'I've been riding along on my (electric) pushbike...'

Today is Cycle to Work Day! It’s a day to get in the saddle and experience the brilliant benefits everyday cycling offers – mental, physical, financial and environmental – first-hand.

NHS staff in Sheffield have access to month-long e-bike loans as well as skills and confidence sessions through Making cycling e-asier, a scheme provided by Cycling UK, and communications officer Matt Woodward decided to give it a go.

See what Matt thought of the experience in this blog...

I'd been waiting for a chance like this to give an e-bike a go. I dislike driving and am very conscious of the environmental impact cars have. But the commute to our headquarters at Centre Court is too far to walk.

So when I saw the chance to borrow a bike for a month (for free) I jumped straight in with a view of this being a 'try before you buy' type situation.

And, as they say, the proof of the pudding is in the eating - I loved my bike so much that I've got one on order through our Vivup cycle scheme (which has saved me hundreds of pounds).

I was using pedals not petrol to power my way in to work and it took about the same amount of time. I've also never been so fit.

Matt Woodward

The bike really empowered me to get out and about. I quickly built up my confidence cycling on busy roads (motorists are more respectful and considerate than I thought and there are more cycle lanes than I knew about), so much so that when I got home on an evening I would take the bike out for a spin around the Peak District.

The electric motor really helps. You don't have to use it at all, but it's there if you need a bit of extra power or help getting up a hill. Before I would have had to push the bike up a hill, now I breeze up. It meant that despite being a busy father of two I could quickly snatch 45 minutes and get a good distance. All of the photos in this blog were taken within a 30 minute cycle of my house. The motor doesn't do all of the hard work for you - it's there to help. Take your foot off of the pedals and you won't move. But it is a significant help.

It also saved money on the commute. I was using pedals not petrol to power my way in to work and it took about the same amount of time. I've also never been so fit.

As a bit of a geek I love statistics and have a watch that recorded everything I did on the bike:

  • I covered 151.9 miles
  • Cycling for 12 hours and 39 minutes
  • I climbed 11,677ft and
  • Burnt a total of 6760 calories.

My advice for anyone thinking of giving this a go:

  • Get some cycling glasses - the buzzing things can be a real nuisance, especially if you are cycling at a quick pace.
  • If you are using it to commute then firstly familiarise yourself with the route - there may be cycle lanes that you've not previously noticed when driving in or quieter bits of road which take you away from busy traffic.
  • If, like me, you've not cycled for a bit then get out there when it's a little quieter so you know the roads and how the electric assistance works. 
  • And finally - have fun! I did.

Why does this matter?

Cycling offers an amazing opportunity for you to reduce your carbon footprint at the same time as gaining wider benefits to your finances and your physical and mental wellbeing. By swapping car for bike for a commute to work or some business mileage, our staff are supporting SHSC to meet our Green Plan target to reduce our carbon footprint for all our emissions (including staff commuting and business travel) to net zero by 2045.

They are also making sure they no longer contribute to air pollution in the city, and the negative effects on health that this brings. Did you know, cyclists are exposed to less air pollution whilst travelling than those sat in cars? Air pollution is responsible for around 500 deaths per year in Sheffield as well as increased mental health risks for dementia, depression, stress and psychological distress.

Get your own bike!