You know that cycling to work can save you money, save you time, make you fitter and reduce your impact on the environment right? But if it was that easy we'd all be doing it. Here's some of our top reasons not to cycle commute, and some suggestions for how we work around them.
It's not safe
Cycling on roads can feel daunting, especially if it's a long time since you've been on a bike. However, you might find that you don't need to use the roads on your commute as much as you think.
As things start to open up following the COVID-19 lockdown period, the UK government has been actively encouraging cycle commuting as a way to ease pressure on public transport where it is difficult to practice social distancing. A £2 billion package was recently announced to support active travel and part of this will be used to fund cycle facilities. Check with local cycling groups on social media or your local council to find out about new facilities in your area.
The Sustrans National Cycle Network map is another great way to find out about cycle lanes, bridleways and quiet routes, helping you get from a to b stress-free.
Finally, it's worth weighing up the risks associated with cycling versus more sedentary transport. Cycling to work is linked with a 45% lower risk of developing cancer, and a 46% lower risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD), compared to commuting by car or public transport. In England, 37,000 preventable premature deaths per year are related to inactivity*, compared to around 100 deaths as a result of cycling accidents.**
It's too far
These days, it's not uncommon to travel long distances for work. We really don't blame you if the prospect of cycling that long way seems impossible. Maybe you don't have the time. Maybe you just don't feel fit enough.
You might not necessarily have to miss out on the benefits of cycle commuting though. If you're getting the train, can you take a bike on board and cycle some of the way? It's best to check restrictions with your rail operator before you do this as some will require an advance booking.
Maybe you can cycle once or twice a week? It's a great way to build up fitness and you might love it so much you'll end up doing it more often.
You could even try an e-bike which will give you the assistance you need for the miles to fly by, without getting too hot and bothered.
I can't ride in this weather
As John Ruskin famously said, 'Sunshine is delicious, rain is refreshing, wind braces us up, snow is exhilarating; there is really no such thing as bad weather, only different kinds of good weather.'
This is great unless you get all four seasons in one day which seems to occur far too frequently in the UK.
You might have also heard that there's no such thing as bad weather, only the wrong clothing choices. We can totally agree with this one. Clever layering, arm and leg warmers, overshoes and even backpack covers will help you to ride in most conditions.
Thanks to modern fabric technology many rain jackets, like the dhb Aeron Tempo 2 Waterproof Jacket, pack small enough to carry everywhere so there's no reason to get caught short.
During the warmer months, stay cool with lighter clothing and make sure you carry a bottle on your bike. Depending on your working arrangements, you might be able to avoid the heat by starting earlier, or you could try leaving earlier and riding more slowly so you don't get too sweaty. Just take the time to appreciate the beautiful weather!
I don't have a bike
We admit that's going to make cycling to work pretty difficult!
A bike purchase can seem like a substantial one-off expense. Many cycle commuters will tell you that the money they save compared to when they used to drive or use public transport quickly adds up, but you still need to make that initial investment. Where do you even start when it comes to choosing a bike?
We've written a useful guide to the different types of commuter bikes available to help you make your decision. Once you decide, did you know you can spread the cost over 12 months and save up to 42% on the Cycle to Work scheme? Your monthly payments could end up being less than what you were spending on bus tickets or petrol!
No room for a bike? Too much of a commitment? Try cycling to work on a hire bike. Watch out for hire schemes like Santander Cycles in your local area.
I'll turn up for work in a state
You might be happy to embrace the elements on your weekend trips to the countryside, but nobody's going to be impressed if you turn up windswept, sweaty and generally a dishevelled mess for your 9am meeting.
With a few smart bits of kit and a bit of planning, you can normally avoid the dragged-through-a-hedge-backwards look. Pack a microfibre towel and decant toiletries into travel bottles so that you can freshen up at work without having to carry unnecessary bulk.
A well-designed backpack will help you to organise all your kit and a change of clothes if you need it. The Osprey Radial 34 Backpack was designed especially for commuters and thoughtful touches like the integrated high-vis rain cover, padded laptop sleeve and breathable back panel make it easy to safely carry everything necessary for you to arrive at your desk looking presentable.
Hi-viz though. It's not a great look, is it?
Cycle commuting needn't be such a sartorial dilemma. With the latest developments in lights and reflectives, there's no need to dress like a belisha beacon every time you get on the bike. Depending on your commute distance, you might even be able to get away with your regular clothes, with the addition of a smart hi-viz jacket.
The Altura Nightvision Urban X jacket appears black and grey but in low-light conditions the grey panels illuminate brilliantly when they're caught in headlights, making you unmissable on the road. The dhb FLT Aeron Storm jacket has a flattering fit and reflective flashes where they'll be noticed by drivers so it will take you effortlessly from home to work in style.
Shove some packable waterproof trousers into your bag on changeable days so that if the heavens open you can just pull them on over whatever you're wearing.
So, when will you give cycling to work a go?