How to Spread the (G)Love on Your Ride to Work

Carvel Lonsdale is 54 and he’s cycled in the past but ‘been on holiday’ from his bikes for some years. He works for Lancashire’s Children and Families Well Being Service and his cycling goal for 2019 is to ride 2,019 miles. We’re sharing his story as a shining example of how sharing the road considerately can foster great relationships between road users. It is also a perfect way to launch our new partnership with Loffi, whose gloves (modelled by Carvel below) make positive interactions between people on bikes and other road users as easy as raising your hand…

As a new employee with Lancashire County Council’s Children and Families Wellbeing Service, it was time to lead by example – so cycling to work became my personal well-being project. I have to be honest, I was nervous about both the traffic and my ability to physically tackle the ride. This is the story of how I overcame these barriers – I hope it helps you to begin, or enhance, your ride to work.

To begin with I decided on the route. The choice was either back lanes or major roads. I chose the major roads to be safer. Riding at times when people were rushing to work on narrow twisting roads seemed more of a real problem than fast traffic with plenty of room to get past. The big roads were also flatter, 7.7 miles of rolling terrain. Major roads it was then!Carvel Loffi

Next decision: which bike? I am lucky – several to choose from! Road, Mountain or single speed?

I deliberated for some time. I wanted a bike that was simple and robust, with a predictable steady speed that wouldn’t be asking me to constantly think about how I was riding. The solution was the old steel, fixed-gear bike. On this bike I would only be able to go at the speed the gearing allowed and having chosen the main road route, it would be smooth enough for the fixie to be a practical solution.

Finally, when to set off to ensure a good experience? This took some planning to practice the ride and estimate recovery at the other end. I decided on a fixed time to set off on the fixed gear bike – a theme was developing!

With plenty of lights and reflective strips attached I began my cycle commute. My logic was simple. Car drivers are isolated from the world around them, so I wanted them to care about me on their commute to work as the rider they ‘always’ see. How do you connect with people? You make a massive effort to be nice.

Every single car that made the slightest effort to give me room on the road got a wave, not necessarily for them to see but for the driver behind who saw me waving at the car ‘making an effort’. It was a lot of waving! After a month, travelling at the same time every day the improvement in drivers’ awareness was incredible. How do I know? Massive clearance on overtakes; hazard warning light winks; not overtaking when there is slow moving traffic; cars I recognise stopping traffic to let me out and cheerful horn honking.

Some days it’s hard to keep waving, I’ve got it down to a kind of salute now, but not only is it keeping me safe I feel connected with ‘my’ car drivers. The sense of wellbeing for me is massive, I can literally see the impact of positive relationships.

What about lorries? I make a point of trying to remember the ones that go out of their way to keep me safe and ring up their companies to thank them – Hanson’s Cement, Ruttle and Covent Garden Soup Deliveries – AWESOME DRIVERS!

What to do about the close passers? Getting angry only makes it worse. Hopefully they will see my positive interactions with drivers who pass me considerately and realise their error.

Cycling to work, for wellbeing, is the art of fixing lots of stuff with one activity: physical health, green agenda, de-stressing and improving mental health. Who says I can’t multi task? Try it – I’m sure you can too.

Loffi smile fender from Carvel Lonsdale

 

Carvel’s story made us think of the wonderful Loffi gloves that several members of the Love to Ride team bought through their Kickstarter – these excellent cycling gloves are designed to foster friendly communication between people on bikes and other road users. We got Carvel a pair and he loved them so much that he made a fender flap to match! Join us for Ride to Work Week (you can register in one minute at lovetoride.net) and you could win a pair of Loffi’s smiling gloves or get a hefty discount – Spread the Glove!

 

UK National Cycle Challenge 2015

The very first UK National Cycle Challenge finished last Sunday and we’ve spent the week finalising the figures and confirming the results. A massive thank you to everyone who contributed to these stellar statistics:

19,054 people from 1,731 organisations, including 3,700 new riders, logged 150,000 trips and cycled a staggering 1.7 million miles – that’s way further than a trip to the moon and back…  

So a huge thank you to everyone who took part and:

Hi five

 

Many of our members hadn’t been on a bike for years or came up with innovative ways of encouraging their friends and colleagues to take part. Some of them have kindly shared their cycling stories, so please read and share far and wide!

