How did you get to work today? Did you battle with traffic in your car, cursing the roadworks on the local ring road? Or maybe you rushed to catch the train only to find it was standing room only again? Or perhaps you waited for a bus that never arrived?
I did none of those things. I cycled to work, as I do most days, enjoying the open countryside and the rush of endorphins. I breezed past the stationary traffic queuing up the hill where the lights always seem to be on red. And I parked right outside the office with the blood pumping around my body and my mind alert, ready for the day ahead.
I’ve been commuting by bike for the best part of 15 years, initially to save money on petrol and to reduce the size of my ever-expanding waist line. Now I wouldn’t swap it for the world.
I arrive at work fresh and invigorated, I don’t feel guilty tucking into the sweet treats colleagues bring on birthdays and special occasions, and after a stressful day at the office, it helps clear my head.
I genuinely would recommend it to anyone, not least of all today on Cycle to Work Day, an initiative intended to celebrate everyday cycling.
You don’t need any fancy gear, just a serviceable bike with some air in the tyres. You don’t need to wear Lycra, an aero helmet or special shoes that clip you into the pedals. Just throw on a rucksack, maybe chuck in a change of clothes, and off you go.
What about the dangers? Well, statistically the risk of injury is about the same as walking. In fact, remaining inactive poses a much greater risk to your health.
If that’s not assurance enough, a short training course might be all that’s needed to give you the skills you need to commute with confidence.
Things have moved on since the early days of the Cycling Proficiency Test many of us remember from childhood. Training now mainly takes place in the real world and could involve journeys you actually want to make.
Not only do instructors help with road skills, they are also a fount of knowledge about all things cycling, whether it’s finding the quietest routes, how to dress appropriately and which bike to choose for your style of riding.
And if you remember a few simple tips like keeping out of the gutter, making eye contact with drivers to make sure they’ve seen you and making sure you look well ahead to check for hazards, you won’t go far wrong.
You only have to look around during the morning commute to see how numbers of people on their bikes are increasing. In fact, the latest Government figures show that 38% of all cycle trips are now for commuting.
Whether it’s to save money, to get fit, or to beat the traffic jams, it’s hard to argue against the benefits of cycling to work.
And with the current decent spell of good weather and lighter evenings, now is the perfect time to give it a go. What have you got to lose?
For lots more tips and advice on commuting to work – visit https://www.cyclinguk.org/commuting