Rachel gets into cycling

When I moved to York 15 months ago I had imagined that I would be cycling around in no time. The city has such a strong history of cycling and I have childhood memories from the 1970s of people going to work on their bikes en masse. But there was something stopping me; possibly concerns about road safety, lack of confidence or worries that I would buy a bike and it would sit there unused and rusting.

I heard about York Bikes Belles on social media and thought it would be good to go to a Cake Confidence session and get the chance to go out on a bike with experienced cyclist who could give me advice about safety. I was also interested in finding out more about the social side of the group. I was really impressed when I was given the chance to use a loan bike (called Rowena) for 3 weeks. This meant I could put to test my resolve to travel by bike. As it was February/March I thought that if I could do it then the rest of the year would be more manageable in terms of weather. I spent time with Kirsty, one of York Bike Belles’ bike buddies, and this helped to get pointers on how to cycle safely and confidently and being aware of being as visible as possible. Kirsty also showed me some great cycling routes around town and cycled the route to work with me. I enjoyed the social events, including an evening ride out to a pub in Bishopthorpe.

The time came to return the loan bike sadly but I have now decided to buy my own via the cycle scheme. My application has been approved and I’m eagerly awaiting an email containing my voucher so I can go to Cycle Heaven to buy it. I am still a little reluctant to go out by bike in the rain but am hoping that will be remedied by buying some waterproof trousers.

Getting to work and around York is now quicker and more fun. It’s often quicker to cycle than drive and it’s great to cycle past queues of cars (of course only when safe to do so). Cycling has also helped me get to know that city better and I’ve found lot of routes I can use that avoid being around heavy traffic. I really have found it liberating to be able to hop on a bike rather than drive or use public transport and have been amazed about how quick it can be to get from A to B. Not only is this better for the environment it’s also better for me physically and mentally. So I’m starting to sound like a born again cyclist but it really does seem to be a win-win situation!

As a long term car driver I have appreciated the advantages of getting fresh air and being in open green spaces although I do get a recurrent thought that I haven’t put my seatbelt on!