“After 4 weeks using my bike, I had gone from using my car daily to once per week – it was then I decided to ditch the car altogether.”
When Stephen Dock spotted Renfrewshire Council’s Not Far? Leave the Car campaign, it was the push he needed to make a huge change in his life – and it’s one he’s not looking back from.
Recently, he’d been considering using his bike to commute to Inverclyde where he works as a student nurse but hadn’t quite worked up the courage to take the plunge.
The Council’s new campaign was the driving force behind his decision to ditch the car for his bike and set a positive example for his two young sons, Jack and Jude.
Stephen said: “I found the campaign to be very motivational as it adds another good reason to cycle, walk or use public transport, and being able to see what I have achieved on a daily basis is rewarding.
“I thought I would do a test run of not using my car at all and mainly use my bike and public transport when required to see how it went.
“Commuting for me involves cycling to the train station, getting the train and then cycling to the hospital. I use the bus on occasion, but the majority of the time is cycling.
“My bike still allows me to do the nursery and school run, have days out using the cycle path and visit family and friends.
“After 4 weeks, I had gone from using my car daily to once per week and it was then I decided to ditch the car altogether.
“The end result is now that I have sold my car and now only use my bike and public transport.”
Having initially embraced the campaign as a way of getting healthier, Stephen has been surprised at how easy it has been to travel on his bike and on public transport in Renfrewshire.
“The fact that I no longer have the car has opened my eyes to how easy it is to still get through my week without relying on a car.
“I was a bit apprehensive at the start of this journey wondering about how to get big shops done and how safe the roads would be on a bike, but these have totally gone now and I have found the cycle network around Renfrewshire very useful and easy to navigate.
“I’ve also loved the added benefit of saving money, getting healthy, being a role model to my sons and helping the environment – so I don’t see me reverting back anytime soon.
“I think I have now made the leap and changed my behaviours for good”
With Jack and Jude travelling for free on buses as part of the Scottish Government’s free bus travel for under 23s scheme, it’s been easy for Stephen to travel without a car and even more so as Jack’s excited to get on his bike at every opportunity.
“I have two sons who have really had to get involved as I used to drive them around, but my oldest son Jack, who is 9, now cycles with me when we need to go places and I do my best to keep up!
“My youngest son Jude is 2 so isn’t quite big enough to cycle with us himself yet, but he goes into a kids seat on the back of my bike and loves it so much that it’s now his preferred mode of transport.
“When we need to use public transport for longer journeys, Jack and Jude both travel for free on buses, so we save on costs and it’s great to travel together as a family in sustainable way.”
Not Far? Leave the Car rewards people for taking sustainable journeys with points that can then be exchanged for discounts or freebies from more than 100 local businesses in Renfrewshire.
Stephen’s racking up the points every day and the campaign has encouraged him to visit more local businesses in Renfrewshire as he looks to spend local whenever possible.
“The app has been very easy to use and I like that it confirms which activity you have been doing, gives me a daily snapshot of how active I’ve been and also a summary of how much CO2 I would normally have used. The options to redeem points or donate them to charity is clear and very simple to do as well.
“I haven’t actually exchanged my points yet but when I do, I will be rewarding myself with a nice coffee using the Renfrewshire Gift Card as I was pleasantly surprised at the number of businesses that accept it.
“I have visited local businesses as my days out with the kids are mainly around the Renfrewshire area so we spend local where we can and everywhere is relatively easy to get to without a car.
“We do enjoy heading into the town centre or to the local parks so always stop for a coffee or ice cream as well.”
More than 750 people like Stephen are now signed up to the campaign and are getting healthier and being rewarded for leaving the car at home.
The free app works just like a sport or fitness watch and participants can choose to track their journeys themselves or do this automatically, with all sustainable journeys rewarded with points.
To sign up for free, visit www.renfrewshire.gov.uk/leavethecar.