Cycling Heavyweights Team Up To Help UK Love to Ride

We’ve teamed up with CTC and Cyclescheme to invite 20,000 businesses to take part in the first National Workplace Cycle Challenge. The Love to Ride Challenge is a competition between organisations across the UK to see who can get the most staff to try riding a bike.

In 2015, the Challenge will run from 8-28 June and will be a major annual event in the cycling calendar. The aim is to get as many people as possible to ride a bike and log their trip during the Challenge period. Organisations will compete on local and national league tables to see who can get the highest proportion of their staff to ride for ten minutes; they will be able to compete between offices in different locations around the UK and against similarly sized companies.

It’s free for organisations and individuals to take part and there are six size categories for companies and a range of individual and team prizes to be won. Local Authorities can sign up to support and boost participation in their area, whatever budget they have to promote cycling.

We want every LA to be able to join in, so we’ve drawn up a range of options from fully bespoke programmes supported with local Challenge Managers, to a Freemium package with no frills.

Love to Ride, CTC and Cyclescheme together have 157 years’ experience of promoting cycling. CTC, the national cycling charity, has 67,000 members and was formed in 1878 when cycling was emerging as a mass mode of transport and leisure pursuit. We’ve run Workplace Cycle Challenges on three continents and engaged 110,000 people.

Over the last 12 years we have developed a unique behaviour change model and accompanying website and mobile app. Cyclescheme started 9 years ago and has provided over 450,000 bicycles to commuters through a tax-free benefit scheme. We recruit ‘Challenge Champions’ – regular cyclists who encourage their colleagues to try riding – to promote our Challenges in businesses and organisations.

Heart-wheel

John Cooper, Sony Mobile’s Champion for the London Cycle Challenge 2014, said, ‘It was fantastic to find a competition which wasn’t about riding marathon distances, but about participation and team effort’.

Phillip Darnton, Chair of the Cycle Rail Working Group, had this to say about the Love to Ride Challenge: ‘Cycling to work or to and from the station is quick, convenient, reliable, cheap, healthy, and helps with congestion and pollution. The hard part is getting started, which is why the National Cycle Challenge is such a great idea: it’s a fantastic way to get people on bikes with their friends and colleagues’.

From our partners

Laurence Boon, Marketing Manager for Cyclescheme: ‘We are very excited to be supporting Love to Ride. Their focus on behaviour change and encouraging a modal shift in commuting habits is very closely aligned to what we are trying to achieve here at Cyclescheme’.

CTC’s Marketing Director, Matt Mallinder: ‘We’re delighted to be joining Love to Ride and Cyclescheme in this initiative. We call on all of the UK to take to their bikes in 2015. Through this partnership and the Love to Ride Challenge, we hope to inspire and support thousands to realise the health, economic and wellbeing benefits of cycling’.

Love to Ride Wins International Landmark Case Study Accreditation

toc_landmarkWe’re thrilled to announce that Love to Ride has received a prestigious award from the Canadian organisation Tools of Change. Our unique behaviour change programme has been designated a Landmark Case Study in recognition of our success in getting more people cycling more often.

Landmark Case Study status is conferred by Tools of Change’s peer selection process and the panel – made up of academics and professionals from North America’s sustainability sector – were very impressed with Love to Ride’s website and our bespoke behaviour change programmes.

Over the last eight years we’ve been refining and developing our model and mastering the art (and science!) of getting more people riding bikes. Our sophisticated web platform and scalable Workplace Cycle Challenges have engaged over 113,000 people on three continents and we’ve used our wealth of experience to create the most effective behaviour change model on two wheels.

Our recently revamped, fun and user friendly website identifies the barriers and benefits individuals perceive to riding more often. We use this information to target our communications to suit individual members’ needs and map out the behaviour change journey that will help them to overcome their barriers and enjoy the benefits of riding a bike. The panel noted this in the citation, commending the sophistication of our online social marketing techniques and our ‘good use of electronic media to reach many people in a tailored way’.

