Bicycles are human-powered machines with two wheels. They were invented in the 1800s and quickly became popular with the elites and the middle class. After a while, the masses were also able to access this new mode of transportation. Now roughly half of the world’s population knows how to bike.
Its easy to understand the allure of cycling. Bikes are practical to use in a wide variety of situations. Biking is a hobby that is suitable for people of any age, gender, or economic status. They also provide a number of health benefits for their riders. We list some of these benefits below:
The Practical Benefits of Cycling
1. Low-cost Vehicle
Not everyone can afford to buy a car. These cost tens of thousands of dollars brand new. Even used ones can still be out of reach for many. Their operational, maintenance, and repair costs are quite high as well. On the other hand, bikes are relatively more affordable. Cheap ones are around two hundred dollars or even less so the barrier to access is low. You won’t have to worry about spending for fuel either since you can pedal your way anywhere you want to go. Of course, you would have to pay more for the high-end models such as sports bikes.
2. Effective Transport
Bikes are perfectly fine vehicles for personal transport. If you are simply trying to go from your home to a nearby store, park, school, office, or friend’s house, then biking should suffice. It’s great for doing errands around cities. You can even carry a bit of cargo by installing a bike rack at the back or a basket at the front. Others wear a backpack to carry their items. It is possible to have a passenger hop on although bikes are not optimal for long distances unless you have a tandem model with a dedicated seat for a co-rider.
Vehicles that rely on an engine have to burn fossil fuels in order to run. They contribute to air pollution and global warming because of their toxic emissions. Concerns about this has led to the developed of electric vehicles that have virtually zero emissions. In contrast, bikes are machines that are powered by human action. Riders are effectively the engines who move the two-wheeled vehicle with their own feet. There are no fossil fuels, greenhouse gasses, and other pollutants to worry about. Biking is an environmentally friendly way to move around which is why many cities encourage their use through subsidies and public facilities.
4. Unlimited Range
Most think of bicycles are optimal for short-distance travels. Indeed, work well for quick commutes of a few miles in length. Distances that would take hours to walk will only require a few minutes to bike. However, it should be noted that cycling is possible for longer distances as well. There is really no limit to their range as long as the rider is fit, the food is enough, and the machine is in good condition. One could ride around the city or go around the country. A few have even gone biking around the world. No distance is ever too far on a bike.
5. Ease of Parking
One of the most frustrating things about driving a car is having to find a parking space once you get to your destination. This is not a problem with bikes given their slim profile. They can fit in the smallest of spaces and they don’t even need a proper parking slot. Some will simply chain their bikes to nearby railings, trees, posts, or any other fixed structure. They can finish parking in seconds unlike cars which can take minutes as they go around looking for available spaces. Once it’s time to get out, they bikers can just hop on and go. There are no worries about possibly bumping and scraping other vehicles due to narrow paths.
6. Excellent Maneuverability
Cycling is a joy if you want a highly maneuverable vehicle. You can go left or right by simply turning the handles slightly in your preferred direction. Bikes can clear the tightest corners and go through the narrowest streets. They can cross shallow waters and muddy paths. In the hands of a skilled rider, obstacles are no match for bikes. It should be easy to avoid road hazards with the proper focus and suitable speed. They have a small turning radius so go around potholes, barriers, dead animals, and other things that would challenge car drivers.
7. Terrain Adaptability
There are different types of bikes for different kinds of terrain. You can get a road bike if you are mainly focused on riding around city roads and highways. These are optimized for speed on straight paths and smooth pavement. Alternatively, you can get a mountain bike if you are eager to hit the trails. These have sturdier frames that can absorb impact from uneven terrain. They also have thicker tires with better grip to prevent the bike from sliding on mud and slick roads. These won’t puncture as easily as road tires. You might also be interested in gravel bikes which are great for touring.
