September 2019

#SpokesComp 2019 – Inspired to use a bike!!

Who or what inspired you, or who did you inspire, to get about by bike, especially for everyday journeys?  Our summer competition uncovered many sources of inspiration, most notably friends and relations, concerns about climate and environment and the desire for health and fitness.

First prize – Katharine Wake

A lifetime of inspirations

“Underpinning it all is the overwhelming feel-good factor, the physical joy of cycling

“I owned a car but relaxed when I sold it and reverted to bike as my main form of transport – conscience clear again!”

Top inspirations to get about by bike (some people gave more than one reason) were…
  • (19 people) The joy of cycling – but this was rarely the reason for starting to cycle, it was usually a discovery and a great reason to continue.
  • (14) Friends and relations [not counting children] – encouraging you to cycle or encouraged by you!
  • (8) Climate and environment concerns. Never before has this featured near the top in cycling surveys, but the climate emergency is becoming clearer to the public every day.
  • (8) Health and fitness – already well recognised as a prime motivation to get about by bike
  • (6) Concern for the future of ones children, in terms of the local and global environment and/or their personal physical or mental health
  • (6) New opportunities provided by e-bikes. The amazing transformations they enable had already become apparent in our 2018 competition, which in turn led to our e-bike factsheet
  • (6) Journey reliability and/or speed compared to car travel – usually this was not a motivation to get started going by bike, but a big unexpected bonus, especially for commuting, and an additional reason to stay on the bike.
  • Note: Additionally, the majority of entrants mentioned having cycled a lot as a child. However nearly all these said they had stopped cycling, largely or completely, once beyond childhood – and it was only a new inspiration, such as in this list, which had motivated them into using a bike for everyday journeys as an adult.

Second prize – Charlie Wood

My children’s future

“The inspiration to having cycling as a first choice, as with much of the positive inspiration in my life, has come from my children

“Looking to my children’s future there are so many reasons – climate change, physical and mental health and air pollution, as examples – to choose cycling over the car”

Other inspirations mentioned by 5 or fewer people included…

  • Work colleagues
  • Seeing other people on bikes (often from within the car) and inspired to try it too
  • Living near cycling infrastructure
  • Overcoming or tackling a medical problem or injury
  • Wanting an alternative to a car
  • Wanting to join in a charity ride
  • Helpful bike shop or the Bike Station


See the full set of prize-winners and runners-up, plus selected other entries in this 4.8MB pdf – anonymised except for the prizewinners.


First prize – Katharine Wake – see photo above

Second – Charlie Wood – see photo above

Third – Andrew White – Climate Crisis: be the change


Andrew and the “beautiful book” which inspired him to change from car to walking or cycling for his daily commute.

“Getting on two wheels has brought an immense amount of joy, and I’ve done everything I can to share that joy and inspire others to get out of the car”

Fourth – Nick Connor – Seeing ordinary people on bikes

“I was overweight and in the mindset of a commuter – single occupancy car – 30 to 40 minutes in traffic jams – at the whim of roadworks and incidents which dictated journey times and my blood pressure…

“I started noticing people on bikes. They were moving whilst I was sitting still, they were a lot thinner than I was, and a lot of them didn’t look like ‘proper cyclists’ with shaved legs and lycra – just ‘people on bikes’ going about their business … I decided I’d give it a go.

“Taking that first step has changed my life and I can’t imagine a future where I’m not riding every day, it means that much to me.  Without a doubt, cycling has made me fitter, happier and healthier.”

Fifth – Jamie Thin – The joy of cycling, inspired by blind friends

“Long ago I lived round the corner from the Royal Blind school – they were looking for teenage volunteers to cycle with blind kids on tandems.

“Suddenly all the tactile feelings and sounds of cycling were heightened as my new friends on the back of the tandem gave me a running commentary of their feelings as we explored the city by bike.  I was their eyes but their other senses were more finely tuned than mine – the sounds, the smells, the wind in their hair.

“Now I’m a lot older but that feeling of freedom keeps me cycling … Jumping on a bike keeps you young and the simple joys don’t change.”


  • Gender differences … 50% of female entrants were prizewinners, but only 23% of males! In our 2018 competition, 67% of female entrants were prizewinners, but only 29% of males. There must be a lesson here!
  • Child cycling … As mentioned above, the majority of entrants had cycled a lot as a child. However nearly all said they stopped cycling, largely or completely, once beyond childhood – and it was only a new inspiration which had motivated them into using a bike for everyday journeys as an adult. A likely policy lesson is that whilst encouraging child cycling is great, this will often not continue into adulthood unless there are also new, adult, motivations.
  • Cycling for all … The media image of a ‘cyclist’ as a young, fit, lycra-clad male is shown for what it is by our competition entrants, who included a good number of seniors (some returning to cycling after decades, thanks to e-bikes), people for whom cycling had helped with severe medical problems such as a slipped disc and a brain tumour – and one adult (the 4th prize winner) who was inspired to try cycling as a result of seeing many cyclists who did not fit the media image!


The top prizewinner gets to choose their prize from the list, second chooses second, and so on.


Many thanks to you if you entered, even if you didn’t win this time.  Thanks also to the organisers, the 3 Spokes Resources Group judges and to Graham McQueen, our outside judge.   Graham is Senior Development Officer at Paths for All and manages their Smarter Choices Smarter Places Open Fund for local organisations aiming to change people’s travel behaviour.


  • Look through the entries carefully – do any inspire you to try the same?  Are there any you could recommend to friends, colleagues or family?
  • See the results of our many previous exciting, amusing and/or interesting competitions here.
  • If you’ve a great idea for next year’s competition, let us know!  A topic that is useful to other people and which lots of people are able to enter is what we need.
  • Please retweet our tweet about this article.

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