Words and images paul Chapman
Has anyone noticed the price of fuel creeping up recently? No? OK, you’re clearly extremely wealthy and you might as well skip this article… but maybe you want to do your bit for the planet.
The rest of us, can’t really miss it … £1.78 for a litre of diesel, I drive a van which I need to distribute the magazines when they come back from print and filling it up is starting to hurt. Add to this cost of energy, rising food prices and everything else we’re being hit with and life is starting to feel expensive... and did I mention it’s costing me more to print S40 Local as well!
If you’re anything like me, you're being really annoying at home, turning lights off all the time, shouting up when the shower has been going for more than five minutes and you’ve secretly turned the heating down! Sorry family.
One thing I do for pleasure is cycle, I might have mentioned it in the past 🤭. However, it’s for exercise, for a bit of escape, some time to switch off and take in a bit of off-road adventure, I tend to stick to trails away from the roads where I can.
Well, this week all that's changing, I’ve decided to start using my bike for short journeys that don’t involve me taking anyone with me. The commute to the studio (four miles each way*), nipping to Adam’s Happy Hen's for veg and shopping (1.5 miles there and back), going to see a new client about an advert (typically within five miles of home or the studio), Londis for emergency chocolate (1.2 mile round trip) … you get the gist of it.
Today I nipped over to Alpkit (not on my bike) in Hathersage to rummage through their box of reduced-price bags and stuff upstairs and came home with a 20L pannier for £20, not bad. I used up my birthday vouchers (thanks sister-in-law) and purchased a pannier rack and there I have it, £55 and I’m loaded and ready to carry whatever I can stuff into my new bike bag!
A bit of maths.
My van does 33.1mpg, a gallon costs £8.10 … sorry what, a gallon costs EIGHT POUNDS AND TEN PENCE! I need to lie down! It’s costing me 25p a mile, that’s without considering, buying the van, VED, insurance, tyres, servicing, 'Paul & Nicola' windscreen blind, fluffy dice etc, phew!
The cost of my new kit / cost per mile = £55 / 25p = 220 miles. Therefore I need to ride 220 miles on my bike to recoup the cost of the kit ... just 28 trips to the studio and back.
Taking this further if I’d bought a new bike for £350 (the average UK price), at todays fuel prices I’d need to do 1,400 miles to pay for it, but who knows where fuel prices are headed - better get prepared.
If you’ve stuck with me so far, thank you. I know cycling on busy roads can be daunting but there are lots of quiet cycle paths away from the main roads, some of them are pretty unusable after any rain if you don’t want to arrive at your destination looking like swampy, and there are a few sections of key infrastructure planned that will hopefully support greener more sustainable travel but in general, it’s not that bad. The Chesterfield Cycle Campaign have a useful map available showing these routes which is a great help.
My commute to the studio just has the top section of Chatsworth Road to ride and share with the traffic, once in Somersall Park there are dedicated paths and quiet roads all the way to the studio, I reckon about half a mile of my four-mile route is on busy roads and I’m pretty confident that wherever you need to go, you could plan a quieter route.
If you’re keen but not feeling confident, there is the County Rider Scheme. This scheme provides free one-to-one cycle training to people aged 18 or over who live, work or study in Derbyshire.
The great thing about County Rider is that the programme can be tailored to suit your needs. Your instructor will design the programme to suit you whether you're a complete beginner or an experienced cyclist who wants to become an even better rider. They’ll provide up to four, two-hour sessions to help you stay safe, feel confident and travel independently.
If your bike needs replacing, there are government schemes that allow you to purchase a bike tax free provided you are a PAYE employee. See Bike2workscheme.co.uk
If you’re short of funds and want a bike, Monkey Park have a selection of recycled and refurbished bikes at very low prices to help people obtain their own transport, and if you have a bike but it needs repairs, check out Dr. Bike in Queens Park each month where they carry out repairs free of charge.
Friday 5 August is Bike to Workday UK, so loads of time to get ready for this, or you could pretend you’re stateside and aim for Friday 20 May which is the US date, this way you’ll get an early start and be able to enjoy some Summertime commuting!
Give me a smile as you pass... or I pass you!