Lockdown has definitely changed some mindsets of people on how they choose to travel around. With cycling one of the few permitted exercises people were allowed to partake in, sales of bikes went through the roof. I have been trying to convert or at least open up to the option of cycling to places to my family for a while. I think they see me in my lycra and think twice about it! But slowly they are coming round to the fact of how much freedom a bike gives you, how much more healthy it is and the amount of money you can potentially save. Brooke McDonald from Leisure Lakes Bikes argues the case very well as to why more of us should pack in the car and give in to the bike...
Since the UK’s lockdown was announced in March, every one of us has been spending more time indoors to help prevent the spread of Covid-19. Although this has caused an unwanted disruption in our everyday lives and routines, what better of a time to make some positive changes in our lifestyles? Now, we have more time than ever to dedicate towards such a challenge, and, making changes to the way we get from A to B is a great place to start.
Cycling is a sport enjoyed by many and is one way that a lot of us stay fit while going about our everyday lives. Since the beginning of lockdown in the UK, recent data found that cycling related terms such as ‘bikes for sale’ dramatically increased from 201,100 searches in March, to 301,000 in May, suggesting that lockdown has inspired a surge of interest in this hobby. But now is the time to turn the hobby into a habit!
If you too are thinking of switching your car for a bike following the lockdown period, it’s important to know the benefits that are attached to this positive lifestyle change. Whether you’re looking for a road bike for everyday use or a full suspension mountain bike for something slightly more adrenaline-fuelled, let’s discuss three of the pros of taking up cycling!
Pro 1: save money with cycling
As summer approaches, many of us feel inspired up our exercise routine and lose a few pounds — but how about saving a few at the same time? Since a lot of us are currently still working from home, cycling to places instead of relying on a car to make those short trips out will prevent your bank account from being drained by fuel expenses. Let’s not forget about the maintenance costs that come with the price of owning a car too. From road tax to insurance and fuel, relying on a car for transport equates for a needlessly expensive commute. But all of these added expenses are absent when you make the switch to a bike.
Although the initial cost of purchasing a bike may seem like a large sum of money, the long-run costs will be virtually non-existent in comparison to a car. Not only that, but the ‘cycle to work’ scheme is also available to help you cope financially with the costs of purchasing a new road or mountain bike. In return for making monthly salary sacrifices, the scheme allows people to purchase a bike, tax-free, helping save up to 42 per cent of its overall value.
One cyclist in that we interviewed stated that by doing a 15mile round trip a day on a bicycle, they saved £6 per working day. Overall, this equates to £30 a week, and £1,150 a year! Although the majority of us have been saving a lot on our fuel costs in recent months whilst working from home, getting into the routine of cycling is something we could continue doing when we return back to the office.
Pro 2: cycling improves your physical health
When it comes to your physical health, cycling is hugely beneficial. It’s sometimes difficult in lockdown to find the motivation to get outside and do exercise, so by choosing to cycle places instead of driving, you’re embedding exercise into your everyday routine! A meta-analysis published by the British Journal of Sports Medicine cycling found that cycling can reduce your risk of cardiovascular illnesses at an incredible rate. The study took into account those that cycled for sport and those who used a bike for their daily commute. Not only did this analysis conclude that cyclists have a lower BMI on average, but they also have a 22 per cent lower risk than non-cyclists for cardiovascular illnesses.
As well as your physical health, cycling can have positive implications on your mental health. Not only does cycling outdoors help with the release of endorphins, but it has also been found to dramatically reduce levels of stress, helping to improve your overall mood. A huge benefit to those of us who have recently been suffering with cabin-fever, and sometimes even heavier feelings since the start of the pandemic.
Pro 3: reduce your carbon footprint through cycling
Protecting the environment from the fumes that we release into the atmosphere is a shared responsibility between every individual. Since lockdown was announced, UK carbon levels have been predicted to decrease by 11 per cent this year, giving significantly benefitting the environment. To help maintain this decline in carbon emissions as lockdown restrictions begin to ease, getting into the habit of cycling places is a great practice to stick to.
It’s a well-known fact that cars are largely responsible for the release of CO2, and the initial production of a car is also a lot more damaging to the environment than that of a bike. Research conducted by the ECF found that the production of a car accounts for 42g of CO2 emissions per kilometre. Put into perspective, after combining the output with the CO2 output from each kilometre, this comes to a total of around 271g of CO2 per kilometre.
Cycling is renowned for being incredibly eco-friendly in comparison to using cars. Although many believe that a bike is entirely carbon-neutral, this isn’t technically correct — since the energy used in the production process of a bike needs to be considered. However, in comparison to that of a car, this small output is minimal. In fact, the production of a bike accounts for only 5g of CO2 per kilometre — barely anything in comparison to the CO2 output of a car.
If you want to make some positive lifestyle changes following the lockdown period, cycling is a great place to start! Although finding the motivation to always exercise during such a stressful time can be a challenge some days; cycling to and from places instead of using transport is an effective way to embed fitness as part of your day-to-day routine.