“Our company was motivated to get a really good participation. A lot of staff hadn’t ridden a bike for decades and were keen to give it a go, but one member of staff couldn’t ride a bike at all and had never learnt.

Her job is sewing cycle bags. She has sewn cycle bags for 25 years but never actually ridden a bike. I challenged her to learn during the National Cycle Challenge. We started on level ground with a small bike with the pedals off. We started off hobby horse style then introduced a slope, braking and turning and by the third week and after only 4 sessions of 20 minutes she was cycling around the park near our work place. She was absolutely thrilled and now she is looking at buying a bike! Through her efforts we managed to complete a 100% participation.”

David, Lancashire

“I’ve hired 8 bikes for staff to use during the challenge duration and we had a staff BBQ and 16 mile bike ride last week. I’ve done everything to get 100% participation, including blocking people’s internet access!”

Chris, Milton Keynes – the 2nd Top Encourager and Super Champion (70 out of 70 staff riding, including 50 new riders!)

“2 years ago having not ridden a bike in 16 years I persuaded some of my colleagues to join me in a try-a-bike session organised by yourselves. I enjoyed it so much that I have encouraged my 3 children to ride and all 3 now own their own bikes… you have achieved another step towards your target of getting more people to ride a bike in Lancashire and I’m sure there are many more people / success stories like me.”

Carolyn, Lancashire

“We are loving the camaraderie with this and hoping we win some prizes too. Thank you for running such a fab initiative.”

Kelly, Tees Valley

“Brilliant fun and I can get to work quicker on a bike than in a car.”

Amanda, Tees Valley

“It was fabulous to come along and get our bikes looked at together as a family. It meant that I could get back on my bike after several years of it being in the shed to join my keen 6 year old daughter.”

Suzanna, Poole

Thank you to everyone who took the time to write in – we LOVE to hear from the Love to Ride community.

Happy riding!

19,000 people take to two wheels for the National Cycle Challenge

Tuesday 7 July 2015

Between Monday 8 and Sunday 28 June, 19,054 people and 1,731 organisations took part in the first National Cycle Challenge. Together they logged 150,000 trips on the website and rode 1.7 million miles. The Challenge was run by Love to Ride in partnership with Cyclescheme, Bike Week and the CTC, the national cycling charity.

The Challenge was a free competition between workplaces to see which could get the most staff to try riding a bike. Organisations competed in six size categories and there were also prizes for individuals who encouraged the most people to take part, rode the greatest distance and logged the most trips.

3,700 ‘New Riders’ took part. One participant from Lancashire has been sewing cycle bags for 25 years but had never ridden a bike. Her team mates helped her to learn, starting with a small bike without pedals. After four 20-minute sessions she was cycling around the car park. David, her Challenge Champion, said, “She was absolutely thrilled and now she is looking at buying a bike! Through her efforts we managed 100% participation”. Carradice of Nelson topped both the Lancashire and National leaderboards as a result.

Employers are increasingly aware that encouraging employees to ride to work benefits organisations and their staff. Cycling dramatically reduces sick leave, carbon emissions and the need for parking, makes employees more productive and can save employers National Insurance Contributions through the provision of bicycles as a tax-free benefit under the government’s Green Transport Plan.

As a follow-on initiative and to encourage more people to commute by bike across the UK, the organisers will be promoting Ride to Work Week, Tuesday 1 – Friday 4 September. The National Cycle Challenge will run in June every year.

Notes for Editors

  • To arrange an interview or for more information contact Sam Robinson, General Manager sam@lovetoride.org, tel: 07734 833451
  • The National Cycle Challenge URL is lovetoride.net and includes local platforms such as www.lovetoride.net/london and www.lovetoride.net/lancashire
  • Participants’ stories and comments about the 2015 National Cycle Challenge are available here and here.
  • Love to Ride runs behaviour change programmes that specialise in getting more people cycling more often
  • Between 2008 and 2014, Love to Ride delivered 122 Workplace Cycle Challenges and encouraged over 113,000 people to ride, with 38,000 of those being new riders
  • Please see these Love to Ride blog posts for more information about the benefits of cycling to work for organisations and for individuals.
  • Our client-facing site is lovetoride.org – and includes a 2 minute video on how we achieve behaviour change
  • In November 2014, Love to Ride achieved Tools of Change’s ‘Landmark Accreditation’ as a best practice behaviour change programme – see our blog here
  • ‘New Riders’ are people who answered ‘none’ or ‘a few’ to the question ‘How many times have you ridden a bike in the last 12 months?’ in the baseline survey. ‘Challenge Champions’ promote the Challenge in workplaces and help their colleagues to register and ride a bike for the event.

