It’s coming into winter. The mornings are getting darker, and the evenings become near pitch black just after 4.30. That might not sound like the ideal cycling conditions for your commute, but bear with me, and I’ll explain why now is the perfect time to ditch the car for a bike.
I’ve been commuting by bike now almost every day for 1 year. My daily commute isn’t the biggest, at around 6 miles each way, but it does take me through Gosforth, with its school run mums, endless traffic lights, busses by the dozen, and it’s near constantly busy high street, before I arrive into the city center by the Hancock Museum, eventually finishing at my office near the Laing Art gallery.
I’ve tried various different routes, paths, and roads into work, and guess what? Riding my bike to work is quicker than driving. It’s quicker than the bus – and it’s free. (Once you’ve bought the bike and gear of course)
I also know a lot of other cyclists who share this joy, and there is nothing to stop you becoming one of us clever lot who beat the traffic, get fit, and save a fortune by biking to work.
Newcastle and its surrounding areas have a lot of great cycling paths, lanes, and roads for us cyclists. Take our extensive Wagonways network for instance, which has over 30 miles of cycle paths in and around the Silverlink, perfect for keeping you off the busy A19 and Coast Road. There’s the pedestrian Tyne Tunnel, getting you over the river nice and safely. There are also a number of cycle lanes on our roads and paths in and around the city centre. I’m not saying they’re perfect, but some of them are pretty good. Take the cycle path along the Great North Road at the Town Moor, that’s as smooth a piece of cycling tarmac as I’ve ever seen, nice and wide, and well lit.
To begin with, I used sites like Dailymile and Bike Hike to plot my routes to see which was the best for me. There are also smart phone apps like Bike Hub which promise to find the best cycling route for you.
Personally, I save a fortune by riding to work. Look at my costs, and time of commuting by car, bus, and bike.
Total Time = 40 minutes. Plus a 5 minute walk from the car park to the office.
Cost of Parking = £1.00 per hour 9-6pm = £9.00
Cost of fuel = £3.00
Tax, insurance, maintenance – anyone’s guess!
Total time = 50 minutes. 35 minutes on the bus, 15 minute from the bus to the office.
Cost = £3.20 (return adult ticket)
Time taken = 25 minutes door to door
Cost = Free
Now you can see why I cycle! This time of the year is the worst for traffic. Its dark, there seems to be more traffic on the roads, and cars are at a standstill at almost every junction getting into Newcastle. On the bike however, I can use paths, roads and lanes to ride around cars, past the traffic, and into work. Yes it’s a little cold outside now, but if you’ve got the right clothing, you’ll warm up in just a few minutes of riding.
If you’d like to know more about commuting by bike, get yourself down to the shop on Shields Road. The guys (and girls) at Cycle Centre will advise you on the best bikes, clothing and parts to have with you. You can also take advantage of the bike to work scheme, which is a great way to get a new bike and save money at the same time.
Next time I’ll give you a few hints on how to keep yourself safe whilst riding on the roads around traffic, and share some common driver habits to watch out for.