British Cycling, which earlier this week launched an initiative to get 1 million more women cycling by 2020, has launched another new campaign, this time aimed at getting more people to commute by bike.
The organisation says the focus is to show people how easy it is to switch to two wheels for their commute, and cites 2011 Census figures published by the Office for National Statistics which revealed that in the previous decade there had been a 17 per cent rise in the number of people commuting by bike, with 760,000 now doing so.
The true figure will be higher once people who use a bike for part of their commute are factored in – the Census data only cover the main mode of travel, so won’t for example cover someone who rides to the station at either end but spends most of their commute on the train.
Certainly, investment in improved cycle parking at many railway stations across Britain due to the overflowing of existing facilities, more people buying folding bikes they can take on the train with them at peak hours, and patterns of use for the Barclays Cycle Hire Scheme in London all suggest that cycling increasingly forms part of a longer journey.
Health and financial benefits were also highlighted by British Cycling as being the principal reasons for people taking to a bike to get to work, with daily riding good for weight loss and improving cardiovascular health as well as helping avoid rising fuel costs and season ticket prices.
According to British Cycling, around half of its 69,000 members are regular commuters, with one recent convert to riding to work, John Clarke, saying that he saves “in excess of £2,500 per year on a train season ticket.”
British Cycling’s own chief executive, Ian Drake, highlighted another reason for commuting by bike that will be shared by anyone who rides to work.
“I always use my bike as part of my regular journey into the office as it’s a great way to clear my mind before and after a busy day,” he said.
“The drive we’ve launched today is all about showing how simple and easy bike commuting can be. People don’t need an expensive bike or to wear lycra - and cycling to work is a really efficient way of fitting some exercise into your day.
“The cost of maintaining a bike is negligible in comparison with today’s vehicle maintenance and fuel costs,” he added.
Martin Gibbs, the organisation’s Policy and Legal Affairs Director, added: “Within British Cycling, we have the support and the expertise to encourage more people to become regular commuters and incorporate cycling into their daily routine.
“In addition to the membership benefits we can offer, we are also working with the government to put cycling at the heart of transport policy as we want to see long-term, sustained planning and investment so that our towns and cities are designed with cycling in mind.
“The more people that cycle, the more pressure we are putting on the government and local authorities to initiate change.”
Tips on commuting by bike can be found on a dedicated section of the British Cycling website.
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.