Why it’s Common Sense for Employers to #ChooseCycling

The #ChooseCycling campaign was launched last week with an open letter from some of the UK’s leading businesses – including Sky, The AA, Santander, Orange, National Grid and GlaxoSmithKline – to all party leaders calling for cycling to be made an integral part of transport planning for business. This post outlines some of the reasons why it’s in the interests of businesses and organisations to encourage their employees to cycle to work.

Why is it good for your employees to cycle to work?

Cycling is proven to have a positive effect on emotional health, helping commuters to feel more energetic and less stressed. Cycling is also a great form of exercise because it burns calories and builds muscle without putting too much strain on joints. Riding to work can also help commuters to save substantially when compared to the cost of traveling by car or public transport. In short, riding to work will make your staff happier, healthier and wealthier.

What’s in it for employers?

The benefits of a two-wheeled workforce are significant. Here are a few of them:

  • Cycling cuts sick leave. The average worker takes 4.5 sick days each year whereas people who cycle take just 2.4 days. Last year Health-HeartSustrans found that 68% of cyclists surveyed on the National Cycle Network hadn’t had a single day off in the last year. Using Department for Transport figures, they estimate that the average sick day costs employers almost £260: in a large organisation, two fewer sick days per cycling staff member represents a substantial saving. Nationally, more cycle commuters could save British business £13.7 billion a year.

Trophy

  • People who ride to work are more productive. As well as being ill less often, cyclists are more switched on and motivated. Riding into work is energising and the regular exercise of commuting by bike reduces stress levels and improves mental health. Riding to work makes employees sharper, brighter and more dynamic and energetic in the workplace, so more bicycle commuters will make your organisation more productive.
  • Corporate Social Responsibility. Encouraging your staff to ride will significantly reduce your organisation’s carbon footprint and contribute to a greener and more sustainable future. People who commute by bike take a more active interest in their local surroundings so two-wheeled staff will also help to embed your organisation in its locality and connect with the local community. Plus you won’t have to pay for parking.
  • Save National Insurance Contributions. Under the Government’s Green Transport Plan, bicycles and safety equipment can be provided to employees as tax-free benefits. Cyclescheme provide everything employers need to offer their employees Buy-a-Bikebikes and safety gear at dramatically reduced rates; because organisations recover the cost through reductions in employees’ gross wages, both parties save on NICs. If 20 people in a large firm buy a bike through the scheme, the firm would save over £1,900 in NICs and offset over 200kg of CO2 each week. So encouraging your staff to ride to work will make everyone better off.

 

What can you do to encourage staff to cycle?

First and foremost, you can sign up to the National Cycle Challenge. It’s a fun, free competition between workplaces to see who can get the most people to try riding a bike. It runs from 8-28 June and your staff will be eligible for individual and team prizes. Find out more here.

There are also a number of easy and low-cost steps you can take to proactively encourage cycling in your organisation:

  • Sign up to Cyclescheme
  • Make sure you have good, secure, covered bike parking
  • Install cycle showers
  • Talk to your employees about travel planning; make sure they are fully aware of the benefits of cycling to work (this post might help) and find out what would help them to make the switch to commuting by bike
  • Reward people who ride to work
  • Arrange Bikeability training for your staff
  • Hire a mechanic to offer free services

So if you want the best for your staff and you want the best out of them, #ChooseCycling!

Heart-wheel

Tools of Change Webinar

We were recently awarded a ‘Landmark Designation’ by Tools of Change as a best practice behaviour change programme (see our post about it here).  As part of the award we are giving an hour long webinar on how Love to Ride changes behaviour, so if there’s anyone in your neck of the woods who would like to learn more about how Love to Ride gets more people riding, then you can send them here to enrol: http://webinars.cullbridge.com/enrol/index.php?id=110

The webinar is from 5-6pm GMT (12-1pm EST) on Wednesday 28 January. There are a limited number of free registrations so hurry to avoid disappointment!