Are Bicycles The New Cars? The Sustainable Reasons Some Are Making The Switch
What bike beginners should know.
The past year has taught everyone a lot — and one main takeaway has been slowing down. During this period of self-reflection and reevaluation, some big changes have been made and priorities shifted. For some, that means scaling back in a major way — like ditching your car for two wheels. With less opportunities to travel and a whole lot more working from home, you may have found yourself wondering if your lifestyle could use an overhaul, and if the benefits of bicycling are enough to make you reconsider your primary mode of transportation.
Market trends prove that there’s a bigger interest in bicycles than ever, a fact that’s largely attributed to peoples’ increasing environmental awareness. According to a recent article from Yahoo! Finance, the global bicycle market size is anticipated to reach $92.49 billion in the next seven years, and shoppers point to an interest in more active leisure, the ease for short commutes, and the reduction of pollution from emissions are some of the main reasons for biking more and driving less.
While there are plenty of benefits to making this shift (more on those ahead), there are a few things to consider if you’re someone who’s relatively new to bicycling. For example, not all bikes are created equally. “There are so many directions to take in bike buying it can be quite overwhelming,” shares Lauren Abrahamian, Marketing and Sales Manager for tokyobike. “First thing I usually ask anyone thinking about riding more is ‘where and when do you see yourself riding the bike the most?’ City bikes are deigned for cities and mountain bikes for the mountains — you do not have to get too into the technical aspects unless you want to, just pick a category and start to compare models from there.”
Abrahamian also stresses the importance of fit when bike shopping. “Make sure the bike will not only fit your lifestyle and needs, but fit you as well — I can’t tell you how much it pains me to see folks riding bikes too big or small for them,” she explains, adding test riding is preferable if it’s an option. That said, she encourages using your instincts for aesthetics. “Choose a bike that you enjoy looking at, and you’re drawn to,” she continues. “The best bike for you is one you feel great about and begs you to ride it.”
And if you’re just getting started you’ll want to invest in a few other things to help you commute safely and more practically. Abrahamian says a fix-a-flat kit, a rack, and a basket or bag can be useful, but a good helmet is an absolute must. “If you’re riding in any capacity, you should definitely get a helmet — and like your bike, it should definitely look like something you don’t dread putting on,” she explains. And according to Dustin Gyger, sixthreezero’s founder, night lights are also essential. “If you are going to ride at night lights are a must, especially if in a bike lane,” he says. “Also, as funny as it may seem a bell or horn is a great idea, especially if riding in crowded places is something you'll be doing.”
If knowing some of the things you’d need to get in a better and more regular bicycling practice didn’t already inspire you to switch to two wheels more often, learning some specific benefits — sustainably speaking and otherwise — might encourage you even further. Ahead, find out what some bicycle and environmental experts have to say on the subject, then browse from a few bikes, accessories, and more if you feel so inclined.
The Benefits Of Bicycling: Reducing Your Carbon Footprint
Thinking about how to be more sustainable in your daily lifestyle? Bicycling when you don’t have to use a car can be a game changer for a few reasons. First there’s the issue of emissions. “The transportation sector is responsible for the largest share of greenhouse gas emissions in America,” explains Marc Lewis, General Manager and Executive Editor of Ecowatch. “Although several major car manufacturers have announced their plans to stop selling gas vehicles in the coming years and shift to fully electric cars, the transportation sector still produces more greenhouse gases than any other industry. Ditching cars and using bicycles instead would, therefore, be the most effective way to reduce our emissions.”
And Peter Yuskauskas, Vice President of Brompton Bicycle adds that even electric bikes have a huge advantage over cars. “From an emissions perspective, human-powered bikes are a no-brainer, but even an electric bike creates only 300kg of CO2 per 15,000 miles, while a car emits a whopping 7,000kg (23 times as much),” he says.
There’s also the matter of space taken up. “The more people who switch from driving to cycling, the less demand there is for wide roads and parking lots,” shares Erik Rolfsen, editor of bike blog Pedal Street. And Lewis agrees. “Think about all the space required to create, move, and store cars,” he says. “Bicycles, on the other hand, have a far lower geographic footprint because they require fewer resources to make, transport, and park them. Imagine how many bike lanes could fit on every road and how many bike garages could replace every parking lot.”
The Benefits Of Bicycling: Saving Money
Scaling back your budget? The savings from using your car less and a bike more could be enough to sway you. “Cycling costs you less — much less,” Rolfsen says. “Your savings on car payments, fuel, insurance, repairs, and maintenance will likely amount to nearly $2,000 per year if you commute daily — and that's even if you have to go out and buy a new bike.” And Yuskauskas adds that you can use this money for other quality of life improvements, like more travel if that’s on your 2021 bucket list.
The Benefits Of Bicycling: More Physical Activity
You may have heard the saying “sitting is the new smoking,” and while there’s some discrepancy in that phrasing, the fact is that too sedentary a life can be harmful. According to an article from Harvard Health Publishing, spending too many hours sitting is hazardous to your health. “Habitual inactivity raises risks for obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, deep-vein thrombosis, and metabolic syndrome,” it explains.
Imagine if you swapped some of your usual hours seated in your car commute for getting in some more cardio on your bike. Harvard’s article explains that cycling can be a great form of exercise for a variety of types because it’s easy on the joints, improves cardiovascular health, can increase bone density, and releases endorphins. As always, just make sure you chat with your regular doctor to make sure an increase in this type of physical activity is best for your body.
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