Dan’s £1,000 Ride to Work Goal

Dan works at the University of Huddersfield and joined Love to Ride for Cycle September 2017. We’re encouraging all our members to set themselves a cycling goal for this year and Dan replied on Facebook that his is to save £1,000 by riding to work instead of driving. Here’s his cycling story:

 

What was the single most effective method you found to begin riding to work?

Sorry, I didn’t have a method. I tried it, hated it, stuck at it and became a convert!

Did anyone encourage you?

I had the encouragement of my wife and family. Sometimes I am tempted to drive and my wife gently reminds me that I have a bike in the shed! I also had friends that rode and they chatted to me about their love of riding. Their chats shifted my perspective from “it’s a way of getting to work” to “this is something that I could grow to like” and, actually, I have fallen in love with cycling.

What benefits have you experienced from riding to work?

I would count all of the following benefits equally because they all make a valuable contribution to my well-being in their own way. None are more important than the other, but all matter a lot!

Time – I only ride a 4-mile commute to work and then back again in the evening but even in that short distance the ride is around 10 minutes quicker in the morning than driving. Every morning I ride past queues of traffic at several junctions on one of the main routes into the town. It’s around 30 minutes quicker than the bus/walking to work.

Money – I estimate that between parking and fuel I would spend £6 a day on driving to work. Every day I ride to work that’s £6 to spend on bike gear! Winning! The truth of it though, is that my wife monitors my bike purchases, so it is a literal saving… Last year I rode to work enough to save £750.

Fitness – The increased fitness that comes from riding to work is a real benefit and allied to the other benefits I mentioned. My mental health is better when I am fitter, I don’t have to take time away from work and family to go to the gym and don’t have to pay for memberships. In addition to the commutes, I also ride for pleasure including non-competitive events and a yearly trip to Europe. In the lighter evenings I take the long way home (20-50 miles) incorporating training with the commute. I see some beautiful places that genuinely make me grateful to be out on the road.

Mental Health – The time on the bike gives me the opportunity to drop the stresses of the day. It’s subtle, imperceptible and not consciously worked at but somehow, along the way, anything that has made me tense or anxious softens and often melts away altogether.

How did you calculate your saving from riding your bike instead of driving?

The car park that I would use costs £4/day to use. I added in a guesstimate on fuel (diesel!) plus wear and tear of £2/day. If I was being absolutely honest that cost would actually increase because I eat a bigger lunch when I drive so, on a driving day, I spend more on food.

So, circa 125 days commuting last year x £6/day on fuel and wear and tear = £750

How many days do you have to ride to save £1,000 in 2019 and what’s your plan for achieving this goal?

167 – those 125(ish) days last year were all achieved between May and December. Simply start earlier in the year (I have started already, of course). The winter equipment (bike and clothing) has been the real difference this year.

What advice would you give to someone considering riding to work?

The right equipment. If you’re working to a budget, definitely budget for good waterproofs, warm clothing (especially gloves and overshoes) and (it seems obvious) mudguards for the bike. These elements have made the single biggest contribution to increasing my ride commuting this year. Until I got winter kit I would stop riding in early winter. With the right kit, I have felt no need to stop (see pictures of Dan modelling his Proviz gear below!).

49949309_271543193513769_6027361269877571584_nAnd Cycle To Work Schemes! This was the single biggest factor in starting commuting by bike. The value offered by these schemes is outstanding and, for me, has paid for itself very quickly.

 

 

 

 

 

 

We’re very grateful to Dan for sharing his story – if you’re inspired to start riding to work, join us at lovetoride.net or if you have an inspiring cycling story please send it to stories@lovetoride.org

