Cycling offers many personal and practical benefits.
It's good for your health
You may be interested to know that:
The National Forum For Coronary Heart Disease found that regular cyclists enjoy a level of fitness equal to that of someone ten years younger.
According to a British Medical Association report, cycling will improve your fitness, help you maintain a healthy weight, lower your risk of a heart attack and help to reduce stress.
A British Heart Foundation study concluded that cycling at least 20 miles per week reduced the risk of heart disease to less than half that for non-cyclists who take no other exercise.
As well as improving your health and wellbeing, cycling can be lots of fun, not to mention a cheaper, quicker and less stressful way of getting from A to B.
It's low on cost
Bicycles require no Vehicle Excise Duty, no MOT, no compulsory insurance, no breakdown recovery services and, above all, no fuel!
A good bicycle, if well maintained, will last for years. All you'll need to pay for is annual servicing.
It's great for the environment
Cycling is an environmentally friendly form of transport because it reduces pollution and congestion. For example, did you know that the average drive to school and back releases more than 800g of CO2 into the air - that’s enough to inflate over 60 balloons. Encouraging more people to cycle to work, school or for leisure instead of taking the car is key to improving local air quality and tackling congestion.
Use the tools and advice below to help plan your cycling route and find the quickest or most enjoyable way to get where you are going.
Visit our travel choices maps section to download a cycle map for your area or visit one of the websites below with journey planners for cycling that can plan a route for you depending on your starting point and your destination. Journeys can be based on the quickest or quietest routes. Have a look at:
The new Sustrans free National Cycle Network app for smart phones is available to download from the Sustrans website.
Confident, safe cycling not only comes through experience but from good basic training. We offer personalised one-to-one Cycle training sessions suitable for all ages and abilities, whether you are a complete novice or just need a refresher or advanced skills session.
Here's our top tips for safe cycling:
- Cycle at a steady pace about one metre away from the kerb, so that you can anticipate and respond to road situations easily. This is called the secondary position. Riding too close to the kerb or parked cars puts yourself at more risk, and encourages drivers to squeeze by. Experienced cyclists often take what is called the primary position, placing themselves further out, directly in front of traffic, where road conditions dictate that drivers can't overtake them safely.
- Make eye contact with other road users at junctions and crossings: make sure that they've seen you.
- Be predictable and confident on the road so that all road users are aware of you.
- Be visible: wear bright, light coloured clothes and always use good lights and reflective gear at night.
- Be heard: use your bell to let other road users and pedestrians know that you're approaching.
- Never cycle on pavements or through red lights: it's against the law and gives cyclists a bad name.
- Consider wearing a helmet.
Respecting other road users
- Be aware of pedestrians and motorists around you at all times, particularly in busy city centre areas, where a variety of road users come into contact with one another.
- Always be aware of pedestrians, particularly on shared cycle/pedestrian paths, and give them time to move out of the way.
- Don’t forget that older people, young children and disabled people might not see or hear you as you approach them on your bike.
- The Highway Code, downloadable below, is essential reading for all road users. It explains the laws that cyclists must obey for everyone’s safety, and offers further useful advice.
- Riding without lights, or without adequate lights, in dark conditions puts yourself and other road users at risk, as well as being against the law. Check out the weather details of sunrise and sunset times so that you know when to use your lights.
Be safe around HGVs
- Be safe around HGVs and buses: stay back behind longer vehicles when they are turning left, or move ahead in front of them, never alongside.
Central Bedfordshire has secured a grant from central government to cover the costs of providing Bikeability Training to every pupil by the time they complete Year 6. This training is arranged by schools, ideally during the school day, and is highly recommended for all pupils. Please contact your son or daughter's school for more information and timetabled dates for courses.
Bikeability training is also highly recommended for adults and can be arranged by booking directly with an accredited instructor. A list of providers is available to view on the Bikeability web site.
Under the Government's Cycle to Work scheme, employers can offer staff tax-free bikes at a cost that is often 40-50% less than the purchase price when going direct to a bike shop. Central Bedfordshire Council operates the scheme and encourages all employers in Bedfordshire to do likewise.