Bike riding is becoming a more common practice among adults, both as a form of exercise and as a form of transportation. In fact, many adults are choosing to ride a bike over driving a car simply because it saves money on gas. To most people, riding a bicycle every day— whether for exercise or transportation— offers many benefits, but there are also some downsides to cycling (or biking) every day. Here’s a look at three rewards and three risks associated with daily biking.
Rewards Associated with Cycling Every Day
#1: Environmentally Friendly
Bicycles don’t emit carbon dioxide like gas-powered and hybrid cars, so you’re not contributing to air pollution when cycling. Riding a bicycle is one of the most eco-friendly ways to get around— even if you live in a major city. This is because the majority of major cities have many restaurants, shopping centers, doctor’s offices, and other buildings concentrated in their downtown area. If you live in or near the downtown area of a large city, biking every day is a great way to get around.
#2: Mental and Physical Health Benefits
Riding a bicycle every day can help you meet your exercise goals because it’s both an aerobic activity (which is good for the heart and lungs) and a muscle-strengthening activity. Cycling helps reduce the risk of cancer, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes. It also helps with osteoarthritis and of course, it can help you lose weight.
Your mental health will also benefit from cycling. Exercise itself is a stress reliever, and cycling through nature can help lessen the effects of anxiety and depression. It can also help decrease your risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease and other types of dementia.
#3: Most Cities are Cycling-Friendly
In 2016, around 12% of all Americans cycled regularly. Since then, this trend has continued to grow and more cities have become cycling-friendly because of this. Some examples of the most bike-friendly major U.S. cities include:
- Chicago, Illinois
- Portland, Oregon
- San Francisco, California
- Boston, Massachusetts
- Jacksonville, Florida
- Indianapolis, Indiana
- Atlanta, Georgia
- New York City, New York
If you live in one of these cities, consider riding a bike to all of your nearby destinations instead of driving your car to reap the physical, mental, and environmental benefits.
Risks Associated with Cycling Every Day
#1: Dangerous Drivers
Possibly the biggest risk associated with biking over driving is dangerous drivers on the road. Although many big cities are cycling-friendly, some drivers aren’t always courteous to those on bicycles, resulting in cycling accidents and injuries. Some of the cities where cycling fatalities are the highest include:
- Baton Rouge, Louisiana
- Memphis, Tennessee
- Bakersfield, California
- Charlotte, North Carolina
- Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
- San Antonio, Texas
- Fort Lauderdale, Florida
- Phoenix, Arizona
To prevent these accidents, drivers need to be more aware of cyclists on the road. Cyclists should also practice caution to help prevent bicycle accidents with other bikers and pedestrians.
#2: Road Hazards
Another reason cyclists should practice caution is to prevent accidents resulting from road hazards. Bicycles have fewer and thinner tires than cars, which means that it’s easier for cyclists to lose control on slippery and pothole-filled roads. Road hazards can cause bikers to fall off their bikes and become injured, or even inadvertently make their way into the path of a moving vehicle.
#3: Vascular Nerve Injury
Vascular nerve injuries are common injuries identified by regular cyclists. This comes from supporting one’s body weight on a narrow seat. Also, riding a bicycle to all destinations may not be a viable option for everyone, particularly those who aren’t in the best physical condition. Still, the physical health benefits of daily cycling outweigh this particular risk, and starting small can help build endurance to be able to cycle longer distances.
While not necessarily considered risks, there are other downsides to biking over driving. One downside is that it can be harder to bike in rainy and snowy weather, and doing so can result in hazardous road conditions and can lead to more bicycle accidents and injuries. It’s also harder to wear certain clothing and carry certain items (rain boots and an umbrella, respectively) while riding a bike— which can also result in biking injuries and/or a serious accident. Biking daily is more suited for those who have the option to drive (or to use a rideshare service) when the weather isn’t suitable for driving, and for those who don’t have to adhere to a certain dress code or carry a lot of items.