Colette from Bedford tells the story of how bike commuting has changed the life of her whole family.
After doing the school run in the car each day for over 16 years (having three children close in age) I was delighted when I managed to bribe my youngest son, James (aged 15 at the time) with a purchase of a new Cannondale Super 6 composite road bike, if he would cycle to school each day. His commute would be a difficult journey – 16 mile round trip – with some difficult hills in the process. With him agreeing this would not only save me over £700 in yearly school bus fees but also enable me to cycle in to work too (not quite as far but 8 mile round trip with again with some hills).
So we started – both cycling in to work and school each day (rain or shine, hot or cold). James’ fitness shot up and my weight started to drop. My husband (Ron) also got the bug and started to cycle into work too. Both family cars got left on the driveway each day (unless it was icy roads). More cycling kit got purchased during the winter months – warmer cycling jackets, waterproof trousers, face protectors, panniers - this list went on for a few months until we were completely kitted out.
Above: The whole Cox family has been bitten by the cycling bug.
During the first term of cycling (Autumn 2012) James’ school grades improved dramatically, his attitude changed from a typical lazy teenager to someone with a purpose and positive outlook on life. Both my husband and I started to lose weight (two stone each) – things were looking good. So good that we really were getting addicted to this cycling thing and decided to get some road bikes (in January 2013) and join our local cycling club (Bedfordshire Road Cycling Club).
"The garage had been made into a cycle workshop and ‘don’t ask for a lift in a car’ signs erected. Wherever possible all trips now are by bike."
We still all continue with the commute to school and work each day on our commuting bikes whilst our family cars are now sat on the driveway day after day. When my other teenage children (one at university with her bicycle and the other one at a 6th form Military College) returned for holidays this summer the garage had been made into a cycle workshop and ‘don’t ask for a lift in a car’ signs erected. Wherever possible all trips now are by bike.
We originally started out as recreational cyclists when our children were very young, doing a few trips here and there when the weather was good and taking the bikes on holidays etc. During the school holidays I often cycled to work each day and also tried to cycle in most Saturdays to work too. It was only after the school run finished did things really move forward with my fitness improving and the weight started to come off. We now regularly participate in cycle sportifs (London Revolution, Evans Rideit events and we have just completed the Prudential Ride London 100) plus my eldest Son takes part, with school friends, in relay triathlons too.
Overall cycling has been a very positive activity for us as a family and I would strongly recommend it to others too.