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Four Wheels Bad, Two Wheels Good

(on cycling to work, your route to health, wealth & happiness)

I’ve recently returned to legal recruitment, after a few years’ out running a social enterprise company, and I’ve swapped the twice daily school run with my daughter on a tag-along bike for commuting into the city centre by bike. There’s no nicer feeling on a sluggish Monday morning than sailing merrily past the grouchy lines of stationary cars heading into the city centre, delighted that I’m not stuck in ‘that’.

Does that make me sound like one of those smug, self-satisfied people who bakes bread before they leave for work, strains their own yoghurt and keeps chickens? I’m so not. Essentially I’m just really bad at getting up early and I made the discovery several years ago that the quickest way to get my small person to school and then me back again to start my working day was on the back of a bike, and now I’m a convert.

Reasons or excuses abound for not cycling into work, some more valid than others – ‘I can’t cycle to work, I have to wear suits’, ‘I live too far away’, ‘It’s downhill all the way into town from where I live, but uphill all the way back!’, ‘I don’t have a bike’, ‘I hate cycling’, ‘..but it rains all the time’, ‘I’m not fit enough’, ‘I never know when I’ve got to go out & see clients so I need the car’, ‘there’s nowhere secure to leave a bike at work’.

Ok, so it’s not going to work for everyone but here are a few ideas to think about…..

More and more employers, including law firms, are seeing the benefits of bike commuting, or want to do their bit for the environment, and are implementing bike-to-work schemes which can save you up to 30% off the cost of a new bike. If you haven’t got one at your firm, why not try asking them to set one up? It’s not particularly admin-heavy and it gives them something to add to their list of benefits for new hires. That’s exactly how the scheme came into being here at BCL Legal.

Many firms now offer safe bike storage and it’s become standard practice for new builds to incorporate bike storage options. Even if your firm doesn’t, if you work near a main station there’s usually a bike hub there for storage, or do what I did and ask if there’s anywhere in the building you could leave a bike during the day, as chances are there will be.

Look into your safest cycle route into work, you might be surprised to find some off-road paths you never knew existed. Have a look on http://www.sustrans.org.uk/ for local cycle routes. Mine takes me along a leafy disused railway line and through a beautiful park.

Invest in a pair of waterproof back panniers for your office wear, or leave a few suits at work, and get changed when you get in. A lot of offices now have shower facilities too. Buy some decent waterproofs for those rainy mornings. You may not feel much like getting out there on a bike when you look out the window, but it definitely beats being stuck in the worse-than-usual standing traffic and getting stressed about being late for work.

But now for the real sell. You don’t have to be a fitness freak. Frankly it’s sometimes the only exercise I get all week! My husband (who is a bit of a bike freak) despairs of me on my sit-up-and-beg bone shaker, with the shonky basket on the front with my work bag slung in, and all the other bike commuters sail past me in lycra on their sleek skinny-tyred rides, but hey, it’s still the fastest way for me to get into town and I’m clocking up 40 miles a week so who cares?

It’s free so every month I can treat myself to something lovely without a whiff of guilt.

We’re all meant to be excellent at effective time-management, but using your unavoidable commuting time for racking up exercise points?? Come on, that one’s hard to beat, especially when you’re a working mother who wants to spend time at home with the family in the evening, not at the gym.

I have more energy, I get to work feeling wide awake and ready to go & I like to think I’m more productive as a result. Employers take note!

And finally, it just feels liberating somehow – it’s good for the head and it’s good for the soul (did I really just say that? eek) It’s just one of those little things that helps me to avoid that feeling of being unavoidably sucked into the stresses of modern life. It just makes me smile.

Go on, do it, you’ll never look back! Apart from when you’re overtaking a stationary bus, then it’s essential!

For more information, please contact Juliet Lawson at BCL Legal.

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