Cycling to Work is Under Threat

Prior to lockdown and the onset of working from home, which continues to this day for me and my colleagues I might add: I used to cycle back and forth into the office each day. A 13 mile round trip, most of which was pedalled along a semi-rural, disused railway track converted to a cycle path by Sustrans some years back; with just a mile or so at each end being traversed on the roads alongside traffic.

Fair Weather Cycling

Fine weather or foul didn’t dissuade me, although I will admit heavy snow or thick ice used to force me into the car for safety, rather than comfort reasons.

motion blur picture of a cyclist in the traffic of a city street at heavy rain

No one was going to accuse me of being a ‘fair weather cyclist’, and over time my cycling clobber has grown to reflect this by encompassing a range of variable weather attire including thermal underwear, ski masks (needed in the midst of winter – trust me), overshoes and a waterproof backpack which allowed me to carry a dry change of clothing whilst cycling head down into the driving rain. The uphill journey in generally took me about 30 minutes and the downhill journey home, some 20-25 minutes. All dependant on the wind direction of course!

Not bad really: when at best it would take me 35 minutes to drive into work, typically 45 minutes and at worst, over an hour subject to the whims of the traffic.

Getting Changed

Some of the considerations for anyone commuting to work on a bike each day is where do you get changed? Can you shower when you get there and where can you store your bike securely?

Grey locker rooms in a change room

I’m lucky enough to work for a company where they have dedicated lockers, changing rooms, showers and secure bike parking areas for their cyclists. The site I am on has several hundred, if not a thousand, people working on it and out of those, there are a couple of dozen cyclists judging by the number of bikes in the cycle sheds each day.

Most of the cyclists, including me, have a permanent locker which means we can keep stuff like toiletries, spare clothes and some formal shoes at work, without having to carry them back and forth with us each day. There’s even a pool of bike spares and a pump in the changing rooms for anyone’s use and there’s an active community of company cyclists in an email group and on Yammer.

In other words, it ticks all the right boxes for anyone wanting to cycle into work and helps keep everyone’s carbon footprint (including my employers), low.

In all honesty, it’s one of the few things I miss about working out of the office and it is one of the aspects I was looking forward to about our phased return in the Autumn.

Mothballed

So today, I was dismayed to learn through a post on Yammer (Work’s internal social media platform – think Facebook for work), that the building which houses the changing rooms for we cyclists is to be ‘mothballed’ with no alternative being proposed ‘at the current time’.

This decision has no doubt come about because Work are gearing up for a hybrid working model for most of their staff which in turn, renders a lot of their office space redundant. Rumour has it they’ll eventually sell or rent out the surplus to third parties. The building containing our changing rooms, contains a number of big open plan offices, so there you have it I’ll wager!

This policy is a major obstacle for my ‘get back into fitness’ regime because whilst I was only planning to be in the office for 1-2 days per week come the Autumn, cycling into work would give me a purpose, a motivation to get back on my bike and into a structured fitness regime again.

Fingers crossed alternatives are proposed. If not, I’ll be changing in the bogs and sitting at my desk all day slowly starting to hum!


Image credits: Top Halfpoint, middle Christian Müller lower Ulrich Müller Licensed through Adobe Image Stock