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Benefits and necessities of cycling

The necessities of cycling are enormous due to the world environmental degradation, pollution, noise, health, safety and many other reasons. For example, Australian Government estimates that the ‘avoidable costs’ of traffic congestion is due to rise from $5.4 billion in 2005 to $20.4 billion in 2020. In an attempt to “cure” traffic congestion, Governments around the world pour billions of dollars into massive road-building efforts which ultimately just increase the number of cars on the road and do little to shorten travel times.

Einstein cycling

Einstein cycling

In contrast to the billions spent on roads, bicycle infrastructure improvements receive only $xx million dollars a year in funding.  It is clear that alternative solutions such as improving heavy rail and bicycle infrastructure are needed to encourage people to get out of their car.

Although bicycles have a lower top speed than motor vehicles, the capacity for bicycle lanes to move people is far higher than motor vehicle lanes.  This is due to the small size and close proximity of bicycles and the fact that every bicycle is 100% utilised unlike cars which often only contain 1 person although they are designed to carry at least 5.

Bicycles also require about 1/10th of the storage space at either end of a journey which frees land for more worthwhile purposes than vehicle storage. A bicycle user is able to cover around 4 times the distance of a pedestrian in the same time which completely transforms how mobility can be achieved in a big city.

Over the last 30 years, for instance, Australia has experienced the beginnings of an obesity epidemic that has resulted in not only a huge expansion of the waists of Australians but also a blowout in the health care budget required to care for those afflicted by obesity-related illness.

This scenario is true for most of the developed countries as well! If we are to reverse this trend, it is clear that there needs to be a change in both the diet and daily exercise. Bicycles have the potential to play a significant role in providing the daily exercise required to improve the health and fitness.

Unlike most recreational activities, cycling is more than simply an enjoyable pastime that can build fitness.  Bicycle use can become a part of everyday life and can offer a practical alternative to mainstream modes of transport. When you look at all the Benefits of Cycling, it is hard to find an area where the benefits are as significant and obvious as the benefits to the Natural Environment.  Bicycles are the ultimate in clean-energy vehicles, with zero emissions and only a small amount of material required for their construction.

Climate change and peak oil are two of the biggest issues we face as a civilization.  Scientists around the world have been ringing alarm bells about these issues for years and Governments are finally starting to take notice.  Billions of dollars are being invested in “green cars” and carbon-reduction schemes, yet bicycle promotion and infrastructure remains underfunded in many countries.

While motor-vehicles that use oil-based fuels are responsible for much of the transport-related pollution and resource usage, even “green cars” have a serious environmental impact.  Most of the energy used to power electric vehicles is still derived from coal-based electricity sources which contribute heavily to greenhouse gas emissions.  Also, the amount of resources required to build any car is around 100 times the amount required to build a bicycle.

The only true “green vehicle” is a bicycle and the only way to truly mitigate our environmental impact is to provide significant investment in bicycle infrastructure and promotion to get people back on their bicycles.

Whether we walk, cycle or drive a car, we often overlook the dangers we face on our roads.  The importance of road safety is never more obvious than when looking at the high number of people who are killed or injured on our roads every year. Policies that increase the numbers of people walking and bicycling appear to be an effective route to improving the safety of people walking and bicycling. It is obvious that bicycles have on the safety of others as well.

Bicycles have traditionally been thought of as the transport of choice for students and people who can’t afford a car.  However, bicycles are fast becoming “the new golf” for the wealthy.  Instead of playing a round of golf at an exclusive country club, many executives are choosing to do a few laps of Centennial Park or are commuting to work on their expensive road bikes.

In a world where children are more and more likely to sit in front of a computer or TV for hours each day, the ability to travel by bicycle not only improves the health of children, but also helps the child to develop independence and self esteem.

In addition to the improved mobility available in people-sized environments using bicycle, the reduction in motor-vehicle traffic yields a huge array of benefits.  The reduction in noise, smell and danger means that streets once-again could become attractive to people. Bicycles are the perfect mode of transport for a night out on the town.

When you are on a bike, you never have a problem finding a parking spot and since your bike is locked up right at the front door, it is easy to hop back on and head to your next night spot at a moment’s notice. At least 8 bikes can be parked in the space of 1 car. Encouraging people to ride a bike and leave the car at home improves safety for everyone.

Even if someone is silly enough to ride their bicycle while intoxicated (which is obviously illegal), they are not as dangerous to the community as a drunk motorist. Providing bicycle paths and bicycle parking in and around busy nightspots attracts bicycle users and makes good use of limited space. Shopping by bicycle is amazingly simple.

Just add a basket or panniers (bags designed to clip onto a bike rack) to your favorite bike and you are ready to go. Shopping by bicycle is also a pleasant experience compared to shopping by car.  Bicycles are seldom affected by congestion or traffic around shopping centers and in car parks. Leaving the car at home allows you to stop and smell the roses and enjoy the journey, say hello to a friend along the way or duck into a favorite shop on the way home without having to look for another parking spot.

It is easy to get caught up with all the “reasons” to ride a bicycle such as:

  • Looking after the natural environment.
  • Riding a bicycle for transport is a great way of saving money on transport costs.
  • Improving your health.
  • The ease of getting to work by bike.

Exercise is an excellent way to deal with a range of psychological problems, from common conditions such as stress and hypertension to more serious conditions such as depression and anxiety.  People who engage in regular exercise experience reduced stress, improved sleeping patterns, improved concentration and a better outlook on life.

Exercise decreases the production of stress hormones such as cortisol and increases feel-good hormones such as endorphins, adrenaline, serotonin and dopamine.  When these chemicals are released through exercise, the body experiences feelings of euphoria and a general state of wellbeing.  These chemicals can even mask pain and improve mental health.

Cycling offers an excellent way to receive regular exercise, particularly if performed as a daily training routine or when the bicycle is used for daily transport needs. Bicycles are a fantastic way to keep fit and healthy no matter what age you are or what level of fitness you have.

Riding a bicycle provides good cardio-vascular fitness while having little impact on the joints, so it is suitable for people who find running too high-impact.  In fact, riding a bicycle is even easier on the joints than walking! The benefits of cycling are too many to mention.  Let us save the world environment and our personal health by introducing and popularizing bicycle everywhere on the planet.

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