While the public have long known about the health benefits of cycling – including promoting better mental health and assisting with weight loss – a recent study has also found riding a bicycle could actually save lives. As a green way to travel, if more people were to choose to cycle it could reduce emissions, resulting in fewer air pollution related deaths and saving the country more than £9bn.
40,000 deaths per year and counting
Currently, approximately 40,000 deaths are linked to pollution every year with 29 areas in the UK having air quality that does not meet legal limits. Sadly, unless action is taken, these figures are only expected to rise.
For this reason, the government is calling on the British public to become more green minded and embrace cycling as a nation. This is because in order to meet this target and reduce the number of deaths associated with poor air quality, the number of journeys currently taken by bike would need to double over the next 10 years. But is this goal realistic? And can we become a bike-loving country?
Making positive steps
There are now at least 25 cities across the UK that have adopted a bike sharing scheme. These schemes are designed to make accessing a bike more convenient and affordable, encouraging more of us to ditch our cars and public transport, and opt for a greener alternative. This is certainly a step in the right direction and is an idea that could see us adopting bicycles more like our Dutch neighbours.
In addition, the cycle to work scheme has seen more of us riding our bikes as part of our daily commute, resulting in folding bike companies like Brompton enjoying a surge in popularity. But while the UK has begun to make positive steps, there is still more to do in this area.
Cycling benefits all
In addition to the environmental benefits of cycling and reducing carbon footprint, hopping on your bike can offer a lot of personal benefits, too. This includes:
- Reducing a rider’s risk of heart disease and certain types of cancer
- Saving time by preventing the need to sit in traffic during peak periods
- Providing better quality of sleep by reducing stress and anxiety
- And boosting blood flow to the brain which increases cognitive function
When considering both health and environmental benefits, spending more time on a bike and less time in a car would benefit both the rider and quality of air. That being said, maybe it’s time more of us chose two wheels over four?
(A Retail Times’ collaborative article)