April challenge: active travel to work
Though it still feels like winter, it really is spring. Honestly. There are new leaves on the tree opposite my boat and I can even see some blossom starting to bud.
Now might be the time to dust off the bike and start breathing in some of that warm(ish) air. Active travel is one of the best ways to shoehorn the outdoors into your daily routine.
Benefits of active travel:
- Fresh air, sunshine on the skin, arrive at work energised
- No waiting in a traffic jam
- Physical activity and fitness
- Exercise without the gym fees
- Better for the environment
- No petrol or parking costs
- You have to get to work somehow. Might as well make it positive
It needn’t be every day, but give walking or cycling a try at least once a week. If you live within three miles of work, walking will take an hour or less, and cycling will take 15 minutes or less. Between three and ten miles, you’ll be cycling for up to an hour. Anything over ten miles might seem too far a distance, but it’s amazing what is possible when you try. I used to cycle 26 miles to work each way, and still had enough energy for a full working day.
Walking or cycling are easy, accessible ways to get around. You are completely reliant on yourself and needn’t worry about traffic – your commute will take approximately the same amount of time each day, regardless of how busy the roads are. Being in control of your journey does wonders for your mental health – rather than sit frustrated in traffic, you can be outside, feeling completely free.
Active travel takes a little bit of planning but is always worth it.
Doesn’t require special equipment
Calm way to travel
Can take an umbrella in case of rain
Takes a long time to walk a long distance
Carrying capacity is limited
Long distances covered quickly and easily
Can carry heavy items using panniers or trailers
Excellent exercise and gives sense of empowerment/freedom
Needs specialist equipment e.g. bike, panniers, lock, lights, waterproof clothing
Can be daunting for a novice
No shelter from the weather
Help is at hand if you want to start cycling to work. Take your bike to the local bike shop to make sure it is in good shape, or learn how to fix it yourself. Book a free cycling lesson through your local council – these aren’t just for beginners, and can be really useful if you need a few extra tips of how to stay safe on the road. Invest in some good lights (essential for cycling after dark) and some panniers (an expensive but well-worth-it way of carrying things around). Waterproof trousers and jacket are a must. Your work place might have showers to enable you to freshen up afterwards, although I personally have never found this necessary – a change of clothes is all I need to be ready for my day.
Read some inspirational stories of people who have changed their lives by changing their commute. Good luck!