York Cycle September Story

“I love to help people,” says Karen Lofthouse. “I like to make a difference.” In September, she’ll be doing just that on two very different bike rides.

As a recent cycling gold medallist in the Invictus Games UK trials, she’ll be setting off on the 7th September for a 980-mile nine-day ride from Lands End to John O’Groats to raise money for The Princes Trust.

Cycle commuters Karen Lofthouse of TSP Projects (in red) and Alice Thatcher of I Travel York

And before that, there’s her everyday five-mile cycle commute to work at engineering consultancy TSP Projects, where as her company’s Love to Ride cycling champion she’s encouraging her colleagues to make more trips by bike for this year’s Cycle September challenge.

“The journey for me is to inspire others,” she said, “just as I’ve been inspired by other competitors at the Invictus Games.”

Five years ago, Karen broke her leg while skiing for the RAF, where she then worked as an air traffic controller. The injury was so severe she wondered if her life in high-level sport was over. She tried cycling, and after a crank adjustment for her injured leg from York CycleWorks, she was able to start competing again.

“I’d been struggling after my injury, but getting out on my bike made me recognise all those positive day-to-day benefits of mood and happiness and getting out into the fresh air that cycling brings.”

She’s been working with her company on workplace cycle challenges, and on a good day reckons nearly 20% of staff ride to work. She says companies can make cycling more accessible by installing decent bike parking so riders know their bikes are secure, and by making sure cyclists have both time and proper facilities to shower and change clothes after their commute.

City of York I Travel Planning Officer Alice Thatcher also points companies to the free bike loans available though the TryBike scheme, along with adult cycle training for those less confident on the roads or wanting to hone their urban cycling skills.

“Companies can also get involved in cycle path clean ups and litter picks with us,” said Alice. “The local McDonalds stores are helping us already, and say their staff really enjoy getting out and helping their local community.”

As Cycle September approaches, Karen and Alice are asking companies to nominate their own Love to Ride cycle champions to help and advise staff about how to make their first rides to work.

“I try to inspire colleagues to get out on their bike like I did, and feel that sense of achievement, even if it’s only by cycling a mile or two,” said Karen. “I say, give it a go and see what it’s all about, see if cycling can make a difference to you, like it did for me.”

For more information:

Sign up for Cycle September at lovetoride.net

Mind is the Ride

Submit your story on our new Stories feature for a chance to win one of two copies of Jet McDonald’s excellent book ‘Mind is the Ride’. Submit before Friday 2 August to enter. UPDATE: Congratulations to Graham S. from Macclesfield & Matt B. from Farnham, who won a copy each!

Does riding a bike make you smarter? Reading Jet McDonald’s new book ‘Mind is the Ride’, we’d be tempted to say: Yes!

Jet is pursuing ideas about what bikes can do to us when we ride. So when he cycled 4,000 miles from the UK to India and back, he didn’t want to write a straightforward travel book. Instead, Jet takes the reader on an imaginative journey from West to East through the philosophies, cultures and people he meets on the way.

illustrationof bike pedals

In his quirky and exciting style, Jet shares great bits of wisdom, funny moments from the journey and ideas about what riding does to us (and our minds!).

Each chapter is dedicated to a bike part and beautifully describes how it relates a specific philosophy but it’s always done in an engaging and entertaining style. Such as when he describes Freud’s ideas about alpha and beta males when he meets a group of drunk hooligans in Vienna!

Illustration of touring bike

Mind is the Ride is an exhilirating story about the joys of riding bikes and we’re delighted to giving two copies away.

Read the extract below and share your bike Story with us before 2 August 2019 to enter the prize draw.

“The bike itself, in the form we know it, has only been around for 150 years. But there is something so right about the way that a bike connects to a human being that there must be a timeless notion of what it means. ‘Bikeness’ may have less to do with the object itself than with how we connect to it. The first roll down a hill on a bicycle, balance intact, is the joyous swallow dive of youth. Before the bike existed we had no learning-to-ride feet-off-the-ground epiphany, because there was no pedal to push, and yet that moment seems familiar, ageless and universal now because it is a part of being human. Our bodies long ago evolved to ride a bike, it’s just the mind had to catch up to invent it.”

Mind is the Ride is published by Unbound.

Why cities and regions are signing-up to Cycle September

Cycle September – The Global Bike Challenge – is coming up again in (you guessed it) September. The annual event has grown in size and scale and we’re particularly excited about this year’s event as it continues to expand it’s reach and impact.

Cycle September is, at its core, a cycling encouragement program designed to get more people riding, more often, and for transportation. It is a fun, friendly ‘challenge’, that’s easy for anyone to get involved in – from occasional riders to people who haven’t been on a bike in years.

