I can’t cycle to work, or can I?

Here is our case as to why you should shake up your daily commute to work and do it by bike

Clock18:30, Friday 9th February 2024

Many of us have uttered the words, "I can't cycle to work." Whether due to fear of traffic, concerns about safety, or logistical challenges, the idea of commuting by bike can seem daunting. However, in reality, there are numerous benefits to cycling to work, both for individuals and for society as a whole. In this article, we'll address some of the most common reasons people cite for not cycling to work and offer practical tips for overcoming these hurdles.

Why you should cycle to work

People who ride to work live healthier and happier lives. Research has shown time and time again that cycling to work reduces your risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, depression, cancer; the list goes on.

Plus, the more people who cycle, the nicer our environment will be. We’ll have less air and noise pollution, safer roads and more space. And if you need to drive to work, more people on bikes will mean there’s less congestion and more parking spaces.

Tackle the fear factor by building confidence

First and foremost, let's address the fear factor. For many, the idea of navigating busy roads and intersections on a bike can be intimidating. However, building confidence on the bike is a matter of practice. Spending time in a safe, controlled environment, such as a park or quiet residential street, can help new cyclists become more comfortable with handling their bikes and navigating different situations.

Read more: Bike handling drills to turn you from passenger to pilot

Make sure your equipment is right

Additionally, the type and size of your bike can play a significant role in your confidence levels while cycling. Opting for a bike that suits your needs and abilities, such as a sturdy commuter or gravel bike, can make a world of difference. Ensure that the bike is properly sized and adjusted to fit you comfortably, as this can enhance your sense of control and stability on the road even more.

Read more: How to find the perfect bike fit

Put cycling safety in perspective

Perspective is another crucial aspect to consider. While cycling may seem inherently risky to other ways of getting to work, statistics show that it is a relatively safe mode of transportation. In comparison to the staggering number of fatalities and injuries caused by car accidents each year, cycling-related incidents are far fewer. By shifting our perspective and recognizing the health and environmental benefits of cycling, we can begin to overcome our fears and reservations.

Find quiet roads

Infrastructure concerns, such as the lack of bike lanes or unsafe road conditions, are valid challenges faced by many would-be bike commuters. While improvements to cycling infrastructure are ongoing, there are often alternative routes available that may not be immediately obvious to car-centric commuters. Exploring quieter streets or designated bike paths can provide safer and more enjoyable routes for cyclists.

Build up your fitness

Physical discomfort, whether from an uncomfortable bike seat or the strain of a long commute, is another common barrier to cycling to work. Nevertheless, building up endurance and strength gradually can make longer rides more manageable over time. Additionally, the advent of e-bikes has made cycling more accessible to a broader range of individuals, offering assistance with hills and longer distances.

Read more: How to start adding intervals to your training

Break up your commute

For many of us, work is far enough away that cycling there and back in a day is too much to ask. If this is the case, consider breaking up your commute, perhaps by taking public transport one way and then cycling the other. This works if you usually drive, too. You can strap your bike to the back of your car, drive to work, then ride home. The next day, you can ride in, and then drive home again. It’ll give you a chance to ride, and a way to cut down on the amount of driving you do, without having to ride both ways on the same day.

Secure your bike with a lock and insurance

Finally, for a lot of us, leaving our bike locked up outside our place of work sounds like a one-way ticket to a stolen bike. It’s indeed impossible to guarantee your bike won’t get stolen, but you can make it a heck of a lot less likely by getting a good lock, locking your bike to a secure bike rack, or bringing it into your place of work if at all possible. For complete peace of mind, buy some bicycle insurance. For a small cost each month, you can ensure that should the worst happen, you won’t be left in the lurch.

Almost anyone can cycle to work

Ultimately, overcoming the barriers to cycling to work requires a combination of practical solutions and a shift in mindset. By taking small steps to build confidence, exploring alternative routes, and considering options like e-bikes or mixed-mode commuting, individuals can reap the numerous benefits of cycling while contributing to a healthier, more sustainable future.

So, if you've ever thought, "I can't cycle to work," perhaps it's time to reconsider. With the right preparation and perspective, commuting by bike can be not only feasible but also enjoyable and rewarding.

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