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Over the last few years, increasingly more people have been ditching the car in favour of cycling, walking or taking public transport for their regular commutes. Nieky, who works at Writtle University College in Chelmsford, is one of the many people that have reaped the benefits from swapping driving for cycling, with cycling now being his main mode of transport for both work and leisure. We spoke to Nieky about his story and how the change in transport has changed his life.
Hi Nieky, thanks for speaking with ForwardMotion. So, we connected via Twitter when we spotted you relate to another post about the benefits of giving up the car. Can you tell us how your story began? What made you consider giving up the car in the first place?
N: Basically, the car just wasn’t being used. We actually had two cars in our household to begin with, one mine and the other being my wife’s and we both drove to work. Then one day my wife started working from home and I began cycling 1-2 times a week, which gradually increased to 3-4 times, so we sold one of the cars. It did happen to be my car that was sold, only as my wife’s had more storage space for buggies etc. I drove once a week to drop the kids off at our childminder’s as it was on the way to my work, but now we have a trailer bike, so when the weather is good I use that to take them whenever possible.
You mentioned that you decided to sell your car due to lack of use. How much money do you think you’ve saved as a result of both this and using the other car less?
N: Given that it was used less, a tank of petrol equated to around £40 which we’d fill up every other week. That, plus £60 per month in car insurance, and then factoring in MOTs and tax, I’ve been saving around £1,500 – £2,000 per year. That doesn’t even include factors such as parking, new car parts and all of the other micropayments that come with running a car.
What were the main challenges to adapting to life without a car? How did you overcome these?
N: The main two challenges were transporting the kids to the childminders, which I now try to use the trailer bike for as much as possible, and doing a ‘big shop.’ I sometimes will still use the car for a big shop – but only if it is practical. Other than that, my days aren’t much different, I’ve adapted to a cycling commute fairly easily. I leave an hour earlier in the mornings to give me enough time to shower and change when I arrive at work, but my actual commute only takes around 15-20 minutes longer for a 40km round-trip. That’s really the only change.
Do you miss anything about using the car for your commute?
N: There’s not enough time to clear my head in the car. Exercising is such a great way to get rid of work stress, so I’m much more relaxed when I come home. Plus, I’m more refreshed and motivated to start my day when arriving at work. You arrive at work in a better frame of mind. It helps that the traffic flow is different as I can choose different routes, and I often take more scenic routes for an even nicer experience.
How has your life changed by changing the way you travel?
N: In addition to saving money and everything, the biggest improvement is to my mental health. The release of endorphins that come with exercise has helped me to feel less stressed overall and I feel better mentally in general. It’s become a big part of my routine, even during lockdown. I really missed my regular rides to work, so I still get up at 7am to go out for an hour’s ride at least three times a week. It helps me keep some structure and motivation whilst working from home. The consequence of having that tempting ‘5 more minutes’ in bed is you have to cycle faster to be done before work begins! In addition, there are lots of secondary benefits. The physical benefits to exercise, it’s a lot greener for the planet, less congestion on the roads – even though they’re not main factors, it doesn’t mean they can’t contribute to a better life. Since swapping the car for the bike, I’d never consider going back.
To find out how you can change your commute for the better like Nieky, get in touch with the ForwardMotion team today. ForwardMotion can help you make changes big or small to help you achieve a more active and sustainable lifestyle.