Our Campaign Coordinator, Stuart Thomson, writes a short guide with plenty of resources to help you get cycling this week, as well as what he rides, and how Magpie are helping to promote cycling in Leeds.
Bike Week 2022 starts today and with Summer on the horizon, there hasn’t been a more perfect opportunity to dust off that old bike in the shed and enjoy some two (or three) wheeled freedom. Whether you’re new to bikes, cycle every single day, or never learnt to ride, this could be a great opportunity to jump on one and go for a spin.
To start us off, CyclingUK puts it perfectly:
“Your health, your climate, your pocket and your community are all better by bike.”
In my opinion, that’s all there is to it. Bikes are simple; two wheels, a chain, pedals, handlebars, and a saddle. There’s no need for them to be a big or daunting obstacle. If you’re new, start slow, find a friend to bike with you. If you enjoy it, great, and if you don’t then that’s also great. You’ve given it a go, and that’s the important thing.
The world of bikes is enormous. From your daily commuter to your road cyclist veterans; from the fixed gear cyclist bombing down the hills of San Francisco, to the very first winner of the Tour de France in 1903, Maurice Garin. The cycling world can seem a little overwhelming but all you truly need to start is a working bike, a helmet, some lights, and perhaps a bike lock if you plan to park up somewhere. That’s it. A quick search and you’ll find a good amount of courses and cycling groups that can also help you get started and make the ride seem a little more doable.
I started zipping from place to place by bike back in my first year of university. I had a second-hand generic bike. Nothing fancy at all. After experiencing a little added freedom and the ability to get from place to place on my own, I recall asking myself “why didn’t I start sooner?”.
Now, as an experiment, I’ve started riding a single-speed bike. No gears. Just the wheels, and your legs. There is a simplicity to riding this type of bike for me; it’s cheaper, I don’t have to think about what gear to be on, or spend too much time cleaning the bike or the tightly-spaced gears. There’s a zen-like feeling that comes with riding down the Leeds Liverpool Canal on my little steed (I’ve called her Nora). It’s not just a money-saving way of transport, but can also help provide a boost for one’s mental health. I pop an earphone in, choose my music or podcast, and enjoy the 15-or-so minutes it takes me to get to work. And of course, there are the health benefits as well as the greener advantages to cycling.
Find out more:
Connecting Leeds is a campaign run by Leeds City Council and does exactly what it says on the tin; transforming the way people travel in and around Leeds. Starting in 2016, there have already been several improvements for travellers, commuters, and pedestrians – along with a cycling strategy, there’s been highway improvements, improvements to congestion (therefore improvements to the city’s air quality!), and some new potential railway stations coming up. You can read more about their strategy by clicking here.
Walk It Ride It, a campaign Magpie helped deliver, also does exactly that – encouraging people to give walking, cycling, or buses a go. You’ll find numerous resources to help get you started, as well as real-life stories of the people of Leeds who have swapped the car for an alternative travel option. Remember, you don’t have to jump straight into it – small changes might help encourage and create a difference in your routine.
The Cycle to Work Scheme is an excellent way to help promote riding in the workplace. Magpie is now a registered employer of the scheme. Sometimes it might feel like buying a new bike is a big investment, or a lot of money upfront. The cycle to work scheme is a great opportunity for other employers to adopt and promote biking within the workplace by helping to spread the cost of buying a new bike or equipment. Very beneficial for any employee looking to get into it and save a bit of money!
There are other ways that might get you going for a ride this week – for example, in partnership with Halfords, CyclingUK is offering prizes worth £500 or more for taking part in bike week. More information can be found here.
Whatever your physical abilities, there is a way. Electric bikes, or E-bikes, have massively advanced in recent years and have taken some streets over by storm (you can find some for a pretty reasonable price). Essentially, a bike with a motor attached, it’s an assisted bike that helps propel you forward when you pedal. The power comes from a battery that only needs recharging now and then to get you easily on the road.
Mobility issues? That doesn’t necessarily mean bikes are off-limits for you – accessible bikes are very much a thing, and there are multiple choices depending on the accessibility needs. Unfortunately, they can be slightly pricier, but luckily CycleScheme can help save you even several hundred pounds – check out their best bikes for mobility issues, and their top ten adaptive bikes for more information and inspiration.
As you can see, there is an endless supply of information available to you if you’re thinking of hopping on one this week. Whether for enjoyment or getting to work, a bike is one of those inventions that’s stuck around for so long for good reason. Why not start small and give it a go this week – maybe even a short 5 minute cycle for enjoyment may lead to more riding? To round this off, I’ll leave you with possibly my favourite quote when it comes to biking in the UK:
“There is no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing.”
There’s been a lot of links mentioned here. All great resources. It’s all down here for ease:
The Bike Week Website – excellent place to start, and even has resources on how to encourage cycling in the workplace