For some years, the founders of Blue Door Bicyles commuted to work from the suburbs to Central London – sometimes using the bike for the whole journey and sometimes for part of the way.
Cycling to work has a number of advantages including:
- it keeps you fit
- you have to get to work, you cannot just skip it like you can a visit to the gym or a voluntary walk round the park
- you always get a seat!
- it can save you money
- it can be fun
- it is quick – often quicker than other forms of transport in major cities by the time you have added in the time getting to/from a station or bus stop
- its environmentally friendly (like we’d like to be)
In terms of practical advice, here are a few tips:
- if you are commuting only a short distance, there is no need to dress for the Tour de France - normal work clothes are fine for a few miles when you don’t have to get up a sweat to get to your workplace.
- if you do have to travel some distance or over hilly terrain, think about buying some specialist clothes and then change when you get to work. It is often easier to leave a set of workclothes (particularly a suit) at your workplace rather than transporting it each day.
- lightweight waterproofs are an excellent investment - though in reality, you won’t need them as often as you may think.
- carry a simple repair kit and get to know how to use it. In reality, the worse that normally happens is a flat tyre, so carry a spare tube, tyre leavers and (if you don’t have quick release wheels), a suitable spanner. You may want to carry some wet wipes or some plastic gloves as your hands will probably get dirty.
- many people find mudguards good when riding in the wet (they are also helpful for people cycling behind you!).
- it is usually easier to carry things on the bike rather than in a back-pack. You can do this on a rack or just have a saddle bag and put your things into a carrier bag in the saddle bag making it easy to move things to/from the bike (I found this the easiest method – with a nice Carradice saddle bag and a heavy duty carrier bag).
- remember you will need to have good quality lights if you are going to commute all year round.
- check the security section as you always need to remember that others may have designs on your bike.
We are signed up to the cycle to work scheme which can save you (and your employer) when you buy a bike and much of the associated equipment/clothing. This is because the Government sees the benefits of getting people to cycle to work and are prepared to give a tax break to encourage it. Technically you hire a bike from your employer and then buy it at the end of the hire period – but the bottom line for employees is that they save substantially on the cost of cycling.
The stories that went around in the summer of 2010 about changes to the scheme were a serious over-statement of the impact of those changes. For most cyclists they made very little difference and in fact recent National Insurance increase actually HELPED make the scheme become more attractive (even though we may not welcome it for other reasons!).
There are several organisations providing the admin for the government’s cycle to work scheme. We are signed up to work with Cyclescheme, Cycleplus and Bike2Work – if you find your employer has contracted to another scheme, please to speak to us and we will see if we can help.