CityConnect’s guide on switching to cycling in 2020

With Christmas over for another year everyone’s attention is on the New Year: an opportunity to do things differently and to break out of old routines.

January can even be a good time to consider shaking up your commute. Don’t know where to start or worried about the shorter days and bad weather?

We've compiled a guide on switching to cycling this winter and beyond.  

Our top reasons to switch to two wheels in 2020

It saves you money

From the cost of running a car and paying for parking to buying a bus or train ticket – however you currently travel one thing is certain: going by bike is cheaper even when you take into account the initial outlay in sourcing a roadworthy bike. What’s more you won’t need to fork out for expensive gym classes. Research by Sustrans Scotland found that if people made journeys of under five miles by bike instead of car, the average person could save nearly £2,000 a year – that’s the equivalent of a 9% pay rise.    

Cycling can be quicker than travelling by car

Drivers in UK cities spend on average more than a day (31 hours) each year stuck in rush hour traffic, according to data published by Inrix. The Department for Transport’s Journey Time Statistics show people travelling by car are only 1.7mph quicker than those travelling by bike on urban streets. Cycling can often be the quickest option, especially for shorter journeys, and it means you can avoid all the frustration of being stuck in traffic.  

Switching to cycling for short, local journeys is an easy way to make sure you get enough exercise

According to government guidelines, we need at least 150 minutes exercise a week but many of us struggle to build this level of physical activity into our busy lives – 39% of us don’t, according to the British Heart Foundation. Cycling short, local journeys is often an easy solution. What’s more an average commute to work can burn about 400 calories (that’s enough to justify a slice of cake). Research has also shown people who travel by bike regularly can have fitness levels of someone up to 10 years younger.  

It could help you live longer

You will have heard health pundits talk about cycling as a “miracle pill” - and for good reason. There is a well-established body of research highlighting the physical benefits of cycling. A major study by the University of Glasgow published in the British Medical Journal found people who commuted by bike nearly halved their risk of developing cancer and heart disease.  

Cycling’s good for your mental health too

Ask anyone who rides a bike and they will tell you it makes them feel good, not just in body but in mind too. Physical activity has been shown to increase positive mood and self-esteem, as well as reducing anxiety and stress, according to the Mental Health Foundation. Whether it’s clearing your mind after a busy day at work or heading out just for the sake of it; making time for yourself or catching up with loved ones; the chances are if you head out on your bike you will return home feeling better.

Still not convinced? Cycling is the perfect opportunity to inject more play time into your life.

Think back to how much fun you used to have on your bike as a child - the wind in your hair, all the freedom and the adventure, those long summer days out exploring. From discovering new places to noticing the change in the seasons and wildlife spotting, two wheels are better than four when it comes to connecting with the world around you. Who knows, you might like it so much you’ll get your family and friends involved too.

We know encouraging more of us to travel by bike or on foot not only boosts people’s health and saves individuals money, it also brings wider environmental and economic benefits, which is why we want to make cycling and walking a natural choice for short, everyday journeys.

Cllr Kim Groves Chair of the West Yorkshire Combined Authority's Transport Committee
Woman in red jacket cycling in the drizzle

Shorter days and a change in the weather can seem like an easy excuse to put your bike away until spring, but following just a few simple tips will make staying in the saddle this winter as easy as riding a bike. 

Woman on bike
Fuzzy Jones on the Bradford Leeds Cycle Superhighway at Armley

With two thirds of journeys made by West Yorkshire residents under five miles and Public Health England estimating 1 in 20 deaths in our region are attributable to air pollution, the case for making more of our journeys by bike and on foot has never been stronger.

We caught up with Fuzzy Jones, an award-winning musician, activist and artist living in Bramley, to hear how her passion for the environment, combined with having the Bradford Leeds Cycle Superhighway on her doorstep, has helped her ditch four wheels for two come rain or shine.