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Two members of ARCS share their experiences of getting to work on two wheels & doing their bit for the environment!

Eleanor Wharf, London

People look at me in horror when I say I cycle to work on London’s busy roads. Yes, there is plenty of traffic and yes, you do need to keep your wits about you, but when I think about the alternative – standing with my face inches away from someone’s armpit, breathing air thick with viruses on the Northern line – I know what I would choose every time.

Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Trust encourage people to choose more environmentally-friendly ways of getting to work, and participate in the Cycle to Work Scheme; you choose your bike, it is paid for by the hospital, then you pay it back in monthly instalments from your gross salary, meaning the cost of the bike comes tax-free. Once you have got a bike, the cost of pedalling yourself to work is free (a monthly travelcard for zones 1-4 is currently £224.70). At Guy’s there are two, secure bike storage cages for staff. Not only does your salary go further, the health benefits are immense – my journey is an 8 mile round trip, meaning I clock up nearly 25 miles of cycling a week. No need for that £50 a month gym membership either!

This is the beautiful Brockwell Park in Brixton – look closely into the distance and you will see the Shard, my destination.

 

Taking care of your mental health is something we talk about much more these days, and there is no better way to start your day with a blast of fresh air and natural light before a long stint in the artificially lit environment of a laboratory. At the end of the day, a bit of exercise and some time to mull over the events that have passed means that by the time I get home my mind is (mostly) clear and I can enjoy the evening ahead.

“But what about when it is raining?” I hear you say. These days you can choose from a selection of waterproof kit that doesn’t necessarily involve making you look like you are about to attend an 80’s aerobics session – fully reflective material is amazing to keep you visible on the roads and your clothes dry underneath.

There is no better way to start your day with a blast of fresh air and natural light before a long stint in the artificially lit environment of a laboratory.

On top of all of this you can feel smug that you are reducing your carbon footprint, taking care of our wonderful planet so that there is something for future generations to enjoy too.

 

Bryan Woodward, Leicester

As part of our drive to be greener, we’ve been looking at using more sustainable ways to get to work to reduce emissions at X&Y Fertility in Leicester. Some of the team walk to work, whilst others take public transport. I live about 10 miles away from the clinic, so cycle in most days.

We have a lot of canals locally, so I’ve worked out a route that is mostly off-road. It takes about an hour one way, depending on the weather. In summer, the route is great. We did have quite a few sudden downpours this summer though, and the canal bridges came in handy for shelter. The storms brought down a few trees, which sometimes blocked the route, leading to detours, or a clamber over, carrying the bike on my shoulder. With the dark mornings and evenings of winter, I’ve fitted lights to the bike and double gloved with thermals. It’s cold and fresh, but it’s a great way to start the day!

As the route gets further away from the city, I hear the occasional woodpecker and glimpse the rare blue flash of a kingfisher.

Cycling is good for wildlife spotting too. I’ve seen stoats, foxes and even an American mink scuttling alongside the canal. I also saw a muntjac soon after the first lockdown, which was unusual. As the route gets further away from the city, I hear the occasional woodpecker and glimpse the rare blue flash of a kingfisher.

A Muntjac Deer

 

A downside is where to store the bike. At the Leicester clinic, we have railings to chain to. However, many of the NHS sites, don’t have great facilities. There seems to be a drive to prioritise electric charge points over bike storage. However, when it comes to sustainability, e-cars trump petrol cars, but bikes trump e-cars!

On the positives, we’re reducing our carbon footprint and getting fitter!