Smarty Pants

The Landmark award also recognised our passion, commitment and expertise, praising Love to Ride for being ‘pragmatic, focused, innovative and creative’. These are the qualities that have pedal-powered our recent rebranding and helped us to master our craft over the last few years.

We’ve nailed it, now we’re going to scale it…

Building on these foundations, we’re geared up for 2015 to be our most exciting year yet. We’re launching the first Love to Ride Challenge, the UK’s National Cycle Challenge. Organisations are invited to compete against each other locally and nationally in a fun, free competition to see who can get the highest proportion of their staff riding bikes. As one of the Tools of Change peer selection panel remarked ‘Replicability and adaptability are sky high!’

The Landmark award recognises programmes and approaches considered to be among the most successful, innovative, replicable and adaptable in the world for fostering healthier and more sustainable choices and behaviours. We’re proud of our new status and would like to say thanks to Tools of Change for recognising the results of our hard work.

The sky high potential of our model and awards like this are why Love to Ride will roll on into 2015 looking to make it our best and most successful year yet. We’re launching the Love to Ride Challenge in the UK and seeking to run Workplace Cycle Challenges in ten US cities, as well as running major projects in Australia and New Zealand. We know that what we do works, wherever in the world we do it, and we can’t wait to adapt the Love to Ride model to spread the love as far and wide as possible!

Trophy

*Tools of Change was launched in January 2000 as a collaborative effort between partners as diverse as the Federation of Canadian Municipalities, Health Canada, the International Institute for Sustainable Development, Environment Canada, and Canada’s National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy.

Tools of Change recognises, rewards and encourages methods for the promotion of health, safety and environmental citizenship and is founded on the principles of community-based social marketing. See the full citation here.

Las Vegas – a city for cycling?

Las_Vegas_Strip_panorama

Casinos, big hotels, wild nights out and hangovers are typically what comes to mind when you think of Las Vegas. When I told some friends I was going to a meeting in Las Vegas about cycling, they actually laughed. “People don’t ride bikes in Las Vegas!”

I wasn’t sure what to expect myself, but after meeting Ron Floth, from RTC, and getting shown around Downtown Las Vegas, I was pleasantly surprised.

Las Vegas x2

Firstly, it’s important to understand that there are two main parts to Las Vegas. There’s the original Las Vegas – ‘Downtown’, and then the much newer area – ‘The Strip’. The Strip is where all the big new hotels and casinos are and where most people stay and visit these days.

Downtown is a much more normal city. Compared to The Strip, Downtown is more chilled out, has about 10x more bike lanes and about 100x fewer drunk people walking around at 7am.

Las_Vegas,_Planet_Hollywood

‘The Strip’ – gambling, tourists, hotels, cars

DCF 1.0

Downtown Las Vegas – 5 miles north of The Strip

Bikes on busses

Bike racks on busses!

Almost all the busses in Las Vegas have bike racks on the front. About 50,000 bikes are taken on busses each month – pretty impressive.

Like most American cities, urban sprawl is a problem. There are some good and fairly frequent bus routes in and around Las Vegas. With a spread out city, the distances to walk to a frequent bus route are quite far, however, if people travel by bike to a bus stop this increases the number of people who can quickly and easily access a bus route.

 

Bike Lanes 

The Las Vegas valley has more than 400 miles of bike lanes and 180 miles of bike paths.

Bike lanes on both sides of the street.  Many North American cities have streets wide enough for bike lanes, unlike many older European towns and cities which can have narrow streets.

Bike lanes on both sides of the street. Many North American cities have streets wide enough for bike lanes, unlike many older European towns and cities which can have narrow streets. While fully separated lanes can be the gold standard for 8 to 80 cities, painted lanes can be a relatively inexpensive measure on the path to becoming a more cycle friendly city and increasing ridership.

Here is a bike map of Downtown Las Vegas:

Screen Shot 2014-10-26 at 11.16.29 pm

Bike Centre

At the transit centre in Downtown Las Vegas there is a bike centre. People can get their bike repaired, buy a bike, store their bike and take a shower. Having the bike centre so close to public transit has a number of natural advantages.

2014-10-20 13.19.58

Positioned next to the main bus station in Downtown is the Bike Centre.

