Cycling is a fun, healthy and inexpensive way to get around town. But it can be difficult to get the word out about how great bikes are for communities, because the way cycling is portrayed in both national and local media is often negative. This is unfortunate, because it has the potential to discourage people from trying a simple and convenient form of transportation that can greatly reduce traffic congestion and pollution.
Bicycles can help a community become more resilient in the face of climate change and other environmental challenges. For example, if people are encouraged to use bikes for transportation, they can be more likely to shop locally and support small businesses, which helps keep jobs in the area. This also means that fewer people need to travel long distances in cars, which cuts back on sprawl and habitat loss. In addition, riding a bike is quieter than driving, which decreases noise pollution and helps protect wildlife from vehicle-caused injuries and road kill.
If you’re new to biking, it’s a good idea to check with your doctor before beginning any exercise program. If the doctor gives you the go-ahead, start out by riding a bicycle for 20 to 30 minutes two or three times a week. “This will allow you to become accustomed to the motion of cycling and will give your body time to build up the necessary muscles,” says Garret Seacat, CSCS, a certified cycling coach in Manhattan, Kansas.
As your fitness level increases, you can play around with variables like speed, distance and intensity, he says. But remember to listen to your body and take a day off from cycling if you feel pain, fatigue or muscle soreness. This will help prevent injury and improve your performance when you do ride again.
To optimize your riding experience, try to distribute power evenly between the front and rear wheels. The front wheel should usually be used for steering, and the back wheel for braking. This will minimize the chance of skidding, which can be dangerous if you’re not careful. Also, be sure to keep your brakes clean, especially the rear brakes. If they’re not properly maintained, they can develop corrosion and overheating that could cause a loss of control or even a crash.
In addition, you should always wear a helmet and appropriate clothing while riding. This will not only protect you against injury in the event of an accident, but it may also reduce the risk of a serious head injury. Finally, it’s a good idea to learn to change your flat tire before hitting the road. This will make you more prepared in the event of a breakdown, and it can also save you time and money if you do need to call for help.
As a general rule, the more people use bicycles, the less energy and other resources are needed to meet global demand for oil. So be sure to spread the word about how great bikes are for our communities, and encourage people you know to get on theirs and start pedaling!