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In the United Kingdom, Cycle to Work Day, on August 6, is sort of a big deal. As summer gives way to fall each year, citizens leave their car keys on the hook and grab a helmet instead so that they can mix up their morning commutes. The childhood bliss of pedaling to victory doesn’t have to be lost to the past with this celebration on the calendar. It’s good for you, the environment, and that old bike collecting dust in the garage. Hit the roads!
History of Cycle to Work Day
The concept of carving out one day a year to hop in the saddle and pedal to the office originated in 1956 with the League of American Bicyclists. What began as a single day soon ballooned into an entire week, and then an entire National Bike Month, which now occurs in May of each year. As for the more approachable Cycle to Work Day, the United Kingdom took the idea over and really gave it a community boost in 2011. They even started an organization based around the holiday.
During World War II, the U.S., as well as many other countries, experienced a gas shortage amongst civilians due to the high demands of active military organizations. This resulted in the stuff being rationed so that people could no longer hop in the driver’s seat when they needed to get somewhere.
In the face of a gasoline shortage, many citizens took up walking or biking as a new, fuel-free method of transportation. So, in 1956 when the League of American Bicyclists established the idea, they were attempting to revive a healthier time by coaxing citizens to dust off their decade-old machines and get to pedaling.
Today, Cycling to Work has taken on an entirely different meaning. As greenhouse gases damage the equanimity of Earth’s environment, driving petroleum-fueled vehicles has much graver implications. By ditching the engine and mounting the bike, people all across the world are able to come together to minimize excess waste of natural gases while also sustaining their own physical health.
Cycle to Work Day timeline
Baron Karl von Drais from Germany invents the first bicycle and names it ‘Laufmaschine,’ or ‘running machine.’
The League of American Bicyclists comes up with the idea of switching cars for bikes on one day of the year during the usual work-commute times.
Employees across the U.K. cycle to work on their first official Cycle to Work Day.
Due to a worldwide pandemic that has forced a great portion of the workforce to do their jobs from home, Cycle to Work Day is jokingly renamed ‘Cycle to Who? What? Where? Day.’
Cycle to Work Day FAQs
How can I signal other drivers on my bicycle?
While cycling to work, use the left arm fully extended to signal a left turn, and the left arm extended in an L shape to signify a right turn.
What gear do I need to cycle to work?
In order to avoid unnecessary discomforts while cycling, be sure to wear shorts or pants long enough to cover the inner thighs and short enough to avoid tangling with the pedals. Also, consider purchasing a reflective vest if you know you’ll be cycling at night.
How can I protect my bike during working hours?
You’ll want to ask your employer what the best practices are for bike storage, but we recommend either keeping the bike in your office or car or, in a pinch, locking it to a light post or railing outside your office building.
How to Celebrate Cycle to Work Day
Ride your bicycle to work
The hint is in the name here. The best way to celebrate Cycle to Work Day in all its sweaty glory is to purchase, borrow, or unearth an old bicycle and use it as your transportation for the day. Remember to bring a helmet and follow all traffic signals, including stop signs.
Teach a loved one to cycle
Not everyone knows how to ride a two-wheeled bicycle, believe it or not. If you’re a remote worker or simply don’t have to commute, you’d be just as well off teaching someone how to ride a bicycle who doesn’t already have that skill. This way, one more person will feel confident to celebrate the holiday when it comes around again.
Cycle to any other usual errand
Why not expand Cycle to Work Day past office hours and run your errand on a bike as well? This is a great opportunity to support businesses that are bicycle-friendly, i.e. who keep parking racks near their entrances to keep bikers’ equipment safe. Do your grocery shopping, grab your prescriptions — even visit a friend via bike this holiday.
5 Facts About Bicycling That Will Inspire You To Try
Bike maintenance is 20 times cheaper than car maintenance.
When bicycles first went on sale to the public, they were called ‘velocipedes.’
Bicycles save 238 million gallons of fuel each year.
To reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke, doctors recommend cycling.
With the same amount of energy spent walking, humans can cycle three times faster.
Why we Love Cycle to Work Day
A slower pace means more sightseeing
When driving, the scenery of our home cities and towns can flash by the window in mere seconds but, since cycling decreases the commuter’s velocity considerably, all those lovely details are much easier to capture. When we Cycle to Work, we’re much more likely to find new digs and dives for visiting after work that we may never have noticed before.
Cycling is a multipurpose activity
Not only can a bicycle translate the energy of a footstep into a much faster lurch forward, but it also requires our bodies to use and strengthen their muscles in order to propel us to the desired destination. Workers who may not have the spare time to hit the gym can use cycling as a double whammy activity — to get to work and get the heart rate up on this beloved contraption.
It may unearth a new hobby
Just as there are runners, yogis, muscleheads, and swimmers, there is a massive community of hobby cyclists in just about every country on Earth. We love that one Cycle to Work Day could reveal to someone their new favorite hobby or pastime and also plug them into a health-oriented community.
Cycle to Work Day dates