2014-10-20 13.27.52

You can store you bike safely, rent or buy a bike there.

2014-10-20 13.20.31

Tools and a pump are available right outside the bike centre.

Nearby cities

Henderson is a 25 minute drive from Downtown Las Vegas and has 175 miles of bike lanes and 7.5 miles of bike routes.

A bike map of Henderson

A bike map of Henderson – look at all those off road bike/walk trails!

Recreational Riding

The majority of the riding that is currently done in Las Vegas is recreational riding. When we are discussing how we can get more people riding for transport trips, one thing that we need to consider is the behavior change journey.

For most new riders, going from not cycling at all to riding to work is a mountain to high. Thus starting off riding recreationally can be a key strategy to encouraging cycling for transportation in the long term. Once people are confident and capable riders, they can then consider riding for transportation as a real option for them.

That’s why with our Workplace Bike Challenge program, we get people to take up riding one step at a time.

Cool Bike Parking

Some cool bike parking in Downtown Las Vegas...

Some cool bike parking in Downtown Las Vegas…

2014-10-20 13.49.13 2014-10-20 13.50.122014-10-20 13.52.44

In Summary

The Las Vegas case study demonstrates that cities with hot summer climates and urban sprawl can still do quite a lot to encourage riding.  With so many lanes, paths, racks on busses, the challenge now is to get more and more people to start riding in Las Vegas which will further increase demand for more infrastructure and facilities for people who ride bikes.

Happier, healthier, wealthier: as easy as riding a bike

Image by Dodo on Flickr. Used under a Creative Commons licence.

Photo by Dodo on Flickr. Used under a Creative Commons licence.

If you cycle occasionally for fun or fitness, then this post is to help you to take the next step and get happier, healthier and wealthier by commuting to work by bike. It will help you to identify the barriers to cycling to work and give you some basic, practical steps towards overcoming them. But let’s start by looking at the benefits.

Why cycle?

You’ll be happier. Cycling is proven to improve emotional health, having a positive effect on wellbeing, self-confidence and resistance to stress. It also helps to reduce tiredness and difficulties sleeping.* People who have switched to commuting by bike consistently remark on how much less stressful it is than other forms of transport and how cycling improves their sense of happiness and wellbeing.

You’ll be healthier. Cycling is fantastic exercise. It helps you to lose weight and build muscle without putting too much strain on your joints. A recent study found people who cycle to work have a 39% lower mortality rate than those who do not and argued that cycling to work ‘can yield much the same health benefits as doing a specific training programme’.*

You’ll be wealthier. Savings website Pound a Day says the average commute in the UK is an 8.7 mile car journey, costing £2,250 a year or £6.16 every day. The combined cost of a very good bicycle, Gold Secure standard lock, waterproof panniers and two full services (regular cycle commuters should service their bikes at least once a year) comes to just under £850: even if you bought a brand new bike every year, cycling to work would still represent a substantial saving on the average car commute or many rail season tickets. Even with top-notch wheels and accessories, cycling to work will make you wealthier in the long run.

Know Your Route

Whether you currently drive, walk, or use public transport to get to work, the chances are the best route to take by bike won’t be the one you take now. There are fantastic online resources for sniffing out two-wheeled tricks to avoid traffic and get you to work as fresh and stress-free as possible. Cyclestreets (which also has an excellent app), Google Maps and Transport Direct (which also has a CO2 calculator so you can feel even better about your two-wheeled self) all have cycle route planners. There’s no substitute, though, for first-hand knowledge and experience: talk to regular cycle commuters, ask them for tips on where to go and tricks to avoid the worst traffic black spots.

Once you’ve got a good idea of the best route to take, do as much of a recce as you can, preferably when there’s not too much traffic around. If you know the road layout ahead, it’s easier to stay safe in heavy traffic or bad weather when you’re on your way to work.

