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Smarter Travel - Taking the Bike to Work

How do you feel about leaving the car at home and taking the bike to work? The usual answers range from:

A. Couldn't be bothered, it's Ireland, I don't want to get wet.

B. It's hard enough to get the kids out to school in the morning, how will I fit them all on the handlebars?

C. My bike doesn't have a cup holder - how will I sip my coffee when I'm stuck at the traffic lights?

All of the above, while a bit tongue in cheek, have a ring of truth to them. Cycling to work won't suit everyone, it certainly will require a bit of investment in terms of a bike and some rain gear, and there will be days when you'd prefer a dental visit to taking on the wind and rain pouring in through every seam in that expensive waterproof you were promised by that sales person would keep you cosy and dry on your commute.

So, how do we sell this madness to the public? Well, there are the obvious health benefits, for one. A cycle in the morning sets you up for the day, stimulates serotonin which improves your mood, and generally get you healthy. It will also boost energy levels, help keep your weight down and improve your mental as well as physical wellbeing, which should lead to you being more productive at work.

It's also pretty foolproof. Anyone can cycle, whether you're 4 or 84, and all you need is to get a couple of layers on, make your mind up that you'll face whatever the weather throws at you, and get out on the bike. Once you're up and about, you won't even notice the rain, and if you leave a spare set of clothes at work, you'll soon be dry, motivated, and ready for the day.

As part of a national movement to get people on their bikes, Sligo County Council has launched the Urban Cycle Sligo initiative, which aims to get people to consider the bike as a way to get to work, and to leave the car at home. It outlines some additional benefits:

1. Lower your motoring costs.

2. Avoid traffic congestion.

3. Environmentally friendly.

4. Enjoy the great outdoors.

5. Get to work stress free.

To this end, Sligo County Council has launched to provide tips and resources to get you up and cycling. It provides maps and route markers for you to plan your trip to work. In addition, Omedia has produced a suite of short videos to show you some of the routes. Have a look at them, they show Sligo off at its spectacular best, and in a way you rarely if ever get to see from behind the wheel of your car.

So, have a think about it - could you do away with the stress of being stuck behind the wheel of your car, getting gridlocked in traffic, and arriving late and stressed out to work, in favour of taking the bike, sailing through traffic and arriving at work, energised and ready for whatever the boss throws at you? Bikes are much more affordable, and you can get a tax reduction on the purchase of both your bike and accessories by visiting this link.

And of course, once you've made the initial investment, you have the bike for those longer scenic cycles at the weekend, where you can team up with your friends, join a cycling club, of which there are several in Sligo (follow this link) and before long, you'll have the whole family out enjoying the fresh air, leading to a happier, healthier lifestyle for you and those around you.

There are up to 40km of marked cycle lanes in and around Sligo town, enabling you to cycle from places like Strandhill and Rosses Point into the centre of town, and other cycle-friendly routes are being developed to provide cyclists with a safe route to get around the town, and putting them on an equal footing with motorists. These routes are being added to all the time, and while some of the routes still require tweaking, there's no doubt but that cycling is becoming a much more realistic option for people to get around Sligo than ever before. So instead of thinking of the many reasons why cycling just isn't for you, get out and give it a try. Beg, borrow or steal (ok, maybe the last option isn't the best advice) a bike before you invest in your own, and give it a try. It might be the beginning of a whole new way of travel for you.

Enjoy the cycle!

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