By Andy Chivers
Most people have ridden a bike as a child but then the pressures of adult life, work and family relegate the bike to the past.
This time of year, with the sudden appearance of long light evenings, reminds us of those carefree days. So now is the time to get that bike out of the shed and pump the tyres, oil the chain, check the brakes and take a spin round the block to rediscover the pleasure of riding a bike. Then you’re ready to go when you need to nip to the shops.
Cycling UK recognises the vast untapped reserves of bikes and would-be cyclists and runs The Big Bike Revival where people can bring their bike to be serviced and put into working order. This campaign has restored hundreds of bikes and got thousands of people back on their bikes.
Bikes are the perfect way to get to shops – quick to arrive and easy to park, they take the weight of the shopping and give you exercise at the same time.
Often the main obstacle is getting the bike out of the shed or back garden and that may be too much effort so the car gets an inefficient outing instead. If your car was 5 minutes’ walk away the choice would look very different.
It may be that your street has space for covered secure bike parking which would make it easier for you and your neighbours to use a bike. If you can see a suitable spot, have a word with your local city councillor who may be able to use the funds the city have earmarked for cycling.
With your bike in working order and easy to get onto the road, you may be tempted to explore your local area. Looking up Cyclestreets.net on the internet will show you the quiet routes around you and may inspire a short exploration on a new route. The maps are incredibly detailed and all the more impressive because they have been created by local enthusiasts.
Bike week is coming up in June and there will be a variety of guided rides for all levels of ability so that is another opportunity to enjoy the summer on your bike. The excuse is often ‘I’m not fit enough to ride a bike’ but in reality riding a bike on the flat need be no harder work than walking.
So much of our behaviour is routine, and this time of year is a chance to break some of those routines. One quarter of car journeys are under a mile, a tiny distance by bike.
Safety is another concern for the non-cyclist but the fact is that you are better off cycling than driving – you get less air pollution than a car driver and the exercise wards off diseases you wouldn’t necessarily expect such as cancer and dementia as well as the obvious one of heart disease.
Welcome to spring and the invitation to use your bike again.