How the University of Sheffield gets more people on bikes

The University of Sheffield is a leader in promoting sustainable transport and has been one of the most successful Love to Ride workplaces over recent years, winning Cycle September in 2017 and topping the student leaderboard in the inaugural UniCycle Challenge in 2018. David Bocking has the scoop on how the University has helped thousands to ditch their cars and spearheaded the ongoing transformation of Sheffield into a cycling city.
From his office high in the University’s Arts Tower, Darren Hardwick gets to look down at central Sheffield, reflect on visits to Denmark and the Netherlands and wonder how the Outdoor City could do better.
“Sometimes I can see how bad the air pollution is, with a yellow hue across the city, and think that’s what we’re breathing in – you can actually see it!”
In his case, however, he can close the window, take a deep breath and know he’s actively doing something to help. The University recently contributed the bulk of the cost for a set of Dutch style cycle and walking routes linking the University to the city, for example.
The Portobello cycle and walking route to the University
The Portobello cycle and walking route to the University
Sheffield University’s ‘Integrated Transport Policy’ came of age this year. 21 years ago, when almost two thirds of staff drove to work, the University decided to take local pollution and congestion seriously, and only allocate a staff car parking place according to need (via a points systems).
A small fee for the privilege of parking at work raises around half a million pounds a year for initiatives to help staff travel on foot, by bike or by public transport.
“We say to people they’re not paying for a car parking space, they’re actually paying for someone else to not drive to work,” Darren said.
Now, nearly 70% of the University’s 8,500 staff have forgone ‘travelling stuck in single boxes’ as he puts it, with over a third commuting ‘actively’ which means they walk, cycle, or in some cases, run to work.
The key is to ask staff why they drive, and what could be put in place to help them walk or cycle instead, Darren says, such as the University’s 170 place secure cycle parking hub, along with a cycling security team patrolling the campus.
Cycling security staff at the University of Sheffield
Cycling security staff at the University of Sheffield
As City Region Mayor Dan Jarvis plans his active travel strategy, and Sheffield Council prepares for a ‘clean air zone’ in the city centre, Darren reckons the University’s experience can help other organisations adapt to the coming changes in how we get about.
“It’s easy to see things like a congestion charge as a threat, but we should see it as an opportunity to do things better and smarter. A lot of people only drive out of habit or convenience, and might well be looking at different options.”
The University recently won first place in the South Yorkshire Love to Ride cycling scheme, and Darren is happy to offer advice to other organisations.
A project to offer a free regular bike service on site by Heeley social enterprise ReCycle Bikes keeps people cycling who might give up otherwise, he says. “We have some wonderful academics here, but ask them to fix a bike and they often haven’t a clue.”
“Working with the University has been brilliant for us,” said Angela Walker of ReCycle Bikes. “Over our 10 year partnership we’ve helped students and staff keep their bikes on the road and refurbished over 1000 bikes for students to get around the city.”
All University departments have showers and washing facilities, and recent additions include a small e-bike pool for staff, and e-cargo bikes to transport catering and engineering equipment, which helps keep the campus almost car free and actually saves money.
“One of our lecturers switched to an e-bike to get around the campus more quickly and we worked out the bike paid for itself in nine months due to the time saving,” said Darren.
The costs of electric rather than diesel power for some vehicles are already similar, he says, and a daily city centre charge for diesel vehicles will stack up the electric arguments even more.
The University’s 21 year old transport strategy means many former car parks now host buildings where people are busy teaching and researching. That is, being a lot more productive than the old car parks, Darren notes.
Thinking of that view from the arts tower, he said: “Something’s got to happen, there needs to be some kind of change in Sheffield. For the economy and the air quality, we can’t continue as we are.”
To find out more about how Love to Ride can help your organisation to get more people on bikes, check out our Love to Ride for Business brochure here or if you’d like to find out about about our programme for Universities and Colleges, in partnership with NUS Sustainability, see the UniCycle pages here
Words and pictures by David Bocking.

Anyone Can Cycle the World

Intro

Tim Moss recently spent 16 months cycling 13,000 miles around the world with his wife, Laura.

Despite riding across deserts, over mountains and through jungles they experienced far more kindness and hospitality on their journey than they did hardships.

In this extract from Tim’s new book – With the Sun on Our Right – he discusses how little planning they did for the trip, how cheaply they travelled and how little experience is required for undertaking a long bicycle journey. Which leads him to the inevitable conclusion that perhaps anyone can cycle the world…

Another bedroom

Anyone Can Cycle the World

When we left home, we had not even worked out how to get to the south coast of England, let alone mapped out what roads we would take across Italy, Albania or Vietnam. Once we got going, we just looked at what country we were aiming for next and planned a few days ahead. Similarly, we did not arrange a single visa before leaving home. In fact, of the 26 countries we visited, only two required visas to be arranged in advance.

Cylcing on Pag

Part of this could be attributed to our laissez-faire approach to life, preferring to take things as they come rather than map them out in detail. But mostly it is a testament to the ease and simplicity of cycle touring. You carry everything you need to be self-sufficient so it does not really matter where you end up at the end of a day.

You could plot an entire route around the world on a GPS device if you really wanted, but we just set off with enough maps to get us across Europe and then picked up free ones from tourist information offices as we went. Everywhere has road signs and people can usually point you in the right direction if the worst comes to it. Besides, navigating is rarely as hard as it is in the UK, with its dense network of intertwining roads. In lots of countries, we would follow one road for several days without making a single turn. Whenever we struggled in big cities, we used Google Maps on our phones. Cycling around the world is not complicated.

Ferry across the Mekong

As with the practical preparations for the trip, very little physical preparation was required. We didn’t do any training. We cycled around London a lot, but never went out of our way to get in shape for the trip; we just got fit as we went. There are those who set off around the world at record speeds, pushing their bodies as hard as they can, but it was not like that for us. Sometimes it was hard work, but we would often cruise all day and simply enjoy the scenery. Cycling around the world need not be a gruelling experience.

