We're all agreed, I hope, that cycling is one of the healthiest ways to get around–totally sustainable, relatively carbon-free (short of using bikes to transport bikes to the bike shop, there's always going to be some manner of hit in that regard) and very good for you.
You may not realise, though, just how popular riding a bike has become in the UK. A new survey commissioned by Pier32 pals CyclingUK, the nation's biggest cycling charity, reveal that over 20% of respondents had used a bike in the last week. People are as likely to call cycling their top activity as football or going to the gym.
The theme for this year's event is 'Ride To Work'. This is an activity I can endorse wholeheartedly–although I have to catch a train to my day job in London, the trip to the station is undertaken on my trusty, battered Ridgeback. It's as quick as the bus, and parking is free. I've been heartened by the increase in cycling infrastructure in my home town of Reading–from a posh new secure cycle park at the station to an award-winning bike and pedestrian bridge over the Thames at Caversham.
For an increasing number of commuters in the capital, a bike is the obvious choice. And with the rise of proper, segregated bike lanes on some of the major routes, there's a big spike in riders choosing to ditch their cars and ride to work. Indeed, some figures suggest that bikes could outnumber cars at peak times in as little as five years.
The fact that cycling isn't just healthy and cheap but a useful activity shouldn't be ignored. Cycling UK Chief Executive Paul Tuohy said of the survey:
“To see that cycling is as popular as playing football is a real sign of the rise and rise of cycling in the UK. Of course you can’t ‘football to work’ – but what is striking from these figures is that while so many people are riding bikes for fun and for exercise, many people have not yet added cycling into their commuting plans. That is where Bike Week comes in. Cycling can really easily become a part of your working week. From buddy rides to bike breakfasts, Bike Week brings together a host of simple ideas to help make cycle commuting an accessible and attractive proposition.“Nearly half of all working people in the UK live within five miles of their employment, but only 800,000 cycle in for their commute on a daily basis. We want to swell that number by half-a-million during Bike Week – and encourage them to keep cycling after that.”
Athlete and Olympic silver medal winner Colin Jackson has been beating the drum for Bike Week, making the point that it's remarkably easy to bring a cycle into your daily life. He says:
Our View: of course, there's a lot of inflammatory coverage in the press about a so-called "war" between cyclists and drivers. This is a load of old hooey, frankly. We're all just trying to get around. Cycling UK is using National Bike Week in a great way, making it clear that jumping on a bike is a fun and easy way to get around with real, proven health benefits. What else can we say? Get on your bike!
“Cycling is such a great way to build in exercise to our busy lives – if you can cycle to and from work then there’s less need to find time to head out to the gym or go for a run.
“With the chance to ride through quieter streets, alongside canals and off-road, you can get a real sense of freedom and more progress in the saddle than you do stuck in a traffic jam or on a bus or train. Cycling can really easily become a part of your daily commute and Bike Week is the best opportunity to start!"
For more details on National Bike Week, head to CyclingUk's dedicated news and events page: http://www.cyclinguk.org/news/20160510-bike-week