By Sonia Mehta
While many are bike fanatics, not everyone swaps their car out for a bike every now and again. Car pollution is a primary cause of global warming and has implications for human health. The more cars we remove from the road, the better it will be for our planet.
Riding a bike requires no gasoline which means it does not release any harmful emissions or smog into our atmosphere. We can all easily vow to ride our bike when going short distances, such as to the workplace.
Today (May 21st) marks Bike to Work Day, which aims to raise awareness of how cycling is less harmful to the planet and encourages people to cycle to their workplace. I cycle every day and have been doing so for more than 3 years.
It has been an easy way for me to combine my fitness goals with my goal of caring for our beautiful planet. Read on to discover 9 reasons you should start cycling to your workplace.
The current advice from the Department for Transport is to cycle or walk when you can. There is a greater circulation of air and the risk of you coming into contact with others is reduced. Cycling to work also provides you with a safe and private method of travelling.
Considering the average road use of European car drivers, different fuel types, average occupation, and adding emissions from production, driving a car emits about 271g CO2 per passenger kilometre.
On the other hand, bicycle production does have as big of an impact, the good news is that the production of a bicycle sets you back only 5g per kilometre driven. When you add the CO2 emissions from the average European diet, which is around 16g per kilometre cycled, the total CO2 emissions per kilometre of riding your bike is about 21g – more than ten times less than a car.
Driving a newer vehicle can reduce these emissions – in Europe, the average emissions for a new petrol car in 2018 were 123g of CO2/km.
Cycling, which shares many of the climate benefits of walking, is an increasingly viable alternative to car journeys, too. Some countries have sped ahead in bike transport. For example, in the Netherlands 26% of journeys are made by bike, followed by Denmark at 18% and 10% in Germany.
All three countries had major policy changes in the 1970s and 1980s that led to a large increase in cycling, and all still continue to invest in cycling infrastructure. Often people may discard cycling as a viable option for longer distance travel.
However, electric bikes and networks of segregated cycle lanes are beginning to change what is possible in terms of commuting distance, says Leo Murray, Director of Innovation at climate change charity, Possible (formerly 10:10 Climate Action).
Cycling to work saves you a lot of money. In 2015, the average American household was forecasted to spend $1,962 on gasoline and motor oil roughly, 16,500 euros, add on vehicle maintenance, the occasional repair, insurance, and the skyrocketing cost of parking, anyone living in europe is shilling out an average €27,500.
With the fuel costs rising by 5% in 2019, the overall costs of owning and driving a car have gone up again. The average monthly fuel cost in Europe is €100 for petrol and €70 for diesel. Italy is the most expensive place for petrol (€136) thanks to a high fuel tax.
In comparison, unless you want to maintain your bike yourself, then it’s close to free! Buying a brand new bike good enough for the daily commute will cost anywhere between €250 and €500. Add the cost of the lights (€25), helmet (€35), raingear (€100), and lock (€50), and you will spend about €600, which falls to €300 if tax breaks are factored in. Spread over five years, the annual cost is €60 – or €740 less a year than driving.
Biking to work is good for you. While the exact calories burned on a ride varies between each person, their speed, and the topography, cycling on average burns as many calories as jogging, with considerably fewer negative impacts on the joints.
Cycling improves cardio-vascular and aerobic fitness, lowers blood pressure, boosts energy, builds muscle, and improves coordination. Sneaking the health benefits of biking into your daily commute is so easy it almost feels like cheating!
Just one bout of moderate intensity aerobic exercise for as little as 30 minutes has been found to improve some aspects of cognition, including your memory, reasoning and ability to plan – including shortening the time it takes to complete tasks.
Fed up sitting in queues of traffic? It’s not good for your happiness levels, and it’s certainly not good for the environment. If you switch to commuting by bike, you won’t have to sit in traffic on congested streets and you’ll be helping the planet too by reducing the number of cars on the road. It will save time, improve your mood, and benefit others too.
If you’re fitter, healthier and better off – and cycling will do all that – then you’ll perform well at work. Research shows that those who exercise regularly outperform colleagues who don’t, which is good for you and good for your boss.
If you think your employers would be attracted to a happier, healthier and more productive staff by enabling more people to cycle to your workplace then they will be interested in the Cycle Friendly Employer accreditation.
With modern-day stresses, high levels of screen time, disconnecting and falling asleep is a struggle for many people. A study of over 8000 people from the University of Georgia found a strong correlation between cardio-respiratory fitness and sleep patterns: a lower level of fitness was linked to both an inability to fall asleep and poor sleep quality. The answer could be cycling – regular moderate cardiovascular exercise like cycling boosts fitness and makes it easier to fall and stay asleep.
With car pollution being a leading cause of global warming, it is essential that we adopt other modes of transport that are kinder to the planet. This is exactly why you should try and cycle more. If we all try to cycle more, we can make a real difference.
Not only will it be better for the planet, it will save us time and money all the while helping us to remain healthy and fit. Cycling is an easy solution to adopt, you just have to start small, by biking to work. So, are you going to start cycling to work?
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