can be a welcome rest from the bombardment of information we are subject to for the rest of the day – make the most of it!
Cycling has a predictable commute time
After you have ridden into work and back a couple of times, you get a feel for exactly how long your ride takes. If your commute uses quieter roads or cycle paths, then you will not suffer at the hands of traffic jams.
And, it goes without saying, that you won’t have to stand around waiting for a cancelled train or bus…
That makes it very easy to know exactly how long it will take, door-to-door – but remember to build in a bit of time for getting your bike safely locked up at work and having a shower/getting changed.
Get to know your city better
Know the London’s tube network off by heart but clueless as soon as you resurface into the real world? No such problem when cycling is your choice of transport.
There’s no better way to learn about your neighbourhood – and beyond its limits – than cycling. Exploring quiet side streets and discovering new places to visit is part and parcel with cycling in the city. You may even discover a new café that you didn’t know existed, right around the corner from where you live.
It’s warmer than standing around on a draughty platform
Although the perception of cycling into work might be that you have to brave the elements, it’s actually one of the warmer ways of getting into work on a winter’s day. No standing around on a windswept platform or bus stop. And even a car can be an inhospitable place until the heating kicks in.
Wear the right clothes, and a bit of rain and cold will not worry you in the slightest. Good quality waterproof and windproof clothing can be bought relatively cheaply now, so there’s no excuse not to be properly equipped and to keep warm as your working muscles provide natural heating.
In the summer, there’s no better way to start the say than a ride in the warm and sun – the only problem might be having to stop cycling and start working.
And if you’re out in the fresh air, your fellow commuter won’t be sneezing or coughing all over you, so there’s less chances of catching something nasty too.