Cycling to work on the island of Islay

Less than four-thousand people live on the Scottish Island of Islay and cycling is a great way to get around the beautiful place, so the Big Bike Revival held an event encouraging people to cycle to work.

Staff at Bruichladdich Distillery, one of the main employers on the island have started cycling to work after the company held an event through Cycling UK, Big Bike Revival.

Thirty members of staff and local people took part in a bike maintenance session, a puncture repair workshop, led rides and e-bike try-outs.

Sharon McHarrie, a hospitality manager at Bruichladdich Distillery, has been inspired to dust off her old bike after trying out an e-bike at the event. “I had enjoyed cycling so much that I didn’t want to miss out and decided to dig my old pushbike out from the depths of the garden shed,” she said. “Before I knew it, I had cycled 8 miles on my own … and hadn’t given it a second thought. I have since carried on and am now finding myself cycling as much as I can, when I can.”

Cycling to work allows Sharon to appreciate the scenery around her and arrive to work in high spirits. “I noticed things that I never took the time to see before. The beautiful honeysuckle trailing over the old stone walls, the rowan trees all coming into full bloom, the barley blowing in the wind and the array of smells from the flowers in the hedgerows,” she explained. “The next day I was looking forward to cycling to work. I felt as though my head was more focused when I got there, and I did not feel so anxious as I did when I drove.”

I think everyone on the island has a strong allegiance to the distillery. If you can see change from the workplace, it could make a difference.

Ralph Jessop, Cycling UK development officer

Another member of staff who came along to the Bike Show is now in the market for an e-bike, after enjoying her experience of the try-out. Jan Reavey, an administrator at Bruichladdich Distillery, says the e-bike will allow her to enjoy cycling, even when the weather is bad, or she faces a steep hill. “I am looking forward to choosing the bike as my preferred option for the commute to work, rather than automatically driving in."

Since the event took place, 25 Bruichladdich employees have signed up to the Cycle to Work Scheme.

Ralph Jessop, a Cycling UK development officer, believes that positive changes made by workforces can have a knock-on effect in small communities such as Islay. “I think everyone on the island has a strong allegiance to the distillery. If you can see change from the workplace, it could make a difference.”