I’ll Be Cycling My Way Out Of Lockdown. Will You? Navigating life solo, I have grown to love the capability that a single human being can possess. My absolute favourite being my ability to cycle. I love that the food I eat becomes fuel, my arms the indicators, and my heart the engine. Bikes are a wonderful piece of equipment, enabling individuals across the globe to appreciate their bodies, and most importantly, their health.
As our collective health has become seriously threatened with Covid-19, we are left concerned for our futures. With lockdowns restricting our boundaries, with nowhere to go in our cars we are reaching for the next best available gateway to freedom – our bikes!
During lockdown one, road traffic in the UK fell by 73%, with toxic emissions on major roads and junctions reducing by up to 50% in London. Figures like these undeniably indicate that bike travel is the way to go for our bodies and planet if you are at all concerned about air quality and urban pollution.
Everyone’s a cyclist!
In most places, it’s not an uncommon sight to see lycra-clad cyclists zooming past on their expensive road bikes, helmets and sunglasses on, looking like absolute pedalling machines. Granted, many people cycle like this but don’t let that put you off or feel like it represents all cyclists. Even if you’ve never progressed from stabilisers, now is the time to get started if you’re feeling uninitiated but keen. We all have to start somewhere, and there’s no shame in giving a new sport a go – in fact, most cyclists will be delighted to know that you’re joining them! There’s no such thing as a cyclist and a non-cyclist. As long as wheels are turning, you’re a cyclist!
Need some help? E-bikes are your solution
Electric bike sales increased by almost 50% during April 2020, which is remarkably encouraging. E-bikes are a great alternative to traditional pushbikes. They allow those of us who may tire more easily, or who just want an easier cycle when getting from A to B, to hop on the saddle and get going with minimal effort and plenty of ease.
There is the option to refrain from using the peddle assistance if you are determined to use your own peddle power, but it’s great to have the reassurance at times when help is needed. You know what I mean – those steeper inclines which have probably made you think twice about cycling in the first place. There is absolutely no shame in using an e-bike rather than a pushbike. In fact, you’ll be the cause of a lot of envy as you effortlessly glide up hills leaving others panting behind you!
There is often a cause for concern for cyclists on the roads, which is understandable. However, as Cherry Allan, a campaigns information officer commented, ‘when you think about the 3.3 billion miles accumulated by everyone who cycled over the year, [the accident rates] tell us that cycling is much more likely to improve the health than damage or threaten it’.
Let that sink in. Cycling is safer than most people imagine.
If you are still a nervous cyclist, that’s ok too. There are many cycle courses around the UK, with local councils even offering courses for free. So, for those of you not yet confident on the road, why not try out one of the recommended courses and see if you find the road less intimidating.
Lockdowns and the pandemic have been a period of discovery for many, and with public transport nearing to a halt and with not being able to travel far; the next best transport has to be bikes. In Dundee alone, there was a 94% increase in cycling traffic during the first lockdown.
Luckily, this was not a concentrated statistic example with bike-sharing increasing by nearly 150% in Beijing! These are reassuring figures for cycling fans; the curious amongst us, and those looking to reduce our carbon footprint. We can only hope the biking bug is here to stay.
The only apparent negative to the recent surge in cycling popularity has been bike companies struggling to keep up with demand. As a cyclist myself, I have borne witness to rows of empty shelves, where cycling equipment usually sits. But don’t let that put you off getting started because there are so many options. Checking out secondhand bikes is a good place to start. More people cycling means more people are upgrading their bikes regularly. Which, in turn, means there are going to be some really terrific bikes on sale with a tempting price tag. While stores are struggling with stock, bikes are sold on the secondhand market at a fraction of the price.
Lockdown has given us time to reflect and to prioritise what’s important in our lives. Some people have taken the time to reinvent themselves, others have taken to the couch with a family-sized chocolate bar. Both are acceptable given the chaos we’re going through. The last year has been filled with unpredictable difficulties but there is light at the end of the tunnel.
Exercise is widely known to be one of the best forms of stress relief and guaranteed to improve your health. Whether you pull out your old bike from the back of the shed or treat yourself to a new one, it is safe to say that cycling is proving to be one of the best solutions to get outdoors, enjoy nature and exercise at the same time. It will save you money in the long run, improve your physical and mental health too – for me, it’s a no brainer!