Whenever I am in the office – which is on average 3 or 4 days per week – I commute by bicycle. Why? Because I enjoy it, I feel great and I am not adding to the earth’s carbon footprint. It’s a win-win situation!
My commute is on average 10 miles each way, so 20 miles a day. Sometimes, I take a ‘long route’ (just because I can and I like it), and over a year, I do approximately 2,500 miles just commuting to and from work on my bike.
From an environmental perspective, those 2,500 miles would normally be done by car, so simply by bicycling and not driving I avoid putting 677.7 kg CO2e into the atmosphere. 677kg! Try lifting that! (see note 1).
I do feel suitably smug about this, and due to my career in the energy efficiency and carbon management fields, I realise perhaps more than most the need to reduce carbon emissions. We (the planet) need to be at net zero carbon emissions by 2050 to avoid catastrophic climate change consequences, and whilst the fossil fuel companies and governmental policies will do the most to achieve this, we still all need to make our own contributions to this effort.
Personally, I really cannot recommend cycle commuting enough. Obviously, it keeps you fit; my 10-mile commute takes about 40 minutes, so there are 80 minutes of exercise each day. Now I am at the age where, let’s just say, it is easier to put weight on than lose weight. I can eat cakes and cheese guilt-free. I don’t have to get home and then think about doing some exercise – it’s already done!
As my commutes are done at rush hour (obviously!), I can often cycle the journey quicker than I could do by car, so that is another win. Overtaking gridlocked cars waiting in traffic jams is just so satisfying. However, please don’t think I jump on paths or jump traffic lights – all rules of the road are 100% obeyed here.
It is also proven that exercise releases endorphins (feel-good chemicals) into the body, so each day I arrive at the office on a natural high – who wouldn’t want that?
What are the downsides of cycle commuting? None! In the press, there is a noisy minority of drivers who seem to have issues with cyclists. I do chuckle when I read reports of people gridlocked in cars complaining that it is the new cycle lane causing the congestion. Seriously? The congestion is very simply caused by the intolerable number of cars on the road doing often unnecessary journeys. But, honestly, here in the northeast of England, with a commute including Newcastle City Centre, we exist in (almost) perfect harmony.
“What about the rain?” I hear you ask. No problem. Nothing quite as invigorating as riding in the rain. I am lucky in that there are excellent bike sheds, lockers and showers in my office block, so I am always clean and dry when I get to my desk. One thing I do draw the line at is ice on the roads – cycles and ice never will work together.
So, go on, give it a try. Get that bike out and cycle to work. You never know – you might like it, and you will be saving yourself and the planet at the same time.
Note 1 – emission factor for average diesel car 0.27108kg/CO2e/mile from UK Government GHG conversion factors for Company reporting 2020
Dan Smith, Director of Energy Services, is responsible for a wide ranging energy management portfolio, helping Northern Gas and Power’s customers improve their energy efficiency and reduce their energy bills.
He is a successful Head of Energy and Chartered Energy Engineer with a wide range of experience working for and with a variety of clients, including major blue-chip corporations such as IKEA, Rolls Royce Aerospace and Siemens. He has operated internationally (Europe, Africa and Asia) in FMCG and manufacturing sectors, and has a proven track-record of delivering and managing projects, developing and delivering operational strategies, and managing energy and influencing large corporates with respect to energy and sustainability. He is responsible for annual energy budgets up to £20m, and single value projects up to £3m.
His depth of experience brings to Northern Gas and Power an extensive specialist knowledge gained from nearly 30 years energy engineering, energy services and energy management experience in many different sectors all over the world, from China to Zambia.