Commuting on your bike isn’t going to reverse climate change – even if the entire world stopped driving today. Transport does, however, make up just under 30% of the UK’s climate emissions – so it would help a lot. That said, there are far better reasons to ride a bike around town than your personal carbon footprint. Here we are going to talk about journeys that are better by bike and the reasons they are better. This is not going to be a hand waving article where we suggest you sell the car and buy an e-cargo bike (although they do look fun and if you can do that then you should). No, these are simple, practical tips designed to get you on your bike more in order that you simply have more fun.
The school run
Getting out the car for a school run is good for your child’s health and the health of all their friends. It has been shown by reports from charities as well as academic studies, such as one from the University of Manchester showing air pollution is linked to cognitive impairments, that air pollution is very bad for kids. We know that cars idling outside the school gate are a primary factor of this. There’s also the safety aspect. School kids are often running around outside the gates below the eye line of drivers and the less cars there are, the less danger there is.
Away from scaring you out of your car there’s also a number of positive reasons to ride to school. It’s commonly known that exercise puts kids in a good mood but can also have concrete effects on the academic careers of your children. Exercise is associated with more efficient white matter and improves focus. Children are also often concerned by the climate crisis – having them make a lower carbon transport choice can empower them in their climate battle. Cycling to school will make you and your kids smarter, safer and healthier!
I’m probably going to avoid sitting here and arguing the health benefits of your cycling to the pub, although a five mile ride equates to roughly one pint. The healthiest option is probably not to go. Cycling to the pub does have major advantages though. Parking is at a premium in many pubs and by cycling there you don’t have to worry about that. There is also the question of blood alcohol content – while we do not condone drink cycling and you mainly put yourself at risk by riding drunk there is no law in Britain which specifies how much alcohol is permissible for riding a bike but it’s illegal to ‘ride under the influence’. This means, as long as you’re in control of your faculties, there’s less chance of having to leave the vehicle overnight and collect it in the morning.
A post family pub lunch cycle home is a fantastic way to burn off some of the excess calories consumed and can replace the common “post lunch walk”. It might be best to leave the intervals for another day – you don’t want to see your roast potatoes again. A gentle ride back from the pub is a great way to get your non-cycling friends and family out on a bike too!
Ever heard of ‘active recovery’? It’s one of the best ways to prevent (or reduce) the dreaded ‘delayed onset muscle soreness’ (DOMS). There aren’t many more fun ways to do that than a nice easy spin back from the gym. There is also the added benefit of a pre gym loosener -turning the legs over in preparation for your time at the squat rack. Don’t go crazy though or you might not be able to ride back up the hill to your house…
The “we’ve run out milk” trip to the shop
In all honesty the big shop is best done by car unless you own a cargo bike (and if you do – that’s cool and you should completely disregard this section). However, the “we’ve run out of whatever and need to run to the shop to fetch it” shop is perfectly designed for a bike. Bring a back pack unless you’re comfortable with the shopping bags looped over the handlebars and away you go. If your smaller supermarket is anything like the one near my house there’s no parking anyway so walking or riding is always easier.
Cycling is better than walking for so many reasons we could write an entire blog post on it but any walk you go on could always be a bike ride and will always be more fun. This may prove (mildly) controversial but if you’re walking to get somewhere a bike will get you there faster, if you’re walking to see something a bike will help you see more. Cycling is easier on the limbs than walking and much more efficient – even a very slow bike ride is faster than most people can run for any extended period of time. Whether it’s a wonder in the Welsh hills, a stroll in your local woods or a short commute – bike is best!
There you have it then, five journeys which are better made by bike. The simple reality is hopping on your bike for any journey if you can is better for you and everyone around you. Bikes reduce pollution, congestion, riders are healthier and it’s cheaper than driving a car but faster than walking. Bikes are amazing and you should ride one whenever you get the opportunity to do so!
If you want to be covered while riding your bike on the club ride, to the shops or on the school run check out Yellow Jersey to make sure you’re covered.