At Love to Ride, we’ve been running workplace bike challenges for 12 years now, so we know a thing or two about how to make them successful and hoe to achieve great results for our clients and partners.

So why are cities, and local and regional government agencies working with us on Cycle September? 

It’s because Cycle September is…

A proven approach to getting more people riding in your area – behaviour change theory and techniques are at the core of all Love to Ride programs. We provide measurable behaviour change results to our clients.

Easy to run – we know how busy you are, so over the last 12 years, we’ve worked hard to develop systems that make it quicker and easier to roll-out the program at the local level. We can also do all the work involved in delivering the program locally, or, depending on the level of capacity you have, we can share certain roles and tasks where it makes the most sense.

Localized program – we localize the Cycle September program so that people and businesses in your city or region experience a local platform (with options for local branding, Love to Ride site, leaderboards, marketing materials, etc). At the same time, people can navigate to see and experience the national and global leaderboards and the wider reach and global flavour of the Cycle September intervention.

Generate and give Access to Data – Love to Ride programs generate a wide range of data: from survey results about local barriers; to ‘new rider’ experiences in your area; to real and perceived barriers to bike commuting. Using our integrated mobile apps, we also generate trip data (distances, days, times, trip purpose etc), along with data about your local companies’ end-of-trip facilities, databases of regular, occasional and new riders, non-commuting riders, and key contacts and ‘champions’ within local participating businesses.

Business Engagement – Cycle September is an ideal tool to provide to your local businesses. It’s easy for them to run, it’s fun and it delivers a host of benefits – from healthier, happier employees, to lower car parking costs, an easy way to achieve and measure emission reductions, promote team cohesion, etc. We engage your business network and support them to engage their staff, and thus we’re able to efficiently get thousands of local people engaged in your local Cycle September program.

It’s Exciting – a little friendly competition, both within your office, locally among businesses and friends, and within your industry locally, nationally, and globally – all helps to get people engaged and enjoying taking part in the bike challenge program.

Value for Money – due to the economies of scales we achieve and the delivery systems we’ve developed that make it quick and easy to roll out in another city/region, the programs we deliver are very good value for money. If you compare taking part in Cycle September versus developing and implementing a bespoke behavior change program locally, there are huge savings to be made.

Easy to run – did we mention that already?

In summary, cities and regions around the world are bringing Cycle September to their area because it’s a proven approach to getting more people riding, it’s easy to run, localized to their area, gives them great data, engages their business community and existing rider networks, is great value for money, and again, it’s easy for them to run 🙂

Interested in exploring options for bringing Cycle September to your area?  Then please do get in touch and we’ll send you some more information – hello@lovetoride.net

For those that spotted it, please note that this is a global article and we have chosen to use US English on this occasion!

Bike Week 2019 – everyday cycling for everyone

This June we’re delighted to be teaming up with our friends at Cycling UK, to celebrate everyday cycling for everyone.

Whether you’re from Moray or Monmouthshire, Brighton or Birmingham, you’re invited to experience the freedom of two wheels and help others to discover the joys and benefits of cycling.

Cycling is fun, practically free, easy and it’s so good for you too: people who ride to work are far less likely to suffer from cancer or heart disease and if more people get around by bike our air will be cleaner, saving lives and making our towns and cities greener and more liveable.

Cycling UK provide free insurance for all events listed on the Bike Week website, so take a look to find out what’s on in your area or start planning your own event (we’ve got some handy tips to help you run a bike breakfast here).

The theme for 2019 is #7DaysofCycling – we’ll be inviting all Love to Ride members to try and ride seven times during Bike Week (8-16 June) and we’ll be sharing different cycling experiences using the hashtag and our new Stories feature to celebrate:

  1. Enjoying the social side of cycling
  2. Cycling to school and engaging children in cycling
  3. The mental health benefits of cycling
  4. Businesses boosting their cycle-friendliness
  5. Favourite three-miles – best short routes by bike
  6. Getting fit and healthy through cycling
  7. Travelling from A-B by bike 

There are no rules on what counts as one of your seven – from riding to work to cycling to the shops; from giving your bike a spring clean to joining a cycle club – all you need to do is share a photo, video or story about your experience on Love to Ride or via social media on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter, using the #7DaysofCycling hashtag. 

As usual the Love to Ride team have grabbed a great bundle of prizes – to match each daily theme – such as a UK cycling holiday for two on day 1, a couple of bikes, a fab Blubel navigation prize and much more besides.

The legendary Wozzy from our West Yorkshire project out in the fresh air

And with #cleanairday during June too, we’re giving away an e-bike to one lucky winner who logs a ride for transport on 20 June.

