Exercise, fresh air and getting from A to B quickly, cycling is a great way of avoiding the car without having to walk for miles.
I’m not a sporty cyclist, nor am I fast. My cycling speed could best be described as ‘unhurried’. I don’t cycle far either (most of my trips are only two or three miles) but I do love using my bike.
I like to think that when I cycle to the shops or to a meeting I’m doing my bit for the environment, too. I thought I’d check out what the impact of my modest amount of cycling is and the answer is that cycling 300 miles a year instead of driving my car reduces carbon emissions by at least 90kg. It also saves me about £50 that I would otherwise spend on fuel.
Take the safe path
According to British Cycling, concern about safety is one of the key reasons women give for not cycling. With councils in the UK keen to encourage cycling, our towns and cities are becoming more bike friendly, with more cycle routes and other facilities for cyclists.
Cycling has made me aware of lots of interesting routes through the suburbs and into the city which I would never have known about without getting on my bike.Following a cycle route usually means you can avoid riding in heavy traffic (which is a prospect I still find a bit scary). The route might take a bit longer but it will be a lot more relaxing. Sometimes a route is a marked lane on the pavement or it will take you down quiet streets or along paths.
I’ve found some pleasant riverside tracks and canal paths. I love cycling along these and seeing ducks, swans, coots and moorhens on the water, especially when they have young.
I live two and half miles from the centre of Nottingham and I can get into the city in less than half an hour. I leave my bike at the station in a secure bike park, which is free to use, and then walk the short distance to the shops. There’s no need to look for a suitable place to lock up my bike and I don’t have worry about it getting stolen.
My top tips if you’re a cyclist:
- Plan your journey. With experience I know how long a journey is likely to take me and can plan ahead.
- Be prepared. Keeping my cycling stuff in one place (for example knowing that my bike lock key is in my cycling jacket!) helps me get going quickly.
- Buy a pannier. This made it easier to use my bike for going to meetings and doing small amounts of shopping as it means I don’t have to wear a rucksack.
- Make it as easy as possible to get your bike out. Storing my bike in the garage rather than in a shed in the back garden saves me at least five minutes when I want to get it out.
As easy as… riding a bike
If you’d like to take up cycling but you don’t know how to ride a bike (or you want to brush up your cycling skills) there are courses for adults across the country.
Bikeability is the UK’s National Standard for cycle training and you can find qualified Bikeability trainers near you.
Just for women
Lots more males than females cycle in the UK. British Cycling has set up the Breeze programme to encourage more women to get into cycling for fun, helping them feel confident and comfortable in the process. The programme includes free women-only cycle rides and events.
So cycling isn’t just for sporting enthusiasts or professional athletes. It’s for people like you and me, who want to get around quickly, get some exercise and avoid the car where possible. Why not try two wheels?
Cycle to work Day https://www.cycletoworkday.org
There are some great hints and tips on all aspects of cycling on the Cyclescheme website: http://www.cyclescheme.co.uk/community/how-to
Check out how you’re helping to reduce carbon emissions: http://www.carbonfootprint.com/calculator.aspx
Access links to cycle maps published by local councils: http://www.cyclemaps.org.uk/index.html
Find your local Bikeability trainer: https://bikeability.dft.gov.uk/the-three-levels/cycling-skills-for-adults/
Discover more about the Breeze programme: http://www.goskyride.com/Breeze/Index