Riding a bicycle and the transformation it can bring to our lives in the city
Riding a bicycle can be one of the most important initiatives that we can collectively adopt in the cities we live in. Besides the fact that it is cool to pedal to get from one place to another, according to the specialists’ opinion, we can help decarbonize the atmosphere and even hope to reverse the global warming – one of the greatest threats to all that is life on Earth. But all this matters too little, it should be remembered that cycling manages to amplify the state of well-being. The reason you practice it doesn’t really matter
Although our country isn’t going well in terms of bike lanes, together we can raise the infrastructure that needs to be adapted to the level of necessity, hoping that the authorities will feel the pressure of the townspeople and act accordingly. A normality in other European countries such as Holland or Denmark, riding a bicycle is a proof of respect for nature, but also of resilience and adaptation to the existing climatic conditions. The space, shape and details of the cities thus contribute to creating opportunities of bringing people closer to nature, in a natural, empathetic and grateful way, as an innate part of their daily life. Equally important is people connection, which is made much easier on a bike than behind closed doors.
The health benefits for riding a bike
Numerous scientific studies have analyzed, over time, the beneficial effects that cycling has for people. One of them has proven that people who ride a bike regularly have a much more pronounced state of well-being than those who use other means of transport. That is because cycling combines physical exercises with being outdoors and exploring new places and objectives. This activity also gives us time to process our worries and concerns, enjoying a well-deserved ”me time”.
On the other hand, riding a bike helps strengthen the immune system, as it trains the upper respiratory system, thus reducing the incidence of common colds, according to a study made during the coronavirus pandemic. At the same time, if we were to use the bicycle to go to work or to the market, we can considerably reduce the exposure to microbes or viruses that we could contact, for example, in public transport. By increasing our heart rate, but also burning calories more easily by pedaling, we have more chances to keep the extra pounds away. However, it is still important to combine physical activities with restful sleep and healthy diet to support the immune system weakened by physical effort.
Riding a bike is planet friendly
Urban transport is one of the most difficult sectors to purify and decarbonize in the world, as fossil fuels are used intensively, people being dependent on this infrastructure that consumes and pollutes a lot. Nitrogen oxide emissions, caused especially by old cars and diesel ones, are the most dangerous for city dwellers. In this note, Enrique Peñalosa, former mayor of Bogotá, was of the opinion that ”a city can be friendly to people, or it can be friendly to cars, but it cannot be both at the same time”. As such, the more people decide to ride a bike in a city suffocated by cars and their emissions and noises, they will contribute over time to shaping a more airy city, without traffic jams and with a cleaner air.
Although the adoption of electric cars is meant to minimize the level of pollution in urban agglomerations, their construction is not free of carbon emissions, as they contain batteries whose manufacturing process is polluting. The raw materials needed or lithium-ion cells that power most electric cars are based on the extraction of cobalt, lithium and other rare natural resources, a process that is extremely toxic de to specific sulfur oxide emissions. Moreover, although driving them doesn’t generate such emissions into the atmosphere, electric cars require up to 50% more water in the production of batteries than traditional internal combustion engines.
It is therefore essential to contribute to the common good by learning how to replace certain unhealthy and environmentally damaging habits or behaviors with less harmful alternatives. Our health depends on the health of the environment and by choosing bicycles over vehicles, we can bring a real and fast change in our city, inspiring others to follow the example.
Closer to city life by bicycle
A tool for experiential understanding of urban settlements in which we live, cycling has the potential to bring a significant value to the community of which we are a part. When riding a bicycle, we can feel and experience the city with a deep intimacy, in a way that is not possible when driving. Besides saving precious time, we also protect our mental health, since, for starters, we will no longer get annoyed in traffic waiting for hours every day to get to the places where we need to carry out our activities. In addition, we can expand our social circle by “cycling” with people who share the same passion and determination for a cleaner and more pollution-free environment.
Riding a bicycle will give us the opportunity to tangibly communicate with the city we live in and look at it differently, wanting to know it better. In h4l neighborhoods, bike lanes encourage a healthy and active lifestyle, and placing key areas in an intuitive way will ease our lives and make us prioritize health and well-being. What if we choose to bring joy into life through the living manifestation of care and love for mother nature, to whom we owe everything?