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Careers

Why I . . . cycle to work

BMJ 2019; 365 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.l1979 (Published 08 May 2019) Cite this as: BMJ 2019;365:l1979

Re: Why I . . . cycle to work

Cycling has always been part of my life and I am suprised not more NHS staff cycle to work. I grew up cycling to school, to UNI, for shopping and about everywhere I wanted to go. Cycling is about getting around with a feeling of freedom and getting to places in a way which is environmetally friendly. It simply makes me feel alive and free.

I moved to the UK as a junior doctor in 1995, by bicycle with my belongings on a bicycle trailer, riding from the ferry port to the nearest Central Station. Cycling was far from common place in the UK back then and my appearance with my bike and trailer proved to be quiet a head turner, wherever I went. Later in my career, I became seriously ill and was left with a long term health condition/disability which sadly prevented me from being able to cycle for some time. I was forced to buy my first car aged 32. This did not stop me from getting back into cycling as soon as I could. The solution was to equip my bicycle with an electric motor to assist my own pedaling efforts at a time, when e-cycling was still in its infancy and barely known in the UK.

In recent years I upgraded to a modern state of the art e-bike/pedelec. This has enalbed me to commute by bike again, on good days, including to some of my workplaces and for home visits. I'd like to encourage all NHS staff to consider e-cycling as an alternative to using cars/motorbikes to commute. E-cycling gives a lot of the benefits of cycling with the added benefits of extra range (useful for commuting and home visits), no need to build up a sweat if not desirable (hence no need to have showers on site) and it can enable those, who are less physically able for whaterver reason, to still have a great outdoor cycling experience. GP practices in inner-city and suburban areas could easily manage their homevisits on e-bicycles and it would be nice to see this mode of transport adopted more widely.

How about getting some practice bikes for homevisiting? The more recenlty introduced green commute initiative can help with funding. It is an extension of the existing cycle to work scheme with no £1000 limit. https://greencommuteinitiative.uk/

It would be nice to see more people of all abilities on the roads with their bikes instead of cars and this would no doubt have wider benefits for our communities.

Competing interests: No competing interests

15 May 2019
Heike Haffmans
GP
North Tyneside