“These small changes have filled me with confidence”: Clare’s story about cycling for everyday journeys

8 July 2024    

Clare Farquhar, Corporate Services Manager at Cycling Scotland, shares her sense of accomplishment at cycling to work for the first time, and how it’s inspired her to make more trips by bike.

As someone who occasionally cycles for leisure, the idea of cycling to work always seemed like a bit of a fuss.

I had tried it once or twice many years ago, when living relatively close to a previous workplace. But now a regular train commuter, the idea of travelling to work by bike only raised questions: How would I carry my laptop? Would I need a pannier? How would I even go about combining cycling and a train journey?

Despite this, I’ve always enjoyed being on a bike, whether taking trips to the park or along rural cycle routes with my children from time to time. Living in the Netherlands for three months as a student during my university exchange, I cycled everywhere, encouraged and supported by the separated cycle lanes which made me feel safe no matter where I was going.

More recently when driving to the train station each morning, I’d begun thinking back to this time in my life, and how it’d be so good to be able to use my bike for that part of my daily journey to work. Having seen the new dedicated cycle spaces that have been added to my regular train, I began to think: “what was stopping me?”

Determined to give it a go, and after asking my colleagues for some tips, I recently saddled up my pannier bag (which had long been gathering dust) and tested the waters with a trip to the supermarket. It’s only 2.5 miles, but it’s a journey where I’d most often automatically think to take the car. Instead, I purposefully planned the bike trip into my lunch break and set out to see how it would go.

I know it won’t sound like much, but the feeling of accomplishment was brilliant.

With just that one trip I discovered how easy it can be to hop on my bike to do something practical like grabbing some shopping for the week ahead. I could already feel excitement at planning yet more trips in days to come.

My confidence growing and eager to set my sights further still, I finally set out to take my bike to work by combining it with my usual train journey. I had lots of questions and uncertainties in my head, but it turned out to be so much easier than I expected. Having a spot to rest my bike on the train made everything so straight forward.

My biggest single surprise though, was how much quicker it was than taking the car. Especially when you add on time for sitting in traffic and finding somewhere to park, something I was thankful to avoid.

With this first trip to work under my belt, I’m building up my confidence by doing even more journeys by bike when I can: to the local shops, to the post office, and to my exercise classes. Eventually, later this year, I hope to make a full journey into the city centre and back by bike so I am trying out various online tools like CycleStreets' journey planner and Komoot to help me plan my route.

In the meantime, these small changes have filled me with confidence and made me see my bike as a new way of getting around. As I approach a significant birthday later this year (not mentioning any numbers), I am really looking forward to getting out and about on my bike more often. It makes me feel young again!