Overcoming the barriers to cycling to work

Cyclescheme, 16.03.2017

Overcoming the barriers to cycling to work

Most of the reasons that people give for not cycling to work can be overcome. Here are some pointers for your friends and colleagues.

I never learned to ride
It’s easier to learn to ride a bike when you’re growing up, just like learning anything else. But it’s a skill that almost anyone can master as an adult too. The hard part is swallowing your pride and asking someone to teach you. For the best results, take lessons with a cycle trainer; it’s like learning from a driving instructor rather than a parent.

I’m not fit enough
You may not be fit enough to fly along at 20mph like a Lycra-clad racer, but riding like that is the equivalent of running. Who runs to work? Cruise at 10mph (or less!) instead. That’s the equivalent of walking. Build up your commuting days and/or distance gradually, starting off with one or two trips per week and/or taking the car or train part way. Plan the flattest route you can. If there are hills, get a bike with low gears. Or how about an e-bike to amplify your pedalling effort?


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There are no showers at work
Cycle commuting need not involve getting sweaty. It’s transport, not sport: slow down! No one who walks to work has a shower there. Cyclists exercising at the same effort level shouldn’t need one either. With practice, you can ride slower and still get to work sooner. If you must ride faster, invest in an e-bike or simply take time to spruce up on arrival; wet wipes are your friend.

I live too far away
‘Too far’ means different things to different cyclists. It might be 5 miles or 15. If you’re not comfortable doing it day in, day out, it’s a valid excuse. But you can cycle every day without riding the whole distance. Take your bike part way by train or car. Bike-rail is easiest if you invest in a compact folding bike. Another hassle-free option is to leave a second, cheap bike locked up at the destination station.Travelling distance

I need to carry too much stuff
Remember when David Cameron cycled to work and it was revealed that his shoes and paperwork travelled behind in a ministerial car? Don’t be like, Dave. All you need is a bike with a luggage rack and panniers. If that’s still not enough capacity, a cargo bike or a cycle trailer should cope with just about any load.


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I’ve got nowhere to store it
While a bike doesn’t take up a lot of room, that’s probably scant consolation if you live in a studio flat with no room to swing a cat. There are storage solutions such as racks to hang a bike on an internal wall and metal bunkers for a back yard. The alternative is get a folding bike; you can store a Brompton anywhere. If your employer doesn’t provide cycle parking, ‘anywhere’ might include ‘under your desk’.

What about when it rains?
There’s no law against being a fair-weather cyclist. If you can’t face riding in rain, don’t: use alternative transport that day. Heavy rain is relatively rare, however, and consequently so are genuine soakings. So long as your bike has mudguards and you’ve got a waterproof jacket and overtrousers, you’ll stay dry enough nine times out of ten. If you fear you will get wet, take spare clothing with you in a waterproof bag.

I can't afford a bike 
There are lots of ways to buy a bike but as with many things in life, not all things are equal. The best possible way to obtain a new set of wheels (or cycling accessories) for using on the commute to work is the cycle to work scheme. The scheme enables employees to save 25-39% on the cost of a bike or accessories whilst also spreading the cost over at least 12 months. The savings are made via salary sacrficie meaning both the employee and the employer make savings. If you're very price conscious check out Cyclescheme's offers or information on sale bikes

I need to do the school run

You can cycle and still drop off your child at nursery or school before continuing onwards to work. For a single pre-school child, a childseat on the back of your commuter bike is the simplest solution. A child trailer or a cargo trike will take two small children. If your child is old enough to cycle independently, you can ride with them as a chaperone. If they’re in between passenger and independent pedaller, a child-back tandem or trailer cycle is the answer.

I have a disability
Whatever your difficulties, the chances are high that someone else with that disability is cycling, either independently or with assistance. If you have balance problems, you can ride a tricycle. If you’re blind or partially sighted, you can ride on the back of a tandem. If you can’t use your legs, there are hand-cranked tricycles. There are as many solutions as there are individuals. Here are some of them.

Mobility bicycle

Today’s roads scare me
Being able to ride a bike is not the same as being comfortable cycling on busy roads. Cycle trainers can also teach you more advanced skills like road positioning and communication. Good advice is also available on this website and in the book Cyclecraft. It’s usually possible to plan your route to avoid busy roads, so that you cycle on quieter backstreets and cyclepaths.


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