19/07/2021 | Press releases

Why cycling is right up two clinicians’ street

It’s cheap, there’s no parking and you’ve already exercised say cyclists who are choosing a bike over a car as their commute of choice.

Hospital consultants Dr Paul Byrne and Dr Laura Cormack both ride to work. Paul cycles the four-mile journey to Colchester Hospital, and Laura the two miles to Ipswich Hospital.

Although both admit it’s not for everyone, they’ve said there are many advantages for their own wellbeing, as well as ways in which the Trust supports cyclists.

Dr Paul Byrne
Dr Paul Byrne

Paul, a consultant rheumatologist, has ridden to work every day during the last 24 years and says it’s his preferred method of transport “whatever the weather” and helps keep him healthy.

He’s been a fan of cycling since receiving a blue Raleigh bike for his fifth birthday, and still rides every day to work having clocked up more than 40,000 miles commuting.

The keen cycling enthusiast, and Chair of ESNEFT’s Bike User Group, said: “I wasn’t into it because of the green angle initially, I’ve just always loved riding my bike. When I received my first Raleigh bike I thought I’d died and gone to heaven.”

Paul added: “Cycling means I’ve done my exercise for the day and it keeps me fit. It’s a great de-stresser. It’s my transition between home and work and helps me wind up for the day, or wind down.”

Both hospitals have designated areas to lock up bikes, with 24 bike boxes at Colchester and Ipswich hospitals offering extra security.

There are many cycling offers available to ESNEFT staff who use their bike for work.

Free bike maintenance sessions are run every week, as well as regular cycling events to support staff, such as cycling webinars and free breakfasts for those who commute on their bike.

Cyclists can also use the Martlesham Park and Cycle for free to Ipswich Hospital, with plans to introduce the scheme to Colchester too.

Free security tagging, discounted bike locks and reduced-priced bikes are also available through the Cycle to Work scheme. Twelve e-bikes will also be available for staff to use soon, plus new shower facilities for staff at Ipswich Hospital which are planned for the summer.

Dr Laura Cormack
Dr Laura Cormack

Laura, a radiology consultant, uses a fold-up bike and stores it under her desk for maximum security while working.

She took advantage of the Cycle to Work scheme, where you can buy a bike and save on the tax as well as pay in monthly instalments through your salary. More information on how to take up the offer is available on the intranet or by visiting the website.

She said: “Cycling is cheap – it means we only need one family car and it’s a great way to wind down on the way home. I hate sitting in traffic and it can be quicker to cycle.

“If it’s dark I cycle on roads that are lit, and if it’s wet, I wear waterproofs.”

Laura said although she showers at work, it would be great to have additional facilities in her department to make it easier for staff.

Dr Laura Cormack and family
Dr Laura Cormack cycling with her three children on their tandem tag-along bike

Paul added: “We’re not in Holland where everything centres around cycling and the culture is to cycle, so I get why some people are put off here or it’s not an option. We need to make it safe, pleasant and quick.”

The weekly free bike maintenance sessions are held at Colchester Hospital on Wednesday from 11am – 1pm by the main entrance and at Ipswich Hospital on Thursdays from 11am – 1pm at the maternity entrance of the hospital. You don’t need to book a slot – just turn up with your bike.

To find out more about commuting to work, what facilities are on offer, or to join the Bike User Group, email Marc Yearling, the Trust’s travel plan coordinator at travel.plan@esneft.nhs.uk

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