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.