After the success of the Olympic Games and the Tour de France coming to the UK, we’re seeing more and more people getting back on their bikes – and it’s great to see!
What’s even better is that, here in Birmingham, the council is investing heavily in an ambitious new 20 year plan to get more people cycling: the Birmingham Cycle Revolution. It plans to:
- Make our main roads safer for cyclists
- Improve canal towpaths and provide “green routes” through parks and green areas
- Provide new and secure cycle parking hubs
- Develop initiatives, such as bike hire schemes and cycle training
So if you’ve been thinking about new ways to exercise, or to get out and about, there’s never been a better time to start.
Why start cycling?
There are loads of benefits to cycling:
- It’s simple – you can do it anywhere
- It’s a great cardio workout
- It gets you out and about – you will see parts of the city you didn’t know existed!
- It boosts your confidence and happiness
It’s easy to start
There’s a bit of an illusion that you have to invest in all the gear to look the part… but that’s just not the case. There’s no need to splash out, especially if you’re just starting.
Our advice is to “try before you buy” – hire a bike, or buy a cheap one, to find out if you love it first!
If you are a Gateway Health Trainer client you can hire one of our bikes. The bike hire scheme that we wrote about last year is still running, offering bikes on loan to anyone who is working with a Health Trainer. Read Sharon’s story to see how our bike hire scheme gave her the cycling bug.
If you do decide to buy a bike, there’s no need to spend hundreds of pounds. You can get a perfectly good starter bike for £50-60. Places like the Birmingham Bike Foundry in Stirchley have reconditioned bikes at good prices.
Gateway’s Cycle to Work scheme
Many employers are starting to introduce incentives for staff to start cycling instead of driving, and that includes Gateway. We’re pleased to say we can now give staff who use their bike for work purposes mileage payments of 20p per mile. We hope it will give staff the additional option of going by bike when they’re travelling around the city to get to their appointments.
If you’re keen to start cycling, it’s worth asking your employer if they have any schemes available, too.
Where will you go?The beauty of cycling in Birmingham is that you don’t always have to go by road.
Birmingham’s canal network is a hidden gem for cyclists and walkers, with over 100 miles of off-road towpaths. It’s a great way to see the city from a different angle – altogether greener and more peaceful. The towpaths and cycle paths around the canals are already starting to be redeveloped and improved, making it an even more attractive way to get around.
In south Birmingham, the cycle-friendly River Rea route links Birmingham City Centre with Cannon Hill Park and King’s Norton Park via the Rea Valley.
If you want to find out more about where you can cycle in the city, Birmingham City Council produces a free cycling and walking map of Birmingham
So what are you waiting for?
If you’re a Health Trainer client, ask your Health Trainer about hiring a bike from Gateway. It’s free!
If you’re not a Gateway client, there are plenty of places in Birmingham where you can hire a bike for a short time. Try On Your Bike, Midland Cycle Hire, or Bike Pro, to name a few.
I am 53 years old and have recently lost 4 stone through the gateway services- slimming world. I would love learn to ride a bike but have never had the opportunity or courage to do so. – My age weight & lack of confidence has always got in my way. Now I have lost some I would love to learn & own a tricycle. I cannot afford one I have been looking avidly on ebay but they are over a hundred pound. If anyone has one at a reasonable price – tatty or not I would be very interested. I want to get on the move 🙂