I can remember the first time I learnt to ride a bike. Well, sort of learnt to ride… It was more a case of my dad pushing me along and holding onto the rear of the bike while I steered, and then I looked behind me and he was no longer there! I was actually cycling, on my own! I was in control of my own destiny, I was… falling off! Anyway, that was where it all started, my lifelong love affair with cycling.
Since then I’ve cycled everywhere; to the shops, to work – literally anywhere and everywhere. I’ve had a few cars over the years but I’ve always returned to bikes. I think there’s something intrinsically nice about cycling out in the countryside, in the sunshine, knowing that you’ve got there under your own pedal-power.
The health benefits to me are a bonus, and here comes the sciency bit, (which is a word, I’ve checked!) Research has shown that cyclists live for six months longer than those who don’t, as Carlijn Kamphuis, from the Dutch University of Utrecht states; “You could say that for every hour you cycle, you get an hour back in return.”
Add to that the fact that cycling burns over 500 calories an hour and uses most of your lower body and core muscles, and you have one fine exercise program. There is always the added environmental benefits to consider too! Choosing cycling over driving removes the associated carbon emissions that contribute towards global warming.
If you like the idea of doing your bit for the environment and getting healthier (as well as feeling happier – another proven fact), but don’t fancy the added expense, then you could try the Cycle2Work scheme. This is a government tax exemption initiative that allows employers to lease cycles and equipment to their employees as a tax-free benefit.
The way it works is an employee hires the bike from their employer (over one to four years, depending on the provider), in exchange for a small amount being deducted from their gross monthly salary, then tax and national insurance is deducted afterwards.
At the end of the contract the employee can buy the bike at a ‘fair market price’. This is not compulsory, although after four years the fair market price of a bike is 3% of a £400 bike (just £12). Fair market calculations can be found here.
After four years, including all monthly payments, the savings are approximately 25% depending on circumstances. If your organisation doesn’t use the scheme then why not suggest it to them, as your employer could save up to 13.5% on N.I. contributions plus the added benefits to the business of having greener credentials. You can find out more info here: https://cycle2work.secure.force.com/sign-up.
If you want to find out more about savings, then there are various online calculators, such as the one found here; https://www.cyclescheme.co.uk/calculator
Like everything, it’s worth checking various websites and blogs for users’ feedback on the Cycle2Work scheme, as it may not be right for everyone and it’s only as good as the providers and the shops involved. But one thing that we can all agree on is that getting on your bike can only be beneficial for both you and the environment, and that must be a good thing!