Get on your bike

Caroline Cassidy

Bike Week is a yearly opportunity to promote cycling and show how anyone can make cycling a part of his or her everyday life. This year the event runs from the 19th to the 26th of June and will be marked by various events across the country. The aim will be to highlight the positive impact that cycling can have on health, social issues and the environment.

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Half of all private car journeys are less than five miles long and a quarter of them are around a mile or less. The average car commuter drives 19 miles a day. Cutting that by half could save 648kg of carbon dioxide over one year – the same as that absorbed by 216 trees. So, there has never been a better time to swap four wheels for two.

Cycling exercises most of the muscles in your legs and is an excellent way to keep toned. You are also significantly less likely to fall victim to cardiovascular disease, type two diabetes, cancer, high blood pressure and obesity if you exercise regularly. Cycling gets the heart working and fills the lungs with air making cyclists more alert and therefore better able to deal with stress and anxiety.

Cycle journeys are more predictable than car journeys or public transport. There are no traffic jams, school runs or rush hours. Cyclists almost always arrive on time and can reliably predict their journey times. There are now hundreds of cycle routes around the country and many councils are implementing cycle paths to encourage people to bike it.

Why not swap a short car journey for a bike ride? It will benefit your health and your community. Research shows that commuters who cycle will get to work in half the time of that of cars. There is also the reduction in noise, air pollution and traffic congestion to consider. Additional financial incentives include no MOT, no insurance and no license to pay for. You won't have to worry about parking or petrol either.

Cycling burns about 300 calories per hour and can give you the fitness level of someone 10 years younger. There are advantages for employers too; a fit workforce will be both productive and motivated. The government currently allows employers to loan employees money to buy a bike and equipment, which results in large savings on the price of the bike, 50 per cent or more in some cases. Why not ask your employer if they can help?