In an ideal world, I’d love to cycle to work. I enjoy cycling, but unfortunately I don’t enjoy taking my life in my hands every morning in the London rush hour, so I opt out. Probably I’m just being a wimp; thousands of people do weave their way through London traffic every day on bicycle, so clearly it can be done.
I’m sure I’m not alone in wanting to cycle on my commute – it’s healthier, cheaper and more environmentally friendly. But, it does seem like a lot of effort. So is ditching an engine for two wheels realistic for many of us? And how much can you save?
Firstly, if you’re thinking seriously about cycling to and from work there are a couple of things to consider:
1. The weather: It rains in Britain. A lot. If you’re going to make buying all the kit in the first place worthwhile, you’ll need to make good use of it, even when it’s raining. So you’ll need to be prepared to get wet.
2. The exercise: It’s great to be keeping fit and getting yourself to work at the same time, but you’ll get sweaty, have helmet hair and be wearing sports gear when you arrive in the office. Ideally you’ll work somewhere with showers, and have clothes that travel well in a rucksack.
3. The bike: It’s worth quite a bit, and someone, somewhere is going to want to steal it. You’ll need ideally a work car park, or a very sturdy bike lock to keep it safe while you’re in the office.
Now, I’m not trying to put you off, but this is the practical reality of cycling – so there’s no point glossing over it. But if all of that is OK with you so far then the next step is to get some kit.
Second-hand bikes are widely available and a good option for beginners. Plus, a less-than-perfect bicycle looks a lot less appealing to thieves than a brand spanking new one. Hybrid bikes are a great option for commuters – they offer a perfect mix of mountain and road bike combined.
You’ll also a decent helmet, a fluorescent jacket, some decent waterproofs, bike lights and a good rucksack. So, it’ll cost you a bit to begin with – all in all I’d estimate about £350-400 – but it stands to save you a great deal.
As an illustration – I use the tube every day to get to work and spend about £80-90 a month on my Oyster card. My colleague (who makes roughly the same commute as me) cycles to work every day and only uses the tube at weekends. He spends £400 a year on his Oyster card. It’s a huge saving – that’s almost £700 extra he has in his back pocket. But it has to be a long-term commitment if you really want to earn back what you spend on the equipment to begin with.
If you consider your bike a long term investment, over the years you’ll be saving literally thousands of pounds.