Confidence

Even the most meticulous route planning often can’t entirely avoid busy rush-hour traffic and for many people the greatest obstacle to commuting by bike is an entirely understandable reluctance to mix it with buses, cars and lorries. Here are two straightforward steps to help boost your cycling confidence and equip you with the necessary skills to deal with busy sections of your commute:

Find out about expert training in your area. You wouldn’t drive a car to work before your first driving lesson and unless you’re a confident and experienced road user you shouldn’t cycle to work without some basic training either. The Department for Transport’s Bikeability programme provides adult cycle training and many local authorities and employers offer it for free or at heavily subsidised rates. You can book a session to ride to work with your instructor and talk over any difficult junctions or traffic black spots so you have specific guidance tailored to your own commute.

Team up with a colleague or a neighbour. If you know someone who works with or near you and cycles to work, ask if you can meet them and ride in together for a week or two. Even the busiest and most daunting commute will feel much more achievable if you can tuck in behind an experienced cyclist, follow their line and learn their tricks for dealing with busy junctions or confusing roundabouts. Most cycle commuters are enthusiastic about cycling and will be glad to help someone make the transition to commuting by bike.

Equipment

Unless your commute is a substantial distance or over tricky terrain, you don’t need to spend a fortune on a high-end bike and fancy clothing and accessories. However, if you are going to ride to work every day it is worth making sure you can commute comfortably and carry the necessary luggage. If you don’t have a bike or there’s only a rusting death-trap in the garden shed, then consider borrowing or hiring one for a week to see how you find it (schemes such as Cycle Boost in South Yorkshire and Better By Bike in the West Country offer free 1-month loans so you can try riding to work without having to buy a bike; see if there is a similar service in your area). If you live near a Brompton Dock you can try cycling to work a few times for less than £20 and increasingly bike shops are offering good, well-equipped bikes for short-term hire at reasonable prices. If you decide cycling to work is for you, it is well worth looking into Cyclescheme: if your employer is signed up you can make substantial savings on new bikes and equipment.

Other than a bike, you don’t need to worry too much: the majority of people who cycle to work do so in their work clothes. If you want to ride to work whatever the weather or if you have a demanding route, water-proof panniers and/or a change of clothes at work might help: through trial and error you’ll quickly work out the routine and equipment that suit you best. (There is also a substantial corner of the internet dedicated to information about cycling gear if you need guidance). The only ‘must’ is to make sure you have a good lock: the police recommend spending at least a tenth of the value of your bike on a lock.

Bike storage. Photo by Malcolm K on Flickr, used under a Creative Commons licence.

Bike storage. Photo by Malcolm K on Flickr, used under a Creative Commons licence.

Your Employer

Your workplace might already have secure bike storage, cycle showers and lockers: sometimes facilities for people who ride to work are tucked away and not very well advertised, so it’s worth asking around to see what’s available. If there aren’t any facilities for cycle commuters, persuade them that there should be. They might not be aware of the benefits of a two-wheeled workforce: research suggests that cycling to work can halve sick days and happier and healthier employees are more productive and highly motivated.** Plus encouraging cycling is a must for any organisation – and it should be every one – that cares about the environment and its green credentials. So if there are no facilities ask your employer why and persuade them that installing a shower and some secure bike storage will be worth their while.

Enjoy!

If you follow these simple suggestions, overcoming the barriers you face to cycling to work won’t be a big deal. Once you’ve got hold of a bike, worked out your route and got expert advice you can take the plunge and cycle into work a few times. You’ll quickly start to enjoy it and feel the benefits and hopefully you’ll stick at it and in a year or two you’ll struggle to remember how – or why – you ever travelled to work any other way. Surely there’s no better way to get happier, healthier and wealthier than simply by changing your traveling routine: it’s as easy as riding a bike.

 

* Cycling & Health: What’s the Evidence – a report by the Public Health advisors to Cycling England

** Sustrans report based on Office of National Statistics evidence

 

Thomas speaks at TEDx Atlanta

Watch Love to Ride Founder – Thomas Stokell – speak at TEDx Atlanta.

Thomas shares his thoughts and experience on how it is entirely possible to get more people enjoying cycling.

If there is anyone who you work with who doesn’t think that…

investing in cycling infrastructure & behaviour change programmes
=
more people cycling

…then send them a link to this short 5 minute video.