Replace short journeys
With fuel costs rising, replacing shorter journeys can help save money. If you’re planning a journey that is less than 5 miles, consider whether you could cycle instead. Jumping in the car is often the first thing people think of and it can feel more convenient, but navigating traffic jams and finding a parking spot can add more time and hassle to your trip. A bit of planning beforehand can mean you’re more likely to hop onto your cycle than into your car the next time you need to make a short journey.
Take a bit of time and think about the sort of short trips you do regularly. Could any of them be replaced by cycling? If they can, work out your route in advance, along with roughly how long it will take, and what you will need to take with you. If you make sure all you need to do is grab your bag and your cycle and go, it will make the choice to cycle a lot easier. Make the decision beforehand – tell yourself that next time you need to pop to the shop or visit a friend, you’ll cycle there, and remind yourself how much more pleasant it will be than driving.
Cycle to work scheme
If your workplace takes part, you can save money on buying a cycle by using the cycle to work scheme. The scheme is a salary sacrifice employee benefit, which means the cost for your cycle comes directly from your salary before tax. This means you pay less tax on your salary than you would otherwise, which is where the saving comes in. If you are thinking of getting a new bike, find out whether your employer takes part in this scheme before you buy, as you might be able to save money.
Avoid congestion and clean air charges
If you live somewhere with congestion or clean air charges, then even driving into certain areas will cost you money. If you do need to visit these zones, you can cycle there for free. The zones are usually fairly small and often have good cycle lanes, areas to lock your bike up and even cycle hire schemes that can be cheaper than the charge, especially if you just want to nip round the shops or go for a coffee.
Learn how to fix your bike
Keeping a car ticking over can be an expensive business, and MOTs and servicing can soon add up. Cycle maintenance is a lot simpler, and getting your cycle repaired or serviced at cycle shops or by a local mechanic is usually a lot more affordable. If you learn how to fix your cycle yourself, however, all you need to pay for are parts and the tools you need to keep it in top condition.
There are lots of reasonably priced cycle mechanic courses available, both online and in person, and many councils and other organisations will offer cycle maintenance training for free. Maintaining your cycle properly will help make sure parts like your chain and gears last longer, so it is worth learning how to do it.
Save on gym membership
Cycling keeps you fit and healthy, so if you get on your cycle more you won’t need to keep paying for that gym membership. If you replace some of your shorter car journeys with rides it will also make it a lot easier to include exercise in your routine. Start out by replace one day’s commuting with a cycle ride and see how much better you feel. You’ll be handing in your gym pass in no time.
Car insurance costs on average £470 per year, according to the Association of British Insurers. While you don’t need insurance to cycle, on or off the road, we would still recommend investing in some to make sure you’re covered if anything goes wrong. If you join Cycling UK as a member, you get free £10m third party insurance cover, and they also offer deals on more comprehensive insurance packages if you need it. Their membership, with free basic insurance, costs between £33 and £50 annually for individual membership, and households pay just £80 a year for a maximum of two adults and unlimited children. Visit their website for more information.
Before you pay to take out new a policy though, double check you’re not covered for third party liability on your household insurance, as many policies include this as standard.
If you are a multi-car household, you might find that one vehicle is mostly used as a ‘run-around’ – doing lots of short trips and not much else. This can cause more wear and tear on your engine, and it can be less fuel efficient than taking longer trips. You can also save money on insurance, MOTs and all the other running costs associated with cars if you replace it with a cycle instead.
Electric cycles are more expensive, but they are a great option if you are looking to replace a second car you don’t really need. They’ll give you the juice to get up hills, especially if you’re carrying children or shopping, or both! Have a look at our blog post on cycling as a family, where two families gave us some of their top tips for cycling together.
As well as helping you save money, cycling more can be great for your physical and mental health. It’s also more environmentally friendly, especially if you cycle to replace short journeys.
If you want to cycle more, whether it’s to save money or for any other reason, but aren’t sure where to start, we have training courses for all ages, including family training, which can help you all into the saddle.