Why I cycle to work
To mark National Bike Week, South West Water software developer Jon Speechley explains why cycling is part of his everyday life
Hi, I'm Jon Speechley, a software developer in the Information Services department of South West Water, based at our head office on Rydon Lane in Exeter.
I started cycling to work regularly nearly 20 years ago. This was partly as cycling was sometimes quicker than commuting by car, and partly because I figured it would save me money. At first it was a bit of a struggle - I had to tackle the formidable hill between Countess Wear and Peninsula House on Rydon Lane every day. But my stamina soon built up, and I noticed that I was quickly getting faster and fitter. Add to that the benefit that my return journey was always downhill!
I'd like to point out that I'm not one of those Lycra-clad cyclists who you might see cutting through traffic. Believe me; you wouldn't want to see me in Lycra! No, I simply use my bike to commute to and from work, but I do this every day, every week, in all seasons and all weathers.
My commute is still relatively short - about 15 minutes each way - and is barely any effort now. I now automatically consider using my bike as the default option for work, and it is just part of my daily routine. The storage, shower and changing facilities at Peninsula House are excellent, and a definite step up from when I used to have to change in the gents. (Just ask me about the hilarious incident with my cycling gear, the motion sensitive basin taps and the automatic hand soap dispenser...)
Living in Exeter, I am able to take advantage of Exeter's extensive network of cycle paths, which I have seen grow steadily over the years. My commute now is almost entirely off road, using cycle paths and shared paths, so it is extremely safe. Last year I did come off my bike in wet weather and was forced to spend some time off cycling. It was entirely my own fault - no one else was involved - but even during that time I was itching to get back on my bike as soon as possible.
I am involved in the South West Water Bike Users' Group (BUG), and have supported the work of Sustrans and BikeIt Exeter by helping organise events at my children's school. I attended cycling proficiency training with both my children, helping them achieve their Bikeability certificates and watched them gain confidence in cycling for themselves.
To me, the main benefits of cycle commuting are: I don't have to run a second car; parking at work is never a problem; I never get stuck in or delayed by traffic; and I get to unwind each evening with a little physical exercise thrown in. I have noticed that getting outside at the end of the day really helps me unwind and de-stress, and I do miss this little bit of cycling when I am not able to do it. Cycling is now part of my life and that's why I cycle to work.
Bike Week is a national camapign that runs from the 11 - 19 June to encourgae people to take up cycling amoung other things. To find out more about National Bike Week visit - http://bikeweek.org.uk/