And as if all that wasn’t quite enough, our partners Cyclescheme are bringing even more to the party with prize giveaways on their community platform.

So to sum up, this really is our best Bike Week ever – so come on over and and join in the fun! lovetoride.net

2019 Australian Bike Summit

Christina Sorbello is Love to Ride’s Regional Manager for Asia Pacific.  As a graduate of the School of Social Entrepreneurs, she is passionate about social impact and how effecting change in local communities can mean transformative shifts for our cities.

Christina took a trip to Melbourne for the 2019 Australian Bike Summit and sums up her day here.

Marvel Stadium, Melbourne

Stepping off the plane in Melbourne last week was a bit of a rude shock for this sunny Queenslander.  As a Sydney sider for almost a decade, you’d think I’d be accustomed to the cooler climes, but alas, it seems I’ve been happily ensconced in a mild Queensland Autumn forgetting just how brutal those icy southern winds can be.  Nonetheless, Melbourne has plenty to distract oneself from the biting chill, including, of course, the good coffee and fine food. But this trip it wasn’t the double ristrettos or cannolis I had come for (although those were good too!), this time, I was delighted to be attending my first Australian Bicycle Summit.

Hosted by We Ride Australia and held at Melbourne’s Marvel Stadium – a national treasure for footy fanatics – AKA, the whole of Victoria – the event was well attended by industry folk, city representatives and academics alike.  It’s always great to be in a room filled with passionate people, so clearly committed to getting more people on bikes in Australia – all bushy tailed and bright eyed!  The focus of this year’s event was smart tech, active transport, and the ‘Towards Zero’ message – a theme reiterated through much of the summit and a welcome one to all.

Towards Zero

For any interstate or antipodean readers who may not be aware of this campaign, Towards Zero is a combined partnership between the Transport Accident Commission, VicRoads, Victoria Police, the Department of Justice and Regulation and the Department of Health and Human Services. Working alongside the community, they share a belief that zero deaths and serious injuries on Vic Roads can be a reality.  In line with this, we heard from the CEO of the Transport Accident Commission, Joe Calafiore, who reiterated their commitment to safer roads for Victorians and Australians. 

As Melbourne continues to urbanise and the demand on the public infrastructure sharply intensifies, Melbournites eagerly seek alternative modes of travel.  The TAC is committed to ensuring that those of us choosing to embark on active travel, equally and increasingly find the roads conducive and inclusive:  An important message not only for those of us on bikes but for everyone using our roads.  And, as we heard, we are now sharing our roads more than ever….


It’s true we share our roads with cars and pedestrians, but cities globally are recognising the importance of micromobility: bikes; scooters; e-bikes; as the future of transportation too.  As delegates, we were treated to a broad-ranging and thought-provoking speech by Tim Papandreou who has lead projects on automated and emerging transports for Waymo and Google X.  By 2050, 75% of the world is predicted to urbanise and cities are already struggling to move people and things around on a road network that cannot expand (although we can go up, yet flying cars are not in our short term future!). 

A strategy increasingly adopted by smart cities who recognise this is the reuse and repurpose of the existing road to maximise the space.  After all, there are a number more bikes that can fit into the same space as a single occupancy car but encouraging more cyclists and other types of micromobility, means offering them the same prime infrastructure offered to those driving vehicles and the same direct routes.

More transportation options than ever before!

We also heard from Tim on how San Francisco had managed to grow their bicycle mode share to 6%, in part, by restructuring the layout of many arterial roads enticing more modes to use them.  This also contributed to the rise and proliferation of new transport options never seen before, primarily enabled by smartphone technology and driven by the on-demand and sharing economy.

Infographic: San Francisco Mobility Trends Report 2018

Ride to Work Scheme

It was also interesting to learn about the new Ride to Work Scheme being launched by Swisse. This is a ‘salary sacrifice’ scheme that gives employees big savings on new bikes and enables them to pay in monthly installments. Based largely on the very successful and popular Cycle to Work Scheme in the UK that has been running since 1999, we look forward to working with employers and providers across Australia to promote this scheme as a great way to make cycling really affordable from the outset, potentially removing the purchase of a bike as a barrier to riding. Love to Ride is working with Cyclescheme in the UK and we hope to emulate this work in Australia too.

A little gloomy, great day though!

Coming away from the summit I had much to think about and what a better way to ruminate and the warm the cockles of my (now frozen) heart but to wend my way around the Yarra on my bike.  I recognised the summit and the speakers had given me a sense that the greater vision is shared by so many and if we can continue on this path, I feel confident for the future of an ever metropolitan, micro-mobile, Melbourne and our Australian cities beyond.