This blog takes a closer look at cycle commuting within Leeds City Council. We discuss how cycling has been embraced by some of its employees as we wanted to find out why people chose to cycle to work and what impact it has on their day.
Leeds, like many other leading cities, has ambitions to make the city a safer and healthier place for people to live and work in, and increasing cycling as a transport option is part of this vision.
Leeds faces a number of significant challenges: traffic congestion, air quality, public health, and sport and active lifestyles; and these issues are being addressed through a range of strategies and policies. Cycling plays an important role in improving air quality within our city.
The Influencing Travel Behaviour Team work hard to promote cycling as a mode of travel for those commuting into and out of Leeds and have an aspiration for more people to confidently choose cycling as one of their travel options. The council’s commitment can be seen by what is offered at Merrion House and St. George’s House, where there are not only great facilities for cyclists, including storage, but also a number of pool e-bikes which employees can use to travel between meetings.
They also work in partnership across the city to address barriers to cycling including personal safety, poor provision, access to cycles, safe storage and facilities, and aim to achieve a greater mutual understanding and respect between different road users.
Commuting by bike is cheap, green and one of the easiest ways to fit exercise into your routine. Cycle commuting can be a truly invigorating and rewarding experience that can be enjoyed by people of all ages and from all walks of life. It doesn’t matter if you are cycling to work, school, to the shops or just for fun, cycling is a great way to get outside and feel like you are doing your bit to improve not only the environment but your health and wellbeing.
So who are the cycle commuters of Leeds City Council?
We, the Influencing Travel Behaviour Team, would like to share a few ‘Cycle Commuter’ case studies, as a means of inspiration for those of you who are maybe lapsed cyclists, or who have yet to try it. These statements are true accounts of what cycling to work means to these individuals. These statements are given as an account of their experiences of commuter cycling. Please take a moment to read each one and maybe you will find something that will inspire you to give cycling to work a go!
Jessica, 39, Regeneration Officer – Commute 3.5 miles
“I chose to cycle commute because I found feel the bus is expensive, time consuming and unreliable and I got fed up of using the car – the traffic meant it was taking ages queuing to get into town and even longer queuing in Woodhouse Lane car park to find a parking spot, together with the expense and the environmental impact of using the car every day. That’s why I’ve been cycle commuting on and off for about 8 years now.
Cycling allows me to incorporate exercise into my day and is generally less stressful than taking the bus or car. Cycling to work allows me to keep fit, save money and to use the car less.”
Robin, 53, Town Planner – Commute 3.5 miles
“I’ve cycle commuted most of the 23 years I’ve been in Leeds. I stopped for three years after a bad cycling accident. I started again as I find it as quick as the bus and more reliable. It’s easy to pop to the gym or supermarket on my way home. I have cycled all my life as means of getting around. I’ve not really done much leisure/fun riding.
Reliability of the journey is important to me and cycling allows for this. It saves money on bus fares, and it’s environmentally friendly.”
Simon, 40, Transport Planner Environmental Studies – Commute 7.5 miles
“I have been cycling to work for 2 years and cycle commute 3 times a week. I cycle to work for a number of reasons- it keeps me fit, for health, it saves me money and it reduces my carbon footprint. I also enjoy riding my bike and get satisfaction from making the journey this way.”
Toni, 41, ITB Project Assistant – Combined commute – cycle and train
“I have cycled to work on and off for the last 4 years. The distance I live from work affects my ability to cycle every day so I often do a combined commute. My cycle commute has little or no impact on my total commute time. In the summer months I do cycle home from Leeds but get the train in with my bike. For me, cycling to work is all about health and fitness and keeping as active as possible, and let’s not forget the added bonus of saving money. When I’m cycling (regardless of the speed, or lack of it) I feel empowered and strong, like I’m in control. Every time I get to the top of a hill (for example Gelderd Road – people from Leeds will know it well) I feel accomplished, only to hope the traffic lights are red so I can have a breather before I continue onwards.”
Tamsin, 51, ITB Project Assistant – Commute 4.2 miles
“I started cycling to work about a year and a half ago, and it’s been a revelation – I’ve discovered how much more there is to it than ‘getting to work’. My commute is actually one of the best parts of the day – it’s never something I have to endure. I love having complete control over my own journey and never having to think about traffic or parking. I cycle part of the way along the canal. As I leave the main road, the traffic noise vanishes, the air smells cleaner, and I feel myself relaxing as I listen to the birds and cycle past trees and water. I love having that time to myself, a zone that reliably delivers a daily top-up of physical and mental health to bookend my working day, week in, week out.”
Darren, 48, Senior Technical Manager City Development – Commute 20 miles
“I have cycled for the last 20 years, however I have commuted into work by bicycle for the last 7 years. I cycle generally as a means of keeping fit, and it halves my travel time from North Leeds into Merrion House. It is sustainable transport and allows me to get some physical exercise into my day which helps me sleep at night time as I am both physically and mentally tired at the end of the day. The benefits for me are exercise even through winter when I am less inclined to go out walking; it’s environmentally friendly; reduces costs i.e. fuel, parking and less wear and tear on my car.”
Whilst we understand that cycling isn’t for everyone, we know that we are luckier than most here at Merrion House. We not only have the facilities in place to facilitate cycling, but also a wide network of support from those who are more experienced at cycle commuting and who are more than happy to help with advice on how to embrace cycle commuting.
Talking to those who cycle commute can often be a great way to inspire us to get on our bike. Sharing advice on kit, journey planning, setting Google maps app to show cycle routes and so on can be the difference between cycling and not.
Thank you to those who contributed to this blog. The ITB team hope that these short commuter profiles will inspire those who have or have not cycled before to get on their bikes and inspire others to begin the commute by bicycle. It doesn’t matter if you have to cycle half and half (train and cycle) or cycle one way one day then the other way the next…. It’s all up to you and what suits you and your commitments. But don’t forget, any cycle commute counts towards reducing your carbon footprint and maintaining a healthy balanced lifestyle. If you’d like to speak to any of these cycle commuters for more tips and advice, please get in touch with us and we’ll happily give up some of our time.
For more information about becoming a Cycle Commuter checkout:
- ‘Be prepared’ is the advice from Sustrans, because the easiest way to be put off cycling to work is to jump straight on your bike without being prepared.
- Watch this British Cycling video on how to commute with confidence.
- Check out Cycling UK if you are looking to cycle to work. They have advice on the importance of making cycling a safe and enjoyable way to get around every day.
- Checkout Love to Ride, they have lots of incentives to encourage you to get on your bike.
- The Cycle Scheme have a free cycle commuter magazine that is full of bikes tips and products to make the most of your commute. You can read it online too.