Last year we launched the Big Green Jewish Year of the Bicycle – a whole year of campaigns, action and education focusing on transport and how to make the way we get around more sustainable. Scroll down to find out more about Year of the Bicycle activism and activity for you and your community:

Get behind the bike shed

Why do we need to go behind the bike shed?

Everyone should support the bike shed and everything it stands for – namely, encouraging employees to choose a more environmentally-friendly (and often quicker and more cost-effective) mode of transport to get to work. Employers round the country are taking advantage of the Cyclescheme to enable their employees to get a bike tax-free, saving up to half the cost.

BGJ will be campaigning this year to encourage Jewish charities and employers to provide their staff with the opportunity to get a tax-free bike and the facilities for cyclists at their offices, such as showers and bike racks.

Benefits for employers

• Save money. Typically, organisations can save 13.8% of the total value of salary sacrifice because of reductions in the amount of National Insurance Contributions due.
• Free to join, easy to administer.
• Employment welfare: a way to demonstrate concern for the welfare of employees and potential recruits, all whilst not costing the earth.
• Environmental and health benefits: employees will be happier and fitter at work.

Benefits for employees

• Get a tax free bike! Employees on average save about 32% of the cost of a bike.
• No great outlay all in one go. You pay for the bike monthly over the course of 12 months.
• Great choice of bikes and cycling equipment.

A Case Study

UJIA is the largest Jewish charity investing in young people and education in Israel and the UK. UJIA are a great example of an organisation that worked at its environmental policy and invested in schemes that benefited the environment and its employees. When they moved offices in 2009, they took a conscious decision to reduce the carbon footprint of their headquarters. They took advantage of the office move by deliberately choosing somewhere accessible by public transport and installing a bike rack and showers.

For more details on UJIA did you can read the case study or watch the video.

What can I do?

Check out the Cyclescheme – it’s completely free to join and easy to administer online.

Contact us if you are keen to get involved with this campaign or find out more.

Miles More from Marylebone

What’s a Superhighway?

Barclays Cycle Superhighways (CS) are cycle routes running from outer London into central London. They offer cyclists safer, faster and more direct journeys into the city and could be the quickest (and most environmentally-friendly!) way to get to work. The first four have now launched with the remaining eight to be introduced by 2015.

Whereabouts in London are they?

The following Barclays Cycle Superhighways now are open:
• CS2 from Bow to Aldgate
• CS3 from Barking to Tower Gateway
• CS7 from Merton to the City
• CS8 from Wandsworth to Westminster

You can take a look at the Barclays Superhighways FAQ or the Superhighways map if you want to know more. More details can be found on all the new Superhighways on the Transport for London site.

So what’s the deal with this campaign?

The CS11 from Marylebone to West Hampstead is due to be finished by 2013 and we, along with other cycle and environment enthusiasts, are campaigning to extend this Superhighway to include more of North West London.

TfL is currently proposing that the CS11 should follow the A41 from Marylebone Road to the junction of Finchley Road and Hendon Way. This would make it much shorter than the other Cycle Superhighways, at little more than 5 miles long, and would also mean that it fails to offer any improved crossing of the North Circular Road, the biggest physical barrier to cycling in NW London.

The CS11 as it is currently planned completely avoids the Brent Cross Cricklewood regeneration area and stops precisely at the border of Camden and Barnet mean that large parts of North West London will be less accessible to cyclists. TfL propose to implement this route by 2013, but by all accounts they appear to have not definitely fixed the route yet, which makes the campaign even more crucial.

Want to know more?

As part of the Year of the Bicycle, BGJ will be campaigning for “Miles more from Marylebone”, to get TfL to extend the proposed Superhighway to beyond West Hampstead and improve the cycling facilities to North West London.

Contact us if you are keen to get involved with this campaign or find out more.

Walking Buses

What is a walking bus?

A walking school bus is a group of children walking to school supervised by one or more adults. Sounds simple, doesn’t it? Well, it is! It works in much the same way as a regular school bus, with a fixed route and designated stops and pick up points, usually with two adults, a “driver” leading the way and a “conductor” at the back.

The first UK walking bus was set up in Wheatfields Junior School in St Albans, by Hertfordshire County Council back in 1998 and hundreds more have followed suit ever since. Some local authorities and schools offer support for those wanting to set one up.

What are the benefits?

• It provides a safer and environmentally friendly way for children to travel to school.
• Parents or guardians may save time and money by using this arrangement.
• Children learn good road sense.
• It encourages walking, which in turn reduces traffic and pollution near to school.
• Children’s general fitness is improved through daily exercise.
• It promotes social interaction and independence.

All that you need to set up a walking bus in a little time and patience. It is well worth it when you see the reduced traffic outside the school and how much fun the children have together on the bus, not to mention the environmental and health benefits.

A case study

Watch this news report on the Ratmichael National School who introduced the walking bus into their community:

Want to know more?

For more information on how to set up a walking bus check out the Friends of the Earth UK factsheet on walking buses or go to the international website for walking school buses. Check with your local authority and/or school to see what sort of support they offer to communities wishing to take advantage of the initiative.

Cycling Communities

Get on your bike, in your community!

