Thank you so much for this question, if only more people commuted by bus, bike and on foot York’s congestion and air quality problems would probably be solved. It’s something I have been championing for many years as this photograph from 1992 shows.
Back then, the York Cycle campaign and York Cycleworks had a challenge between two cyclists, a runner, and a car to see who arrived first travelling from Askham Bar to the Minster at the peak of commuter rush about 8am. I am on my bike with daughter Shona in her child seat in this shot. More than 30 years on Shona has just fitted a child seat to her bike to carry her six-month-old baby! The bikes arrived well before the car driver and the runner also beat the car. Running to work is probably not for everyone but Carolyn was an ultra-marathon runner who ran for the UK!
Now for some hopefully useful hints for successful cycle commuting! Before you get started it will be worth checking your route and seeing if there are shortcuts and cycle paths which will be more efficient and pleasant to use. For example using the Millennium Bridge if you are going to Fulford or Heslington from South Bank is far quicker than going round by the inner ring road.
Next check over your bike, maybe get it serviced before you start commuting, good brakes, tyres and wheels will lead to efficient cycling and no breakdowns. If you need to get a new bike check out the Bike to Work scheme (www.bike2workscheme.co.uk) which can mean that you will save quite a bit of money on your purchase. I would recommend getting a bike from a local bike shop, a number of York shops are enrolled in the Bike to Work scheme.
If you get a bike from a local shop it will be more likely to be set up properly before you collect it and they can help you get into a comfortable position on the bike with the seat at the right height. They are also able to regularly service the bike and are much more likely to help with emergency repairs. Some extra things to make your commute fast and efficient will be needed. Do consider a high visibility top a helmet and a bell; also make sure you have working lights, and panniers to carry your belongings.
Wet weather gear is an excellent investment; York traffic has a habit of gridlocking when it rains and everyone jumps in their cars. If you have good waterproofs you will sail past the traffic jams with a smile on your face, waterproof trousers in particular are a great investment.
When you arrive at work make sure there is somewhere safe to park your bike and you have a good lock. Parked bikes take up a lot less space than cars so it may be worth asking employers to provide good bike parking so that they have fit and healthy employees! About Sara Sara has been riding her bike in York and further afield since 1980. She initially got into cycling in Australia and worked as a mechanic in two bike shops in Sydney. When she moved to York Sara was a founder member of York Cycleworks which was set up as a workers coop in 1980 and she worked there in many roles until 2002. She rides one of her bikes most days and would love to encourage more people of all ages to ride bikes for getting around, shopping, commuting and leisure.
Do you have a question about cycling? Email email@example.com and we will pass your question on to Sara