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The many benefits of taking up cycling

Cycling became more popular than ever in 2020 which is great news for the environment and for improving mental health and wellbeing.

18 May 2021

Newsroom - Man holding bike handles on a road

According to the Bicycle Association, retailers have seen a 60% increase in bike sales since March 2020 and e-bikes have risen in popularity with sales more than doubling.

Transport for London (TfL) reported a 7% increase in cycling in inner London and a 22% increase in outer London from their cycling count from Autumn 2020 compared to the previous Spring 2019 count.

Cycling Scotland reported an increase of 43% in recorded cycling journeys in Scotland between March and August 2020 compared to the same period in 2019. It stated that there were six locations, including Dundee’s Arbroath Road and Dunfermline’s Kingseat Road, which saw increases of more than 100%, with Clyde Street in Glasgow showing a 199% rise.

It’s interesting to see from these figures just how much the interest in cycling has risen. If the trend continues to rise, it could mean that more and more people swap four wheels for two to carry out short journeys and perhaps might mean more people choose to commute on their bike where possible.

What are the benefits of cycling?

There are many benefits when taking up cycling.

  • Protecting the environment: It helps improve not just our own health but also that of our environment. It helps reduce pollution, congestion, and noise. The threat of climate change is very real and transport emissions are a major contributor. Cycling can help by replacing the 60% of car trips that are under five miles.
  • Helping your mental health: 2020 was an extremely stressful year for most people in the UK and there were increased pressures from an array of things such as working from home, being furloughed, being laid off from work, having to home school children, or care for loved ones. Even having to isolate and adhere to restrictions caused stress for a lot of people. Cycling can help to relieve all these stresses.
  • Improving your physical fitness: Cycling is a great form of exercise and reduces the risk of premature death and ill-health with a 46% lower risk of developing cardiovascular disease (CVD). Cycling easily fits into daily routines too because it makes a good form of transport to get to work, school or the shops compared to commuting by car or public transport.
  • Lower risk of developing cancer: Cycling is linked with a 45% lower risk of developing cancer
  • Can save you money: Although the cost of a bike can seem like a large lump sum to pay, you can save money on fuel, public transport and gym memberships in the long run.

What should you consider when taking up cycling?

When taking up cycling, there are a few things you should consider such as:

Ensuring you have a good bike lock

Unfortunately, we live in a world where bike theft is far too common so it’s not worth taking the risk to leave your bike unattended without any security. Investing in a good secure bike lock is much more cost effective than having to buy a new bike or claim on your contents’ insurance if your bike is stolen. Cycling UK offers helpful advice on bike security.

Dressing for the weather

By wearing appropriate, breathable clothing and footwear such as active wear and padded cycling leggings or shorts, you’ll have a much more comfortable ride as you won’t have restricted movement. Wear waterproofs when necessary and also gloves to protect your hands from the elements and so you have a more comfortable handle bar grip.

Plan your cycling route

Research routes to and from your destination with cycle lanes and use those where possible. This will ensure your maximum safety. A helpful tool for this in the UK, is Cycling UK’s journey planner which gives you three options of routes from the quietest to fastest route.

Cycling courses and groups

There are several courses available which can show you the best routes for your cycle journey and Cycling UK have various groups around the country.

Cycling UK welcome all cyclists. You can sign up for a Cycling UK membership which offers a wide range of cycling benefits, including insurance, legal support through Slater and Gordon’s incident line, retail discounts, Cycle magazine and more.

"By supporting our charity as a member, not only will you receive great benefits and offers, but you’ll also be helping us to make a better world by bike. Together we can unclog our streets of traffic, provide access to safe routes and give more people the skills to ride with confidence." Georgina Cox, head of membership, Cycling UK.

Cycling insurance

Although not essential, cycling insurance can provide piece of mind when you’re out cycling in case you damage your bike, injure yourself or damage someone else’s property in a cycling accident. Third-party liability insurance is included for free with a Cycling UK membership, and members have access to exclusive deals on bike insurance, and specialist bike and home insurance.

If you’d like to learn more about Cycling UK and the services they offer, including details about membership, visit their website here.

If you’d like to learn more about the Cycling UK incident line, please click here.

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