The trip did not cost a lot of money either. We were away for almost a year and a half, and during that time our total expenditure was £6,500 each. That is still a reasonable sum of money, but I know people who have spent more on a two week holiday. Averaged out, we each spent £406 a month, which is far less than the monthly rent we had been paying on our London flat. That amount includes all of the food we bought from supermarkets, cafes and restaurants. It includes every visa fee we paid, multiple repairs to our bikes, campsite fees, hotel bills, several international flights, a few bits of medical attention, travel insurance for America, replacement clothes, local SIM cards, cups of tea, cups of coffee, toothpaste, toothbrushes, soap and more. Every penny that left our bank accounts while we were away is included in that sum of £406 per month. It was the cheapest we have ever lived and probably ever will. Cycling is cheap.

Tim Moss in Slovenia

We were very lucky to be given some top quality touring bicycles for our trip by Ridgeback. Having previously only ridden bikes that were either second-hand or very cheap (or both), it was a real luxury to have good quality bikes that ran smoothly and reliably. However, a fancy bike is not a prerequisite for doing a big trip. All of my previous touring was done on a £180 bike from Decathlon, and hundreds of people have ridden across the globe on old mountain bikes. Others have used Brompton folding bikes, penny farthings and even unicycles. Ann Wilson, a friend who cycled around the world aged 59, only got as far as Bulgaria before her custom-built touring bike was stolen. Undeterred, she bought a cheap replacement from the local bike shop and carried on regardless. Another friend, Tom Allen, cycled from Lands End to John O’Groats using a bicycle he found at the local tip. You can cycle around the world without a fancy bike.

Near the top of the pass

Although Laura and I had expedition and travel experience before we rode around the world, we had never undertaken an adventure on this scale before. We were reassured however, by knowing that experience is not a prerequisite for such a trip. Loads of people set off into the unknown on two wheels, without any cycling pedigree. While riding through China, veteran adventurer Sarah Outen bumped into a guy who asked if he could come with her. He had never cycled beyond his hometown before and did not own a bike, but he joined her anyway and cycled across China. The only experience Ann Wilson had when she decided to take early retirement and head east was riding her bike from Carlisle to Ipswich. There are even round-the-world cycling veterans who still do not know how to change a tyre. You do not need a lot of experience to cycle the world.

In short, our trip did not take much planning, require any training or cost a lot of money. It could have been done without a flash bike and it did not require any experience. Cycling around the world is not as hard as you think.

In fact, although our adventure was remarkable to us in so many wonderful ways, going on a big bike trip is not remarkable in itself. Anyone can do it and thousands have. Students fresh out of college have done it, as have those in their 50s, 60s and 70s. Men go on their own, as do women. Dervla Murphy cycled solo to India in the 1960s. Families do it too. Nancy Sathre-Vogel, for example, completed a 27,000 mile trip with her eight-year-old twins in tow. Even serious disabilities need not necessarily rule it out: Karen Darke crossed the mountains of Central Asia on a bike, and she is paralysed from the waist down; and despite being legally blind, Christi Bruchok and Tauru Chaw pedalled from Alaska to Ushuaia.

Anyone can cycle around the world.

You can cycle around the world.

I did not know that when I set off, but I know it now.

Check out Tim’s site, where he helps people go on adventures: thenextchallenge.org.

the slow lane

Road Safety Week > Bike Smart!

It’s Road Safety Week and the theme for this year is ‘Bike Smart, so here’s a post about how National Standards or Bikeability training can help you to bike smarter.

bike smart

 

Cycling is a safe form of transport that prolongs life through the health benefits it delivers. Although various studies suggest that ‘the health benefits of cycling outweigh the injury risks by between 13:1 and 415:1’, safety remains one of the most commonly cited barriers to riding for transport (see Cycling UK’s site for these and lots of other great stats about cycling).

For our members who are new and occasional riders, lacking confidence to ride on the road is one of the biggest barriers to riding. Amongst our regular riders, not knowing a safe route is one of the most commonly cited barriers to riding to work.

Given that cycling is a relatively safe form of transport and people who ride regularly are fitter, healthier and live longer, what can people do to ‘bike smart’ and boost their road riding confidence?

Luckily, the answer is out there and for many children and adults in the UK, it’s totally free. Bikeability (‘cycling proficiency for the 21st century’) provides children with the basic knowledge and skills they need to ride confidently on roads. It’s based on the same National Standards, written in 2003 and approved by the Department for Transport, that adults who want to ride on-road should also be familiar with. Over 2.5 million people have benefitted from cycle training based on these standards, becoming safer and more competent riders as a result.

We highly recommend cycle training for riders of all abilities. If you ride regularly and think you are a competent road user, you are likely to gain a great deal from a one- or two-hour session with an instructor; a refresher every few years is also a great way to identify and resolve any bad habits that have crept into your biking behaviour. If you’ve never felt confident riding on the road, then cycle training will change your life!

