Love to Ride Southampton – taking a peek at progress

In many ways, Love to Ride Southampton is typical of a first-year Love to Ride behaviour change project. A city where, over the years, various infrastructure development and traffic calming measures have been rolled out. There are new cycle lanes, improved access to the National Cycle Network, 20mph zones, a dockless bike sharing scheme, cycle confidence training and popular social enterprises – such as Monty’s Bike Hub – that engage local people and give them access to cycling related activity and resources.

myjourney

Under the MyJourney sustainable travel banner, the council team has been working hard to engage local people, communities and businesses in the benefits of travelling around the city by sustainable means.

The ultimate goal is to replace car journeys with cycling and walking trips, including increased use of the public transport system – to help people move around the city with ease, reducing congested roads and resulting air-borne pollutants.

Crucially, the goal is also to invest in making changes that benefit all communities of Southampton, enabling them to live, work and play in a city fit for future generations.

Love to Ride play a key part in our plans to develop Southampton into a true cycling city. This programme has already created a vibrant online community for existing and new cyclists where they can encourage one another and share their experiences of cycling in Southampton. We’re looking forward to continuing our successful partnership with Love to Ride and their Ride to Work Week promotion, as part of our upcoming Move in March campaign”.    Neil Tuck, Sustainable City Team Leader, Southampton City Council

 

The city has identified cycling as one of the key ways it can tackle the challenges of air pollution, congestion and physical inactivity that it faces. Southampton adopted its Cycling Strategy in late 2017, setting out ambitious plans to invest over £25m in cycling in the city over a 10 year period. Already over £3m has been spent on new facilities, cycle routes and connectivity across the city with a further £5.3m due to be spent in the coming year. This investment in infrastructure is complemented by a programme of support and incentives using its sustainable travel brand My Journey alongside Love to Ride to help make cycling easier, safer and better.

Changing behaviour and disrupting current, unsustainable travel patterns and modal share is an important part of that strategy, engaging businesses, leaders, communities, stakeholders and people. At Love to Ride we push the ‘everyday cycling’ message hard, also bucking the trend of gender inequality that is still inherent in cycling.

Screenshot 2019-02-27 14.25.14

Organic growth – never starting from scratch

As is often the case, when Love to Ride were awarded the contract to deliver this city-wide cycling behaviour change project, we weren’t starting from scratch. Since 2009, Love to Ride (previously Challenge for Change) have been busy engaging new, occasional and regular riders in towns, cities and whole regions across the UK, inspiring them to encourage other people – friends, work colleagues, family members, neighbours – to enjoy the many benefits that riding aScreen Shot 2019-02-27 at 3.45.27 PM bike brings. This cohort of already-engaged people is often made up by those most likely to help get others on board and in Southampton, we had 150 such people in the area who were up for taking on that role. And so the foundations are laid…

Cycle September – let’s go!

The first intervention we delivered with the city was the UK’s National Cycle Challenge – Cycle September. To kick things off in the lead-in to this campaign, the council rolled out additional marketing campaigns – promoting Love to Ride on the back of city buses, on lamppost banners on congested roads and even lift-doors where there was high footfall. The resulting levels of uptake were excellent and to date over 1,000 people have registered, including nearly 200 new riders who were encouraged back into the saddle to enjoy the freedom that riding a bike brings.

Screenshot 2019-02-27 14.34.30

The above table shows the ‘main mode of travel’ in the city – broken down by rider frequency (New=not at all or hardly ever / Occasional = 3-4 times per month up to 1 time per week / Regular = 3-4 times per week or more). With 42% of new riders driving alone as their main mode of moving around the city, this alone represents an awesome opportunity to really make a big and lasting difference. And that is exactly where Love to Ride comes in.

Other findings and insights from the Cycle September interim report include:

  • 91% of new riders and 55% of occasional riders reported an intention to increase how often they ride compared to 12 months before Cycle September (2018)
  • 27% of regular riders reported they intend to be riding more than they did before Cycle September (2018)
  • The main benefits participants wanted to gain from riding a bike were improved fitness; 76%, to save money; 45% and to enjoy the outdoors; 45%
  • The main 3 barriers participants felt prior to taking part in the challenge were the weather not being good (51%), not knowing a safe route (23%) and no showers at work (19%).
Screenshot 2019-02-27 20.11.46
                           What are the main benefits you want to gain by riding a bike?

