Photo by Dmitrii Vaccinium on Unsplash
I was dimly aware that all the traffic jams I was part of were bad for more reasons than just my blood pressure, but with miles rolling away beneath me, the sun coming in through the windows and pop music pounding on the stereo, I kept telling myself that this was my only option. My brave neighbour cycled to work every day, but given that I hadn’t been on a bike in 15 years and even my Renault Clio could barely make it up Broadoak Hill, I quickly dismissed that as madness and kept on truckin’, although the guilt about my emissions kept creeping up.
When I moved to Fishponds in 2019 and became properly engaged with just how bad the climate crisis really is, I knew I couldn’t put off the evil
moment anymore. So, filled with a certainty that
I’d be smashed to smithereens under a truck before
the week was out – or, more likely, die of a stitch by
the end of the day – I got myself down to Bool’s Bikes on Staple Hill and, after being helped by some
truly lovely staff members, bought myself a
purple hydrid. I named her Greta. Because
why wouldn’t I?
Photo by Joline Torres on Unsplash
Rather than being the trial I feared, I fell in love with cycling pretty damn quickly. Zipping past the traffic, flying down hills, taking in the ever-changing graffiti – it’s all pretty awesome. Living right near the Bristol and Bath Railway Path helped. You do have to contend with all those terribly important men wearing Lycra who are in a Very Big Rush to get past you. That can be a bit unnerving at first, but you get used to it. And the certainty of knowing that you will arrive at your destination at the right time, rather than having to allow an extra half an hour ‘just in case’ makes it all worth it.
The hills are hard, I’m not gonna lie. But the warm glow of knowing you’re doing good for the planet while also earning yourself some extra cake-calories when you get home make it easier. And if the hills are too much for you, you could always get an electric bike for that bit of extra help.
If you live in Bristol and are nervous about making that all-important switch from car to bike, you might be interested to know that Life Cycle UK does lessons for adults who are new to cycling, making it that bit easier get started. If you live in the South West, have a look at this map to find a bike shop near you.
Let us know how you get on in the comment box below.
Did you know… Bikes aren’t entirely carbon-footprint-free as they do need to be made. However, riding a bike contributes 10 times LESS carbon to the atmosphere than driving.