When I’d get to work, I’d be all sweaty. The roads are too dangerous. I don’t like Lycra. I don’t have a bike. There’s no cycle routes. It’s much slower than driving. I’d fall off!
These were just some of the reasons I was given, stood on the side of Castle Street asking everyone and anyone who’d speak to me about why they didn’t cycle to work or into town. To be honest, at the time I had some of the same reservations myself.
I wasn’t hassling people for the good of my health. No, I was getting feedback from the people of Liverpool, to help create a campaign that gets more of us walking and cycling around the city. That campaign is called The 20 Effect.
Fast forward three months and just look at me now. I’m pedalling down Otterspool Prom on two wheels, heading to work, not breaking a sweat.
I was convinced/made to give it a go by Liverpool City Council’s cycling and walking officer, Karen Stevens, one morning in May, we met near my flat on Lark Lane, Aigburth and headed into town. She showed me the route she usually takes – one that’s relatively flat and you don’t have to negotiate through any busy traffic.
Since then I’ve found other routes using Liverpool’s cycling map, some of which are more scenic but do take slightly longer. I’m not talking ages, it’s still under 25 minutes to the office or back home, but it keeps things interesting and helps me explore new parts of my city.
At this point, I must confess I don’t cycle in every day – it fits around my schedule and the weather! Plus I’m not the Lycra-wearing, carbon-fibre cycling enthusiast – some of whom take it a little too far. The short distances I’m travelling means that I wear my work clothes minimum effort whilst still getting the physical and mental health benefits.
I do admit, however, it was very easy for me to start cycling, as at work there is an array of bikes that are free to use as part of our own bike to work scheme. But you don’t have to go out and invest a load of money on a brand new bike. Instead, there’s Citybike, a ‘Boris bike’ scheme with stations around the city. It’s three quid to get set-up and give it ago for a day, plus you won’t have to change any tyres, as they’re all maintained. Or borrow a bike off a friend.
If you’ve reached the end of this post, you’re clearly a tenacious individual – already half way to getting on a bike. So next week, leave the car at home, skip the train and give it a try. It’s cheap to get started, you’ll be able to enjoy more of the good weather we do have and discover more of the city in which you live.