It’s easy to overlook the impact of the bicycle, a mode of transportation that has continued to evolve since its creation. Along the way, it’s changed the very fabric of society. Before the advent of the motorcar, it was the bicycle that replaced the horse, and when women started riding bicycles, the freedom it brought lead to liberation movements. Would you believe that the first electric-powered bicycle was invented way back in 1895? During the 1960s when people began to take note of the toll that exhaust fumes along with fossil fuels were exacting on the planet, it was the bicycle they turned to. Like many things, the bicycle has endured peaks and troughs – there was a stage during the 1920 and 40s as the car made its ascent whereby bicycles were deemed to be children’s toys and as a result, more bikes during that period were made for children. But the bicycle has never gone away; it speaks an international language, continues to be refined – e-bikes are all the rage these days with even companies like Harley Davidson getting in on the action – and most importantly, bicycles are good for the environment and good for you!
Undeniable health benefits
It’s no secret that biking is good for you, and for a multitude of reasons. Body, mind and spirit – all benefit when you elect to use pedal power. Fitness is of immense importance, even more so as the years advance, but not everyone is a fan of the gym. The bicycle is thus the ideal companion piece in your fitness arsenal. Cardio and toning become fantastic by-products of a bicycle-driven lifestyle, not to mention the fact that when you spoil yourself with a treat, the likelihood of feeling guilty is greatly diminished. Joggers often speak of the runners high, something typically associated with a good cardio session which occurs just short of 10 minutes, and let’s face it, if you’re commuting by bicycle, odds are you’re going to be cycling longer than that – hence a guaranteed natural high and the perfect start to your day. Overall, cycling bestows the following benefits:
- Improved cardiovascular fitness
- Improved muscle durability and suppleness
- Better joint flexibility
- Better posture and coordination
- Reduced stress levels
- Reduced body fat levels
- Decreased anxiety and depression
- Improved bone strength
- Disease management and prevention
Cycling has an incredibly broad scope of positive outcomes whose reach transcends physical and mental health to impact planetary health. Electing to do your commuting with a bicycle will have the following environmental benefits:
- A reduction in greenhouse gas emissions
- A reduced impact on climate change
- Reduced air pollutants
- Reduced noise pollution
- Reduced industry-heavy construction for roadworks
- Valuable green space can be spared from development
- Your carbon/ecological footprint will be reduced
Respiratory protection is something everyone should consider, especially when commuting as these periods are peak periods for air pollution – of which there is a lot more doing the rounds nowadays. According to the WHO:
- Air pollution poses the biggest environmental risk to health.
- Reducing air pollution can reduce the likelihood of heart disease, stroke, lung cancer, and respiratory ailments.
- Lower levels of air pollution leads to lower odds of cardiovascular and respiratory health issues.
- In 2016 it was estimated that air pollution in both urban and rural areas caused 4.2 million premature deaths.
Challenges and solutions
Despite the benefits of cycling, most of us dwell in urban environments reliant on entrenched forms of industry, which means that you’ll still be exposed to air pollutants, and this means taking additional steps to curb your exposure. Regular cycling also means making sure that you’re kitted out in the right protective attire – something that our friends at Wiggle are incredibly adept at doing. In addition to supplying all manner of outdoor fitness equipment and encouraging healthy lifestyles, Wiggle also stocks Cambridge Masks – proven to filter 99% of the air you breathe, and something that the UK government Department for Transport has said can be added to the list of a cyclist’s safety equipment – which includes things like puncture kits, helmets, lights, mirrors etc.
Clean air is vital to everyone and as we don’t have immediate solutions to this problem, masking up is something everyone who cycles should consider. In fact, it’s something that the folks at Deliveroo have been doing for some time now. When we partnered with Deliveroo, we supplied their riders with branded Cambridge Mask BASIC’s. This was advantageous for a couple of reasons. Firstly, it allowed their cyclists to enjoy the filtration benefits of a Cambridge Mask, and secondly, it allowed Deliveroo to dramatically lower their carbon footprint as one BASIC mask replaces a whopping 40 single use masks and stops 2kg’s of plastic waste from entering oceans and landfills.
Legislation and incentivisation have proven to be valuable tools when it comes to implementation. Back in 1999, the UK Government introduced the tax exemption initiative known as the Cycle to Work Scheme as a means to reduce environmental pollution, and since then various organisations such as Cyclescheme, Cycle2Work and Bike2Work have emerged. All these organisations are geared towards the promotion of cycling and environmental improvement. Employees are encouraged to order all their safety equipment along with their bikes with no upfront payments and employers are able to include a Cambridge Mask to clean the air you breathe. If your employer offers Cyclescheme, Cycle2Work or Bike2Work then you can order your bike, accessories and Cambridge Mask BASIC from Wiggle.
The story of the bicycle is over 200 years old, and its story continues by way of technological innovation such as e-bikes, independent cycling groups like Cycling UK who champion the proliferation of biking, and a genuine need by people who want to be able to see a greener, cleaner future. Bicycles fulfil so many needs - they keep us fit, they give us freedom of movement, they reduce our carbon footprints, they encourage better use of spaces, they encourage communal strength, and the list goes on.
To fully capitalise on the benefits of cycling, is to put your respiratory health first, and this means getting a face mask that will allow your lungs to ingest cleaner air. With a Cambridge Mask BASIC you’ll be able to cycle with peace of mind, knowing that you’re doing your bit for the betterment of the environment. Stay safe, and happy cycling!
Disclaimer: Cambridge Mask is not a medical website. For any medical questions or advice, please consult a doctor or professional medical advisor.