We will return to the research when we re-survey people in March 2019 to understand the levels of change people are already achieving and how, for example, this has impacted single occupancy vehicle use in the city. In the first 6 months alone we have engaged 58 organisations, each one with a cycle champion in place and ready to help push out internal comms and help to promote cycling as a great way to get from A to B in and around the city.

Bike sharing

YoBikeYoBike launched an initial fleet of share bikes in Southampton in late 2017, coinciding with the return of the community’s 40,000-strong student population. Following hot on the heels of YoBike’s success story in Bristol, this dockless app-powered bike-sharing scheme now has more than 25,000 registered users using a fleet of 1,000 bikes.

Dockless bike schemes have rapidly popped up across the UK over the last 2-3 years, but many have withdrawn due to the end of Chinese investment. However, some city schemes have flourished and Southampton is amongst them.

At Love to Ride we work with bike share schemes to give discounts at key times of the year – i.e. during Ride to Work Week – and thus remove the bike (and potentially the cost) as a potential barrier to cycling and to commuting by bike.

Up next in Southampton is Ride to Work Week as part of their Move in March campaign – the first intervention of 2019. Riding to work, or part of the way, has significant benefits that make people happier, healthier and wealthier. Working with the Travel Team, Sustrans officers, other stakeholders, champions and businesses across Southampton, we will be helping release the many benefits of the cycle commute to employers and employees alike.

Would you like to see more people cycling where you are?

Love to Ride work with cities, regions and entire countries right around the world. As a Bristol-based social business, the team partner with collaborators and advocacy groups to tap into local expertise, using their proven web platform and Ride365 programmes to effect positive change, one bike at a time.

For more information and to discuss working with Love to Ride where you are, email hello@lovetoride.net or take a peek at partners.lovetoride.net

Go Dutch + Join us for Ride to Work Week!

If you cycle occasionally for fun or fitness, then this post is to help you to take the next step and get happier, healthier and wealthier by commuting to work by bike. It will help you to identify the barriers to cycling to work and give you some basic, practical steps towards overcoming them. But let’s start by looking at the benefits.

Why cycle?

You’ll be happier. Cycling is proven to improve mental health, having a positive effect on wellbeing, self-confidence and resistance to stress. It also helps to reduce tiredness and difficulties sleeping.* People who have switched to commuting by bike consistently report an improved sense of happiness and wellbeing.

You’ll be healthier. Cycling is fantastic exercise. It helps you to lose weight and build muscle without putting too much strain on your joints. A major study at the University of Glasgow recently found that ‘commuters who cycled were associated with a 41% lower risk of premature death’ and ‘45% lower risk of developing cancer and a 46% lower risk of heart disease’.* Quite simply, riding to work could save your life.

You’ll be wealthier. Love to Ride participant (and 2018 Global Prize Winner!) Andy King saved £3,000 a year by switching to the bike for his commute. He also saves thirty minutes a day.

You can win awesome prizes. We’re going Dutch for Ride to Work Week, so you can win a Babboe cargo bike or a trip for two to the Netherlands just for riding all or part of the way to work from 25-31 March! We’re also giving away amazing Loffi gloves and lots of other goodies…

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Know Your Route

Whether you currently drive, walk, or use public transport to get to work, the chances are the best route to take by bike won’t be the one you take now. There are fantastic online resources for sniffing out two-wheeled tricks to avoid traffic and get you to work as fresh and stress-free as possible, such as Cyclestreets (which also has an excellent app) and Google Maps. There’s no substitute, though, for first-hand knowledge and experience: talk to regular cycle commuters, ask them for tips on where to go and tricks to avoid the worst traffic black spots.

Once you’ve got a good idea of the best route to take, do as much of a recce as you can, preferably when there’s not too much traffic around. If you know the road layout ahead, it’s easier to ride confidently in heavy traffic or bad weather when you’re on your way to work.

