As Energy Saving Week begins, staff at the Ministry of Defence Police and Guarding Agency headquarters have been leaving their cars at home and getting on their bikes to help save energy.
Although the headquarters is based deep in the Essex countryside, where there are plenty of challenging hills on the approach roads, this hasn’t deterred the staff who work there, many of whom have been riding their bicycles to work for quite some time.
Inspector Nigel Thomas started cycling in 2004, initially to see whether his family could do with just one car.
I took to cycling and eventually the MG [car] went. I continue cycling to work, mainly to keep fit and save money for holidays. If people are thinking of taking up cycling, then I recommend you avoid the cheapest bikes, accessories and clothing; they will be a false economy.
Tony Smith, who works for the MOD Guard Service, made his first journey to work, a 17-mile (27km) round trip, by bike ten years ago.
It was tough going for the first few weeks. I hadn’t realised we had such long and steep hills in this area, but I soon started to enjoy the experience, seeing wildlife close-up, sometimes too close for comfort. I have had one or two close encounters with traffic, but generally find that most drivers are considerate.
Inspector Brian Abram explained his cycling habit:
I travel nine miles [14.5km] each way to and from work and, what used to be quite an achievement, I find is now just a ‘warm up’ as I regularly cycle 45 miles [72km] on a Saturday morning as well as in my local cycling group,” he said.
Although my main motive was to support cancer charity bike rides of 50 to 100 miles [80-160km], I reckon savings on petrol over a year must amount to just over £300, bearing in mind the rising cost of fuel.
I am now much fitter, slimmer and feel healthier. I am also learning to swim in races and run for a local club. This is all down to my overall fitness levels being so vastly improved by cycling into work.
Paul Canham is the MOD Police’s Fleet Vehicle Manager, but despite his job he still finds time to get out on his bike and keeps it at work so he can cycle to meetings, as office buildings at the former RAF air base are quite far apart.
I just pack my paperwork into my backpack and head off. It’s quicker than getting a car out. Also, it’s healthier and better for the environment.
Energy Saving Week runs from today, Monday 25 October 2010, until Friday 29 October 2010.