Bicycles. They’ve given Chris Hoy thighs like Superman, and Freddie Mercury was clearly very fond of his. But what’s so great about cycling anyway? It turns out, a lot.
Lockdown has been rough. Yet, out of a terrible situation, positives always emerge. Being the ideal open-air activity and providing blissful escape from all things Corona, people are rediscovering their love of cycling. With London transforming its streets and the launch of Everyday Bikes’ new bicycle subscription service, there’s never been a better time to get on your bike. After all, the bike has a lot to toot its horn about.
Think of the children!
We all know what cars do to the quality of our air. With one in five cases of asthma in children potentially linked to air pollution, many of us are becoming increasingly uncomfortable with the impacts of our love affair with cars. If protecting our children from second-hand cigarette smoke is incentive to quit, then protecting them from air pollution is strong incentive to cut down on our driving. There’s no better way to do this than travelling by bike when we can.
Think of yourself!
Studies have shown that cycling in traffic exposes you to five times less air pollution than travelling by car in traffic. Take up cycling. Your lungs will thank you.
Cycling is fun
This crucial point is all too easy to forget in a world filled with lectures about what’s ‘good for us’. The excited child getting their first bike for Christmas may be a cliche, but it’s a cliche for a reason. Cycling is a genuinely enjoyable activity, and an increasing body of research shows that this feeling never leaves us. One reason behind this is obvious: cycling is cardiovascular exercise, and exercise is fundamental to our mental health. Cycling in particular, though, brings together a unique combination of beneficial factors, creating one big happy-making cocktail.
Cycling is generally an outdoor activity, and this simple act of being outdoors carries its own benefits. Even indoors, cycling significantly alleviates stress by lowering Cortisol and is positively therapeutic for sufferers of concentration disorders such as ADHD.
A huge, elephant-in-the-room reason why cycling makes us happy is that it isn’t just exercise, it’s transport. When we cycle to work (or even to meet friends) we’re avoiding public transport, and rush hour on the underground is incredible stressful. As Sam Jones, Campaigns Coordinator for Cycling UK told one keen cyclist:
“The ‘anecdata’ for cycling’s ability to make people happy is everywhere. You only have to ask someone who regularly commutes by bike, and they’ll gladly tell you how great it makes them feel in comparison to other forms of transport.”
Travelling by bike doesn’t just remove us from the stresses of rush hour, but it takes the pressure off of making time in the day for alternative exercise. Half an hour cycle in to work and home again? That’s a whole extra hour in front of Netflix that would’ve been spent at the gym.
These are, as is said all-too-often, troubling times. If there’s ever a time to try everything to make yourself feel better, it’s now.
It even makes us smarter
As well as simply making us happy, the repetitive motion involved in riding a bike has been found to actively change the structure of the brain for the better. The effects are immediate and impressive. One study, for example, found that after 30 minutes of cycling, ordinary participants performed significantly higher in tests of memory, reasoning and planning. Got a zoom presentation that you’re dreading? A zoom job interview? A zoom quiz with friends? Get on your bike.
It’s all about that bread
Not convinced by all this science? Is your body not a temple? Then just think of your wallet (there’s no shame in that). According to Totaljobs, the average UK worker spends £146/month commuting, adding up to a whopping £135,871 over a lifetime. A subscription to one of Everyday Bikes’ set of wheels, conversely, costs £9/week. This means that you could still take the bus 8 times a week, for less than a weekly bus Travelcard.
There is a reason why Freddie Mercury wanted to ride his bicycle so much. By travelling by bike even some of the time, you’re creating a win-win situation. It’s great for your physical and mental health. It saves you money. It makes the air we breathe cleaner. All hail the humble bicycle!