It’s that time of year again when Cycle to Work Day rolls around to inspire you to ditch the car and get on your bike. The great thing about this initiative is that you don’t have to be a pro, or even a regular bike rider, to get involved. There’s no requirement to have the latest e-bike or fancy shoes, nor does it matter if you’ve only ever ridden 10 miles in your life. Cycle to Work Day is for everyone.
We appreciate that many of you reading this may already cycle to work, or know about cycle to work day but we thought that we’d outline what Cycle to Work Day is and how can you take advantage of it for you to forward onto friends, colleagues, and your HR team to nudge a few more people in the right direction.
What is Cycle to Work Day?
Cycle to Work Day is an initiative that attempts to get more people to commute by bike. Cycling is a healthy, environmentally-friendly and inherently fun activity, and riding to work (if you live a reasonably distance to your place of work of course) is cheaper and can even be faster than driving. With thousands of other people using Cycle to Work Day as an opportunity to try commuting, it’s a great time to start, or get back into it if you’ve not ridden for a little while – all you need is a bike. What’s more, with the emergence of all kinds of electric bikes now, the excuses are becoming harder to find!
Why Cycle to Work?
Ditching the car and cycling to work can save you a lot of time and money in the long run. Additionally, it’s great for the environment, with cycle commuters saving thousands of kilograms in CO2 emissions compared to drivers over their whole working life. And if you live close enough, you could actually save yourself time by whizzing past all the standstill traffic.
What’s more, the health benefits are well documented and can help you lose weight and get fitter without huge aerobic effort (unless you live or work on a mountain). You can also take advantage of cycle to work schemes and get your bike at a discounted rate. Just check that your employer has signed up to it before ordering a bike.
What do I need to take part in Cycle to Work Day?
Obviously, the starting point is a bike. This could be anything from a vintage hybrid to a top-end mountain bike. The best bike for the job depends on your journey to work. If you’re going to ride along towpaths or bridleways then you may want to consider a hybrid or gravel bike. If you’re simply going to be riding through the city then a road or city bike might be best. It all depends on where and how far you’ll be riding. Ultimately, it doesn’t matter what type of bike you ride as long as it’s roadworthy.
How do you know if a bike is roadworthy? You’ll need to perform a few simple checks before getting out on the road. Firstly, check that the brakes work and that the levers don’t pull all the way to the handlebars before squeezing the pads against your rims. This goes for both disc and rim brakes. Second, check your tyres – do they hold air? Make sure you also check the condition of the tyres by looking for any holes or tears. If you find any, you’ll need to replace them to avoid punctures. You’ll also want to make sure your gears are working (if the bike has them). Lift the bike’s rear-wheel off the ground and rotate the pedals while flicking through the gears. If they click nicely into each gear, then you’re good to go. If not, it might be time to take the bike to the shop for a quick once-over. It’s important you take basic tools with you on your commute (at least something to change a tyre) as you don’t want to get stranded halfway to your workplace!
Once you’re satisfied your bike is ready to ride, you’ll need to think about the route you want to take. Planning a driving route and a cycling route can be very different, as you’ll need to consider a few other things when riding. Try to avoid the really busy roads unless they have built-in cycling infrastructure. If this is your first time on the bike in a while, you don’t want to put yourself in a busy situation while you regain your confidence. Our advice? Stick to dedicated cycle routes if the area you work in is lucky enough to have them, or use quieter roads and towpaths. It might be less direct, but while you build your confidence up it’s a great way to develop road awareness on your bike.
What equipment do I need to cycle to work?
Other than your bike, you should consider taking or wearing a few things to keep you safe and comfortable on the bike. Firstly, a lock is vital. Even if you’re lucky enough to have secure cycle storage at work, it’s advised you use a good lock to keep your bike protected while you’re away (we require a sold secure Gold or Silver standard lock). Secondly, consider how you’ll transport your belongings on the bike – will you be using a rucksack or pannier bags? If you need to change clothes when you arrive, then getting a pannier bag might keep things folded a little more neatly than squashing them into a rucksack along with your lunch. Thirdly, make sure you keep some deodorant in your bag and/or in your desk drawer, so you can freshen up when you get to work. Unless you’re on an e-bike, the chances are you may perspire a little (or a lot), so keep things fresh for the sake of you and your colleagues. And finally, take some lights, tools and a waterproof jacket.
Being prepared is very important on a bike. Whether you’ve got a puncture or you have to stay late and ride home in the dark, it’s important you have the equipment you’ll need to get home safely (and legally).
What about insurance?
If you are considering commuting on a regular basis, insurance is highly recommended (ok we may be a little biased) however you should consider this. There are different types of bicycle insurance so you should consider what you are looking for cover for. Public liability cover will protect you if you cause damage to another person or their property (what if you accidentally scratch a car, or knock over a pedestrian?) – we know it’s not likely but something you should consider. And then there is theft – unless you can keep your bike under your desk and never leave, you should consider cover for theft. Thieves know where commuters keep their bikes, and sadly even the best locks won’t stop the most determined thieves so it’s worth looking at good insurance that will cover theft (if you lock your bike properly).
How can I keep Cycle to Work Day interesting if I’m a regular cycle commuter?
You’re a regular cycle commuter? Then why not use this day as an incentive to try a new route or use a different bike? Riding the same route to and from work every day can be mentally tiring, just as in the car. So why not look at an online route mapping tool and see if you can find a longer and more scenic route to work, or discover somewhere new. Better still, find a friend who lives or works nearby and get them into cycling to work.
Inspired by Cycle to Work Day but not keen on leaving your bike unattended for hours at a time? See how much it would cost to cover your bike against theft. We’re specialist cycling insurers so we know bikes inside and out. It takes 30 seconds and there is no obligation to purchase a policy. Click here to find out more.