The Benefits of Biking
Throughout South Carolina and across the country, more and more people are turning to biking as an alternative mode of transportation. Some are riding bikes to work as a replacement for their morning commute in the car. Others are pedaling for their health. Still some people see their choice of cycling as a way to reduce their impact on the environment.
No matter what your reasons, if you are considering adding cycling to your routine, you are bound to see the benefits!
Cycling for Your Body & Soul
The most obvious benefit of biking is its effects on a person’s health. Cycling is a low-impact exercise, much easier on the body than running or jogging. Yet it can make a huge difference in a person’s overall health.
Did you know that riding a bike can help you build brain cells? Researchers have found that a 5 percent increase in bike riding resulted in a 15 percent improvement on mental tests among riders, according to the University of Illinois.
The cardiovascular benefits of cycling are undeniable. Regular cycling has been shown to reduce your risk of heart disease by 50 percent, according to research by Purdue University.
Whether you are feeling stressed or depressed, hopping on a bike can help boost your mood. That’s because exercise like cycling triggers your brain to produce more serotonin and dopamine, chemicals that help improve and regulate your mood.
There’s no doubt that your lungs get a workout when you’re on a bike, resulting in improved lung function and circulation. In fact, lung capacity ─ the amount your lungs can expand to take in oxygen ─ can increase as much as 15 percent with activities such as bicycling.
Bones and Joints
Cycling promotes strong bones while being easy on joints and cartilage. Regular riding can lead to improved posture, mobility, and coordination.
Cyclists enjoy an increase in muscle tone, strength, and flexibility. Muscles in the thighs, hips, and rear end get a particularly good workout. And for those riding uphill, muscle tone in the arms and upper body tends to improve.
Biking is a great way to burn calories and fight weight gain. To give you an idea, a cyclist who weighs 180 pounds can burn about 650 calories an hour pedaling at a moderate pace.
Did you know?
10 years younger
Cyclists are known to enjoy a fitness level that is a decade younger than their actual age.
2 years younger
Cyclists have an increased life expectancy compared to non-riders.
1/2 the sick time
People who ride for 30 minutes, five days a week, use about half the sick days of people who don’t exercise.
2,924 miles per gallon – Considering the food you take in as your fuel, the gas mileage you get on a bicycle is off the charts.
100 times less expensive – The cost of building bikeways is much, much less that the cost of building roadways, according to a study by the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition.
Up to 1.6 billion gallons of fuel could be saved each year with moderate increases in bicycling.
33% to 50% - Infrastructure to accommodate automobiles takes up 33% to 50% of the total area in many cities across the United States.
Building a bicycle requires only 5% of the materials and energy that are needed to build a car.
A single parking space can accommodate one car or 20 bicycles.
Bicycling produces zero pollution.
Ready to Get Pedaling
Research and buy the right bike for you.
Think about where you’ll be riding (traffic and terrain), whether you will need to be carrying something (like a backpack for work), and how much money you want to spend. Depending on your needs, you may look into road bikes, mountain bikes, hybrid bicycles, or recumbent bikes.
Always wear a helmet.
About 85 percent of bicycling fatalities are due to head injuries. Even if you’re not planning to ride around in traffic, you need to wear a helmet. Any impact to the head can cause life-threatening injuries.
Choose clothing that will help you stay visible and safe.
Bright clothes and reflectors, both on you and your bike, can help make you more noticeable to motorists. You should always wear closed-toed shoes, not flip-flops or sandals.
Buy lights for your bike.
If you have to ride at night, purchase both a headlight and rear lights for your bike.
Always be aware of road conditions.
Try to stay off the road during rush hour, and keep an eye on the weather when you’re planning a ride.
Perform routine maintenance on your bike.
Make sure you have the right amount of air in your tires before each ride and check the chain. Also make sure your seat is adjusted properly. Every once in a while, have a professional check your bike for problems.
Obey the rules of the road.
Just like motor vehicles, bikes must ride in the same direction as traffic and obey all traffic signals. When turning, use hand signals to alert drivers around you. Stay on the right-hand side of the road unless you’re getting ready to turn left. Use designated bike lanes when possible, and avoid riding on the sidewalk.
Stay alert to bike-specific dangers.
Watch for potholes and debris in the road. Keep an eye out for parked cars opening doors. Be particularly careful crossing driveways and intersections where drivers may not be looking for bikers.
Don’t get distracted.
Distracted riding can be as big of a problem as distracted driving. Don’t talk on the phone, text, or listen to headphones while riding.
Be prepared for problems.
Always carry a cellphone in case of emergency, as well as a bike repair kit and water. And take a break from riding if your body is telling you it needs to rest. Wrist, knee, neck and lower back pain can all be signs that you need a break.
Wishing You a Safe and Satisfying Ride
At David Blackwell Law, we are committed to promoting safety on South Carolina’s roadways. Whether you are an avid cyclist or a biking beginner, we encourage you to always be aware of the motorists around you. And if you are ever involved in a bicycling accident and need legal advice, please feel free to call us.