UK

Cycle commuters quash five excuses not to ride to work

Boris Johnson Image copyright BBC Sport

Cycling to work cuts your risk of getting cancer and heart disease by almost half, according to experts. Here, commuter cyclists tackle five common reasons for not getting into the saddle.

1. 'I can't afford a bike'

First you need a decent bike. Then there's the helmet, lock, lights, shorts - the list of costly cycling essentials goes on.

Nicole Causey, a lawyer from Shirley in Hampshire, recommends using a cycle to work scheme to avoid paying upfront.

"It was only when the law firm I work for brought in a scheme that I considered getting a bike," she said.

Image copyright Nicole Causey
Image caption Nicole Causey says you don't need expensive gear

Miss Causey, 30, rides 3.7 miles (6km) to her office in Southampton, and has done for a few months.

"Before then, I hadn't ridden since I was a teenager," she said. "It's been a really positive and unexpected change."

Cycle to Work schemes give employees the opportunity to spend up to £1,000 on a new bicycle and equipment like cycle helmets, pumps and bells.

It is paid back through the worker's salary, saving on tax, typically over a period of 12 to 18 months.

If your workplace isn't signed up, ask them to consider taking part.

Or, think about purchasing a second-hand bike.

"You don't need expensive gear," Miss Causey says.


2. 'My journey is too far'

If you already face a gruelling commute by car or train, cycling all the way to work may not be an option.

Some 3.7 million workers have a commute of two hours or longer every weekday, according to the ONS.

Using a park-and-ride scheme for part of the way, before cycling to your workplace could be an option.

Image copyright Paul Woodman
Image caption Paul Woodman suggests taking a folding bike to commute part of the way

Paul Woodman, who lives in Dorking, takes a folding bike on the train to London before cycling five miles (8km) to his office.

"It's quicker and cheaper than the bus, taxi or underground," he says, having switched to cycling part of his commute seven years ago.

"And on a couple occasions, I've cycled home from London when there have been problems with the trains.

"It's about 30 miles so I couldn't do it every day!"


3. 'It's too dangerous'

The number of cyclist deaths on UK roads is falling, yet there is a perception that cycling is dangerous.

Campaigners from the London Cycling Campaign recently called to improve safety for cyclists and pedestrians after a number of deaths on the capital's roads.

Across the UK, the number of cyclists killed or seriously injured fell by 3% to 3,390 in the year to March 2016, according to the Department for Transport.

Nervous cyclists can avoid busy roads by using traffic-free national cycle routes or cycle lanes.

Image copyright Nicole Causey
Image caption "It was a bit daunting at first", admits Miss Causey, who cycles to her law firm

Local authorities often publish their own cyclist-specific maps - here is one from Greater Manchester. Transport for London also has a guide to navigating the capital's streets by bike.

But not everyone has the option of a traffic-free route.

Miss Causey admits that "it was a bit daunting at first" to ride on main roads and contend with rush-hour traffic.

"Someone I work with took me for a few cycles so I could build my confidence, now I actually look forward to going on my bike," she says.


4. 'It doesn't work with my job'

Maybe your workplace doesn't have a shower. Or you have to go to lots of after-work events and don't want to cycle home.

Mr Woodman suggests buying a folding bike which you can take with you if you have a lot of meetings or decide to get public transport or a taxi home.

"If I want to have drinks after work I can just leave my bike in the office," he says.


5. 'The British weather puts me off'

Chilly winter rides and wet and windy weather are enough to get you reaching for the car keys or travel card.

But Sam Barker, a deputy magazine editor from south London, says he's spent five winters commuting to his office five miles (8km) away.

"I cycle to work every day in the winter," he says. "It can seem pretty unappealing when it's dark and when the weather is bad."

Image copyright Pippa Knott
Image caption Sam Barker cycles to work every day - whatever the weather

He suggests mudguards, decent lights and warm clothing to take the chill out of wintry commutes.

"After a few minutes of riding I've warmed up anyway and don't feel the cold.

"What makes it worth it for me is that I love riding my bike, it helps me relax before and after work and if I can do it all year round then I will."

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