Confidence

Even the most careful route planning sometimes can’t entirely avoid busy rush-hour traffic and for many people the greatest obstacle to commuting by bike is an understandable reluctance to mix it with buses, cars and lorries. Here are two straightforward steps to help boost your cycling confidence and equip you with the necessary skills to deal with busy sections of your commute:

Find out about expert training in your area. You wouldn’t drive a car to work before your first driving lesson and unless you’re a confident and experienced road user you shouldn’t cycle to work without some basic training either. Adult cycle training is offered for free or at heavily subsidised rates by most local authorities. You can book a session to ride to work with your instructor and talk over any difficult junctions or traffic black spots so you have specific guidance tailored to your own commute. We can’t recommend training from a qualified National Standards Instructor (NSI) highly enough – find your local provider here.

Team up with a colleague or a neighbour. If you know someone who works with or near you and cycles to work, ask if you can meet them and ride in together a few times. Even the busiest and most daunting commute will feel much more achievable if you can tuck in behind an experienced cyclist, follow their line and learn their tricks for dealing with busy junctions or confusing roundabouts. Most cycle commuters are enthusiastic about cycling and will be glad to help someone make the transition to commuting by bike.

Equipment

Unless your commute is a substantial distance or over tricky terrain, you don’t need to spend a fortune on a high-end bike and fancy clothing and accessories. However, if you are going to ride to work every day it is worth making sure you can commute comfortably and carry the necessary luggage. If you don’t have a bike or there’s only a rusting death-trap in the garden shed, then consider borrowing or hiring one for a week to see how you find it (schemes such as Cycle Boost in South Yorkshire offer free 1-month loans so you can try riding to work without having to buy a bike; see if there is a similar service in your area). If you live near a Brompton Dock or there’s a bike share scheme where you live you can try cycling to work a few times for less than £20.Increasingly bike shops are offering good, well-equipped bikes for short-term hire at reasonable prices. If you decide cycling to work is for you, look into Cyclescheme: if your employer is signed up you can make substantial savings on new bikes and equipment.

Increasingly, people are disocvering the benefits of e-bikes for commuting. They flatten the hills and mean you turn up feeling fresh, plus they make commuting by bike a piece of cake for anyone who feels they don’t have the fitness to start riding to work on a conventional bike straight away. E-bikes are getting better and cheaper as they become more widespread, so ask your local bike shop for advice.

Other than a bike, you don’t need to worry too much: the majority of people who cycle to work do so in their work clothes. If you want to ride to work whatever the weather or if you have a demanding route, water-proof panniers and/or a change of clothes at work might help: through trial and error you’ll quickly work out the routine and equipment that suit you best. The only ‘must’ is to make sure you have a good lock: the police recommend spending at least a tenth of the value of your bike on a lock.

RtWW screen asset

Your Employer

Your workplace might already have secure bike storage, cycle showers and lockers: sometimes facilities for people who ride to work are tucked away and not very well advertised, so it’s worth asking around to see what’s available. If there aren’t any facilities for cycle commuters, persuade them that there should be. They might not be aware of the benefits of a two-wheeled workforce: research suggests that cycling to work can halve sick days and happier and healthier employees are more productive and highly motivated.** Plus encouraging cycling is a must for any organisation – and it should be every one – that cares about the environment and its green credentials. So if there are no facilities ask your employer why and persuade them that installing a shower and some secure bike storage will be worth their while. Oh, and tell them about the benefits of Love to Ride!

Enjoy!

If you follow these simple suggestions, overcoming the barriers you face to cycling to work won’t be a big deal. Once you’ve got hold of a bike, worked out your route and got expert advice you can take the plunge and cycle into work a few times. You’ll quickly start to enjoy it and feel the benefits and hopefully you’ll stick at it and in a year or two you’ll struggle to remember how – or why – you ever travelled to work any other way. Surely there’s no better way to get happier, healthier and wealthier than simply by changing your traveling routine: it’s as easy as riding a bike.

* https://www.gla.ac.uk/news/archiveofnews/2017/may/headline_522765_en.html

** https://www.sustrans.org.uk/blog/why-walking-and-cycling-are-good-business – if there aren’t facilities at your work, it’s a good idea to see if there’s a gym or leisure centre nearby where you can get a cheap membership just to use the shower and changing facilities

Already ride to work? Check out this great post by Cyclescheme: 10 Ways to Encourage People to Cycle to Work

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