I want to ride my bicycle

It’s fair to say that most people aren’t fond of change, especially when that change has been forced rather than chosen. That’s about to be the case for me, as it looks like my car-sharer and brother-in-law has been given notice of redundancy. Big change for him, but also big change for me, as I’ll no longer have someone to share petrol costs with. Which means my travel costs are about to double, and that’s definitely not a good change.

I wrote a couple of years ago about my desire to ditch the car and make more use of public transport. At the time, it didn’t make sense, mainly for cost reasons but also because it would cut down the time I get to spend with the girls during the week. But with change being forced upon us, it’s time to revisit how I get to and from work, and look at all the options available to me. And since I’m doing that anyway, I might as well get a blog post out of it, right?

For comparison purposes, here’s an estimate of my existing travel costs. To keep things simple, I’m ignoring holidays/illness and assuming I work 5 days a week, every week.

Car payments: nil
Insurance: £15 per month (as part of a multi-car policy)
Maintenance (annual): £140 road tax, £500 MoT + service, £500 for other repairs
Fuel: £160 per month, of which I pay half

Total annual cost to me: £2,280

So what options am I looking at? The short answer is anything I can think of. And what I’ve come up with so far is as follows:

Car – cost £3,240, travel time ~1:20 per day
The simplest to work out, I simply need to account for the full petrol cost, ie add £960 to the figure above

Train only – cost £1,226.40 (12x monthly tickets), travel time ~ 3:00 per day
Glasgow has a pretty good local train network, second only to London in terms of local transport. Or so I’m told. I can get to work with one change, but have to walk about a mile at each end to get to/from stations. Oh, and walk between stations in the middle too.

Bus and train – cost £1,484.60, travel time ~2:40 per day
Rather than switching trains in the city centre, I can switch to a bus outside Glasgow Central that will drop me off right at work. The cheapest and easiest way to do that is with a ZoneCard, which covers both methods of transport within selected zones. I need 5 zones to travel door to door, which comes in at £114.20 for 4 weeks.

Bus only – cost £676, travel time ~2:30 – 3:20 per day
There are various bus only options, each of which involve one or two changes. Cost wise it’s the cheapest public transport option (£52 for a 4 week ticket), but I’ve always found buses to be less reliable than trains and slower too.

Cycle – cost £150, travel time ~2:30 per day
Not so long ago I wouldn’t have even entertained this option, but I’m leaner and fitter than I’ve been in years, and love a challenge so when this idea popped into my head I didn’t instantly dismiss it. I’m let to believe that 15 miles or so each way should be do-able in about an hour (with practice!) but have accounted for a little over that. I don’t own a bike, and haven’t even been on one in at least 15 years, but it’s something you never forget, right? Right?

In terms of annual costs (I’m ignoring purchase for now) all I can think of is servicing/tyres etc and insurance. £150 might be a bit low for all of that, but it does for comparison.

There are, of course, hybrid options – cycle or run part of the way then public transport the rest. That would certainly be how I’d work up to cycling the whole way, but as a permanent solution it doesn’t completely make sense because the tricky part public transport-wise is at this end, and I wouldn’t be keen on leaving several hundred pounds of bike attached to a bike rack in Glasgow every night, no matter how good the lock was. Also, it doesn’t really save much money, or (more importantly) time.

Based on the above, and assuming my body is (or can be) up to it, I reckon a 30 mile round trip by bike is the way forward. With bus/train as an option for when the weather turns nasty. There is, of course, the small matter of buying a bike, and I’m disappointed to say my work doesn’t currently participate in any cycle to work scheme. They are going to look into it though, so fingers crossed it’s something they like the sound of.

If that fails I guess I’ll need to fund the purchase myself, although without the savings that cycle to work schemes provide my budget is likely to be a bit more limited.

Unless, of course, there are any bike company PRs out there who’d be interested in a sponsored blog post or two…? :)

NOTE: Queen’s Bicycle Race video may not be safe for work!

This autumn I'm running/cycling in a 30km duathlon and a half marathon, to raise money for Breast Cancer Campaign. You can read more about my challenge here or support me here. All donations, however big or small, gratefully received!

9 thoughts on “I want to ride my bicycle

  1. Does your building not have space you can take your bike in with you? Train it part way, cycle and baby sit your bike? As part of the whole green initiative things, you’d think companies would be keen to assist folk reducing their carbon footprint.

    • There’s racks outside, or I could leave it in the foyer unsecured. Or, I guess, bring it up stairs to the office itself. Trouble with doing train then bike is trying to squeeze it onto trains in rush hour.

      I’m astonished the company don’t currently do anything like this, especially given it’s based in Cambridge which I believe has a higher percentage of cyclists than anywhere else in the country. Maybe that’s the problem – they all have bikes already?

  2. A bike that costs £150 will not last if you are cycling 150 miles per week and will not be comfortable. Minimum spend for cycle to work is £500 as decent bikes start at about £300.

    • 300 – 500 is the price range I’ve been looking at. I can afford to go a bit more if work will join up to a Cycle to Work scheme. I read somewhere that there is a lot more difference between a 100 bike and a 500 one than between a 500 and 5,000 one

      • I think that is a fair comment. Cheap bikes are a false economy but there are some really lovely bikes in the price range you are looking at. Spending £5k on a bike is only really worthwhile for elite riders, most of us wouldn’t get the benefit. Are you looking at a hybrid or a road bike?

        • I’m pretty much decided on a hybrid, at least to start off with. Part of the reason for not wanting to stretch *too* far is I honestly don’t know how well it’s going to work, or if I’ll even be up to 150 miles a week, so don’t want to blow a fortune on something that might be gathering dust in 6 months time. I don’t think it will come to that though, but I’d rather spend less now and more on a replacement once I know I’m going to keep it up, if you see what I mean.

          The plan is to start off riding a few stations up the train line, then train/bus the rest. There’s an instant saving to be made doing that, and it allows me to build up to riding the full way. I might decide to stick at that level, of course, but right now I’m fully intending to be doing the full journey by bike because it should be better time wise, not to mention fitness wise. Time will tell I guess…

          • Sounds like a really good plan. 150 miles per week is a big ask especially if you haven’t done this before. Breaking it into smaller chunks and building up is a great idea. You are going to feel amazing! Good luck!

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