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Greensplaining Bonus: Three things I wish people told me before I bought all my bicycles

This post is a free bonus chapter to go with my book “Greensplaining”. You can get the full book here.

In the two years since I stopped driving around the U.K. for work, I’ve had three bikes that I used to commute to my new cosy desk job. Now, as the second year is passing, I know more about cycling – and there are three things I wish I’d known earlier, much earlier. These could help you if you still want to decide: can I commute by bicycle? And what does it take to really ride a bike to work?

Thing One: Sometimes you don’t have to pay for your bike.

I just learned about this the other day. “Cycle to Work” is apparently a government scheme that used to be much better value, but it still works – and it’s good news for those of us in the U.K. and Ireland. A bit of your paycheck disappears every month, but because it’s salary sacrifice, you save yourself some tax and national insurance money. And you still get to keep the bike (and extra gear) at the end of the scheme. Neat! You can read more about the scheme on this Wikipedia page.

Thing Two: Renting bikes is a big thing in over one thousand cities

One thousand cities. That’s an impressive number. Some schemes are doing better than others, and many more bike-borrowing ideas are apparently coming to more cities around the world.

The bike scheme in London, where I live, is big and popular. The bicycles, which I see on the streets everywhere, are really nice – sturdy and yet swift enough for a small person to ride, and they look safe (they come with a cool green led light that projects a bicycle symbol to the road surface in front – letting people know you’re behind them – how awesome is that?).

So you don’t need to own a bicycle in many places. You can just get one whenever you need one. And this, for many, is just what they need. (Read more about bicycle sharing schemes in this Guardian article )

Thing Three: folding bikes have matured, man

I used to have one of those when I was seven, and then got a “grown-up” bike later and quickly forgot about folding bicycles. I shouldn’t have. The person who reminded me of them was a colleague of mine, who boarded the same train as me to go to a conference I was attending, except he had his folding bike with him, so he’d cycle all around the beautiful Scottish coast while I had to pay loads for taxis.

And you can do much more on a folding bike, too. This article ranks the commuter bikes mainly, but this handy ranking shows you some mountain bikes and they’re quite well-reviewed! You can mix some cycling with your train commute, or a car ride.

All these things I wish I’d known sooner. I would have enjoyed cycling earlier, and in some cases, maybe I wouldn’t need to buy a bike at all?

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