8. Less Traffic
Those who live in big cities know driving a car usually means getting stuck in traffic for hours each day. This wastes an unacceptable amount of time every year. This can be minimized by switching to commutes on a bike. It is easier to take alternative paths that may not be accessible by car. Cyclists can also squeeze through tight spaces between vehicles so they can move to the front of the pack while helpless drivers remain stationary. In places where cycling is popular, there is less traffic because bikes occupy a considerably smaller area than cars leading to reduced road congestion.
9. Minimal Noise
Bicycles do not have a noisy engine that announces their presence everywhere they go. They produce minimal noise due to rattling chains but even this can be attenuated with the use of lubricants. The presence of multiple bikes will not disturb a neighborhood the way that motorcycles often do. For many, this makes cycling a more pleasant experience as one can rides across the countryside while taking in the sights and sounds of the place instead of disturbing the peace. This also makes group bike rides more tolerable from an outsider perspective compared to hordes of motorcycles.
10. Highly Portable
Most bicycles are portable enough to transport using the family car. By taking off the wheels, they can fit in the trunk. Bike racks could be placed on the rear or the roof as well. These can carry multiple bikes for group rides. Those who want something that is smaller and lighter may opt to get folding bikes that they can take on the bus or train. They can be carried on one hand and are no bigger than wheeled luggage in the folded position. Once they get to their stop, they can unfold the bike and pedal their way to their final destination.
The Health Benefits of Cycling
1. Reduced Risk of Disease
Aside from the practical benefits of cycling to individuals and society, there are also several health benefits that should encourage even more individuals to get their own bikes. Foremost of these is the reduced risk of disease thanks to regular biking. Studies show that this physical activity helps people avoid the development of certain cancers, diabetes, heart disease. Bicycling can add years to one’s life with the benefits outweighing the risk of injury. Those who would like to change their sedentary lifestyle and get back in shape for the sake of their health will find bicycling to be a rewarding activity.
2. Low Impact Exercise
Biking is particularly suited to people who have issues with their joints due to previous injuries or old age. Some forms of exercise like running and jumping may aggravate the pain. Instead of completely stopping all physical activities and regressing in their fitness, they could opt for a low impact exercise like cycling or swimming. There is no pounding on the pavement. There is only the continuous circular motion of the pedals that propel the bike forward. They can choose to cycle outside or remain indoors with a stationary bike. This is a good cross-training activity for athletes and a excellent way to keep fit during rehabilitation for injuries.
3. Increased Leg Strength
Cycling can be used as a means to improve leg strength. For example, long distance runners require strength and endurance to finish marathons and longer races. They have to run many hours a week and accumulate many miles. However, they can easily over-train if all they do is run every day. Some days might be dedicated to cycling instead to provide stimulus for the leg muscles especially if they take uphill routes. This will be easier on the body so they can recover quicker. They will feel fresher the next day when they resume their runs.
4. Lower Perceived Stress
The health benefits of bicycling are not limited to the physical aspects. It is also good for mental health. Studies show that individuals who bike regular report lower perceived stress than the average person. This could be due to their excellent conditioning, reduced susceptibility to illness, higher confidence, and lower anxiety. Cyclists also get to enjoy the outdoors a lot during their training. Some are able to reach the quiet places in the countryside where they get close to nature. It is a well-known fact that proximity to nature improves mood. One even gets to breathe fresh air and see amazing sights.
5. Better Vitality
Some people might shy away from biking with thoughts that it is simply too hard. They would rather drive a car and let the vehicle do the work rather than exerting effort to pedal the distance. While it can be tiring to power a bike from point A to point B, the body quickly adapts to the situation. People recover and get stronger as a result of cycling. Their succeeding attempts can go longer before they feel any sign of fatigue. Those who do it regularly can ride a hundred miles in a day while still having enough energy left for more. Their surplus of energy helps them be more productive with day-to-day tasks as well.
Bicycles are simple yet incredibly useful machines that allow people to go places using their own power. They can go as fast or as slow as they want. They can go long or short. They will still reap the health benefits of this practical vehicle.