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Three reasons to leave the car at home and switch to cycling in 2020

20th February 2020 Print

2020 may be well underway already, but there’s no time like the present to start working towards positive change in your life.  But by making cycling part of your – and your children’s – routines you will be doing some great things for your bodies and giving you a sense of wellbeing that you’ll never find in front of the TV. You don’t have to cycle all the time to feel the benefits either; leaving the car at home and cycling to work a few times a week could save you money, improve your physical health, and benefit the environment. 

1. Lessen the environmental impact 

Taking care of the environment is more important than ever before in 2020. Unfortunately, driving is still most Europeans’ transport method of choice — at great cost to the environment. Not only do cars produce huge amounts of CO2, but the initial production of a car is far more environmentally damaging than that of a bike. According to calculations from ECF, the production of a car alone accounts for 42g of CO2 emissions per kilometre. When combining this output with the output CO2 from each kilometre actually driven, the total comes to around 271g CO2 per kilometre.

Compared to taking the car, biking is very eco-friendly. Contrary to popular belief though, a bike isn’t completely carbon neutral, as we have to take into account the energy used in production. However, this small output is minimal compared to that of a car. Taking production into account, a bike is accountable for 5g of CO2 per kilometre — miniscule in comparison! Furthermore, electric bikes expend even less energy than conventional bikes, reducing your carbon footprint even further. 

2. Save a few pounds  

Losing a few pounds is probably one of the most common New Year’s resolutions – but how about saving some? Driving to work each day can be truly damaging to your bank account. Not only is there the initial price of the car, but the maintenance, road tax, and fuel costs all add up, resulting in a needlessly expensive method of commuting. Switching out your car for a bike can reduce these costs tenfold.

One cyclist that we interviewed reported savings of £6 per working day since switching over to cycling on a 15-mile round trip. So, on average he saves £30 a week and £1,150 a year! Even a few pounds saved each day can make a huge difference, and when you pair this with the health benefits and the environmental pros, the positive points really stack up.

When working out the overall savings, you need to factor in the purchase cost of the bike. Luckily, many employers engage with the “cycle to work” scheme which could save you a lot of money if you're looking to purchase a new road or mountain bike. As a result of making monthly salary sacrifices, this scheme will allow you to purchase a bike tax-free, saving up to 42 per cent of the overall value.

3. Physical and mental health benefits 

The most obvious benefit of cycling is the improvement to your physical health. If you don’t have time to go to the gym, then cycling is a fantastic (and free) alternative that you can easily fit into your daily routine. According to a meta-analysis published by the British Journal of Sports Medicine cycling can dramatically reduce your risk of cardiovascular illnesses. The study accounted for both people who cycled for sport and people who used a bike for their daily commute. Not only did this analysis conclude that cyclists have a 22 % lower risk than non-cyclists for cardiovascular illnesses, but they also had a lower BMI on average.

Numerous scientific studies have also found that cycling has a positive impact on mental health. According to a study by Science Direct, aerobic exercise, of which running and cycling are great examples, can significantly reduce feelings of anxiety, potentially preventing anxiousness from developing into full-blown panic attacks or disorders. As well as the fact that cycling gets you outdoors, and allows you to release endorphins, this form of exercise has also been proven to drastically reduce stress.

There’s no harm in giving cycling a try if you want to make some positive changes this year. It may be difficult to force yourself out of bed a little earlier for the sake of exercise, but your health, your wallet, and the environment will all benefit from it! Why not give it a try in 2020?