Taking place across the UK tomorrow (Wednesday 13 September), Cycle to Work Day is celebrating its fifth year.
From saving money to getting fitter, Sustrans, the UK’s cycling and walking charity, has shared its top seven reasons to get in the saddle.
Chris Bennett is Head of Behaviour Change at Sustrans, said: “Commuting by bike is a great way to start and end your day. Not only is it an easy way of fitting more activity into our daily lives, it’s also good for the environment and your purse. Getting started need not be complicated, all you need is a bike and the willingness to give it a go.”
Seven reasons to cycle to work
1. It saves you money
Cyclists on road between Tarbert and Seilebost, near Mountain Maoladh Mhicearraig, Scotland. Cycling is a good way to save money, says Sustrans/Credit: Getty
It’s a no brainer. After the initial outlay on a bike or sprucing up an old bike that’s been collecting dust in your garage, cycling is free. You won’t have to fork out on the wear and tear costs of running a car or the price of a bus or train ticket, there’s no need for parking and the only fuel you’ll need is food. Earlier this year our research found that if short journeys (less than five miles) currently taken by car were switched to bike, the average person in Scotland could save nearly £2,000 a year – the equivalent to a nearly 9% pay rise in take-home pay.
2. Cycling to work can be quicker and easier than travelling by car
Research by the Local Government Association has found motorists spend nearly five days a year stuck in traffic because of mounting congestion on our roads. With the Department for Transport predicting 55% growth in traffic levels and an 85% rise in congestion by 2040, the problem is only set to get worse. Cycling to work means you can avoid the stress of being stuck in a traffic jam.
3. It’s an easy – and cheap – way to build physical activity into your daily routine
Cycling just 20-minutes is time to burn off a glass of wine or chocolate bar – and improve your fitness/Credit: Getty
According to government guidelines, adults should get a minimum 150 minutes of physical activity a week, but the British Heart Foundation Physical Inactivity Report 2017 found that about 39% of UK adults – that’s around 20 million people – are failing to meet this target. One way to make sure you’re getting enough exercise is to do 30 minutes at least five times a week – the perfect length for short, local journeys by bike. A 20-minute bike ride can use the same amount of calories as a cappuccino, a bar of chocolate or a 175ml glass of wine and adults who cycle regularly can have fitness levels of someone up to 10 years younger.
4. It could make you live longer
University of Glasgow research, published in the British Medical Journal earlier this year, found people who commuted by bike had a 41% lower risk of premature death, a 45% lower risk of developing cancer and a 46% lower risk of developing heart disease. And if that’s not incentive enough, findings elsewhere reveal that on average cyclists live two years longer than non-cyclists.
5. It’s good for your mental health too
Physical activity can increase mental alertness, energy, positive mood and self-esteem, as well as reducing stress and anxiety, according to the Mental Health Foundation. Many people find cycling to and from work clears the mind and helps them shake off the stresses of the day.
6. Cycling can play a huge part in tackling city air pollution
Cyclist in morning rush hour wearing smog mask & helmet, Islington, London UK. /Credit: Getty
According to the Royal College of Physicians up to 40,000 early deaths are attributable to air pollution each year in the UK – only smoking contributes to more early deaths. Road transport is responsible for 80% of the pollution where legal limits are being broken and what’s more, research show those who travel by car can experience five times higher pollution levels than those who cycle and three and a half times more than those walking the same route.
7. And if all that’s not enough, just think of the wind in your hair, the freedom and all of the fun you’ll have along the way.
Get closer to nature by bike – even a short ride can boost your physical and mental health/Credit: Getty
Cycling brings you closer to nature and the changes in the seasons. Whether it’s spotting wildlife or noticing the leaves changing colour on the trees, two wheels are better than four when it comes to connecting with nature and getting to know your local area. Who knows, you might like it so much that you’ll end up spending your leisure time in the saddle too.
For more advice and tips on how you can start cycling to work visit www.sustrans.org.uk
Britain’s best rail-to-trail cycling and hiking routes
Main image: Cycling the Camel Trail in Cornwall, a perfect route for young or old legs!/Credit: Getty
Old railway lines around the UK are being turned into cycling and walking routes. Offering scenic and safe cycling for families and cycling enthusiasts, many of these paths run through beautiful countryside. Here is a selection of old railway trail paths from Cornwall to Aberdeenshire to explore.
Image: cyclist on bike/Credit: Getty