Only two kinds of people are seen riding the humble bicycle these days – daily wagers or professional cyclists. What used to be the preferred mode of commute for the middle class, has sadly gone out of fashion over the last few decades.
For us, the present urban generation, being endowed with exhaustive resources and technologies means that we see riding the man-powered two-wheeler as a trivial act, if not a total waste of time. Our “practical” and “efficient” daily commute runs on diesel and petrol. Most of us weigh commuting options on luxury value, rather than their impact on pockets, health, or the environment.
The list of benefits of cycling is longer than this article can contain. But we’re going to try and enumerate some with a hope to persuade the readers for the better.
It reduces pollution
Pollution is a major concern for our country, and vehicular emissions are major contributor. For a country like India, which is home to 10 of the world’s 20 most polluted cities, bicycle commute can seriously be a boon.
It saves time
People tend to avoid cycling as a daily commute due to time constraints and the extra effort that it requires. However, riding on a cycle doesn’t always cost more time. In most cases, and we’re willing to wager, it costs almost the same amount of time. This is true especially during rush hours, when the bike commute may even be faster. Other than this cycling might also help you use time efficiently by substituting as your daily workout.
It helps you burn those kilos
In other, more substantial, benefits cycling saves money. Money that you might otherwise spend on Gym memberships. Substituting it as your daily workout can help you burn up to 700 calories more than a car commute.
Talking about money savings, let’s say you spend around 200 rupees everyday when you you commute by a car. Transitioning to bicycle can save you 30,000 rupees a year, at least. That’s like a new smartphone every year. You can also use this calculator to try different configurations of this assumption.
It’s good for the economy
Cycling will not only help in providing safer streets and cleaner air but will also benefit the economy. If the urban middle-class population takes up cycling en masse, we would reduce the unsustainable fossil fuel dependency. India consumes about 2 million barrels of diesel and petrol per day, that’s approximately 7 billion rupees per day. Even if we reduce this consumption by a meagre one percent, Indian would have more than 25 billion rupees per year to spend on more important things.
A cycling revolution can also reduce our healthcare expenditure, which goes mostly into treating easily preventable obesity induced diseases.
It’s safer than cars (even safer than walking)
While we feel safer inside a four wheeler, Ministry of Road Transport and highways statistics, there are way more four wheeler accidents than bicycle accidents in India, almost 1500% more. According to US Department of Transportation statistics, 600% more people die while walking on the roads than they do while cycling. It seems that cycling is even safer than walking as a mode of transport.
It makes you happier
Cycling boosts release of neurotransmitters like dopamine, phenylethylamine, and serotonin. All of these elevate the mood by influencing brain chemistry, helping keep problems like depression at bay. Also, it’s a known fact when the body exercies, there is a lower chance of being affected by mental stress and stress-induced ailments.
If we commute to work on a cycle, even two days of the week, it would make a difference for the better – to us personally, and to the society.
With the world heading towards a very probable climate catastrophic, it is time to reconsider cycling as a practicable commute option