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Lycra optional

Matt Roylance is an energy officer with the Care Without Carbon team; he shares his story of discovering the joys of an electric bike for a 20+ mile round commute each day…

Lycra optional

I wanted to feel better and travel differently...

Around six months ago, over-weight and over-tired, I joined our Trust’s Cycle-2-Work scheme in a bid to force my hand into living a healthier lifestyle. Like everybody, I was short on time and too tired to motivate myself to exercise in the evenings; I had to make exercise part of my day in order to form a habit and stay committed.

This morning, 990 miles later, I’m around a stone lighter, and fitter and healthier than I’ve been for years. I’m also rather cheered by the fact that by the time I return home, I’ll have leapfrogged the 1000 commuted mile mark.

It is a much easier choice than you might think

Pre-cycling, my daily car commute would take about 45 minutes door-to-door, with around 20 minutes of that either stationary or moving at walking speed. But thanks to the Cycle-2-Work scheme increasing their funding options, my commute is completed by electric bike, and only 5 minutes slower than by car. I’m now constantly moving, passing stationary traffic, whilst taking in the spectacular views of the south coast rather of than those of the motionless bumpers of the cars in front.

Whilst an electric bike is infinitely easier on the climbs than a pedal bike, you can vary the intensity to still feel like you get a workout, or take it easier on ‘low energy’ days. It’s given me a fantastic feeling of freedom, and I’m constantly heartened by the increasing numbers of cyclists I see taking to the roads and cycle paths each year.

And today, on my first ride since March, I’ve seen more people than ever before on their bikes (for obvious reasons). If we are to pull back anything positive out of the last few months, it would be to encourage healthier lifestyles, reset engine-heavy transport choices and reduce air pollution.

A safer way to travel that is as good for the environment as it is for you

In a month’s time it’s likely that the majority of people will eschew commuting by crowded public transport and opt for their cars instead. But hopefully many will have seen the benefits of safer roads and clearer skies during lockdown. The Government is allocating £225 million right now for temporary cycle lanes across England, and there’s a £2bn project to build better walking and cycling infrastructures over the next 5 years.

It is of course a huge amount, but sadly unlikely to be enough to drive real change. That change has to come from the people, the commuters, the leisure riders and power-walkers; you. Networks have long been built to cope with demand, so the more people taking one step out their cars the more people are essentially demanding better pathways, walking routes and cycle lanes for our journeys.

This appears to be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for all of us, and whether you’re considering a 1-mile commute, a 20-mile commute or just cycling for pleasure, you’ll be making a difference.

Dust down that bike in the shed, look on second-hand and auction sites, or ask about your Trust’s Cycle-2-Work scheme. A journey of a thousand miles starts with a single…revolution.