I am a very committed all weather cyclist. I cycle to work in Chelmsford five days a week all year round (about 7 km each way).
I try to convince my colleagues to cycle too, however many think cycling is unsafe. I know I am the winner in the long run though since the benefits of cycling far outweigh the risks.
My economy benefits greatly since I don't have to pay for petrol, parking or bus tickets and I get exercise every day, for free. I enjoy being close to the elements, hear the birds sing, see the sun rise and feel the wind and fresh air against my face.
I represent the Staff Travel Plan team at work. I have negotiated staff discounts at local cycle shops, surveyed the city centre for new cycle parking and surveyed cycle parking facilities across my employer's different sites. I have since made several recommendations for improvements. I really do want others to catch the cycling bug too.
The hesitant cyclist!
We asked the Super Commuters to approach a hesitant cyclist in their workplace and talk to them, in a bid to understand any barriers that stand in the way of getting them in the saddle and riding to work. Here is how Åsa got on!
I started by asking some colleagues if they would consider to start cycling to work. This was to no avail. I then decided to put a short article on my company’s intranet page. I had three replies. I decided to work with them all to some extent but I will focus on Julia here.
This is Julia’s response to my Intranet post:
As you already know I do a lot of running and walking but my bike collects a lot of dust as I’m not a particularly confident cyclist but would like to cycle more and that would include to work, so let me know if you want me to take part in your survey.
Obviously I said yes please. Below are her answers to my short survey:
1) Where do you live and how far is this from work?
Great Baddow – approximately 2 miles to the office
2) When was the last time you rode a bike?
3) Do you like the idea of cycling to work?
Yes – I walk to and from work every day and would like to use my bike more, especially in bad weather or just for a change and also as another form of exercise.
4) What is it that puts you off cycling to work regularly?
Lack of confidence – I got knocked off one as a child and haven’t been particularly confident since then. I got a bike a couple of years ago and have improved and have tried to and from work a couple of times but I don’t enjoy it very much, which is why I haven’t carried on. When I’m on hols and there are proper cycle routes/lanes I’m much better but narrow pavements, heavy traffic and other pedestrians worry the hell out of me! Basically I haven’t got to the point where the bike is my first choice.
5) What achievable measures would encourage you to cycle to work more often?
I guess building confidence to make the experience more enjoyable, which would, in turn, encourage me to get out on it more. My husband cycles a lot so I would like to use mine more. To be honest I just keep putting off getting out on it to explore the area to see what would be a good route for me to use!
- I decided to meet up with Julia one lunchtime for a chat. I asked her what bike she has and whether she has a helmet, a high vis vest etc. Her bike is a Boardman which she bought brand new. She also said she had the protective gear needed and a supportive husband too who is also a keen cyclist.
- I gave her a cycle map of Chelmsford on which I had highlighted three different routes with varying amounts of traffic, the longest of which would mean less traffic and I would be able to meet her halfway if needed.
- I also set out a few steps for her to get her started. This included:
- Setting yourself a goal to cycle to work once a week
- Study the highway code for cyclists
- Do a trial run on a day/time when there is less traffic, ideally with a partner
- Ideally buddy up with someone when you start cycling to work (I offered to do this)
- Trialling out routes after work/at weekends when roads would be less busy (ideally with a partner)
How Julia got on
Towards mid May Julia started to do some trials involving her walking home from work and then cycling back to the office which is near the train station. Her husband who works in London would then meet her at the train station and they would cycle home together. This was during a busier time when she needed his support. They also cycled in some parks together. By the weekend 30/5-1/6 she had worked out the best route for her.
On Monday the 2nd of June she cycled to work in the morning for the first time! It took her about 20 minutes to get to work (compared with a 30 min walk). When asked how did it feel to get to work by bike she said:
“I was a bit nervous to start with but it felt good to have made the effort and as it was raining I was pleased to get to work quicker! I enjoyed it more than I thought I would. Without your prompting, I certainly wouldn’t be back in the saddle.”
