by Lucy Bywater
New years resolutions never make sense to me. Why struggle to make a life change in the wretched dark days of January? Right now is certainly a good time to begin the habit of cycling to work or school instead of taking the car, while the weather is still really mild and the dark afternoons aren’t yet upon us. And those outdoor days of summer seem to give us the energy we need to carry on (or to begin) a cycling habit. Maybe GB’s amazing Olympic cyclists at Rio can inspire a pedal to school…
Today (September 14th) is National Cycle to Work day but it can of course be any day. And whatever people tell you, Bedford is a pretty good place to cycle: it’s flat, it has some good cycle routes in and around (many quiet and pleasant), it has three independent cycle shops plus several mobile repair mechanics, it has lots more cycle racks than five years ago AND we’re on the National Cycle Route! A critical mass of Bedfordians cycling is good for everyone – the more of us who cycle the safer we are on those roads and the more infrastructure we’ll see for cyclists. (Most of us don’t cycle on the pavements mowing down pedestrians, though a few of those sadly seem to make quite an impression).
Like many British towns, Bedford is polluted and diesel particles in particular are shortening lives. If we are serious about improving air quality, we need to be leaving the car behind whenever possible. And for me, taking my bike has always been a win win. Admittedly I only work a few streets from where I live, so my ‘cycle commute’ is not demanding but my bike gives me freedom, spontaneity, cycling is practically free and makes me feel good. Also for reasonably short distances, it’s way quicker than the car, door to door
If you want to equip yourself, Bedford’s excellent local bike shops will advise you, or just peruse the large bike section at auctioneers Peacocks, where bargains are to be had if you don’t mind then paying a shop for repairs or adjustments to be sure it’s safe. If cycling is a new habit for you, then a copy of the Highway Code or a Bikeability course would be a good idea.
There’s loads of advice from ccnb.org.uk (well worth joining this proactive local group); travelbedford.co.uk; sustrans.org.uk