With the pandemic persisting, commuting became a bit more of a hassle. Before the lockdown, the only thing to consider was time. Whether or not you’ll make it to where you need to go if you leave at a certain hour, for example. Or if a specific route can get you there faster in terms of traffic. But now, there are more layers that we need to get past. Is this ride safe? Are all the passengers vaccinated? Questions like these can sometimes make public transportation anxiety-inducing. Luckily, a situationally better commute option still exists: biking.
According to the Federal Competitiveness and Statistics Centre (FCSC), the lockdown triggered a “cycling boom” in the UAE. 20% of the 3,100 cyclists that they surveyed said that they had “taken up the pursuit (biking) as a result of the pandemic.” Some cited weight loss as their motivation, while some started it to ease stress or improve their mental health. If you’re considering biking yourself, here are some reasons to finally go for it.
Biking is good for you in more ways than physical
Biking is a physical activity, so it’s only natural for it to benefit you in that regard. It is primarily “aerobic,” which means that you get to exercise your heart, lungs, and blood vessels while doing it. In the long run, regularly riding a bike will improve your physical health in many ways. You will have less body fat, better posture and coordination, and a stronger defense against disease. On top of these, it will also up your cardiovascular fitness, muscle and bone strength, and mobility.
But these benefits are only the tip of the iceberg. Your physical health is a reflection of your mental wellness. Fortunately, biking can help you with both.
Kicking the day off with a successful ride is a good mental headstart. In physical terms, biking releases “endorphins,” one of the feel-good hormones that help us relax. On the mental side, that means starting your day with a sense of achievement, which can motivate you to do more. In addition, research shows that you’re less likely to feel stressed after a biking session. These positive emotions can reduce feelings of anxiety, too.
More than just emotions, biking also improves cognitive function and general well-being. And if you have friends that can ride alongside you, the social aspect of it gives an additional mental boost as well. A healthy body and mind are within reach with biking, be it as a hobby, means of transportation, or profession.
Biking is environmentally friendly, too
The acting director of the FCSC said that the cycling boom in the UAE would help lower the country’s carbon footprint. This feat would especially benefit the UAE Energy Strategy 2050, which aims to “increase the contribution of clean energy in the total energy mix from 25 percent to 50 percent by 2050 and reduce the carbon footprint of power generation by 70 percent, thus saving AED 700 billion by 2050.”
The UAE is generally supportive of biking, too, as proved by Dubai’s Cycling Tracks Plan 2021. As the Roads and Transport Authority’s website writes, “It is [also] part of RTA’s master plan for the provision of dedicated cycling lanes spanning the entire Emirate.” This, therefore, enhances biking’s potential as a safer means of transportation.
As a whole, biking reduces air and noise pollution. Unlike motorized vehicles, bikes do not release harmful gases such as nitrogen dioxide into the environment. Nor do they create enough noise to disturb nearby humans and animals. If more people opt to use bikes instead of cars, driving and production emissions will lower dramatically. Such improvements would help with larger-scale issues such as global warming.
Biking will save you money
Beyond the scientific and societal impacts that biking can have, however, a straightforward reason to start biking is that it’s better for your pocket. There’s the cost of purchasing a bike and some safety gear, of course. But they’re much cheaper than cars and gas (more so with increasing oil prices globally). It’s a no-brainer that the operating cost of a bike is much lower than the other options.
Indeed, health is wealth. And biking embodies that principle on a higher level.
One-time investment, long-term benefits
Buying the actual bike is often the most “expensive” purchase already. The rest of the accessories or upgrades will be generally cheaper. But the benefits you can get from biking will very much outweigh the amount of money you spend on it. It improves your physical and mental health, saves you tons of money, and even helps mother nature on the side. At this point, it’s not a matter of why you should start biking, it’s a matter of why you shouldn’t.