It is cold outside. The sky is its usual over cast self and threatening to rain. A bus driver just nearly ran you down and the potholes in the tarmac seem to be sneaking up on you. You’re tired and the hard seat you are sitting on is really starting to be a pain in the arse. ‘Why am I doing this’ you ask yourself and when you finally think things can’t get any worse it starts to rain. Typical. This is a common scenario people think of when they think of commuting by bike but it is always like this? Chances are a day like this is just a bad day but even if it isn’t, what are the reasons to ride a bike in London?
1) It is cheaper.
As of March 2011 the average price of petrol is 130p per litre, it depends on the car you drive how much that is per mile but one thing is for sure, it isn’t cheap. Especially as petrol prices seem to keep getting higher, for some people this can be a massive save in their budget. For money for that thing you always wanted or to save for a rainy day.
2) It is a great way to keep fit.
In the UK, 43% of men and 33% of women are overweight. A further 22% of men and 23% of women are obese. This means that a total of 65% of men and 55% of women are too heavy, that’s over half the population. These figures may not be a shock to us today but its still kind of scary to think about. Riding a bike is a great form of exercise and can easily help us lose weight and keep fit. Riding a bike for an hour generally burns 600- 800 calories but this does depend on a number of factors such as how fast you are riding and the weight you are carrying. One pound equals 3500 calories, so if you rid a bike every working day for an hour that can be a lose of a pound a week depending on your diet.
3) It is quicker.
Even though you would need to stop at red lights, when riding a bike you generally get to skip most of the traffic as you can pass the cars and go straight to the front of the traffic. This is a real time saver and a lot less stressful then sitting around in traffic.
4) Better for the environment.
I think this one is pretty obvious but the average car releases 166 GPK (grams per kilometre) of C02 into our atmosphere whilst the bike releases none. Though C02 is produced both in the making of cars and bikes, overall a bike will not contribute as much of the gas in its life time as a car. Cars also pollute our ground water and make the ground dirtier. Bikes do not.
5) London has become more biker friendly.
Over the years there has been a number of schemes to make riding a bike in London more convenient and safe. Most boroughs offer free cycling lessons for people of all ages and more cycle lanes have been created. It can be better but this will only happen if more people chose to ride instead of drive.
6) Reduces your reliance on petrol.
Oil is predicted to run out within the next 45 years if we continue using it at the rate we are today. Many predict there will be conflicts over oil and shortages in the future. Even at the hint of a shortage many people go to their local petrol stations to stock up. I’m not going to say riding a bike will completely make you independent of petrol cause it won’t but at least you’ll still be able to travel and have plenty of practise travelling this way if there are shortages.
Though it may seem impractical sometimes to ride a bike, the reasons given above should be some sort of incentive to do so when you can. Even if you are a commuter, some trains will let you take a bike on board so you could ride from the station to your workplace. Even if you are not travelling anywhere, riding a bike can still be an enjoyable pass time. So why don't you give it a try today?
By Cíara Morgan