21 reasons to cycle to work

There are many reasons why you should try cycling to work!
This week - 5 - 11 June - is Bike Week, with the aim of encouraging people to incorporate cycling into their everyday lives. It’s for everyone – whether you haven’t cycled in years, have never cycled at all, or usually ride as a leisure activity but want to try cycle commuting. Bike Week is all about giving it a go

Since 1923, thousands of riders have celebrated everyday cycling and used Bike Week as a reason to enjoy an extra ride or try cycling to work for the first time. A hundred years on, this advice is more important than ever as cycling is a great transport solution that enables you to save money and get healthy at the same time.

All you need to give it a go is a bike and the desire to ride. Whatever you do, however far your ride, have fun.

Here are 21 reasons why you’ll never look back.

1. Save yourself some money

While there may be some expenses involved in cycling to work, the cost of maintaining a bike is far lower than the equivalent costs of running a car. Swap to cycling and you’ll save money every time you commute.

But just how much can you save by cycling? Cycling UK's Christina Bengston crunched the numbers

2. It’s fun!

Unless you are a fan of being stuck in traffic jams, cycling is simply a much more fun way to get to work. Instead of having your face stuck against other people's armpits on heaving public transport, you could be enjoying the fresh air and scenery around you.

3. You will get fitter

It should be no surprise that cycling will improve your fitness. If you don’t currently exercise regularly, the improvements will be even more dramatic and the benefits greater, and cycling is a great low-impact, low-to-moderate intensity way to get more active. Which leads us onto...

4. An excuse to try an e-bike

Yes, you will get fitter riding an e-bike, too. It can offer a bit of extra assistance in those early mornings, and it could be the way forward if you live somewhere hilly. They are a quick, reliable and cheap way to get around, and if you're based in Manchester, Sheffield, Leicester or Luton & Dunstable, you could try one for free through our loan scheme Making cycling e-asier.

5. It’s good for the economy

Cyclists are better for the local and national economy than motorists. Cyclists are more likely to stop and shop, benefiting local retailers. Local businesses and communities are sometimes concerned about the economic impact of new schemes that prioritise walking and cycling over motor vehicles, however they soon warm to the idea once those schemes are in - when they see that people cycling are at least as likely to buy products and services than people in cars. 

Cycling UK’s briefing on the economic benefits of cycling has more details.

6. Trim up and lose weight

Cycling to work can be a great way to lose weight, whether you’re just starting out or are looking to use your cycling as a way to trim up and shift a few pounds.

It’s a low-impact, adaptable exercise that can burn calories at a rate of 400-750 calories per hour, depending on the weight of the rider, speed and type of cycling you’re doing.

If you need more help we’ve got 10 tips for cycling weight loss.

7. Reduce your carbon footprint

Considering the average road use of European car drivers, different fuel types, average occupation, and adding emissions from production, driving a car emits about 271g CO2 per passenger-kilometre.

Taking the bus will cut your emissions by more than half. But if you want to reduce your emissions even further, try a bicycle.

Cycle production does have an impact, and while they are not fuel-powered, they are food-powered and producing food also creates CO2 emissions.

But the good news is that production of a bicycle sets you back only 5g per kilometre driven. When you add the CO2 emissions from the average European diet, which is around 16g per kilometre cycled, the total CO2 emissions per kilometre of riding your bike is about 21g – more than 10 times less than a car.

8. Cleaner air and reduced pollution

Getting out of the car and cycling contributes to cleaner, healthier air. At present, every year in the UK, outdoor pollution is linked to up to 36,000 deaths. By cycling, you are helping to reduce the harmful and deadly emissions, effectively saving lives and making the world a healthier place to live.

9. Explore the world around you

If you take public transport you might not have a choice, and if you drive it’s probably habitual, but chances are you take the same journey day after day. By cycling to work you give yourself the opportunity to take a different route and get to know your local area better.

You might find a new beauty spot, or perhaps even a shortcut. Travelling by bike gives you far more freedom and opportunity to stop and take photos, turn and look back, or even disappear up an interesting side street.

If you need a hand with finding your way, try our Journey Planner.

