It's National Bike Week this week, and as if you needed more convincing, we've just given you five more excuses to get out on the bike and ride into work. London journalist and cycling enthusiast Luke McGlaughlin tells us exactly why he thinks riding to work is a no brainer.
The most important (and most obvious) reason for anyone to get on a bike and start pedalling. It’s brilliant exercise, giving much more than just your legs a good work out. Your muscles, heart and lungs all benefit. Cycling helps you lose weight, it means you keep weight off, and will boost your stamina, energy and overall fitness. Combine regular cycling with good nutrition and it’s a recipe for a long, happy and healthy life. Studies have proved it: Researchers from King’s College London and the University of Birmingham found that cyclists over 55 have the physiological function of much younger people.
Time is of the essence, and cycling buys you time. Cycling to work in central London is far quicker than getting the train, tube or bus. As a cyclist cruising past daily gridlocked traffic, it’s difficult to imagine why anyone would choose to drive. In the time it takes most people to walk to their local train station, I can be halfway through my entire journey to work. Say your journey is 15km: that’s 30km cycled every day, with no need to try and find time to go to the gym or do other exercise. If there’s a hill on your route, it’s an even better work out.
Cycle to work and you can forget that great work of fiction known as a train timetable. You can travel when you want (provided you’re equipped with good lights) and you’re not relying on anyone or anything apart from yourself and your bike. Relying on public transport causes stress because passengers have no control: if the train grinds to a halt, there’s nothing they can do but wait. As a cyclist you’re in control of your own destiny. The occasional mechanical or puncture might slow you down, but if you bike is in good order this won’s be an issue. In the city, spending more on good puncture-resistant tyres makes sense.
Don’t let the initial outlay for a bike put you off. For one thing, the competition in the bike retail market is increasingly fierce, and good quality bikes are available at more affordable prices. If you’re lucky you can get on the Cycle to Work scheme, and pay for your bike in installments. Failing that, a £1,000 investment in a decent bike will pay for itself sooner rather than later given constantly rising public transport costs. Needless to say, a bike will also give you a lot of fun and enjoyment for social riding of all kinds. And you can’t put a price on that!
Clear your mind
You’ve had a stressful day at work - here is a choice: Would you like 45 minutes of physical exercise out in the open air, and a chance to get your blood flowing and clear your mind? Or would you rather crush on to a packed train full of similarly stressed people? Easy decision. Cycling is also good for arriving at work feeling awake and alert, as opposed to nodding off on the train journey (if you’re one of the lucky ones that get a seat). So that’s fitness, time, flexibility, money and mental relaxation. Five factors that make cycling to work such a great option.