Tour inspires more Londoners to commute

Over a thousand workers braved the July rain

The Tour de France may have been tainted by scandal this year, but it also inspired a thousand more Londoners to start commuting by bike.

The Grand Depart was the basis for a competition to get more people cycle commuting in the UK capital. Some 250 companies took up the challenge for workers to bike in every day throughout July, despite one of the wettest months on record.

Ian Winfield owns Winfield Print and Design, which is based in Leytonstone. He was one of four workers at the firm who stuck to two wheels during July. Mr Winfield, 42, also encouraged his staff to cycle when they were visiting clients, with one colleague clocking up 600 miles during the month.

Speaking to BikeRadar, Mr Winfield said, "The four guys who took up the challenge were all cyclists before, but not necessarily every day to work. I live in Leytonstone so my journey was quite short - most of our journeys were quite short, but even when we went to see clients we tried to use our bikes.

"We're all definitely going to stick to it and we're going to take next May to cycle on the London to Paris cycle ride, so it's kick started us into doing that. My mileage for the month was 240 miles."

Mr Winfield was one of the lucky winners of a prize draw during the Tour de France Workplace Challenge, which got him VIP access to the stars during the Grand Depart.

Stephen MacDonald, 33, was among eight people at the British Dental Association who took part in the challenge. He cycled to the company's offices in Marylebone from his home in Maida Vale throughout July. "There were quite a few people in the office already cycling to work and a number of others interested in doing it, and I thought it would be a good catalyst for it," he told us.

"We had a buddy system going on, where an experienced cyclist accompanied less experienced ones to and from work for a bit. We also got hold of bike puncture repair kits and so on so that they didn't have to worry about getting all that as well."

The BDA has underground secure parking for bikes, and showers and lockers, so the new cycle commuters had everything they needed to get started. "We have got a good biking group here," added Mr MacDonald. "People were actually coming to us and saying, 'How do I get involved?'"

Set by Transport for London to encourage the capital's businesses to help their staff start cycling to work, the challenge saw firms take part in a number of team and personal challenges based on the coloured rider jerseys of the Tour de France:

- The 'Yellow Jersey' challenge - for teams to increase the number of cycling journeys made within their organisations
- The 'Green Jersey' challenge - for individuals to set themselves targets to increase cycling distances or trips
- The 'White Jersey' challenge - for teams to recruit new commuting cyclists

More than 1,100 team members took to two wheels to cycle into work in at the same time as the tour riders endured the 3,550 kilometre race through Europe.

There are now about 480,000 bike journeys made a day across London. The number of cyclists in the capital has increased by 83 per cent since 2000, and the mayor has a target to increase cycling by 400 per cent by 2025, Transport for London has schemes available for London's businesses to establish 'workplace travel plans'. They promote more sustainable ways of travelling to and from work and aim to help tackle global warming through reducing emissions produced by cars.

To find out more visit www.anewwaytowork.org.

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