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5 Reasons Bicycles Can Change the World

5 Reasons Bicycles Can Change the World

Saying that bicycles can change the world might sound like an oversimplification of things, but when you start to break it down, it’s easy to see that the bicycle has an effect on a lot more than just how we get from point A to point B.

Need proof for why bicycles are a good way to change the world? Here are some good ones.

1. They provide alternative transportation

It doesn’t take a scientist to work out that switching from four wheels to two wheels is a good thing. First there’s the environmental reason. For example, if 5 percent of people in New York commuting by car (either private or taxi) were to bike to work, they could save 150 million pounds of CO2 emissions per year. That’s the equivalent to the amount of CO2 reduced by planting a forest 1.3 times the size of Manhattan. And that’s only with a 5 percent change.

Then there’s the societal benefit of switching to two wheels. We would save billions of hours wasted sitting in traffic congestion. In fact, the average American spends an hour a day sitting in their car. Imagine if that hour was spent pedaling. A recent study even showed that if a bicycle was involved in a commute, people felt a whole lot happier about their commute in general.

2. They are a form of empowerment

Susan B. Anthony once said, “Let me tell you what I think of bicycling. I think it has done more to emancipate women than anything else in the world. It gives women a feeling of freedom and self-reliance. I stand and rejoice every time I see a woman ride by on a wheel…the picture of free, untrammeled womanhood.”

The bicycle continues to play a significant role in women’s empowerment. World Bicycle Relief, for example, provides 50,000 bikes to students in Africa, 70 percent of them to girls. If a girl can ride to school, she can get an education. In Afghanistan, a country often cited for its poor state of women’s rights, there’s a national women’s cycling team, proving that women can stand up and push gender barriers no matter where they are in the world.

3. They make people happy

Cycling puts a smile on your face, but beyond that there are some serious reasons for why cycling makes us feel good. It’s less stressful than driving, it helps us sleep better, and according to one study, the percentage of bike commuters positively corresponds with a city’s overall happiness. And those happiness levels are attained across the economic spectrum; bicycling brings happiness to both the rich and the poor. Now that’s a reason to ride.

4. They make us healthier

It’s no secret that cycling, just like any other physical activity, is good for you. But because cycling doesn’t just have to be a sport you do every few weeks and you can make it a part of your every day routine, it’s even more powerful as a tool to achieving better health. Even if you are physically active, if you’re driving to work you are more likely to gain weight than someone who bicycles to work. Women who bike 30 minutes a day have a lower risk of breast cancer. And despite what you might think, if you’re commuting by bike, you’re actually less affected by air pollution than bus commuters.

5. They’re good for the economy

Biking instead of driving saves you money, to the tune of almost $8,000 per year. In terms of business, the bicycle industry is a is a billion dollar one, and growing. Cycling helps us lead healthier lifestyles, and that has an economic benefit as well. The City of Portland did a study that showed that by investing in bicycle infrastructure, by 2030, it could save $600 million a year in health costs. And if you believe in supporting local businesses, then you should believe in bikes: customers who arrive by bicycle are more likely to spend money. Investing in bike lanes and bike parking increases revenue.

So, need an easy way to feel like you’re saving the world? Get on a bicycle and start doing some good.

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Top Photo Credit: Robert Couse-Baker, Other Images: Luica Mak, glasseyes view

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105 comments

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11:05AM PDT on Aug 10, 2014

I need a special bicycle but cannot afford it.

11:18PM PDT on Jul 2, 2014

Thanks for sharing!

11:11AM PDT on Jun 3, 2014

Agree

1:19PM PDT on May 9, 2014

My parents went to China in 1987 and there were thousands of bicycles and very few cars, now the opposite is true and look at their pollution, they should have stuck with the bikes.

3:13PM PDT on May 7, 2014

Teleport yourself home.:)

8:41AM PDT on May 7, 2014

I GAVE UP MY BICYCLE 23 YEARS AGO, AND I'M SOOOOOOOOO GLAD I DID.
IT'S ONE OF THE WAYS I KEEP IN SHAPE. I ENJOY, SO MUCH MORE, THE DETAILS OF NATURE, AND THE ROADS I'M TRAVELING ON. AND I'M HELPING THE EARTH GET HEALTHIER BY NOT POLLUTING IT WITH TOXIC CAR EMISSIONS. ON THAT LAST NOTE, I TRULY HOPE THOSE WHO DO DRIVE CARS WITH MAKE PETITIONS HERE, AND GET THEM TO THE UNIONS OF CARWORKERS (WHO ACTUALLY BUILD THE THINGS) TO PROMOTE HEALTHFUL CORN-BASED FUELS INSTEAD OF RAPING THE EARTH OF IT'S NECESSARY RESOURCES.

7:29AM PDT on May 7, 2014

It's a nice idea but most american's work miles from home and bike riding just don't cut it...most american's have the luxery of owning a vehical while most third world countries can only afford a bike or they walk....I don't think the majority of american's even understand how lucky thet are because they have no clue on how people live in very poor countries...

6:51AM PDT on May 7, 2014

Some nonprofits are using bicycles as sources of energy for their projects.

2:26AM PDT on May 7, 2014

I just bought a bike after not riding for 15 years. I got hit by a car and decided it's time to stop being so fearful. Wish me luck! (Do you think I"ll remember how to ride?)

8:37PM PDT on May 6, 2014

Thanks for sharing.

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