A photo of a person walking down a path in the woods

A Guide to Commuting to Work

For those who are returning to campus and are seeking alternative ways to travel to avoid using public transport, we have created the below guide.

If you have any alternative suggestions, please contact staffwellbeing@sheffield.ac.uk.


Walking, Cycling or Running

The NHS recommends that we all complete 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity every week. Walking, cycling or running to work is a simple, easy and free way to fit exercise into your normal daily routine. Walking, running or cycling to work is also great for the environment!

For those staff members who are continuing to work from home, using your usual commute time to go outdoors and do some exercise can be really beneficial for your mental and physical health.

What is moderate aerobic activity?

There’s no set speed which counts as moderate intensity activity as it depends on may factors including weight and fitness levels. It is the level of effort which matters and if you are walking briskly enough you will feel:

  • A rise in your heart rate
  • An increase in your breathing rate
  • An increase in your body temperature, maybe even feeling slightly sweaty on a hot or humid day
Health Benefits

Walking, cycling or running to work is free and an easy way to get more active, lose weight and become healthier. Regular walking has been shown to reduce the risk of many chronic conditions such as:
• heart disease
• type 2 diabetes
• asthma
• stroke
• obesity
• some cancers

It has also been shown to be beneficial for:
• musculoskeletal health, for example reducing low back pain
• mental health, happiness and well-being
• boosting the immune system

Walking is a low impact exercise, making it widely suitable exercise for all ages and levels of fitness.

Walking

Image of a persons legs on a bridge with autumnal leaves

Equipment and Safety

When walking to work the only equipment you really need is a comfy pair of shoes and a bottle of water but an umbrella or waterproof coat may come in handy for bad weather! You can walk in your normal work clothes and carry your work shoes if they are not suitable. Ideally clothing should be comfortable and loose fitting thin layers may be better than thick, heavy clothing.

In the winter months it may be dark when walking to and from work. The Wellbeing Zone’s article on Winter Exercising has some great tips for staying safe, ‘If you're exercising after dark, keep to well-lit areas and wear bright reflective clothing. Ideally, exercise with a friend, and always tell someone where you’re going.’ If you feel concerned about walking in the dark you could also carry a personal alarm.

A pair of headphones so you can listen to music can also be very motivating. However, for your safety, it is important to make sure that you can still hear ambient sound when wearing headphones. This article suggests some headphones that will allow you to still hear traffic and other pedestrians while listening to your favourite music.

Getting Started

It’s best to start slowly and build up. Start by calculating how many steps you take already. A pedometer is a good way to do this. Aim to increase your distance gradually making sure your goals are achievable.

If walking the whole way feels daunting, why not try park further away from campus and walk the last ten minutes, or take a shorter walk at lunchtime?

For more information on getting started and staying motivated, please visit NHS Choices.

Cycling

Equipment and Safety

if you don't already have a bike, why not look into buying one second-hand, or alternatively the following University schemes may be useful:

Bike Scheme

The Bike Scheme is a Government backed initiative which enables you to save on the cost of a bicycle and safety accessories which are suitable for commuting to work. This enables you to make savings on the amount of Tax and National Insurance you pay.

The scheme is offered in 3 application windows throughout the year, in Spring, Summer and Autumn.

More information can be found here.

Electric Bikes

EFM has a number of electric bikes that are available for hire to interested staff to ‘try before you bike’.

This scheme allows you to hire an electric bike for two months at a time. The hire of the bike is free of charge, but users are asked to put down a security deposit of £150 which will be refunded at the end of the two months.

More information can be found here.

Photo of a bike leaning against a white wall

Other essential equipment:

  • A good quality helmet
  • Bike lights
  • A hi-vis jacket to increase your visibility to other road users
  • Comfortable clothing
  • A bike lock

Getting Started

Route - try out your route at the weekend, when there is less pressure to get to work on time and outside rush hour, so that you can get comfortable with the junctions.

Start slowly - build your fitness slowly with evening or weekend rides and try commuting once or twice a week to begin with.

Road safety - ensure you are familiar with the high-way code and have an understanding of how to negotiate junctions, use hand signals and how to ride safely in traffic.

The University has a Cycle Forum and you can sign up to their mailing list to receive news and updates. Find out more here.

Sustran is a charity that encourages people to walk and cycle. For more guidance on setting up your bike, looking after your bike and planning routes, please have a look their Cycling for Beginners guide.

Running

Image of a person running against a sun set

Equipment and Safety

Proper running shoes are essential if you want to start running to work. The shoes should fit you well, be comfortable and have some flexibility. Breathable running clothes, a waterproof coat, a waterbottle and a backpack are all also important.

In the winter months it may be dark when walking to and from work. The Wellbeing Zone’s article on Winter Exercising has some great tips for staying safe, ‘If you're exercising after dark, keep to well-lit areas and wear bright reflective clothing. Ideally, exercise with a friend, and always tell someone where you’re going.’ If you feel concerned about running in the dark you could also carry a personal alarm.

A pair of headphones so you can listen to music can also be very motivating. However, for your safety, it is important to make sure that you can still hear ambient sound when wearing headphones. This article suggests some headphones that will allow you to still hear traffic and other pedestrians while listening to your favourite music.

Getting Started

Showers - many buildings on campus have showers that can be used when running to work, however these may not currently be open due to Covid-19. If this is the case, you could consider walking in to work, changing after work and running home.

Start slowly - it is important to build your fitness slowly with runs in the evening or at the weekend and running to or from work a couple of days a week to begin with. For those who are new to running, the NHS Couch to 5k programme is a great way to get started.


Driving

If you have access to a car, then driving in to work is another option for your daily commute.

Parking at the University will be free of charge until September 2021 but a permit system will still be used to ensure that vehicle owners can be contacted in the event of an emergency.

There is also discounted parking available for university staff at the NCP car park on Solly Street and at the Q-Park on Durham Road.

For more information and details on how to apply for a parking permit, please see here.


Using Public Transport

The Government has recommended that we avoid public transport as much as possible, and either drive, walk or cycle to work instead. However this will be not be possible for some and so there are measures that you can take to protect yourself and others when using public transport, including:

  • Observing social contact rules, such as social distancing and wearing a face covering if you are able to
  • Washing or sanitising your hands regularly
  • Keeping your distance when you travel, where possible
  • Avoiding the busiest routes, as well as busy times like the rush hour
  • Using the NHS Covid-19 Contact Tracing app so that you can keep track of your movements if you become symptomatic

The Government has also put together a 'Safer Travel for Passengers Easy Read Guide' with more information on how to travel safely during Covid-19. Please read it here.

Please speak to your manager if you have concerns about using public transport. Adjustments, such as changes to your start time to avoid busy periods could be put in place.