Ideally Julia should have completed this task by end of May, however, we have run a Pedometer Challenge at work between 5 May and 1 June. We had over 120 participants all being given a pedometer and asked to note how much they have walked every day. Julia is very competitive and finished second best in the completion with an average of over 26,000 steps a day – hence she must be excused for not wanting to start cycling to work while this competition was running.
On Tuesday the 3rd of June she cycled in again and today, Thursday the 5th she e-mailed me to say “I came in by bike again today and am going to continue to aim for three days a week. I am definitely feeling more confident and am happy with the route I’ve found so thank you for giving me the push I needed!".
My jacket is yellow with grey reflective patches. The jacket is very practical, lightweight and highly visible. Spontaneous comments from my colleagues and friends were: Your jacket is bright! It is blinding me! It looks safe. It is very practical. Nice fit! One journalist friend even commented one the photo I put on Facebook: It's actually more flattering in person than it looks in this picture. You looked impressively svelte and sporty heading off to work the other day!
Size & Fit
I went for a size small. It does come out on the small side with a rather neat fit. It is a bit tight around the hips. The elastic cord on the back could have had a little bit more give he. The sleeves however are a few inches too long and a bit too slim around the lower part of the arms.
The colour makes it stand out very well as mentioned about, a bit too well if you want the jacket to be multi-purpose so that you could use it e.g. for walks during your lunch break. This is unlikely to happen so I have to make sure I have a spare jacket at work. You could consider introducing another colour such as dark grey on the sides to make the jacket slightly less bright, yet it will still remain very visible.
The jacket is very fit for purpose, making the cyclist extremely visible both daytime and night time. This is very re-assuring in busy traffic or when cycling after sunset. At night, the reflective strips turn bright white when a light shines at them making the coat very effective. It is certainly more visible than my old high vis vest.
The jacket is windproof and keeps you warm even at temperatures down to just a few degrees above zero with only a base layer underneath. Since I only received the jacket in early March I don’t know how it performs if it gets colder and whether I would be comfortable with much more layers underneath given its rather tight fit.
We have had some unusually warm days for March and I have noticed that the material is not as breathable as you might wish. It also has a rather plastic feel to it. It has zips under the arms which reveal a netting. This helps a bit but I fear I won’t be able to use this jacket during the summer months. Somehow you wish you could peel of the waterproof layer when not required!
I haven’t been able to try it in rain but despite it not having a hood I believe other reviewers who say it is fully waterproof assisted by the neck cord and Velcro fastenings at the arms.
- Media port in top front pocket – can’t care for this one since in my view cyclists should have their full attention on the road and on other road users!
- Built in LED light at the back – nice touch and in a good position. I tried it on a foggy day and for some reason the light was off when I arrived at work! Hopefully this was just a one off!
Performance and use
Very smart, compact and light weight camera. It produces a very good quality video with a very wide angle.
It gets misted up in fog.
Unfortunately the design picks up the wind noise/movement of the bike, hence I prefer to play the videos with the sound turned off which is a shame.
The light weight Velcro strap could be a bit wider to make it easier to attach to the helmet.
The set of leads is bewildering and wasteful. I needed my technically minded husband to assist me. How about including a basic set (the USB lead) and have others as optional extras (power leads, extension leads, USB power adapter).
Instructions could be improved to include mounting angles and tips on how to make the most of the microphone (and e.g. not use the waterproof dome unless recording under water). I.e. stand close to the camera if it is not on you and ideally use it when not moving. When we trialled a recording, the picture came out on an angle with no sound. We had to mount the camera at an angle to compensate.
Some advice on where to attach the camera to get the best viewing angles would be helpful.
Some advice on how to use all the various mounts would be useful.
The Roadhawk website is focused on sales rather than technical support, however when calling the helpline I received helpful advice.