Whether you are an avid bike enthusiast, ride to work every now and then, or haven’t touched a bike in years, it’s time to ride again! May is National Bike Month, and it is time to share some insight into why biking is great for the community as well as the environment.
Biking is a great hobby to add to your daily routine for multiple reasons, but it is specifically impactful on your community’s economy, individual health, and environment.
UCLA states that biking creates a healthier community economy by pumping money into local shops and stores.
They note that “People who ride bikes places pick up food, go for coffee, and shop at stores along their route – pumping money back into the community. The League of American Bicyclists reports that people on bikes are more likely to make repeat trips to their local stores too.” UCLA also states that “The League of American Bicyclists estimates that bicycling-related activities contribute $133 billion to our national economy, support over 1 million jobs, and bring in nearly $18 billion in tax revenue.”
While biking has shown to be great for the economy, it also positively impacts your own health as well. It supports your physical health and mental health simultaneously by getting your body active and decreasing hormones related to stress.
MensLine Australia states that “Cycling can grow your brain in the same way it can grow your muscles. Blood flow to the brain increases just as it does with the muscles, bringing in more oxygen and nutrients that can improve its performance.” MensLine Australia also commented on the fact that riding increases the production of proteins by “two or three times the norm”. They state that these proteins function to create new brain cells which are imperative for brain health, efficiency, and counteracting the “natural decline of brain functions”.
Riding also “increases the activities that allow the different regions of our brain to communicate more effectively”, according to MensLine Australia.
These internal effects create a positive impact on mental health by pumping blood through the body “at a greater rate which allows for the rapid spread of endorphins and other good substances like dopamine, norepinephrine and serotonin.”
Because of this, MensLine Australia says cyclists “often talk about the “cycling high”, cousin to the well-recognized “runner’s high”.
As your brain is filled with endorphins, your body is also strengthening muscles and decreasing the risk of diseases. The Better Health Channel states that, “Regular cycling stimulates and improves your heart, lungs and circulation, reducing your risk of cardiovascular diseases.”
While being good for your internal health, bike riding is also a helpful form of exercise if you have pre-existing issues such as osteoarthritis. The Better Health Channel believes it is a “low-impact exercise that places little stress on joints.”
Whittney Thoman, a senior exercise physiologist in MD Anderson’s Cancer Prevention Center, also noted that “The more you are active, the more you decrease your risk for chronic diseases, including cancer,”
The environmental impact of biking is especially prevalent in multiple studies relating to the decrease in pollution due to the increase in biking.
UCLA states that “By not using any gas, bikes don’t release harmful emissions that pollute the atmosphere, nor any carbon dioxide that contributes to climate change. Just moderate increases in bicycle use each year could save an estimated 6 to 14 million tons of CO2.”
UCLA then noted that gas is not the only pollutant for cars; “They also use antifreeze and other fluids that are bad for the environment. Biking instead of driving cuts down on all of them.”
The University of Montana presented statistics that, “60% of the pollutants created from motorized transportation are produced during the first few minutes of the ride.
Because this is when your car is working the most inefficiently, these “warm-up” trips driving a shorter distance produce more air pollutants than driving on a longer trip. Short trips are the ones that can easily be replaced by a bike ride.”
Bicycling also preserves the growth of the natural environment. This was commented on by the Queensland Government when they said, “Bicycle riding conserves roadway and residential space, thereby providing opportunities for less concrete and more plant life in urban areas.”
Keep these facts in mind when thinking about implementing biking into your life throughout the year. Biking will positively impact your community’s economy, environment and individual health! Happy National Bike Month!