Bolt’s Bicycle Facts

Most of the benefits of cycling to work are fairly obvious; you save money and keep fit while doing your bit to help the environment. Unfortunately for many people the benefits are outweighed by the perceived disadvantages of longer journey times, busy roads, arriving at work in need of a shower and a general lack of fitness. Through the following “Bicycle Facts” I want to try and explain how these disadvantage can be overcome and how it can be possible to go anywhere by bike.

Bicycle Fact Number 1 – Sweating: Cycling is roughly 3 times more efficient than walking. If you can walk 2 miles in 30 minutes without sweating, you can travel 6 miles by bike in the same time without having to pack soap and a towel.

Bicycle Fact Number 2 - Speed: It’s quicker to get across town by bike. If you live in West Reading you can easily halve your commuting time to work by bike even at the optimum sweat free speed of 12mph.

Bicycle Fact Number 3 - Traffic: England is still a green and pleasant land! Although the current population is around 53 million, 80% of us live in towns and cities that occupy only 11% of the country*. Combining this with the fact that there is a national network of some 15000 miles of signed routes for cyclists and is rich in ancient byways and lanes that carry little or no traffic, means that point to point navigation on cycle friendly routes is a reality; and since the advent of GPS and cycle specific maps there’s no reason to get lost! 

*UK National Ecosystem Assessment 2011 http://uknea.unep-wcmc.org

Bicycle Fact Number 4 - Safety: Whilst it is difficult to draw a meaningful comparison between the relative safety of driving versus cycling. It is a fact that when helmets were made compulsory in Australia in 1990 it created a public perception that cycling was inherently dangerous. This caused a corresponding downturn in cycling and negative consequences for community health incurring a cost to the country of an estimated half a billion dollars per annum. (New Scientist 27 April 2009). Interestingly the Lancet also published an article in June 2012 stating that increased walking and cycling in urban areas and reduced use of private cars would lead to savings of roughly £17 billion (in 2010 prices) for the NHS, after adjustment for an increased risk of road traffic injuries.

Bicycle Fact Number 5 – Comfort: You do not have to be an athlete to cycle long distances but you do have to be comfortable in the saddle. Like a good pair of walking boots a saddle for long distance cycling should be chosen with care. The traditional British made Brooks Leather saddle is extremely popular as the leather breaks-in overtime moulding itself to whatever shape your bottom happens to be… available in both male and female versions!

Bicycle Fact Number 6 – Tax Free Bikes:  The UK government Cycle to Work Scheme, an initiative to promote healthier journeys to work and to reduce environmental pollution, enables individuals to get a bike tax free saving up to 42% of the cost. Various companies run this scheme on behalf of employers and the Cycle to Work Alliance brings together a group of leading providers of the cycle to work scheme, including Cyclescheme, Cycle Solutions, Evans Cycles and Halfords

Bicycle Fact Number 7 – Saving Money – Weighing Less: If you commuted just 6 miles to work by bike each day you could save over £1,000 in motoring costs, burn over 2800 calories a week saving you more than 7 hours at the gym and all without breaking sweat!

Bicycle Fact Number 8 – The Bike: You don’t need to spend a lot of money on a commuter bike. Mudguards are a good idea for wet weather as is a luggage rack to avoid carrying a sweat inducing backpack. Bikes with enclosed hub gears are also a great idea for commuting as they remove all the faff and maintenance associated with derailleurs. Most importantly do get a good lock and remember to use it!

Bicycle Fact Number 9 – Wearing Lycra: For most of us mere mortals and especially middle aged men it is simply not a good look and should be discouraged.

Bicycle Fact Number 10 – Punctures and Breakdowns: If you are put off from cycling by the fear of getting a puncture then fear no more as highly puncture resistant bike tyres are now available that are ideal for commuting. With tyres such as the Schwalbe Marathon Plus you would have to be very unlucky indeed to ever get a puncture. If you were to ever find yourself stranded Cycle Rescue http://www.eta.co.uk provides breakdown cover similar to that available to motorist; including 24-hour recovery for you and your bike to the nearest repair shop, railway station, car rental agency, overnight accommodation or home.