There are many great reasons to cycle, whether you’re trying to save money, time, or the planet, or whether you simply like your journeys to be pleasant:
Cyclists are healthier. Based on all the media attention given to every serious cycling accident, you would think that cycling is extremely risky. Certainly, cycling in Ireland could be safer. But the real story is that, all things considered, cyclists are healthier and live longer than others. A major 5 year study of 263,450 UK commuters found that people who cycled to work had far fewer incidences and deaths from all causes, and cancer and cardiovascular disease in particular, compared to drivers and even those who walk to work. Read the study here: the results strongly suggest that driving to work is associated with higher rates of death and disease than cycling.
Cyclists are wealthier. Do you know how much you spend on owning and running a car every year? According to the AA, the average cost of owning and running a car is €11,934. That’s an enormous proportion of most household’s disposable income. In the Campaign, we’re not averse to owning and driving cars – we do this ourselves. But many of us are able to save thousands every year by being a one, not two, car household and cycling for regular trips to work, school, or the shops.
Cyclists are happier. Is it the endorphins we get from moderate exercise? The absence of stress in finding parking and getting around? Perhaps it’s that sweet sense of schadenfreude as we zip past traffic jams? Or the knowledge that we’re saving bundles of money? The satisfaction of making an effective choice to reduce our environmental impact? Who knows! Whatever the reason, the simple fact of the matter is that cyclists are happier.
Journey times are predictable: Enjoying all the time you spend in traffic? Cyclists avoid most traffic congestion, removing much of the stress and annoyance of driving.
Parking is free, conveniently located, and easily found: Finding a place to lock your bike near where you want to go is usually pretty easy. It’s free too! So, you won’t need to wake up extra early, just to beat your colleagues to that last, precious parking spot at work. (Although with the strong uptake of cycling, we need much more and better quality bike parking in public and company grounds all over Cork.)
Cycling doesn’t harm the environment. Transport accounts for an enormous proportion of climate warming gas emissions. Cycling doesn’t emit toxic gases like nitrogen dioxide and particulate matter as do cars, buses, and trucks. And while electric vehicles are much better than petrol and diesel cars in their impact on air quality, their emissions of climate warming gases are only slightly better. In fact, about 20% of a typical petrol or diesel car’s total lifetime emissions go into its manufacture and disposal; in absolute terms, these manufacturing and disposable emissions are higher for electric cars than internal combustion engines. Your bicycle, on the other hand, requires little energy to manufacture and almost nothing to use (even if it’s a e-bike).
Care about the environment? Cycling is probably the most effective personal choice you can make to reduce your energy use and environmental harm.
The Cycling Embassy of Great Britain offer an excellent debunking of myths about cycling, from “cycling isn’t safe” and “it’s too expensive to provide for cycling”, to “bus lanes provide conditions for cycling” and “people should wear helmets while cycling” (and many more). Whether you’re a motorist, an irregular cyclist, a politician, or a road transport engineer, this great website provides food for thought on the many benefits of catering properly for cycling in our cities and towns. Click here to go their website.