Use the car less often

Every car journey you switch for walking, cycling or public transport can save you money and reduce your environmental impact.

Why?

Walking is a great option for the shortest of journeys – on average, people can walk a mile in about 20 minutes. It is good for your mental and physical health, plus it is the cheapest way to get around and there is no need to search for a parking space if you use your feet!

Cycling is a low-cost, reliable and highly-efficient mode of transport suitable for journeys that may be too long by foot. Most people can travel 5 miles in 30 minutes by bike at a comfortable pace and usually arrive happier than they started. Depending on the route, you don’t get stuck in traffic jams and you can carry quite a bit on a city bike with the right equipment (such as panniers) without breaking a sweat. And, if you are unable to ride a standard bike, there are other options such as tricycles, handcycles and recumbent cycles.

Public transport is an option if cycling and walking isn’t suitable and can save you the hassle of finding a parking space for your car. The journey can enable you to have some quiet time to read a book or newspaper, listen to a podcast or even take up a craft (such as knitting). Buses and trains are far more efficient than private cars when it comes to fuel consumption so taking public transport instead of a car can easily reduce your carbon footprint.

How?

Walking and Cycling

As mentioned above, walking and cycling are great ways to get around Cambridge for shorter journeys. While you may assume that journeys will always be quicker by car, once you take congestion and parking into account it may be quicker to cycle or even walk these shorter journeys. This is particularly the case in a city. You are also able to take advantage of car-free shortcuts.

Even luggage, shopping or kids don’t need to be a barrier to ditching the car. For example, cargo bikes are designed to help you move heavy goods and even other people around. Electric bikes stretch the distance you can travel compared to a standard push bike and can reduce journey time.

Not even the weather needs to prevent you from cycling. With the right clothing (waterproof coat, trousers and a hat with a brim) and careful braking and turning, there’s nothing wrong with cycling in the rain or even snow.

Check out the Camcycle website for more tips and ideas.

Buying a bike

Your first choice should be riding the bikes you already have at home. If you need help to repair or maintain your bike, turn to one of the many repair shops in the city. Alternatively you can get a second hand bike from a local charity shop like OWL Bikes. This is cheaper than buying a new bike and has the added benefits of extra savings in energy by extending a bike’s lifecycle while supporting a good cause.

If you do need to buy a new bike, consider the following:

  • Check your size with the shopkeeper – if the bike is too small then you won’t be able to pedal it efficiently
  • Look for a practical bike with mudguards, chainguard, a rack and a basket – although these can be added afterwards too
  • For riding at night you will need front and rear lights
  • Be sure to get a good D-lock for securing your bike if you want to minimise the risk of theft. This should be rated 2 / 5 by ART at least (but 3 is better). These tend to be more expensive than other types of lock (it’ll probably cost at least £50) but if you are able to spend this, it will save you money in the long run.

Your employer may be able to help you with financial and practical support to get started cycling. There are currently two schemes that help employees that your employer may be part of:

E-bikes

Many people are turning to e-bikes (electric bikes) to help them on longer journeys or to get around quicker. For people who mainly travel short journeys, an e-bike can replace a car, so even though they are not cheap, they are very cheap in comparison! They’re also vastly more efficient than electric cars and can generally travel 30-60 miles on electricity worth about 5p! Manufacturing an e-bike is much, much lighter on the environment than an electric car.

Keep in mind that these tend to be considerably more valuable than push-bikes so it is worth spending even more on a properly secure lock to keep your bike safe.

Family bikes

Family bikes are designed to carry multiple family members, usually a parent with one or more children. They can come with an e-assist to help with the extra weight. They vary in shapes and sizes, so that every family can find the right model for their needs. Check out the School Run Centre or Outspoken for more advice, or turn to the vast second hand market for family bikes in Cambridge.

Couriers

Businesses such as Zedify have shown that in a city it is possible to run delivery services by (electric / cargo) bike. This is more environmentally sustainable than delivery vans and local retailers such as Outspoken will be able to help you find the right solution for your needs.

Public Transport

Cambridge has a good connection to other towns and cities by public transport such as buses and trains. Dedicated bus lanes and routes can provide better options to avoid congestion. If you do need to drive to get somewhere, consider driving part-way and using public transport for the remainder. For example, Cambridge has a number of park and ride locations which can make parking simpler when visiting the city from further afield.

Buses

You can find most information about buses on the Cambridgeshire County Council website. Here you will find links to current bus timetables, information about bus tickets as well as application forms for free bus passes. Traveline is an online platform to plan your bus journeys which can help if you aren’t sure which buses you need to take or when they are running.

Community transport schemes

Community transport provides journeys for people who have difficulty using conventional public transport. For example those who do not have access to public transport and do not have access to their own car, or those who experience difficulty using public transport i.e. because of a disability or age.