10. Mental health benefits

We all know exercise is good for physical health, but its positive impact on your mood is sometimes overlooked. It has several different impacts on your brain - when your heart rate increases, more oxygen is pumped to your brain which has been shown to help manage anxiety and depression. Endorphins and other mood-enhancing chemicals such as serotonin and dopamine are also released which all help to make us feel more positive.

In addition, being in nature is known to boost mental health. A Cycling UK survey of more than 11,000 people found that 91% of participants rated off-road cycling as fairly or very important for their mental health – strong evidence that heading out on the bike is a good way to de-stress.

Whether your route to work is on or off road, it’s likely to help you clear your mind, boost your mental wellbeing and lead to long-term mental health benefits.

11. Slow down and look around

For most people, riding a bike is likely to be a slower and more sedate way to travel. Embrace it, take the chance to look about and take in your environment.

Whether the city streets or a countryside route, riding a bike is an opportunity to see more of what’s going on.

Enjoy the slower pace, see more of the world around you and appreciate your surroundings.

12. It will save time

For some, cycling can often be a quicker way to get around than travelling by car or public transport. If you live and work in a city, or travel in heavily congested areas, you may find cycling to work saves you time.

13. An easy way to fit exercise into your day

One of the most often cited reasons for not exercising is lack of time. Not being able to fit activity into a day is difficult for a lot of us who are busy with work, home and social lives that are increasingly time-stretched.

An easy way to keep fit and healthy is to use active travel – a 15-minute cycle to work each way would mean you meet the government recommended guidelines for exercise of 150 minutes a week without having to lace up a pair of trainers or head to the gym.

14. It’ll make you smarter

Just one bout of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise for as little as 30 minutes has been found to improve some aspects of cognition, including your memory, reasoning and ability to plan – including shortening the time it takes to complete tasks. Sounds like a good reason to cycle to work.

15. You’ll live longer

A study looking at active commuting found that those that cycle to work have a massive 41% lower risk of dying from all causes.

As well as all the other benefits of cycling, you’ll make a huge difference to how long you will be around – and we’re sure that’s a good thing.

16. No more traffic jams – for you, or for anyone else

Sitting in queues of traffic is not good for your happiness levels, and it’s certainly not good for the environment.

If you switch to commuting by bike, you won't get stuck in congested streets and you’ll be helping the planet too by reducing the number of cars on the road. Save time, improve your mood, and benefit others too.

17. It’s really good for your heart and your health

A study of 264,337 people found that cycling to work is linked with a 45% lower risk of developing cancer, and a 46% lower risk of cardiovascular disease compared to commuting by car or public transport.

As little as 20 miles a week on a bike can reduce your risk of coronary heart disease by half. If that sounds a long way, consider it’s just a two-mile trip each way (assuming you work five days a week).

18. Boost your immune system

On average, cycle commuting employees take one less sick day per year than non-cyclists and save the UK economy almost £83m.

As well as being fitter, getting outside on your ride to work will increase your vitamin D levels with benefits to your immune system, brain, bones and protection against numerous diseases and illnesses.

19. It’ll make you better at work

If you’re fitter, healthier and better off – and cycling will do all that – then you’ll perform well at work. Research shows that those who exercise regularly outperform colleagues who don’t, which is good for you and good for your boss.

If you think your employer would be keen to aim for a happier, healthier and more productive workforce by enabling more people to cycle to your workplace, then they will be interested in Cycling UK’s Cycle Friendly Employer accreditation.

20. Get rid of your car and save money

This may sound drastic – but if you cycle to work you may no longer need a car (or a second family car). As well as no longer buying petrol, you’ll save on tax, insurance, parking fees and all the other expenses saved when you don’t own a car. Not to mention that if you sell the car, there’s a cash windfall you could spend on new cycling gear…

21. You’ll have better quality sleep

With modern-day stresses, high levels of screen time, disconnecting and falling asleep is a struggle for many people.

A study of more than 8,000 people from the University of Georgia found a strong correlation between cardio-respiratory fitness and sleep patterns: a lower level of fitness was linked to both an inability to fall asleep and poor sleep quality.

The answer could be cycling – regular moderate cardiovascular exercise like cycling boosts fitness and makes it easier to fall and stay asleep.

And one for luck

If you’re not cycling to work at the moment – then take a look at our Bike Week page and find out how you can make the most out of cycling this year.