Everyone is aware of the many health benefits of cycling and would like to do a bit more. But sometimes habits and inertia prevent us from hopping on our bikes.
Cycling not only has significant financial benefits but it is also good for the environment to leave our cars at home more.
Sustrans, the charity that makes it easier for people to walk and cycle, have shared their top advice for us on how to start cycling more and commuting to work by bike.
Five top tips for commuting by bike
Cycling to work is a great way of getting more physical activity into your daily routine. It’s also good for the environment as you won’t be burning fossil fuels on your commute - the only fuel you’ll need is your breakfast. You don't need a complicated plan to start cycling, just a bike and the willingness to give it a go.
So, where to start? We’ve pulled together the top five questions we are most often asked – and our answers - to get you on your bike and cycling to work.
1. Can I cycle that far and how long will it take me?
Our rule of thumb is that most people can cover about five miles in half an hour. It might take some time to build up to the distance you need to cover, but in the meantime you’re fitting more physical activity into your daily routine instead of trying to find time to exercise after work.
If you’ve got a long way to travel why not put your bike in the car and just cycle the last bit? Chances are this will be the bit that involves traffic jams, frustration and idling engines. You might be surprised by how quickly you’re ready to increase the distance too.
2. How can I feel more confident on the busy roads?
Cycle training may be the answer, especially if you haven’t cycled for a long time. Also, look into routes that avoid busy roads. A common mistake is to assume that the only route to work is on the main road with all the rush-hour cars. If anyone from your workplace already cycles your way, ask them about the routes they take or even ask them to bike buddy with you.
3. I haven’t got a great bike – should I buy a new one?
If you’re not sure whether your bike is safe, find time to check it over. Our simple bike maintenance video shows you how, but take it to a local bike mechanic if you’re still not certain. If your bike is safe to ride, just give it a go. You can think about whether a better bike might make it even more enjoyable once you’ve decided to continue cycling to work.
4. Will I arrive at work hot and sweaty? Or drenched by the rain?
You may be worried about not having a shower at work, but this shouldn't be a problem, just take it easy when you cycle in. Cycle gently and give yourself plenty of time – it's not a race, so no need to get sweaty. It doesn’t always rain in the UK, but just in case it does we recommend that you carry waterproofs rolled up in a bag for when you need them. If it’s really chucking it down on the day you planned to try cycling then just put it off until the next dry day.
5. How do I keep my bike safe?
Getting your bike stolen will really ruin your day. So you do need to spend at least £30 on a good solid D-lock, and think about how and where to lock your bike. Perhaps the most difficult thing about cycling to work is breaking the habit of driving. A little bit of preparation is key and if you’ve read this far you’re probably seriously thinking about it. So why not take the next step and give it a go?
For more help with replacing your car journeys with walking or cycling visit the Sustrans website. Sustrans is the charity making it easier for people to walk and cycle. They connect people and places, create liveable neighbourhoods, transform the school run and deliver a happier, healthier commute.
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This information is provided for guidance only. Please see the full disclaimer in our terms and conditions.