A BELGIAN family is reaping the rewards of ditching the car, to get round Oxford solely by bike.

Loïse Conod and her husband Laurent Servais moved to New Marston with their two teenage children in September 2019.

The family had tried to travel using just public transport and bikes while living in the Belgian countryside, but it was when they moved to Oxford that things became much easier.

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Mrs Conod said: “We had tried to live in a more sustainable way while in Belgium, but we needed at first one car and then two cars.

“When we moved to Oxford, we realised that living in the countryside had been difficult to do this, so once we were in the city, it was easier.

“At first, you have to readjust the way you live, such as taking the kids to school or going shopping.”

After taking time to adapt to the new way of living, the family is able to do all the things they used to do when they had a car.

Mrs Conod said: “We needed a transition time, but it’s been more than two years now and we really enjoy it.

“We’re able to go on holidays – we cycled to Hadrian’s Wall and it was amazing, you really get to experience the country.

“Our teenage children really enjoy it and very much like our cycling holidays – they enjoy the cycling journeys more compared to the car journey.

“They go everywhere cycling in the city and are happy to be independent, which is something they didn’t have earlier when we took them everywhere.

“We’re all fitter too as we’re doing sport every day and in a way, you don’t notice you’re doing exercise.”

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Mrs Conod admitted there has been bumps along the way, in particular maintenance, but those problems have been overcome.

“All these things like cycling in the rain may seem uncomfortable but you get used to it,” she said.

“As long as you’re well dressed for the conditions, it’s okay.

“What we were most surprised about is the maintenance that the bikes need when you’re using them all the time.

“People are used to paying to maintain their cars but not their bikes. You have to maintain bikes when you use them regularly, and it has a cost which we were not expecting.

“But in the end, bikes are much cheaper even with professional maintenance, and you can do it even cheaper by doing the basics by yourself.

“We are really happy about this new way of life and can only recommend it.

“Cycling gives you a feeling of freedom you can’t get in a car. You feel the atmosphere, the environment, the weather, you hear the people. You are much more connected.”

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