There are lots of ways to get involved with and further your cycling proficiency through your local council. Most councils are keen to promote cycling to all ages as a sustainable form of transport and a way of maintaining a healthy lifestyle and often provide help to constituents keen to get on the right path.

Assistance offered varies from providing information to putting on free or subsidised cycling courses.

Those living in Barnet, Bury, Camden, East Renfrewshire, Hackney, Harrow, Hertsmere, Manchester, Redbridge or Westeminster councils can find contacts and links for cycling and green transport in your area here.

Cycle proficiency classes

Many councils provide cycling classes for a variety of levels; many will be either free (for a set number of hours) or subsidised by the council.

Cycle coaching

Cycle coaching is for cyclists serious about furthering their cycling progress. These sessions provide more structured advice and advanced instruction, for those willing to go that extra mile. Again, check with your local council to see what they provide.

Barclays Cycle Hire

Most London boroughs participate in the Barclays Bicycle scheme.

Want to know more?

For more information get in contact - we'd love to hear from you if you're already putting something on in your community to promote cycling or if you need advice on how to do this.

Useful Cycling Links

Transport for London also provides information on free and subsidised cycle training offered to adults and children (London boroughs only), including a search facility to see what's in your local area.

Sky Ride is a national campaign from Sky and British Cycling created to inspire and help everyone whatever their age or ability to get on their bikes. Their aim is t get 1 million more people cycling regularly by 2013.

London Cycling is a membership charity campaigning to make the capital a healthier, cleaner and happier place to live, where cycling is a preferred mode of transport and any Londoner can ride the streets conveniently and without fear for their safety.

CycleSurgery, started in 1992 as a bicycle workshop in a basement in Islington, is now one of the UK’s largest bike stores.

Other sustainable transport ideas for your community:

Carpool
Many councils have created ‘Car Clubs’, a car sharing initiative that connects residents with their constituencies and promotes driving in a sustainable manner. Why not check with your local council whether they provide this service?

Reimbursing travel expenses
Many organisations refund car travel expenses only if three or more people are travelling in the same vehicle. If you're an organisation, why not rethink your travel expenses policy to be more environmentally-friendly?

Advertising public transport links
Putting on an event? Why not advertise how to get to your event (or offices) by public transport? In this way, you will automatically be encouraging people to use public transport instead of coming by car.

Rabbi Relay Ride: get green and get going

During the Year of the Bicycle, Rabbis will be cycling the length of Britain – why not get involved?

2012 is the Big Green Jewish Year of the Bicycle, a whole year of campaigns, action and education focusing on sustainable transport. In celebration of this, Gefiltefest is organising the event of the year, the Rabbi Relay.

GefiltefestWhat? The Rabbi Relay is a collaborative cycle down the length of the UK, lead by 19 (and counting) Rabbis from the British Jewish community. Starting at Land’s End and finishing at John O’ Groats, the ride raises the bar of communal action for healthy, clean, green living.

Why? As well as promoting cycling as a green and healthy mode of transport, we hope to raise £100,000 for food and environmental charities in the UK and overseas. (Also, ‘Relay’ starts with the same letter as ‘Rabbi’, so we thought: why not?).

How are you raising the funds? Gefiltefest will be seeking sponsorship and all participants will be fundraising. You can sponsor your Rabbi (if they are taking part), or suggest to your Rabbi that they take part. Failing that, you can sponsor another Rabbi – there are 19 to choose from. Participating Rabbis to be confirmed soon: watch this space.

When? The ride is currently set to take place from Sunday 10th June until 30th June 2012, shortly after Gefiltefest 2012 festival, which will take place on Sunday 20th May. This is also one month before the Olympics, where the cycling events have a high profile.

Who? Gefiltefest (the London Jewish Food Festival) is the brains behind this operation, sorting logistics, technical issues and, of course, providing delicious kosher food along the way. Big Green Jewish is also offering support.

More than 15 Rabbis have already signed up including Rabbi Harvey Belovski, Rabbi Shoshana Boyd-Gelfand, Rabbi Anna Gerrard, Rabbi Jeremy Gordon, Rabbi Laura Janner-Klausner and Rabbi Natan Levy.

Tzedek Bike Ride

Get on your bike this summer and raise money for great charities! Date: 9th September, 2012

Join Tzedek and the JCC and cycle from London to Cambridge on September the 9th 2012, raising funds for environmental projects overseas and green projects in the UK. This year will be a new route from London to Cambridge, it will be a joyous ride, giving you the perfect opportunity to breathe the fresh air of the beautiful English country side, and arrive in the delightful city of Cambridge. It’s a great way to spend a day!

Get on your bike, do something good for yourself, for your community and for charity, by raising money for the Jewish Community Centre for London and Tzedek; two organisations at the heart of Jewish Social Action in London.

Support

The route is 50 (or so) miles long and you’ll cycle through beautiful countryside and be supported by a team of professionals and volunteers along the way.

You don’t need to be a cycling professional to take part but you do need to be a competent rider on roads, over 16 and up for the challenge of a day’s cycling (whilst wearing a cycle helmet).

You’ll raise money for Tzedek and the JCC Social Action programme.

We will be holding a pre-bike ride Q &A and safety briefing. The details of these will be provided soon. If you're ready to get fundraising, then set up your own Virgin giving page.