Thrifty Living: Could bike to school week convince us all to ditch the car in favour of a greener, more economical transport option?

Are you ready to ditch the car in favour of two wheels?

Are you ready to ditch the car in favour of two wheels? - Credit: Archant

It’s Bike to School Week from June 1 to 5. Could there ever be a better excuse to ditch the car, dust down the cycles and take to the open road?

I thought not. In fact, I was so enthusiastic about the prospect that my son and I started our own Bike to School Week a full seven days ahead of time.

It was a win-win situation, I reasoned. Cycling the five-mile round trip twice a day would involve me taking more regular exercise than I’d managed at any other point so far this century. It would also help the environment and save me pounds in fuel costs. After all, five miles a trip is 10 miles a day, which makes 50 miles a week.

I’d save around a gallon of fuel in that time. If we could keep up the biking for a month I’d be £20-plus better off. What’s more, I’d have the heart rate of a 20-year-old and thighs as firm as titanium.

Bike to School Week is also a great idea because it focuses the mind on a way of travelling that doesn’t involve sitting in your own hermetically-sealed little world, where it’s easy to imagine you’re immune to the rules that apply in other areas of life. I’m talking about things like consideration towards others and the ability to empathise with road users whose mode of transport may make them feel more vulnerable than you.

Get out of your car and onto your bike and you’ll discover what I mean, especially if you take to the road in the rush hour, when otherwise-reasonable human beings seem to lose all reason in their desire to get wherever they are going as quickly as possible.

Our first morning’s trip was an eye-opener. We were passed by motorists determined to squeeze between us and on-coming traffic, drivers who pulled out of T-junctions in front of us and those who seemed to think it was an imposition for anyone other than them to be on the road. Of course, there were courteous drivers too and the odd ? but all too infrequent ? cycle lane. I also discovered my son can cycle a lot faster than I can these days, which presented challenges of its own.

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We kept up the cycling for a week and, yes, I do feel better for it. Whether we’ll manage it for a whole month and beyond is another matter. But I know one thing for sure. The experience will make me a more considerate driver.

Email Sheena with your thrifty ideas or tweet using #ThriftyLiving.