Leave the car at home and get cycling this September

Will you sign up to the Workplace Challenge and cycle to work for one month?
Will you sign up to the Workplace Challenge and cycle to work for one month?

It’s the chance to inject some excitement into your morning commute and get one over your colleagues at the same time.

There’s also the added benefits of increasing your fitness and doing your own small bit to protect the environment.

The Falkirk district has a fantastic network of cyclepaths and some stunning scenery which so many people don’t realise provide shortcuts to a variety of places

Christine Bell, Communities Along the Carron Association

Staff in offices and workplaces across the Falkirk district are being encouraged to ditch their cars and cycle to work next month as part of a new challenge promoted by Communities Along the Carron Association (CATCA).

There’s no excuse not to take part if you don’t own a bike – walking or car sharing is also an acceptable way to take part.

The CATCA Journey Challenge is all about making healthier journeys and hopefully seeing less cars clogging the roads during the morning and evening rush hours.

A dedicated website has been set-up to allow businesses and firms to sign up and find out more about how the challenge works.

Departments and office teams can compete against each other and a range of prizes are up for grabs.

All you have to do is register your journeys to and from work for one month.

“The Falkirk district has a fantastic network of cyclepaths and some stunning scenery which so many people don’t realise provide shortcuts to a variety of places,” said Christine Bell of CATCA.

“It’s often quicker to reach them by bike than by car.

“The workplace challenge is a great opportunity on so many levels.

“The competition element encourages people who usually just jump in the car every day to explore different ways of making their journey to work while potentially winning prizes and having fun competing with their work colleagues.

“The new website includes a journey planner service so we can help people who want to get fitter, save money, and protect the environment to plan their regular exercise into their daily routine which will have long term benefits to their health and wellbeing.”

Among those already signed up to take part are staff and pupils at Larbert High School.

Those registering for the challenge will need to log their journeys to work by foot, bike, public transport, car share and motorbike throughout September.

You can even log journeys by roller skates or skateboard so dig your old skates out of the attic and wheel to work.

You can also log distances you would have normally driven when you instad worked from home or set up a teleconference.

The more journeys you log, the higher up the leaderboard you’ll go.

The challenge is funded by Sustrans Scotland, which promotes and looks after the 2000 miles of National Cycle Network in the country.

“We’re delighted to be working in partnership with CATCA to encourage employees to choose healthier journeys throughout September with a bit of healthy competition,” said Kate Campbell, Sustrans Scotland deputy director.

“We’re using an online challenge to encourage more employees to be a bit more active in the ways they travel.

“Not only does this make the commute a more pleasant experience, it also increases productivity and reduces the number of sick days taken.

“An added bonus is reduced traffic congestion and associated pollution, and reduced competition or need for costly car parking spaces.”

The lynchpin of Falkirk’s new path network is the recently replaced Dorrator Bridge which links Camelon and Larbert.

The opening of the £350,000 bridge earlier this year provided the missing link in the ambitious Carron Loop scheme developed by Falkirk Council, Central Scotland Forest Trust and CATCA.

The bridge makes access between Larbert, Stenhousemuir, Camelon, Mungal and Bainsford more user friendly for walkers and cyclists.

Councillor Craig R Martin, council environment spokesman, said last month: “Since the new Dorrator Bridge was installed there has been a 700 per cent increase in path use in the area and, over time, hopefully even more people will get out walking and cycling to explore their local area.”

There could be another link added to the path network by building another crossing over the River Carron if Falkirk Council can find half the cash needed to build it.

The local authority has secured £227,750 to erect a footbridge over the body of water, somewhere between the villages of Langlees, Bansford and Carronshore.

However, it has to come up with the same amount again for the project to go ahead.

Transport charity Sustrans awarded the Communities Link grant to increase the number of the walking and cycle routes in the area and make it easier for people in the villages to get to the Helix Park by foot.

However, unless Falkirk Council can find the rest, the project will not go ahead.

It’s little wonder that such workplace challenges have proved already popular elsewhere.

To register for the challenge, visit the dedicated website.