Ride to Work week is just around the corner and commuters are being encouraged to join the initiative and reap many health benefits along the way. Dozens of cyclists have already made the most of the recent weather to show that blizzards and hills shouldn’t deter Sheffielders from getting around the city.
In preparation for Ride to Work week, dozens of city cyclists made the most of recent weather to show that neither hills nor blizzards should deter Sheffielders from cycling around their city.
“Interesting conditions for a night ride in Sheffield,” observed James Dalby from Plusnet after cycling through snowdrifts on a Rivelin Valley bridleway at 9pm to impress his social media subscribers.
Snow cycling is eminently possible said Sam Robinson of South Yorkshire’s Love to Ride programme.
“With a little preparation there’s no need to let the weather stop you biking to work – or anywhere else for that matter,” he said.
Windproof gear is just as important as waterproof during beastly gusts from the east, for example, and perhaps think about double sets of gloves to provide an air layer round your immobile hands for insulation. Consider switching from road to mountain bike for the duration too.
James Dalby likes to make the most of the Outdoor City’s open spaces in all weathers on his commute. “Biking is the best way I can get to work,” he said. “It’s fast and free and I can easily extend my commute to Parkwood Springs, or out into the Peak District for a proper adventure.”
South Yorkshire’s Love to Ride programme is part of the region’s Inmotion! Sustainable Travel initiative, funded through a £7.5m Access Fund for Sustainable Travel grant from the government.
On last year’s Love to Ride, 2,000 local cyclists from more than 170 companies and organisations cycled over 700,000 miles - the equivalent of riding from Sheffield to the moon and back, followed by several laps of honour around the equator.
Organisers are now asking new companies and individual cyclists to join in too, as the free 2018 programme begins with Ride to Work Week from 12th to 18th March.
“The idea is to get as many people as we can trying out riding to work and showing that it’s the cheapest and often the quickest way to commute,” said Rosie Frazer of Love to Ride.
“We’ve also teamed up with the MoveMore activity programme, who tell us that one of the easiest ways to fit in the 150 minutes of exercise we should all be doing every week to stay fit and healthy, is to build it into your daily routine. What better way to do that than by cycling to work?”
Participants can win holidays, accessories and vouchers for local bike shops by taking part, as well as helping build a groundswell of cycling across the county.
Sheffield share bike provider ofo are joining in too by offering free half hour rides during weekday rush hours to encourage Love to Riders to try the ofo scheme during Ride to Work Week - the free rides can be made between 7-9am and 5-7pm.
Sheffield council senior transport planner Paul Sullivan said: “Nearly 200 local companies have now signed up to Love to Ride, demonstrating their support for cycling and also their understanding of the benefits it brings to them and their staff, such as fewer days off sick through better health.”
He added that companies registering for Love to Ride will also have the chance of free try outs of electric bikes later in 2018.
Although the health and environmental benefits of cycling to work are well known, Paul pointed out the reliability of the cycle commute. “You can pretty much state within a minute what your journey time will be, you don’t have to build in time for congestion or finding somewhere to park.”
But for the more pioneering off road rider, last week’s snow did little for journey reliability.
Photographer James Brown’s shortcut onto a bridleway off the Woodhead Pass quickly “turned south”, as he put it, as the Siberian weather closed in on him and his wife Helen.
“We lost the trail under the snow and then the fog came in, totally disorientated us and we were basically lost in the middle of nowhere at -5 degrees. It took us a while to get back to the road after we went in a circle and the waist deep snow drifts didn’t help.”
“Sheffield is a challenging but rewarding place to cycle,” observed Paul Sullivan as spring beckoned.
More info: Love to Ride