Every single day of the year is now National or International Day of something or other. 3 March is If Pets Had Thumbs Day. And 30 April is, I swear on my life, not a word of a lie, National Honesty Day. Squeezing into this busy schedule on 14 September 2016 is National Cycle to Work Day. So why should you give this particular one your time of, er, day?
What’s it all about?
Cycle to Work Day encourages everyone to take to two wheels and ride to work for at least one day, although of course the long term aim is to see a sustained growth in numbers of people cycling, both for commuting and for leisure.
Census data indicates that 741,000 people in the UK cycled to work regularly in 2011, and the stated aim of the organisers is to see this exceed 1 million by the time of the next census in 2021.
Isn’t cycling booming already?
It’s certainly true that some parts of the country have seen encouraging increases in numbers of cyclists, most notably in London. But the Department for Transport’s most recent ‘Local Area Walking and Cycling Statistics’ report revealed “no statistically significant change in reported cycling prevalence in England overall.”
The same report reveals wide disparities between numbers cycling in various parts of the country, from the cycle-stuffed streets of Cambridge and Oxford, where respectively 58 and 43 per cent of people cycle at least once a month, to Burnley, where the figure drops to just 5 per cent.
How will one day change anything?
By generating a higher profile for cycle commuting and focusing attention around a single day it is hoped that Cycle to Work Day will encourage people to try switching from other modes of transport, and that a percentage will make that switch permanent.
A particular focus is on the role of employers in making cycle commuting a more attractive option. Employer advocacy is crucial in creating a culture of cycling in the UK. There are great benefits to businesses of having a higher percentage of cyclists in their ranks, including freeing up parking spaces, better rates of staff retention, reduced absenteeism, and a happier, healthier workforce.
The campaign is also closely tied to the Cycle to Work Scheme, which delivers financial benefits to both employer and employee when purchasing a new bike.
How can I get involved?
Visit the Cycle to Work Day website to pledge your support, which helps the organisers to keep track of the total miles pledged, and the associated money saved, calories burnt, and C02 emissions avoided.
You can also challenge your employer, and access resources to help you to become a cycling champion within your workplace. So even if you are already convinced of the benefits, Cycle to Work Day provides a good excuse to spread the message further.