Celebrating UK Bike Week (6-14 June): 6 ways we are cycling towards a better world!
Remarkably, there are some two billion bikes in use around the world. Our two-wheeled companion helps us get around, keeps us healthy, saves us money and protects the environment. From community development, to the excitement of sportives and racing, here are some of the positive ways the humble, yet heroic, bicycle impacts our lives.
A bicycle means transport
Human-powered, a bicycle is one of the most affordable and efficient forms of transport. Bicycle charity Qhubeka found that a journey by bike is on average 3x faster than walking, whilst in our cities, cycling is often one of the fastest and most reliable ways of getting around. In many parts of the world, access to a bicycle can be the crucial difference in earning an income, going to school, and seeing a doctor.
A bicycle means healthier people
Cycling regularly has significant benefits for your physical and mental wellbeing. It lowers the risk of heart disease, stroke, cancer and diabetes, whilst releasing feel-good hormones, boosting your mood and reducing stress. A study of 1.2million people in the USA found that cycling was one of the most effective sports in maintaining good mental health. There aren’t many sports that will see you side-by-side for hours having a heart-to-heart – and sharing a coffee and a cake midway through!
Without a doubt more needs to be done to make our roads safer for cyclists, but overall the benefits of cycling for our health far outweigh the risks, according to Cycling UK stats.
A bicycle means more money in your pocket
Whilst some top-of-the-range TT bikes will set you back an eye-watering amount, using a regular bike for most of your journeys will save a lot of money, even after you factor in bicycle maintenance. The average Londoner could save around £160 a month by switching from public transport to two-wheels, whilst car drivers will see dramatic savings in their fuel and parking costs.
A bicycle means a happier planet
Eco-friendly, cycling is a near zero-carbon option for getting around. One of the easiest ways to reduce your carbon footprint, the CycleScheme C02 calculator estimates that the average commuter would save 178 kg of C02 emissions per year by simply swapping a 5-mile work commute by car to cycling. On an individual basis , this doesn’t sound like much, but data from Strava estimated that a collective 46.2 million metric tons of CO2 were offset in 2018 by their users. Fewer cars on the road also reduces air pollution, improving community health, whilst the speed of cycling allows you to explore far and wide whilst getting up close with your immediate environment.
A bicycle means community development and supporting the most vulnerable
Put simply, bicycles can save lives. From cycling paramedics to food and medicine delivery in hard-to-reach places, bicycles can be a lifeline for thousands of people in lower-income or rural communities. World Bicycle Relief, for example, designs and distributes the sturdy and reliable Buffalo Bicycle throughout rural communities in Africa, Asia and South America, whilst The Bike Project refurbs second-hand bikes in London and Birmingham to gift to refugees so they can access food banks, healthcare and other necessities.
Beyond the power of the bicycle itself, mass participation sport raises millions for UK charities. From taking on the Dragon in support of Macmillan Cancer Support to the 2.6 challenge, there are loads of ways your pedal power can drive positive change.
A bicycle means healthy competition!
Whether you want to be better than yesterday or you want to lead the sportive, cycling is a great outlet to channel your competitive energy. With online racing soaring in popularity and the chance to take on local Strava segments, there are several ways to get competitive whilst races are postponed. Building up a solid fitness base, but no events on the calendar for next year? Register your interest for the 2021 Dragon Ride and L’Etape UK: With many riders deferred from 2020 and all of us eager to stretch our sportive legs, it promises to be an excellent year of cycling!
For now though, let’s celebrate the brilliant invention that is the bicycle this World Bicycle Day. In the words of the great Eddy Merckx, “Ride as much or as little, as long or as short as you feel. But ride.” Happy riding!