Dan’s £1,000 Ride to Work Goal

Dan works at the University of Huddersfield and joined Love to Ride for Cycle September 2017. We’re encouraging all our members to set themselves a cycling goal for this year and Dan replied on Facebook that his is to save £1,000 by riding to work instead of driving. Here’s his cycling story:


What was the single most effective method you found to begin riding to work?

Sorry, I didn’t have a method. I tried it, hated it, stuck at it and became a convert!

Did anyone encourage you?

I had the encouragement of my wife and family. Sometimes I am tempted to drive and my wife gently reminds me that I have a bike in the shed! I also had friends that rode and they chatted to me about their love of riding. Their chats shifted my perspective from “it’s a way of getting to work” to “this is something that I could grow to like” and, actually, I have fallen in love with cycling.

What benefits have you experienced from riding to work?

I would count all of the following benefits equally because they all make a valuable contribution to my well-being in their own way. None are more important than the other, but all matter a lot!

Time – I only ride a 4-mile commute to work and then back again in the evening but even in that short distance the ride is around 10 minutes quicker in the morning than driving. Every morning I ride past queues of traffic at several junctions on one of the main routes into the town. It’s around 30 minutes quicker than the bus/walking to work.

Money – I estimate that between parking and fuel I would spend £6 a day on driving to work. Every day I ride to work that’s £6 to spend on bike gear! Winning! The truth of it though, is that my wife monitors my bike purchases, so it is a literal saving… Last year I rode to work enough to save £750.

Fitness – The increased fitness that comes from riding to work is a real benefit and allied to the other benefits I mentioned. My mental health is better when I am fitter, I don’t have to take time away from work and family to go to the gym and don’t have to pay for memberships. In addition to the commutes, I also ride for pleasure including non-competitive events and a yearly trip to Europe. In the lighter evenings I take the long way home (20-50 miles) incorporating training with the commute. I see some beautiful places that genuinely make me grateful to be out on the road.

Mental Health – The time on the bike gives me the opportunity to drop the stresses of the day. It’s subtle, imperceptible and not consciously worked at but somehow, along the way, anything that has made me tense or anxious softens and often melts away altogether.

How did you calculate your saving from riding your bike instead of driving?

The car park that I would use costs £4/day to use. I added in a guesstimate on fuel (diesel!) plus wear and tear of £2/day. If I was being absolutely honest that cost would actually increase because I eat a bigger lunch when I drive so, on a driving day, I spend more on food.

So, circa 125 days commuting last year x £6/day on fuel and wear and tear = £750

How many days do you have to ride to save £1,000 in 2019 and what’s your plan for achieving this goal?

167 – those 125(ish) days last year were all achieved between May and December. Simply start earlier in the year (I have started already, of course). The winter equipment (bike and clothing) has been the real difference this year.

What advice would you give to someone considering riding to work?

The right equipment. If you’re working to a budget, definitely budget for good waterproofs, warm clothing (especially gloves and overshoes) and (it seems obvious) mudguards for the bike. These elements have made the single biggest contribution to increasing my ride commuting this year. Until I got winter kit I would stop riding in early winter. With the right kit, I have felt no need to stop (see pictures of Dan modelling his Proviz gear below!).

49949309_271543193513769_6027361269877571584_nAnd Cycle To Work Schemes! This was the single biggest factor in starting commuting by bike. The value offered by these schemes is outstanding and, for me, has paid for itself very quickly.







We’re very grateful to Dan for sharing his story – if you’re inspired to start riding to work, join us at lovetoride.net or if you have an inspiring cycling story please send it to stories@lovetoride.org

How the University of Sheffield gets more people on bikes

The University of Sheffield is a leader in promoting sustainable transport and has been one of the most successful Love to Ride workplaces over recent years, winning Cycle September in 2017 and topping the student leaderboard in the inaugural UniCycle Challenge in 2018. David Bocking has the scoop on how the University has helped thousands to ditch their cars and spearheaded the ongoing transformation of Sheffield into a cycling city.
From his office high in the University’s Arts Tower, Darren Hardwick gets to look down at central Sheffield, reflect on visits to Denmark and the Netherlands and wonder how the Outdoor City could do better.
“Sometimes I can see how bad the air pollution is, with a yellow hue across the city, and think that’s what we’re breathing in – you can actually see it!”
In his case, however, he can close the window, take a deep breath and know he’s actively doing something to help. The University recently contributed the bulk of the cost for a set of Dutch style cycle and walking routes linking the University to the city, for example.
The Portobello cycle and walking route to the University
The Portobello cycle and walking route to the University
Sheffield University’s ‘Integrated Transport Policy’ came of age this year. 21 years ago, when almost two thirds of staff drove to work, the University decided to take local pollution and congestion seriously, and only allocate a staff car parking place according to need (via a points systems).
A small fee for the privilege of parking at work raises around half a million pounds a year for initiatives to help staff travel on foot, by bike or by public transport.
“We say to people they’re not paying for a car parking space, they’re actually paying for someone else to not drive to work,” Darren said.
Now, nearly 70% of the University’s 8,500 staff have forgone ‘travelling stuck in single boxes’ as he puts it, with over a third commuting ‘actively’ which means they walk, cycle, or in some cases, run to work.
The key is to ask staff why they drive, and what could be put in place to help them walk or cycle instead, Darren says, such as the University’s 170 place secure cycle parking hub, along with a cycling security team patrolling the campus.
Cycling security staff at the University of Sheffield
Cycling security staff at the University of Sheffield
As City Region Mayor Dan Jarvis plans his active travel strategy, and Sheffield Council prepares for a ‘clean air zone’ in the city centre, Darren reckons the University’s experience can help other organisations adapt to the coming changes in how we get about.
“It’s easy to see things like a congestion charge as a threat, but we should see it as an opportunity to do things better and smarter. A lot of people only drive out of habit or convenience, and might well be looking at different options.”
The University recently won first place in the South Yorkshire Love to Ride cycling scheme, and Darren is happy to offer advice to other organisations.
A project to offer a free regular bike service on site by Heeley social enterprise ReCycle Bikes keeps people cycling who might give up otherwise, he says. “We have some wonderful academics here, but ask them to fix a bike and they often haven’t a clue.”
“Working with the University has been brilliant for us,” said Angela Walker of ReCycle Bikes. “Over our 10 year partnership we’ve helped students and staff keep their bikes on the road and refurbished over 1000 bikes for students to get around the city.”
All University departments have showers and washing facilities, and recent additions include a small e-bike pool for staff, and e-cargo bikes to transport catering and engineering equipment, which helps keep the campus almost car free and actually saves money.
“One of our lecturers switched to an e-bike to get around the campus more quickly and we worked out the bike paid for itself in nine months due to the time saving,” said Darren.
The costs of electric rather than diesel power for some vehicles are already similar, he says, and a daily city centre charge for diesel vehicles will stack up the electric arguments even more.
The University’s 21 year old transport strategy means many former car parks now host buildings where people are busy teaching and researching. That is, being a lot more productive than the old car parks, Darren notes.
Thinking of that view from the arts tower, he said: “Something’s got to happen, there needs to be some kind of change in Sheffield. For the economy and the air quality, we can’t continue as we are.”
To find out more about how Love to Ride can help your organisation to get more people on bikes, check out our Love to Ride for Business brochure here or if you’d like to find out about about our programme for Universities and Colleges, in partnership with NUS Sustainability, see the UniCycle pages here
Words and pictures by David Bocking.