There’s no substitute for doing the training yourself but we’ve listed three of the key principles below to give you a flavour of what the National Standards are all about:

  • The basics

Before riding on the road, you need to be able to make sure your bike is roadworthy (the ABC test is a quick and easy way to do this) and to have the bike handling skills to control it effectively with one hand so that you can signal effectively.

Screenshot 2018-11-21 at 17.23.28
See details at activetrans.org (click image to navigate straight to the page)

 

  • Primary position

People on bikes aren’t in the way of traffic, we are traffic – and we should behave like it. This means we must obey the rules of the road and that we are entitled to use all of it. The primary position, also known as ‘taking the lane’, is the default position for riding. By taking the lane you can see and be seen better, you prevent vehicles from overtaking unsafely and you can clearly signal your intentions to other road users.

  • Good looking

In order to be aware of what’s happening around you and to spot potential hazards early, it’s important you look over your shoulder regularly. Anyone with a driving license knows that looking often is key to executing manoeuvres safely – the same applies on a bike. Well-trained road riders will check over their shoulder multiple times – as well as being alert to what’s going on in front and to the side – even for basic manoeuvres. Good looking is also crucial to communicating effectively with other road users: eye contact with a driver is the only way you can be 100% that they have seen you.

Cycle training can help you to bike smart – contact your local authority to find out how you can access it in your area.

As the nights draw in it’s also a good idea to bike smart by using high quality lights and hi-viz gear – you can unlock discounts for these from Proviz, Beryl and Torch by taking part in our Winter Wheelers promo, find out more and register here.

2018 On Two Wheels

2018 has been an action-packed year for Love to Ride: our members have clocked up millions of miles and encouraged thousands of new riders to experience the joys and benefits of cycling, and we have worked with workplaces, governments and advocacy groups to get more people on bikes worldwide.

We’ve run national events in New Zealand, the UK and – for the first time – the USA, where we teamed up with the League of American Bicyclists to run the National Bike Challenge. Over 76,000 people took part in these national programs, joining the growing international movement to get more people on bikes and helping to introduce new riders to a simple, cheap and accessible way to become happier, healthier and wealthier.

#YearoftheBike 4-part banner

This year our flagship workplace event, Cycle September, went global for the first time, with early adopters of our new Love to Ride for Business product taking part. Love to Ride for Business gives companies their own platform to help their staff switch to cycling for fun, fitness and transport, with friendly competition within and between offices to get more people on bikes. Find out more here.

We also completed a successful pilot in partnership with the National Union of Students and the Environmental Association of Universities and Colleges in the UK to get more staff and students cycling in further and higher education. The Department for Transport awarded us an Innovation Challenge Fund grant to work with six universities and we used cutting-edge behaviour change techniques to design impactful interventions on campuses. Find out more about it on the NUS’s website here.

LTR UniCycle new 2280x250 2017

Wherever we work we are keen to support local bike shops. During Cycle September we gave away well over £10,000 of local bike shop vouchers in the UK and we’re responding to feedback from members to develop a dedicated category for bike shops and other cycling organisations so they can compete with each other in 2019.

We have also launched a new clubs and groups feature, which allows cycling clubs, informal groups and larger organisations like football clubs to invite their members to register on Love to Ride. This is currently in Beta and we are inviting feedback to help us make it a great new feature of the site – look out for Cycling Club league tables and the opportunity to ride for your beloved football club!

But our whistle-stop tour of 2018 on two wheels isn’t over yet… In December we’ll be running our hugely popular Winter Wheelers promo for the third time. We are delighted to welcome back our brilliant sponsors from 2017, Proviz, Beryl (formerly Blaze) and Torch – and to announce that Muc-Off will be offering top-notch bike cleaning kit this year too!

LTR Winter Wheelers 1200x628 2018

As well as top-notch gear to help you keep riding through the winter, we’ll be giving away a £500 local bike shop voucher to one lucky winner who logs a ride on Sunday 16 December and a £750 voucher will be drawn on Christmas Day from everyone that logs a ride between 1 and 25 December!

Although prizes are restricted to members in funded areas or at workplaces or universities that have bought into our programs, everyone who registers and records a ride will be eligible for huge discounts from our sponsors – so make sure you join today to bag some bargainous winter cycling gear from the best brands in the business!

If you’d like to incentivise your colleagues to ride in during December, we have teamed up with VitaLife to offer a Boxed Bike Breakfast for twenty people for just £50 – it’s full of warming winter bike fuel like porridge pots and is a great way to celebrate and reward riding to work in winter.

We hope you’ve had a great year on two wheels so far and we look forward to riding through the winter with you! Keep in touch via Facebook and Twitter, or drop us a line if you have any questions: support@lovetoride.org