Back in the saddle

Photo: Steffany Montoya. One of more than 250 key workers to receive a donated bike.

By Leandra Cardoso

The Bikes for Key Workers project launched at the end of April 2020 and has succeeded in giving bikes to over 200 local NHS and social care key workers. Leandra Cardoso tells us about her experience of receiving a bike through the project and how it has changed her journey to work:

“I was pleased to be part of the Bikes for Key Workers scheme organised by Active Oxfordshire and I have really enjoyed being able to get back on a bike.

I’m a physiotherapist working at St Luke’s in Headington and I live in Kidlington, which is a six-mile journey. I used to go by bus every day but one day at work they told us about the Bikes for Key Workers project, which sounded like a great idea and ideal for me. I sent an email and one week later I received my bicycle.

Since then I’ve been able to go to work by bike. My new bike is perfect for me. It’s just an ordinary bike but it is just right for the journey. I have to say that I don’t ride every day but it gives me another travel option; and it’s an option that I really enjoy.

I’m quite active and in my last job I used to go by bike every day but it was just two miles, which was a nice distance. A twelve-mile round trip can be a bit too much sometimes, particularly at the end of the day, so every so often I still go by bus. It makes a nice change and means I can listen to music or read.

Perhaps the best thing about cycling to work is that I feel like I’m optimising my time: I’m doing my daily exercise on the way to my job. If I’m exercising on my way to work I don’t have to do an exercise routine after getting home from work. Also I feel it is very relaxing, particularly at the end of the day. With our workload, it is really nice to enjoy the wind in your face and taking the time to disconnect. When you arrive home your exercise is done and your mind is clear.

The weather has been good this summer and I don’t yet have the experience of cycling in winter. Of course it’s more tempting during the summer but it will probably depend on the rain. It is definitely something that I would like to keep as a routine, carrying on even if not quite as often as during the summer.

I’m riding regularly to work but I also use the bike to ride near where I live. It might not be so often for work during the winter but I’ll certainly use it regularly at the weekends and for local trips.”

The Bikes for Keyworkers project is being led by Oxford’s cycle campaign – Cyclox – with Active Oxfordshire and other partners, and an army of amazing volunteer mechanics and donors. Demand is still very high and the project is expanding to also provide wider bike maintenance and cycling tuition: can we get 300 key workers back in the saddle?

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